During the past two Ouray City Council meetings the subject of short term rental regulations has been on the agenda for discussion.
The topic has been weighed for about a year by a citizen committee appointed by council, and that committee's recommendations were given to the Ouray Planning Commission for further discussion and refinement before it presented a final recommendation to council.
It was that recommendation, addressing rental restrictions by zones, safety considerations, parking, sewer and water usage and other issues related to short term rentals that brought out a few dozen people to each of the past two council meetings to speak.
Arguably, the most contentious recommendation was the cap on STRs. There are currently 124 STRs registered with the city, and the planning commission recommended adding 15 to that total for a cap of 139.
Council rightly has offered time during its meetings for public input and discussion. That's how the process works. The council will be the entity voting on and adjusting these recommendations. Their deliberations and debate should be an open process.
So it was a bit of a head-scratcher when one member of the citizen committee and one member of the planning commission, in the past two council meetings, took to the podium to chastise the public for not showing up to their respective meetings and seeming to care only when council took up the subject.
One of these two went so far as to commend the prior work to the point of it being unassailable, saying every consideration was made in assembling the recommendations, and they should be taken as flawless, unquestioned and complete.
Taking pride in your work is one thing. But telling the public the discussion is over when you're not an elected official is another.
That's why the council members sit at the main dais. They get the final vote, and they take the final heat. They also get to have the final debate — with the public's input.
But no one should castigate and berate their fellow citizens for their choice in deciding when they enter the debate.
And, because of added public input and questions and concerns from the council, the council will meet in early 2019 with the committee and commission for further discussion and refinement.
There will be more opportunity for public input. Then the issue will again come before council, where there will be even more opportunity for public input.
That's how government works. It's by the people, for the people, and the process is open until it's closed. Only the council gets that final say.
Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.