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Reporting from the St. George area focused on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues and faith and spirituality.

As Tourism Season Approaches, Washington County Hits Pause On Short-Term Rental Applications

A photo of the entrance to the Washington County Administration Building.
Lexi Peery
Washington County is trying to get a handle on the vacation home rental industry by hitting pause on new short-term rental applicants.

As tourist season picks up in southwest Utah, Washington County officials are pumping the breaks on short-term rentals.

The county commission voted Tuesday to enact a temporary moratorium on short-term or vacation rentals. They said they need to get a handle on the growth in these rentals and rework current zoning laws.

“[Short-term rentals] have been, across the country, a bane to hotels, a bane to motels a bane to legitimate businesses that have said people have the right to do with their property, what they should,” Gil Almquist, commission chair, said. “But in the situation of fairness and in the application of various health and safety laws, we need to relook at this.”

The moratorium is for all zones and unincorporated parts of the county. Municipalities in the area have enacted their own set of ordinances. In St. George, the area’s largest city, short-term rentals are banned in all single-family zones.

Commissioner Victor Iverson said the county is all for people maximizing their private property, but they need to be aware of neighbor’s rights too.

“I'm sorry if you have a place that you're advertising for 60 people to be able to stay, that's a hotel that's not a home and the parking and the impact on the residential zone — you might as well not even have land use zones,” Iverson said.

Victoria Hales, an attorney with Washington County, said they need to discuss safety precautions on rental properties, as well as what the impact has been on housing affordability in the area.

Hales said the moratorium will be for six months, and only impacts new applicants.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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