City officials are working to enforce the vacation rental permits and recently brought the first owner to court for operating an illegal rental.
The owner was fined $200, Nicol Killian, the city’s planning manager, told the Durango City Council Tuesday night.
“It was a lot of work, for not a lot of fine,” said Scott Shine, a city planner.
The planners also have sent out about 20 letters to owners of illegal units.
Several city councilors seemed pleased by the internal enforcement efforts against the owners of illegal rentals in two of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
“It’s showing the neighbors we’re serious,” Mayor Sweetie Marbury said.
However, Killian said many of the local vacation-rental listings online are now available for only a 30-day rental – making them exempt from local laws.
“Some people are trying to outsmart us,” Killian said.
But this kind of listing would still hurt the owner’s business, said City Councilor Keith Brant.
The city began accepting vacation-rental applications in the third week of August. In the coming days, the final two of the 22 vacation-rental permits allowed in Established Neighborhood One will be awarded, Shine told councilors. This neighborhood is the area east of East Third Avenue and north of First Street.
More permits remain to be claimed in Established Neighborhood Two, which is along Main Avenue from about 16th Street to about 32nd Street. In this area, five permits remain of the 17 allowed.
Since vacation rentals were first legalized, inquiries about permits have tapered off but remained consistent, Shine said.
Now, the planning department is working with three neighborhoods interested in allowing vacation rentals: Crimson Cliffs, Rivergate and The Boulevard on East Third Avenue south of College Drive. The residents in these areas would have to vote to allow vacation rentals, and it would have to be approved by both the Durango Planning Commission and City Council.