WASHINGTON COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) Quinn Stephens says he recently bought property in unincorporated Washington County with plans to build a vacation home for his family, and rent it when they aren’t staying there.
After the Washington County Commissioner’s meeting Tuesday, he’s learning he won’t be able to rent it out, as planned.
“I made public comments earlier, really asking what the problem is that we’re trying to solve,” Stephens explains.
According to the new ordinance, if a homeowner in unincorporated Washington County isn’t at the property, they can’t rent it out. It also limits how much of a property can be used as a vacation rental depending on the land’s size.
“Washington County relies a lot on tourism that includes folks like me that come down to just enjoy the beautiful county but it also includes sporting events that come,” he tells ABC4.
The ordinance states “residential properties for short term vacation rentals have a variety of effects on the neighborhoods in which units are located as well on the community as a whole”
“I’ve heard everything from parking being an issue, volume being an issue, property values, etc., and to me, there is a lot better ways to deal with those specific instances rather than throw the baby out with the bathwater,” Stephens says.
While several residents in unincorporated Washington County say they enjoy the quiet in rural areas, some say they haven’t even noticed which homes are vacation rentals.
“County leaders pretty much ignored the work the planning commission did you know not even considering the options that came through public comment, as a member of the public that made public comment I feel myself and many others like me feel marginalized,” he says.
Stephens says he believes it’s unconstitutional for local lawmakers to create this ordinance.
“Washington County leadership runs on platforms of small governments and property rights and they’ve completely contradicted themselves on this one, right, there’s so much government intervention on this decision and basically a destruction of property rights,” Stephens says.
He hopes commissioners reconsider or make amendments to the ordinance. In the meantime, he’ll wait to build or find another property with more favorable rules.