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Mayor wants to move on regulating STRs

Mayor Alan Webber

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Enforcement of the city’s Short-Term Rental ordinance is a “critical first step” in addressing the impact STRs have on access to affordable housing in Santa Fe, according to a recently released report commissioned by Homewise, a nonprofit group that helps people buy homes or stay in them.

Mayor Alan Webber agrees and says the report also identifies many other things the city can do improve enforcement.

“We need to do a better job of enforcing regulations,” Webber said. “I think what (the report) does is it has given us a tool we can use to move ahead with different strategies to regulate Short-Term Rentals.”

One thing the city may do, he said, is limit the number of permits issued to one per person. The Homewise report says that about 20% of the STR hosts in Santa Fe operate more than one STR and 15 hosts operate 381 SRTs.

“What once was a personal decision to create an additional income stream has become an industry,” he said. “Santa Fe should not be put up for bid.”

The city could also consider increasing penalties for failing to register as an STR host. Currently, fines stand at $500 and could be increased to as much as $250 a day if the situation is not remedied within a certain amount of time.

“We could change the ordinance with regard to penalties – to be more aggressive with people who don’t play by the rules,” he said.

A simple change to the STR application form could go a long way. The report says few STR hosts in Santa Fe actually pay gross receipts taxes. Requiring them to include a state tax ID number on their forms may help to recover the GRT revenue the city is missing out on.

Also, the form doesn’t require applicants to list a permanent address, making it difficult to tell whether they are New Mexico residents. That would be especially important if proposed state legislation that failed to gain traction this year is adopted next year.

State Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo, introduced legislation that would have limited an existing 3% cap on annual increase in the valuation of homes to in-state residents, not out-of-state owners.

Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, introduced a bill that would have authorized local governments to impose an occupancy surtax on STRs, which would be used to fund affordable housing programs.

Webber said there are other things in the works that would help break down barriers for hosts to obtain permits. The massive Enterprise Resource Planning and Land Use Modernization Project – essentially a software update – that is soon to be implemented will allow hosts to register online.

“It will make it so much faster and easier for people to get permitted,” he said.

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