I just woke up from the most epic nap. I have been unusually tired despite going to bed a 8:30.
It’s the stress.
The day before I left for a vacation with my family and my Dad (HI DAD!) and step-mom, I got a scary letter from the City of Boulder.
As you probably know, I rent out parts of my house on AirBnB and VRBO (I call them Short Term Rentals or STRs). I’ve been doing it for years and I’ve never hid it from anyone, including the city.
I spoke at a City Council session last year (2:11:24) and asked them to legalize STRs which occupy a grey area as far as the city is concerned. Their policy has been to not enforce the 30-day minimum rental rule as long as no one complains.
Here’s a screen capture of the video and please, don’t ever let me wear those pants ever again.
Clearly I am advocating for a type of legalization that suits me but I invite people with different rental models to speak up during this critical period.
If you don’t live in your STR but have a compelling argument for being legal, please advocate for yourself, I can tell you who to talk to. You can start by going to www.stradvocacy.org.
I’m pretty sure none of my neighbors filed the complaint against me. They all know what I do and I trust they would speak to me before reporting me to the city.
I offer off-street parking and have a rental license, I carefully select my tenants to make sure no one is here to party and be disruptive, and my guests know I live downstairs and enforce strict 10pm – 8am quiet hours.
The cease and desist letter does not represent my financial ruin but would certainly cause some serious rearranging of the family finances. Others might not be so lucky.
In one day I was interviewed by the local paper and the Channel 7 News. In both cases I chose to remain anonymous because the letters were caused by one woman reporting as many STRs as she could identify by browsing AirBnB.
I didn’t want to go public until I had some assurances that this discussion would be fair and encompass all STRs, not just the ones easily recognizable by our photos.
I gave long and detailed interviews. Of course, this is all that made it to print.
“Super-alarming.” Yep, that’s me. Super-alarmed.
I guess that’s what I get for not going on record.
If you want to hear my voice and see my hands watch this video.
Needless to say these last few weeks have been stressful as I strategize how to get the get the city to work with me on legalizing STRs in Boulder.
I’m not an aggressive person. I like to make friends and work with people, I don’t like it when people don’t agree or get along and I have never been a great advocate for myself so stepping into this role is a stretch.
Instead of blogging I’ve been organizing, writing letters to the city, reaching out to City Council members and right now I’m pulling together an association of STR operators. If you want to know more, please reply in the comments section or by using the contact me tab.
I started building a website but despite having built this one, I have completely forgotten how to set one up. Nina is on the job and one should be up and running by next week.
Last night I received news that the city was going to rescind the orders and study the issue on a city-wide basis.
This is a huge relief.
I will continue my work advocating for STR operators such as myself, who occupy the spaces they rent and are amenable to collecting hotel and accommodation taxes in exchange for legalization and protection from anonymous complaints. I feel that my work has just begun.
I want the city to know that we are not all absentee landlords dead-set on ruining neighborhoods for families and residents. I believe that most STR operators are and want to be good neighbors, but you can’t fix a problem if you don’t know where the complaint is coming from.
Furthermore, no anonymous person should have the power to jeopardize someone’s livelihood without transparent due process.
Yes, some STRs are owned by out-of-towners or investors, but that’s not us. Without regulation it’s the wild west and people will make hay while the sun is shining. It’s time for the city to step in and for thoughtful discussion.
Perhaps because of the temporary stay of execution, and maybe because of the Advil P.M. I took at the gym this morning (it’s all I had in my sparkly gym bag and was desperate) I got the kids off to school and couldn’t stay awake.
I fell asleep on the couch like I was roofied and just now woke up.
My phone has been ringing and the news van is headed over to interview me again (with my face) and I should probably eat something because that cup of coffee has my eyeballs jittering and I should probably comb my hair.
Wish me luck.