Taos Planning and Zoning discusses subdivision and short-term rentals

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 1/16/20

A 49-lot project proposed near Taos Pizza Outback off Paseo del Pueblo Norte won't be for affordable housing, according to the developer during a Jan. 8 presentation to the Taos Planning and Zoning Commission.

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Taos Planning and Zoning discusses subdivision and short-term rentals

Posted

A 49-lot project proposed near Taos Pizza Outback off Paseo del Pueblo Norte won't be for affordable housing, according to the developer during a Jan. 8 presentation to the Taos Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Camino Fiesta subdivision and an update on a short-term rental ordinance were the main topics at the meeting.

Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission heard a presentation from Abeyta Engineering about the Camino Fiesta subdivision, which would create 49 individual family lots for houses out of the nearly 16-acre plot of land.

"Its not really affordable housing," Alex Abeyta said during the meeting. "It's housing but it's not affordable."

Abeyta said the lots could reach an estimated $80,000 before houses are built. The average size for each lot would be around a quarter of an acre.

The sketch plan presented to the commission Jan. 8 was the same plan Abeyta originally presented in November 2017. The commission at that earlier meeting requested a traffic study for the area to review the impact 49 homes would have on traffic. Abeyta did not present the traffic study during the meeting although he told the commission he had completed one.

"The project is not going to go away," Abeyta said. "It's going to become 49 single family lots for housing."

The next step for the subdivision will be a public hearing before the commission. The hearing has not yet been scheduled.

The Planning and Zoning Commission also held a public hearing about the town council's recent decision to pass an emergency ordinance to place a hold on issuing permits for short-term rentals.

Due to the emergency status in the ordinance, the Planning and Zoning Commission was allowed to review what the council passed. Normally the order would go from the commission to the town council for consideration and approval.

During the public hearing, members of the short-term rental owner's community said the moratorium would impact their business and asked the town if they were still allowed to operate.

The ordinance only calls for a halt on the issuance of the operating license and does not stop current owners from operating during the allotted time in the ordinance. Concerns quickly rose about those who were trying to become compliant with the town's law to register as a business.

"I don't see 'I didn't get a letter' as an excuse," said acting chair Norbert Mondragon about noncompliant owners.

The moratorium would last until after the state Legislature passes or drops proposed laws regulating sales tax over the internet for municipalities, according to town manager Rick Bellis. Because people pay for the short-term rentals via the internet, a question remains whether or not local government entities will benefit from those taxes.

The commission voted to uphold the moratorium passed by the town council.

Bellis spoke about how short-term rentals were changing the makeup of Taos and becoming an issue for the local renters in Taos.

"They are changing the character of a lot of our historic neighborhoods," Bellis said. "It's impacting the ability of people to find housing who live here. It's putting a burden on the town to have to create housing."

Despite his statement, Bellis is looking to work with the owners of the short-term rentals to find a solution.

"There are cities that have outright banned it, and we don't want to do that," Bellis said during the meeting.

Town staff is currently looking into adopting an ordinance regulating short-term rentals within the town's limits. According to Bellis, only 150 short-term rentals out of an estimated 500 in the area are compliant with the town's current ordinance requiring a business license.

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