The Grand County Council has approved a resolution calling for more local control over local land use, including short-term rentals. This comes after H.B. 253, a state law passed in 2017, made it legal for non-permitted rentals to advertise on sites such as AirBnB. Supporters have described the law as a free speech measure; the cities of Moab and Castle Valley — and now Grand County — disagree.
“The passing of H.B. 253 in 2017 has benefited illegal [short-term rentals] while making it more expensive and labor intensive for communities to hold them accountable; therefore the councils strongly oppose H.B. 253,” reads the resolution.
The resolution further notes that, according to the 2017 Moab Area Affordable Housing Plan, 30 percent of housing units in Grand County are short-term rentals or second homes and, “resort communities including Moab, Castle Valley and Grand County have also experienced negative impacts from illegal [short-term rentals], particularly in residentially zoned neighborhoods.”
The county council rejected an earlier version of the resolution that had been approved by the Moab City and Castle Valley councils.
Grand County Council Member Curtis Wells took issue with the original resolution, which did not differentiate between legal and illegal short-term rentals. The original resolution also called for the repeal of H.B. 253, which Wells said could be unwise. Wells said that prompting the legislature to revisit the issue could backfire, resulting in laws that further remove local control over nightly rentals.
Moab City and Castle Valley officials urged the county to pass the original resolution.
“I don’t understand why we can’t have local land-use ordinances that we control in our communities. I hear about Utah wanting local control. I see it as nothing but Salt Lake control right now and I’m not a buyer,” said former Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley.
Wells and Grand Council Chair Mary McGann worked together to rewrite the resolution, which now differentiates between legal and illegal short-term rentals. Furthermore, the new resolution expresses opposition to H.B. 253 rather than calling outright for its repeal.
“I appreciate the edits. It’s to the point and still includes the reference to the bill,” said Grand County Council Member Evan Clapper.
The measure passed 5-0, with Wells absent. Council Member Jaylyn Hawks recused herself from the vote.