Travelers visiting the area can choose from dozens of local places to rent — the Homesteader Cabin in Powell, the Ralston Clubhouse, the Geodesic Dome Greenhouse in Clark and the Bleistein …
Travelers visiting the area can choose from dozens of local places to rent — the Homesteader Cabin in Powell, the Ralston Clubhouse, the Geodesic Dome Greenhouse in Clark and the Bleistein Bungalow in Cody, to name a few.
With more short-term rentals popping up in local communities, city and county officials are considering regulations for the properties.
When it comes to regulating private property, we understand it’s a touchy and unpopular subject. But when the use of a property changes — and a residential home begins operating more like a motel — we can also sympathize with neighbors’ concerns.
As one local resident recently told the Powell City Council, “I wouldn’t purchase my home next to a Super 8, because I wouldn’t want a transient population next to my home and my kids.”
With around 200 short-term rental properties available around Park County, it’s likely other residents share those views. And people who have a “live and let live” attitude about the issue now may feel differently if dozens of tourists began staying next door to their own home.
On the other side of the coin, many visitors prefer having the comfort and amenities of a home while traveling, and they also get to enjoy Wyoming hospitality. For homeowners who rent out a property, it can be a great way to generate income, especially during the busy summer months when tourists flock to Park County.
Airbnb and VRBO properties also can help the local economy. As Powell Economic Partnership Executive Director Christine Bekes said, homeshare services offer more lodging in Powell, and those visitors eat at local restaurants and shop at local businesses.
So what’s the answer?
We don’t think there’s a need for property owners to be saddled with a mountain of red tape in order to rent out their homes for short periods of time. We also don’t think they should be forced to pay any hefty fees to the government (although short-term rentals should be subject to collection of the same lodging tax that applies to all motels, hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest cabins).
But we do think it makes sense to consider basic regulations that ensure some standard of safety — i.e. that rental properties are meeting fire codes and have adequate septic systems to serve their guests. It also seems worth considering a process by which neighbors can be notified of a short-term rental property in their area.
As city and county officials consider regulations, it’s crucial they hear from local residents, especially those who operate vacation rentals and their neighbors. We’re glad to see Park County hosting a series of public meetings on the topic, with the first occurring Thursday evening at 5 p.m. at Heart Mountain Hall at the Park County Fairgrounds. Similar meetings will follow on the South Fork, in Cody, in Wapiti and in Clark.
The Powell City Council is scheduled to discuss an amended ordinance again on Sept. 3.
Residents can also get in touch with their city councilors and county commissioners to share their input directly.
Hopefully in the end, any new regulations won’t hinder short-term rentals, but will help them operate in harmony with their neighbors. With Yellowstone National Park in our backyard, we can rest assured that visitors will continue coming to Park County — but it’s up to local communities to ensure there are comfortable, clean and affordable places ready to welcome them.