In what was thought to be a first for Corrales, a property in the community’s designated business district was re-zoned from commercial to residential by the Village Council January 12. The owner, Barbara Kline, had requested down-zoning for the property at 3842 Corrales Road, across from the Corrales Comment office. She had explained that during the 16 years she has owned the parcel, its use has never been feasible for commercial purposes.
Instead, she has received approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission to use it for residential short-term rentals. That came at the commission’s December 16 meeting. When the plan came before the Village Council January 12, the only councillor to vote against the zone change was Stuart Murray. He noted that a short-term rental operation is already permissible in a C-zone, so he saw no reason for the zone change.
He pointed out that the home at 2842 Corrales Road had originally been a residence. “I don’t want to see this property flip back and forth from A-1 to C and back to A-1.” The parcel was commercial when Kline bought it. In explaining her unusual zone change request to the council, she said “It has been very difficult to use that property as commercial,” particularly due to the parking requirements.
She did so for some time, renting out office space to small businesses. The site has been known for many years as “CEO,” for Corrales Executive Offices.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout concurred with Kline’s claims that the layout of the building on the property makes it difficult to comply with the Village’s regulations for business use. Stout pointed out that the P&Z commission had recommended approval of the zone change and had approved the short-term rental proposal.
Minutes of the commission’s December meeting report its online deliberations as follows. Applicants Jim Hammond and Barbara Kline of 6 Santa Ana Trail in Corrales are requesting a Zone Map Amendment for property they own at 3824 Corrales Road. The .98-acre property is currently zoned C – Commercial, and the applicants are requesting it be rezoned A-1 Agricultural and Rural Residential.
Barbara Kline (applicant, 6 Santa Ana Trail N., Corrales, sworn): We are asking to change zoning from commercial to residential. I am a commercial realtor, and really don’t feel that particular location is viable for commercial. Want to keep expenses down, and not pay commercial property tax rates. Also we’ve got a fantastic residence there.
Commissioner Stermer: Was it at one time used as commercial?
Kline: It was. I tried to use it as commercial and discovered that it’s extremely difficult. It was zoned commercial when we bought it. I know that at least once it was operated as a bed and breakfast. We’ve got commercial on one side and A-1 on the other. It’s in the mixed-use area along Corrales Road.
Chair McCandless: You’ve had the property for how long?
Kline: Sixteen years. I’ve experimented several times with ways to use it commercially, and it just hasn’t worked.
Commissioner Stermer: More recently has it been used as a long term rental?
Kline: No, we were living in it.
Bob Pinkerton: (5 Dancing Horse Lane, Corrales, public commenter, sworn): Your reason for request “not physically or financially feasible to bring it up to code”. What is the code problem there?
Kline: One of the biggest issues is that the driveway that leads to the back and the major parking is only 11 feet wide. Not wide enough to really allow people to get into the back. And I can’t see any way to put in the buffer that would be required.
Commissioner Stermer: Right now we’re discussing changing simply from Commercial to Rural Residential (zoning)?
Chair McCandless: That’s correct.
Commissioner Killebrew: I move we approve the zone change request ZMA 20-02 from Commercial to Residential. Second: Sam Thompson. Vote, Yes: John McCandless, Sam Thompson, Michele Anderson, Ken Killebrew, Jerry Stermer, Melissa Morris. (Unanimous.)
Chair McCandless: Ms. Kline, as I’m sure you’re aware, this now needs to go before Village Council.
[The commission then took up her application to use the same property for a short-term residential rental business.]
Assuming approval of the above zone map amendment request changing the property from Commercial to A-1 Agricultural and Rural Residential, applicants Jim Hammond and Barbara Kline of 6 Santa Ana Trail, Corrales, request residential short-term rental permit approval for a four-bedroom short term rental at 3824 Corrales Road, housing up to eight adults (with children under the age of 12 also allowed by Village ordinance).
Barbara Kline (applicant): My husband and I moved into the property (at one time.) We have now moved back to 6 Santa Ana Trail. We feel that the short-term rental market provides us the opportunity to get the capital Airbnbs, and had some rooms rented out there, and feel it is an excellent use for that property. It will suit our needs and provide lodgers’ tax to Corrales.
Commissioner Stermer: How does the math work? Do we need those parking spaces?
PZA Stout: They have the required number of spots in front.
Chair McCandless: The parking spots at the back of the house are not necessary to meet the requirements of the short-term rental?
PZA Stout: That’s correct.
Chair McCandless: The rooms you intend to rent out are at the corners at the house. Then there are common areas —a courtyard and living area. Are those going to be accessible to the short-term renters?
Kline: Yes, that entire area will be dedicated as short term rental except for a couple of areas we marked off as personal storage. Essentially the entire house would be used for the short-term rental. There are no barriers that would keep someone from moving throughout the house.
Chair McCandless: Do all rooms have access from the outside?
Kline: There’s one master bedroom and most of the common rooms have doors that go outside. One bedroom has a door within five feet. On the northwest side where there are two bedrooms, there is a door at the end of the corridor that goes out into the courtyard.
Commissioner Thompson: In the event that you and your husband travel, will there be another designated individual who could be called if there are any problems?
Kline: We have a property manager we’ve hired.
Commissioner Thompson: So she will be available 24/7?
Chair McCandless: Is she nearby?
Kline: Reasonably nearby. About 15-20 minutes.
Commissioner Anderson: Are you planning on renting this to one person at a time or four different people who don’t know each other?
Kline: No, it would be a four-bedroom rental; not divided amongst four people who didn’t know each other.
Commissioner Anderson: It would be just one contract?
Chair McCandless: And you are aware of the ordinance and the concerns about events, parties, that sort of thing?
Kline: Absolutely. Don’t want anyone there unsupervised holding parties where alcohol might be available.
Chair McCandless: How do you anticipate making sure that doesn’t happen?
Kline: Two ways. One, it’s in the contract, and we have very vigilant neighbors, and if there were any problems I’m sure we’d hear about it.
Bob Pinkerton (public commenter, sworn): Going back to the previous issue on zoning. The issue was the 11-foot driveway. The short-term rental application states a fire inspection will be required. Has there been a fire inspection relating to the proposed use?
Kline: Not on the proposed use, but there have been numerous fire inspections over the years.
Pinkerton: At what point in this process is there going to be a fire inspection?
PZA Stout: It’s part of the business license process. If the short-term rental is approved, there will then be a fire inspection required, for that use.
Pinkerton: In the application it states Ms. Kline and her husband are the (emergency contacts). Where will it be posted for neighbors to call this other person, who will take over when you are out of town?
Chair McCandless: I’m envisioning the neighbors would contact the police, or someone in the Village, and that person would contact whoever is responsible for the property.
PZA Stout: In this case, if there is another potential contact person, I can add her to the list of contacts.
Kline: It’s very rare that we can’t be reached. The phone number is our cell number.
Pinkerton: I found one administrative glitch. When this issue came up, we were notified. There was (a delay) getting the application online. We’re looking at long-term potential problems. We are asking that an in-depth study be made of the ordinance. Santa Fe just came up with a limit of the number of short-term rentals one owner can have, and a cap of 1,000 rentals in the City. Los Ranchos is working on seven-day maximums, we have 29. This whole thing seems to be moving quite quickly. Prior to COVID, there were 100 short term rentals, now we’re down to 53. I understand there are applications for construction of accessory structures. We’ve got to be careful that we’re not rushing into accessory buildings and short-term rentals and perhaps even open the door to zone changes, for example to the two acre minimum. We’re urging caution. On December 8 Councillor Stuart Murray suggested a moratorium on short-term rentals until thorough due diligence has been conducted. Is this rush worth it?
Apparently, this is still being used as a short-term rental. There’s been a green and white pickup parked (at applicant property) with California plates on it. What’s going on? It appears it’s being used now as a short-term rental without a permit.
Chair McCandless: I appreciate your comments and concerns. I’m sure you are fully aware this is an issue for council. Our responsibility is to apply the ordinance that is in force. If it is currently being operated, that is an issue for code enforcement. We have to look at the application before us, and apply it to our ordinance that is in hand, and in adherence with that ordinance and in the best interests of the Village.
Matthew Bradley (public commenter, speaking on behalf of family at 3858 and 3856 Corrales Road, although his residence is in Denver): I realize you can’t change the law. The commercial designation wasn’t a good fit here.
They are asking to change the complexion of the neighborhood. While only one contract, that can be up to eight individuals. In most places, you can’t have eight unrelated folks in a regular house, why make an exception? Are they on the sewer line, or on one leach field? They say they will prevent parties by contract. That’s not great. And saying we have “neighbors who pay attention” —there shouldn’t be a burden on the neighbors.
Kline: The septic system is approved for four bedrooms. I provided a copy of the approval. Let’s talk about burden on the neighbors. It wouldn’t matter whether it was a residence or a short-term rental with regards to someone having a party. I just make it very clear to people coming in that it will be very uncomfortable for them if they have a party. Their tenancy would be immediately terminated. I think we are taking on most of the burden. In our experience people have been very well behaved. Short-term renters go from renting with us to purchasing property in the Village. We have people who are relocating or temporarily working at Intel.
Commissioner Thompson: Did you say that this property is connected to Village wastewater?
Kline: That was a proposed layout; it is not. We basically ran out of money. We are in the process to get that place rehabilitated. My understanding is that is something that must be done when property changes hands; it hasn’t.
Commissioner Killebrew: I’d like to address Mr. Pinkerton’s concerns. Municipalities are behind the curve when it comes to Airbnb use around the country. Airbnb’s just took off. A lot of them didn’t have permits or business licenses. Corrales is actually a little bit ahead of other small towns and cities, as far as our ordinance. This is only a four bedroom; we require off-street parking. Albuquerque does not require that. Santa Fe allows two residences per lot with owners not in residence. We could tweak the ordinance. Santa Fe is requiring liability insurance. Corrales is in pretty good stead as far as the ordinance goes.
He moved approval, subject to zone map amendment ZMA 20-02 passing Village Council. It was seconded by Sam Thompson. Voting yes were: John McCandless, Sam Thompson, Michele Anderson, Jerry Stermer, Melissa Morris and Ken Killebrew.
The approval was unanimous.