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License requirements for regulating extended stays at hotels or motels in Idaho Springs are becoming more fleshed out.
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On Aug. 3, the Idaho Springs Planning Commission discussed a draft ordinance and specific requirements for hotels and motels to obtain these licenses such as kitchen access, room size, proper lighting and ventilation, and inspections of rooms.
Previously, the Commission raised concerns that local hotels and motels were being used for more than short-term housing, and it wasn’t being done safely. Assistant City Administrator Jonathan Cain had specifically referenced an incident where three toddlers were removed from an abusive situation in a motel room that had been occupied for about a year.
Part of those safety concerns is the lack of access to a kitchen for many short-term units that are being used long-term and the lack of oversight on conditions in these rooms. Within the draft ordinance Cain presented, he highlighted its stated purpose which includes those concerns, the “unhealthy and unsafe” conditions they can create, and to “ensure the health, safety and wellbeing” of “transient” populations and those staying long-term, without “displacing populations from available residential resources within the housing deficient city.”
Cain added that the city would have to work extensively with the hotel providers because there will be a lot of changes.
Committee Chair Cindy Olson said similarly that property owners should be involved in the process, worried that requirements for the license would be too burdening, and the hotels or motels would simply stop doing extended stays instead of brunting the cost to be compliant, losing workforce housing at the same time.
Some of the planned requirements included rooms being specifically put aside for extended stays, a cooking appliance such as a stove and a kitchen sink — Commission members were still debating whether this should become a communal kitchen outside the room instead — and some form of minimum size depending on occupancy. What these sizes should be also was still being debated.
Outside the room itself, a few more concrete requirements were some form of 24-hour staff accessible by residents, twice annual inspections of extended stay rooms — involving police for at least one — and a small business center with computer access.
Whether workforce housing should be exempted from the licensing requirements was debated as well, ultimately leaning to the opinion that they would face the same safety issues and should be included, if not in some modified way.
With all the concerns brought up towards businesses being included, and the possibility of them not engaging with extended stays because of the extra requirements, Kent Slaymaker, an alternate for the Committee, cautioned to not lose sight of the people’s needs as well.
“I think it’s important to remember that some of these requirements may seem onerous, but all of these hotel business owners have the ability to just do short stays and they will make plenty of money, maybe more money from that,” continued Slaymaker. “If they want to take on the responsibility of having people there long-term, it makes sense to have some minimum, non-squalor, standards.”
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