ULCNA STR Introduction to Short-term Rentals (STR)

June 1, 2023 STR UPDATE:

On May 16th 2023, Taos County Planning Department introduced a DRAFT STR Ordinance to Taos County Commissioners that all of our ULCNA membership should be made aware of. This Draft ordinance is available for download from the Taos County website »

This new web page has been created to introduce our ULCNA community to “Short Term Rental” (STR) as a new topic of interest and potential concern that has recently come to the attention of the members of the Upper Las Colonias Neighborhood Association Board’s Joint Working Group (JWG). STRs can be problematic or beneficial. To be beneficial for our community, STRs need to be effectively regulated.

At least four local Taos County Neighborhood Associations (including some board members from ULCNA) have recently come together for two meetings to start discussion about STR issues and Taos County’s intention to regulate STRs by creating and adopting a potential new Short Term Rental Ordinance for all of Taos County. Taos County Planning Department staff is already researching prospect examples from other communities for this new ordinance. And they have expressed their interest to get input from Taos County Neighborhood Associations like ULCNA. In an attempt to inform and involve ULCNA members, this new Short Term Rental page now includes:

  • Request for ULCNA member involvement and suggestions.
  • Short Term Rental Introduction.
  • Short Term Rental Ordinance and private development CC&R examples that share how other communities are effectively dealing with a growing number of STRs and related STR issues.
  • Examples of some legal appeals that have occurred in other places, including in New Mexico, that have overturned the STR regulations.


After you have had a chance to review the STR introductory information provided at this web page, the ULCNA Board requests your input and involvement to help our ULCNA community provide effective short term rental suggestions to Taos County staff for their Short Term Rental (STR) ordinance effort.

Please help ULCNA collect information for the following:

  • How do you feel about including short term rentals in our ULC neighborhood? in Commercial Subzone 1? in multi family Subzone 2? in Single Family Subzone 3 & 3a? In mobile Home Subzone 1M?
  • Can you help us determine how many short term rentals already exist in ULCN?
  • Would you like there to be a limit on how many STRs are allowed in ULCN? And if so, what limits should be considered for each of the ULCN sub zones?
  • What suggestions would you like ULCNA to offer to Taos County staff to inform them about our community’s STR concerns, needs and interests?
  • Do you think ULCNA should conduct a STR compatibility survey to help determine how to best accommodate STRs in our community?


We encourage and look forward to your input and suggestions about this important topic. And we hope you are able to attend and share your input at our next ULCNA meeting (April 12, 2022, 4:00pm). Alternatively, you can provide your input by email addressed to: (ulcnataos@gmail.com). All Emails sent prior to the meeting will be shared at the meeting.

Below this introduction you will find helpful examples of successful ordinances and regulations from other communities that at least one of the ULCNA board members has had some experience with. Resolving STR issues with related STR regulation and enforcement is not new. Some examples like Eldorado County (Lake Tahoe area county example) and The Sea Ranch (private association example) have successfully dealt with short term rental issues with effective regulation and enforcement solutions for decades!

Following is a more detailed introduction to the “Short Term Rental” (STR) topic, including some key aspects of what a new STR ordinance is likely to include:

A Short Term Rental (STR) is an accessory use of residential property (dwelling, accessory dwelling unit or room therein) for the purpose of providing temporary lodging for compensation for periods of 30 consecutive days or less.

STRs are most commonly booked through third party internet hosting platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO. Guests may also book STRs through travel sites such as Expedia or Hotwire, or directly with a home owner or tenant. Some new urban villages like Seabrook, WA effectively provide onsite booking and management services for all STRs within their community.

STRs are already regulated in Taos County. A business license and registration is required for all STRs located in Taos County. And Taos County recently passed a Lodgers Tax ordinance update that now makes all short term rentals subject to that tax.

In general, other communities have defined 3 types of short term rentals:

  • Owner Occupied Rental: where rental exists on property that the owner occupies during the rental period.
    • This type of rental can be a guest house or casita, sometimes referred to as an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) or
    • The rental of a room in someone’s home.
  • Second Home Rental: renting a home or guest house/casita on a property that the owner uses infrequently as a second home, with no owner present. For second homes with a guesthouse, sometimes both are rented as two separate rentals.
  • Investment Property Rental: Rental that is part of a growing trend of properties purchased/owned as a short term rental investment business, often without adequate oversight and no owner present.


Many communities set limits for how many STRs are allowed in their community and how the allowed STRs are to be distributed to avoid “STR clustering” that has been very problematic for some communities.

It is also common for the STR permit to define how many days/year the STR can be rented. For example, some areas might allow full time rentals all year and other areas might limit the number of days a STR can be rented per year.

Most STR ordinances are created with an intention to strike a balance between the economic benefits of STRs and the potential impacts to a community’s housing stock, neighborhood character and quality of life for residents and owners. ULCNA really needs to determine what we feel is appropriate for our community (and each sub zone), so our ULCNA STR suggestions can be communicated ASAP to the Taos County staff presently working on a prospect Taos County STR ordinance.

A search of VRBO shows there are already more than 300 STRs in Taos County. As more and more properties are added to the short term rental market in Taos County, there is a growing need for immediate creation and adoption of a comprehensive short term rental ordinance that adequately addresses STR registration, rules, regulations and enforcement provided by an authority with jurisdiction over the area. The new ordinance should also be aligned with the vision, goals and strategies of the Taos County Comprehensive Plan.

The necessary authority for STR registration, rules, regulations and enforcement can sometimes be provided by home owner or property owner associations that can be most effective when included as part of the association’s CC&R’s rules and regulations (see the The Sea Ranch example). However, the most effective authority available for ULCNA and its existing neighborhoods is probably best provided by Taos County if an appropriate STR ordinance is created and adopted with adequate enforcement provisions.

Effective STR ordinances typically include mandatory Short Term Rental registration & permit requirements that also include requiring some kind of business license. STRs are often subject to registration fees & short term rental taxes such as Taos County’s Lodgers Tax.

Rules and Regulations can sometimes be effectively provided by neighborhood association CC&Rs (such as the Sea Ranch example) or PUD. But for existing communities like much of ULCN, Taos County is likely the only entity that effectively create and provide necessary STR rules and regulations with a new STR Ordinance.

STR Ordinance rules, regulations and requirements often include:

  • Compliance with short term rental occupancy related building and fire code requirements.
  • Occupancy & Density Rules & Regulations – CC&R and/or county ordinances often set limits for:
    • How many and what type of STRs are allowed (a requirement that may need to be different for each ULCNA sub zone)
    • STR Pet regulation, with leash, pet generated noise and pet waste cleanup requirements.
    • STR Noise Regulation, that sets allowable limits for STR generated noise and includes quiet hours.
    • STR Cleaning Standards
    • Regulation for STR trash management.
    • Ordinance provision that promotes and encourages community and environmental stewardship for STR occupants.
    • Occupancy limit for how many renters can occupy a short term rental and related vehicles that must be parked onsite. Occupancy regulations also usually include provision for not allowing gatherings such as parties or events such as weddings without special approval.
    • Limit for how many days a year an STR can be rented for (allowed limit for each STR may vary based where or what sub zone each STR is located in).
    • Requires 14/7 STR oversight and provides oversight agent contact information for neighbors and county to call if needed.


Rules and regulations only work if accompanied by effective and consistent enforcement and violation fines to make sure everyone complies with the rules and regulations. Effective enforcement usually involves imposing fines for violations and even revoking the short term rental permit for extreme violations. (See STR examples)

Successful STR ordinances often include a mandate for some form of 24/7 oversight, typically provided by a responsible oversight agent that is required for every STR. Agent is often required to register with the county and to provide their contact information to the neighborhood where the STR is located.


  • STRs operating without the permit that Taos County requires and/or without rules and regulations.
  • STRs operating without business license that Taos County requires.
  • STRs that don’t pay the Lodgers Tax that Taos County requires.
  • STRs operating without adequate 24/7 oversight/management.
  • STRs generating excessive noise that can impose a serious threat to neighborhood tranquility and quality of life.
  • STR Trash Mismanagement
  • STR Over-occupancy: rentals imposing more occupants and/or vehicles than the STR rental permit allows.
  • Pet mismanagement, such as renters allowing their dogs to
    • impose excessive barking, or
    • run loose and allowed to invade streets and neighboring properties.
  • STR Density: A growing number short term rentals can impose negative impacts on neighborhoods. If not adequately regulated, STRs can change the character of a neighborhood and quality of life, especially in areas where there is a growing trend of properties being purchased/owned for the purpose of short term rental investment business. The threat of this negative impact is worst in the absence of necessary rules, regulation and enforcement. To protect neighborhoods, STR ordinances often include provisions such as effectively regulating STR density, distance requirements between STRs and/or caps on minimum/maximum stays.
  • Consideration for existing STRs: Many STRs already exist in Taos County. A search of Air B&B or VRBO will find more than 300 listings for each. Many existing STR owners rely on their STRs for income. A new STR ordinance will need to thoughtfully consider and accommodate existing STR owner interests and needs as much as possible.
  • Other suggestions?


Short Term Rental (STR) Ordinance and Rule Examples in PDF:


Legal Examples of Court Cases Concerning Short Term Rental Links:

PDF format, scroll the PDF to see the whole document:


Current Taos County Comprehensive Plan PDF:


Detail Documents Link to Taos County Website: