Short-term rentals limit supply of housing | Wyoming | – Gillette News Record

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CODY — Housing demand in Park County continues to increase as the population rises, but there are tensions with accommodating residents struggling to find or afford a home in Park County.

“Affordable housing and available housing are both issues in Park County,” said Joy Hill, Director of Planning and Zoning in Park County.

Hill said that the Planning and Zoning Committee of Park County has identified at least 300 short-term rentals which would equate to 300 housing units primary or accessory that are currently being used as temporary housing rather than guest or long-term housing.

According to data from the United States Census Bureau, Park County had a population of 30,518 people in July of 2022 and 15,015 housing units. With more than 70% of housing units occupied by owner-residents, projections show that the population could go beyond current available housing.

During peak season in Park County alone, there is an estimated number of more than 500 short-term housing units, according to Ryan Hauck, Executive Director of Park County Travel Council. (Due to the lack of software used by the Park County Travel Council, there isn’t a clear breakdown of short-term housing rentals in the county throughout the year.)

Although Hauck has personally seen how tough it is to find housing for the local tourism industry staff, he also has seen the benefit that short-term housing brings for tourism.

“Short-term housing at a certain level can be good for tourism. For example, some people seek out those types of properties because of health reasons,” said Hauck. “They have a lot of food allergies, they can’t go to restaurants, so they have to cook their own food. I know families might use it also for longer-term stays, as well.”

Since short-term housing rentals are classified as a lodging facility, they’re required to pay the same lodging and sales taxes as hotels and motels.

“Short-term housing is being sold more like businesses and less like housing,” said Jake Ivanoff, owner of 307 Real Estate. “Short-term rentals are going to make more money.”

Ivanoff said he has noticed how more people are purchasing homes in Wyoming to eventually rent them out as short-term housing. He said that when the price of a house is driven by the location, like homes in Cody, families who are unable to afford the cost of a home must look for other properties to either buy or rent at a lower price.

From the FY2022 a total of over $3 million in lodging tax was collected in Park County and distributed back to PCTC for its tourism marketing programs, with additional amounts to the cities of Cody, Powell, Meeteetse.

“Park County and its municipalities receive 10% of the Park County lodging tax collected. The collections are distributed by the Park County Treasurer back to the communities and county at the same ratio they were collected,” according to PCTC in its 2023 fiscal year report.

The city of Cody received $137,053.73 of these funds in 2022, one of the largest redistributed revenue amounts. The collected revenue is mainly used for large events that bring tourists to the city, traffic control and sanitation during the peak season, said Mayor Matt Hall.

While the numbers reflect the payback of short-term housing, they didn’t reflect the effects short-term housing had on the availability of housing.

According to city statues, each short-term housing unit must register with the Wyoming Revenue Department and the city of Cody before operating.

“Authorized short-term rental facilities shall have a certificate issued by the City of Cody identifying such authorization posted within the unit…and continuing thereafter, must include the City registration number for the unit in all online listing(s),” according to Chapter 11 Supplemental Development Standards.

In 2019 there were 98 registered short-term rentals.

At the end of 2023 there were 134 registered short term rentals, according to Todd Stowell, City Planner.

That is about a 36% increase in registered short-term rentals over the course of four years, but does not account for short-term units currently operating illegally and taking a space away for other potential buyers.

This story was published on January 8, 2024.

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