A ban on short-term home rentals throughout most of the county remains in effect Monday, after county commissioners and town councilors voted to uphold it.

The prohibition requires that homeowners outside designated lodging areas rent their homes for no fewer than 30 days at a time.

The ban essentially forbids the type of residential vacation rental promoted by online brokerages such as VRBO.com and many of those arranged by Jackson business the Clear Creek Group.

After almost a year of deliberation on this and related topics, both boards arrived at the proper conclusion, Town Councilor Jim Stanford said.

“The laws are clear, the building codes are clear, the staff reports are clear and the community sentiment’s been clear,” he said.

The two boards’ decision overturns an informal interpretation of the law made in 2007 at the Clear Creek Group’s request that had allowed one short-term residential rental of a home every 30 days.

The Clear Creek Group rents luxury homes to tourists for weekly rates of as much as $100,000.

The business also brokers real estate and manages properties.

Alone among members of both boards, Jackson Mayor Mark Barron sought to uphold the 2007 interpretation, saying it had been the law’s intent since its adoption in 1994.

Historically, Barron said, illegal short-term rental has meant multiple rentals of a home within the span of a month. Since the 1990s, he said, homeowners regardless of their location have been allowed to rent their homes to vacationers for any length of time, but only once a month.

“This is an over reach,” Barron said of the boards’ decision.

Residential short-term rental is defined in county code as “the rental of all or a portion of a house, townhouse, condominium, apartment, or other residence for less than thirty (30) days.”

County law states that “no [residence] shall be rented for less than thirty (30) days unless specifically approved for residential short-term rental.”

The town’s ordinance reads substantially the same.

Certain areas of the county including the Aspens and Teton Village are specifically approved by statute for short-term rentals.

The commissioners’ and councilors’ vote Monday means that the law will be interpreted to mean strictly what it says: that homes are not to be rented for fewer than 30 days.

In the past the Clear Creek Group has contracted with vacationers month-long leases that forbid the visitors from remaining in their rented homes for more than a certain fraction of those 30 days. While technically a 30-day lease, according to the firm, opponents characterized such leases as violating both the spirit and the text of the law.

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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(3) comments

Sgt. Pepper

My guess is Mayor Barron has some understanding of the term "illegal taking" as it applies to eminent domain law. I'm virtually certain there are no deed restrictions associated with fee simple titles within the town of Jackson. Unless the town is interested in a protracted and expensive class action, it would be very well advised to stand down on this plan.

Belinda Custer

Banning short-term vacation rentals is just another sad example of too much government. These vacation rental owners usually put a LOT more care into their properties than their full-time (and often jealous) neighbors do. They depend on Internet reviews, so make every effort to keep their places looking great. They regularly buy furniture, household items, and hire local people to make constant improvements, which stimulates the economy and increases EVERYONE'S property value. This, of course, generates more revenue for the Town of Jackson. Additionally, short-term renters are at the properties a lot less than long-term renters. (The "transient" argument is baseless). They're out most of the time sightseeing and spending money (usually substantially more than motel guests) on activities, events, shopping, dining, etc. It's the younger, irresponsible LONG-TERM and seasonal renters that throw loud parties after inviting their friends over, while creating parking nightmares. Our elected officials need to amend antiquated and inconsistent laws (i.e., selective enforcement where some communities are zoned to rent short-term and others are unfairly not - lawyers???) and educate themselves, instead of blindly voting against this because it's "politically correct". If they were economically astute, they'd do what states such as Montana does that actually promotes short-term rentals in their resort towns. Instead of doing business "in the shadows", everyone happily gets licensed/regulated and PAYS TAXES (which they easily collect from their guests who expect it) because, as a result, they get free advertising on the state's on-line vacation directory. This results in more business for the vacation rental owners, that they put right back into the local economy, plus more TAX REVENUE for the state (7%) and resort town (3%). Creating a "lack of employee housing" is another poor argument and shouldn't be the homeowner's problem. This is a TOURISM-BASED town. Therefore, we should cater to what a huge number of tourists want so they continue to come here with their families - vacation rentals. Besides, capitalism is what made this country exceptional. It should be encouraged, not outlawed, particularly in the great State of Wyoming.

Sgt. Pepper

Considering the vast majority of the town electorate (not county, town) are members of the service industry, it seems incredibly foolish for elected officials to take a stand against short term rentals. There are plenty of nuisance ordinances on the books to prevent tenants from making trouble and those are all enforceable. Short term rentals by well behaved tenants harm no on and benefit virtually everyone in the form of increased revenue for local businesses and service people. Barron apparently understands this. I believe it's time for us to occupy city hall and express our concerns.

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