The Parsons Advocate
In August of 2021, the Town of Davis established a temporary moratorium on new short-term rental businesses. In the said moratorium Davis placed a temporary hold on all new Air B&Bs and short-term leases. The reasoning behind the moratorium was to give the town amble time to complete the legal framework for a comprehensive and balanced system of regulating short-term rentals within the Town in the interest s of public health, safety, and welfare.
The resolution 08.25.2021 states, “The Town of Davis determined there was legitimate public interest in temporarily deferring new short-term rental businesses in order to avoid the potential impact of a loss of housing stock for year-round residents, which would be adverse to the general character of the community.”
Mayor Al Tomson said, “If we let the moratorium lapse and we let the people who are on the waiting list start renting and any other people that come in the next six months we still probably will not be at the number of short-term rentals that we were targeting with our ordinance that we have since abandoned.
From my perspective, we do not have to take legal action against anybody that might have during the moratorium. We do not have to keep people from being able to try to do better for themselves financially to keep their homes or rental properties. That is why I am in favor of letting the moratorium lapse.
I am not saying that I do not want to restrict short-term rentals in the future. The correct vehicle I have come to understand is the comprehensive plan and zoning.”
Council member John Felton asked, “If we do away with the moratorium and things get out of control, what happens then?” Tomson’s response was simple, “Nothing, unless we want to put another moratorium in effect.”
Council member Kevin Flanagan agreed with Tomson and added to his comment by saying, “We obviously have seen different people say we are perfectly legal on the other side of the coin we have seen people that say hey this has no legal stand. So, if we take someone to court the judge could very easily see it both ways and then if he strikes it down and once that verdict is read then every single person afterwards will get the same verdict.
We are not prepared and should not be prepared to take the people who want to financially better themselves or their property to court. We have seen two opinions on the matter and the same thing can happen with a judge. The judge could very easily say they agree with the Town of Davis or say hey, tough luck sorry.”
Council member Jeannette Ware said, “We have worked hard on everything concerning the short-term rentals. I do not think we should back down now. I think we should continue and make an extension of the moratorium.”
Council member Ron Hollis stated he was on the fence about his decision of whether to continue with the moratorium and asked how long it will be before the comprehensive plan is finalized. Wales answered by saying they are working extremely hard on the plan and hope to present it to the Town of Davis Council during the second meeting in July.
Recorder Jenny Helmick voiced her opinion against removing the moratorium by saying, “We made a decision that we were going to do the moratorium, to do this properly. We tried to do the ordinance and we were told it was illegal and therefore we quit on that. We did, according to what the group’s attorney told us to do, which was to adopt a comprehensive plan and then to go forward with zoning.
If we give up now, we are giving in to everyone. The residents of this town did a survey and said they do not want anymore (short-term leases) up there. Not saying we are going to prevent it, but I think we need to go forward, and we need to do the best that we can to do with what we started out to do and complete it.
And if that means extending the moratorium for six months or if we must sue somebody and the judge says we are illegal then we can make a decision at that time. We all knew from the very beginning that we could be sued but now they have changed their stance too and now they are not suing us.
Does the attorney feel like they do not have a standing? I do not know. I just feel like we need to go forward with what we decided.”
Felton said, “Either way you look at it its unknown. We have to limit this somehow and if we do away with this there is no guarantee it is going to get out of control, there is no guarantee it is going to stay in control but if we do away with this, we lose all control.”
Felton further commented by saying, “Every time a problem like this comes up it is the same situation. We cannot go forward because of this, this, and this. Then give up. Then this happens and some people say we are not going to bat and here we are again. I have seen it. I have fought for years, and it is the biggest problem of this town. Every time there is a council elected it is the same sh*t, and I am not here to keep doing the same sh*t.”
Tomson said, “If we are looking right now at extending the moratorium for another six months what happens when zoning ordinance is not completed in the next six months. Do we look into the mortarium again even further? How far do we go or how long do we keep people up in the air with regards to moving forward with their plans and the things they are wanting to do?
There is a lot of unknowns, but I am trying to give people at least the opportunity to know where they stand, and they can do things without really causing an adverse impact to the town, to the best of what I think is going to happen. I do not know the outcome for sure.
There may be twenty people that come in tomorrow and say they want to do short-term leasing. I do not think that is going to happen. I do not think we are going to have twenty people in the next six months.”
This moratorium went into effect August 25 of 2021 and was originally supposed to be over by January 1, 2022. That did not happen and was continued until June 30, 2022. But in a special meeting held with a quorum of the Town of Davis Council present, the vote spilt four to three in favor of dissolving the temporary moratorium.
The vote started out tied with three to three with Tomson and Council members Wales, and Lipcsomb voting yes to dissolve the moratorium and with Recorder Helmick and Council members Ware, and Felton voting against dissolving the moratorium. The deciding vote was the yes vote from Council member Flanagan.
The temporary moratorium will be no longer in effect after June 30.