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Mountain News: Illegal rentals targeted in Jackson



JACKSON, Wyo. – Illegal rentals by home owners are rampant in Jackson and Teton County. The local officials want to suppress the practice, which is in violation of local zoning laws. In addition, no sales tax is collected on the illegal rentals.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that local officials are questioning whether state authorities can be called in to help with enforcement, as the state is also shorted in income by the illegal rentals.

"As much as I love the lodging industry, I don't love it in everyone's backyard, where it wasn't zoned. We have to be willing to specifically confront (people), knock on doors," said Jackson Mayor Mark Barron.

The town planning department actively searches for violators of the rules, but proving a violation is difficult. "You actually need to prove the transaction," explained Tyler Sinclair, the town planning director.

The county government only responds to complaints. Jeff Daugherty, the county planning director, described a whack-a-mole situation. People commonly remove their online advertisements once they have been notified, but that rarely lasts. "As soon as we refocus our energy and efforts somewhere else, it tends to pop back up," he said.

Planning staffers estimated that only 10 to 20 per cent of violators are property management companies. The rest are private homeowners.

The News & Guide also talked with Links Luxury Rentals, which has two homes available for rental on a per-night basis that are outside areas designed for short-term rentals. Jeff Jensen, the company's chief executive said many of his company's clients are affluent and have families. Some even fly in private jets.

"The residential neighbourhoods are what give any town its flair," he said. "It doesn't come from staying at the Four Seasons. When people are able to come in and experience the family neighbourhood... that's what people want."

But Bob Lenz, a city council member, has another name for the high-end underground economy: tax evaders. "They're not different than the guy that's selling trinkets that's not paying sales tax," he said.

Cable magnate centre of buzz

SUN VALLEY, Idaho – The buzz going into the Allen & Co. conference this summer was mostly about John Malone, the Denver-based titan of the cable industry.

"Consolidation in cable is going to happen. The question is, who leads it? Malone has the credibility," Matthew Harrigan, a Wunderlich Securities analyst, told Reuters.

Malone was one of 300 or so executives plus assorted others scheduled for the conference, which always crowds the local airport to capacity with private jets.

The commissioners for all the four major sports leagues were scheduled to be at the conference, as was Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, plus Mark Zuckerberg, chef executive of Facebook, Larry Page, chief executive of Google, and Robert Murdoch, chief executive of Twenty-First Century Fox. Among dozens of others heavyweights of business, media, and philanthropy.

The sessions are off-limits to reporters, who may linger beyond the ropes in hopes that somebody emerges and designs to talk. Usually, there's little news that comes out of the conference — except for deals announced weeks or months later.

Such is the fascination with the 72-year-old Malone, who has bought and sold cable media companies for decades. noted the phalanx of reporters from national media pacing back and forth, paying attention only when the clatter of cameras fire.

"Who is that?" they asked each other.

The highlight of the afternoon was a 30-second glimpse of Apple CEO Tim Cook, who bought a drink from a vending machine as photographers yelled to see if he'd turn to face them.

"That's the one we needed, boys," a proud shooter said as he and another cameraman headed for the exit.