Expedia representative discusses nuisance strategies used in and around Summit County

Coeur Du Lac Condominiums in Dillon is pictured on Friday August 6, 2021. The property is one of several in the county to offer short term rentals.
Photo by Tripp Fay / Tripp Fay Photography

Summit County is a vacation destination, and much of its economy relies on the hordes of visitors who flock to the area for skiing, mountain biking, hiking, and other recreational activities. But the waves of vacationers are growing year by year, and the result is an increase in the number of short-term rentals within the community – some of which are now located in areas and neighborhoods traditionally occupied by locals.

According to a report commissioned by the Summit Combined Housing Authority using data from 2019, there were nearly 10,000 units listed for short-term rental in the county, which is about a third of the entire housing stock in the county. county. Some of the vacationers occupying these units, especially those in local neighborhoods, create nuisance issues, which is why some locals say these units should be capped at a certain amount.

At the County Commissioners Council summit working meeting on Tuesday, August 3, Ashley Hodgini, Expedia Group’s regional government affairs manager, outlined some of the strategies the company is using to alter these related issues. to its VRBO platform. .

One of these strategies is a new nuisance prevention tool that identifies “potentially disruptive” bookings before a stay takes place. Hodgini said the tool uses data that correlates with disruptive stays. When a potentially disruptive reservation is identified, customers are made aware of Expedia’s policies on disruptive events and the customer must agree to the policy before the reservation is completed. Guests also have the option of canceling their stay at no additional cost.

Hodgini said that Expedia also has an online portal that provides neighbors and government officials with the platform to let the company know about lingering issues and repeat offenders. The company has a partnership with NoiseAware, which is a supplier that makes outlets that also monitor noise levels inside and outside a unit.

Not only that, but Hodgini mentioned that Expedia and AirBnB are teaming up to create a “community integrity program” that will essentially do away with repeat party houses. of both platforms and prevent “platform jumping”.

“We believe these solutions are a strong testament to our commitment to be a positive force for good and to try to be sensitive to this ecosystem and understand what the local concerns are,” Hodgini said.

Part of the reason Hodgini attended the working session was to show support for the county’s ongoing discussion on the issue of affordable housing and to provide a perspective on strategies focused on short-term rentals. Hodgini said the company recognizes the county has a unique problem and would like to be seen as a partner moving forward.

The three Summit County Commissioners had a chance to ask questions of Hodgini during the meeting. Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue asked how many people Expedia employs in the county, to which Hodgini said no.

Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard touched on the county’s idea of ​​converting short-term rentals into long-term housing through the use of Opportunity Zones – historically occupied neighborhoods – and a asked Hodgini if ​​the company would be interested in partnering with the county on this. Solution.

Hodgini acknowledged that Expedia representatives like herself had been following the Summit County housing conversation closely and said they understood the county was largely built. While the county felt it needed to restrict or limit short-term rentals in certain areas, she noted that in the future, the company would be happy to consult the team on this strategy, and that type of strategy is better than an out-right ban on vacation rentals.

Summit County also has its own strategies in place to help alleviate nuisance issues. The Summit County Planning Department operates its own online portal and hotline where residents can submit complaints.

Senior planner Jessica Potter said that once a complaint is submitted or called, the issue must be resolved within an hour. The hotline and web portal are monitored 24/7, and Potter said a responsible agent – who is either the owner of the unit, a representative of a property management company, etc. – must work to resolve the problem and inform the hotline. when finished. Potter said if the issue was not resolved within an hour, residents should call the Summit County Sheriff’s Department non-emergency number at 970-668-8600.

Potter said most complaints are about litter, parking and noise, and most arrive after hours. She said the county averages about 40 complaints per month, but noted that this doesn’t necessarily reflect single nuisance as there may be multiple complaints received in an evening about the same issue.

Potter also noted that starting September 30, all short-term rental permits will be converted to licenses.

“Putting this in place really benefits the county in terms of law enforcement violations,” she said.

For more information on short-term rental complaints and nuisance issues, visit the county’s website at SummitCountyCo.gov/1252/Complaints.

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