Santa Fe approves new short-term rental restrictions

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) – City officials in Santa Fe have approved new restrictions for short-term rental owners who offer rooms and homes as vacation lodging in an effort to curtail the number of rentals operating without permits.

The Santa Fe Council voted 8-1 on Thursday to limit the number of short-term rental units to one per person and to restricts owners using services such as Airbnb and Vrbo to one lodger a week in residential neighborhoods. The new rules also adds new reporting requirements aimed at helping find and crackdown on illegal rentals.

The ordinance also requires short-term rental properties be no closer than 50 feet (15 meters) to existing rental properties.

“This is not a mom-and-pop operation any more – it’s become an industry,” said Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth, one of the bill’s sponsors.

Supporters of the new restrictions have said they are needed to maintain a sense of community in neighborhoods overwhelmed by short-term rentals.

But others contend the new rules will not do enough to stop rentals from overtaking historic neighborhoods in Santa Fe.

Councilor Michael Garcia said about 40% of the short-term rentals in the city are illegal and called enforcement the city’s “No. 1 priority.”

Santa Fe Planning and Land Use Director Elias Isaacson said about 250 out of the 975 short-term rentals have city permits or registration to do business. He also said many have stopped operating during the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is not a good time during COVID to be doing this kind of thing,” Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler said. “This council has taken all kinds of measures to protect our residents from COVID hardships and the like, and I know there’s a stereotype about short-term rentals … (but) not everybody is a rich Texan.”

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