Some vacation rentals still operating despite public health order

By John Finefrock
Staff Writer

Despite a state health order that prohibits it, some vacation rentals are still operating in Archuleta County.

Archuleta County Undersheriff Derek Woodman told The SUN this week that a sheriff’s deputy responded to calls of two separate homes that were reported to still be operating as vacation rentals.

He said the sheriff’s deputy made contact with parties at the different homes, but did not offer further information.

Woodman added that Archuleta County has more than 700 vacation rentals.

Vacation rentals, homes which are rented out for 30 days or less at a time, have required a permit in both the town and county since late 2018.

In a online poll asking, “Should short-term rentals be allowed to be open?” 69 percent of respondents said no, 26 percent said yes and 5 percent said “I do not know.”

There were 626 voters in the poll.

In an email Monday, Archuleta County Development Services Director Brad Callender explained how the county typically enforces vacation rental violations.

“… we follow the procedures in the nuisance ordinance policy,” Callender wrote. “The violator receives a 21 day courtesy notice to correct the violation, then we send a notice of violation, then the County takes legal action through the County attorney, and that procedure takes several months. We aren’t the riot police and we aren’t in the eviction business. We aren’t going to go door to door and force the violators to throw [their] renters on the street the second we catch a violator, it doesn’t work that way. We give everyone every opportunity to comply with the regulations.”

Woodman contrasted the difference between vacation rentals out of private homes and out of places like Wyndham Pagosa.

“Like Wyndham, where they’re all short-term rentals, but they are technically owned by the individuals that are doin’ it because they own the weeks that they show up. So that, in our opinion, doesn’t fall in the same realm because there’s no restriction on second homeowners,” Woodman said.

Pagosa Springs Police Chief Bill Rockensock wrote in an email Tuesday that his department has not received any complaints about vacation rentals operating illegally.

Claire Ninde, director of communications for San Juan Basin Public Health, addressed the issue in an email Tuesday.

“Short-term rentals are not allowed under the current statewide public health orders. We also encourage people to utilize the reporting tool if they believe public health orders are being violated.,” wrote Ninde.


This story was posted on May 16, 2020.