Despite overwhelming amount of pushback, Summit County commissioners approve temporary moratorium on short-term rental licenses

At the County Commissioners Summit Council meeting on Tuesday, September 14, the commissioners imposed a moratorium on new applications for short-term rental permits.
Joel Wexler / For the Daily News Summit

Breckenridge isn’t the only local entity restricting short-term rental licenses. Starting at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, September 17, Summit County’s temporary moratorium on short-term rental licenses goes into effect, effectively banning new licenses in unincorporated areas of the county for the next 90 days.

The county began to seriously consider a moratorium on short-term rental licenses at a working meeting of the County Commissioners Council at the summit on September 7. So far, the county has largely dragged its feet to cap or ban short-term rental licenses, mainly due to reluctance from the short-term rental community. But at the September 7 meeting, officials noted that any moratorium of some kind could give staff the bandwidth to focus on other strategies that could reduce the problems the community faces with the lack of affordable housing and accessible to the workforce.

Summit County Senior Planner Jessica Potter described the new move as “a break from what we’re already doing.” The note sent to the staff reiterated that the move was intended to “give staff time to develop and propose amended regulations on short-term leasing through the code change process.”

According to Potter’s presentation at the regular meeting of commissioners on Tuesday, September 14, the proposal only applies to unincorporated Summit County and only to new licenses. This does not affect conversions or renewals of existing licenses.

The proposal also describes specific areas exempt from the moratorium, meaning the county can still issue new short-term rental permits for those areas. These include a few subdivisions at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge – including the SkiWatch Subdivision and the Four O’Clock Subdivision – and properties located in Copper Mountain and Keystone.

Certain real estate sales currently under contract are also exempt. If buyers can prove that they intend to rent their new properties on a short-term basis, they can sign an affidavit and complete a special form, thus entering a special exemption process.

During the regular meeting, Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence pointed out that the county’s planning department was understaffed and noted that the department had received nearly 100 requests for short-term rentals during the last week. She said putting in place a moratorium allows the planning department to have additional bandwidth to perform data analysis that will help them develop future strategies that could help alleviate the affordable housing problem.

Despite an overwhelming amount of public comment rejecting the decision, commissioners approved the measure.

The meeting was held both virtually and in person, and the public was allowed to comment by either means. At one point, nearly 100 attendees were connected through Zoom and nearly 30 members of the public visited in person.

Several community members expressed their views on a proposed moratorium on short-term tenancy at the Summit County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, September 14, where the commissioners ended up imposing a moratorium on new applications for rental permits. short term rental despite comments against the measure.
Joel Wexler / For the Daily News Summit

Most commentators have expressed skepticism that the moratorium will not produce the results the county wants, and some, like Meredith and Jason Adams, of Mountain Living Real Estate, and Adam Parker, owner of the property management company. Summit Luxury, said they didn’t think the county should have the power to make those kinds of decisions.

“I would like to point out the obvious,” Adams said. “Today I have heard a lot of really good and thoughtful statements, and I think the overwhelming majority of them are not interested in this moratorium or believe it is the right course of action. I think that’s what I want to point out – that I understand there’s a problem here, but I really think short term rentals are just the easy villain in this picture and this moratorium doesn’t really fix not the problem.

Parker acknowledged that the county and similar areas like Vail have problems with affordable housing, but said he believes targeting short-term rentals is not the answer.

“We don’t want to question the very nature of resort towns, which are visitors, due to a common cultural issue,” he said.

Some commentators did not think this measure would be successful in part because of the way some use their units. Short-term rental unit owners typically buy their properties because they would like to use them throughout the year. If they are not able to rent the properties, many of them will remain vacant.

Other commentators, such as Boulder resident Katie Davis and Karen Frisone, management broker and owner of KO Real Estate in Denver, have noted that some people are buying their units and renting them out short term to help pay their mortgage. and their bills.

“I currently have clients who are actively trying to negotiate a contract on unincorporated property in Breckenridge,” said Frisone. “It’s a multi-million dollar property, and the lower unit is a short term rental that they would consider using for passive income, and maybe long term, but most of the time they wish to use it as a family. The way you vote today is whether or not they decide to move to that area. “

To this, Lawrence said she doesn’t think it’s appropriate for the county to get involved in these issues.

In either case, short-term renters will still be allowed to operate normally. This moratorium only affects new licenses.

Other commentators said they believe the county should use other strategies to achieve its goals. Mark Baumann, real estate agent for Slifer, Smith & Frampton, said he would like to see the county build new higher density developments. Others have said they would like to see the county team up with other surrounding counties, arguing locals don’t have to live in Summit. Stephen Traweek, director of sales and development for Pinnacle Lodging, said he would like the county to offer incentives for owners to convert their properties rather than restrict licensing.

On top of that, Peter Reeburgh, CEO of Summit Cove Lodging, said he was “blown away” that the moratorium was in part due to a personnel issue. Reeburgh said he didn’t think the moratorium would do anything other than “grab the headlines” and cause “panic and hysteria”.

“I am really blown away by this comment that this is a personnel issue,” he said. “That’s the central question we’ve been looking at, finally, and I think it’s ridiculous. … Get past your planning department, set a deadline, and put these people to work. They are paid to do this.

During the discussion, it was noted that the county planning department is currently down by one staff member, and the county as a whole is down by 100 positions. Lawrence stressed that the implementation of the moratorium is not only intended to give more bandwidth to the ministry, but also to continue to examine the issue of affordable housing as a whole. Lawrence also reported that many members of the community have contacted staff and commissioners in favor of a moratorium.

Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue reiterated Lawrence’s thoughts saying the purpose of the moratorium is to gather more data that can be used to make decisions in the future.

Although some commentators pointed out that the overwhelming majority of thoughts shared during the meeting were against the moratorium, Lawrence reminded the audience that there were many in favor and that “most of these people are working.” .

Before voting and approving the measure, the three commissioners noted that it was a temporary measure. In the meantime, commissioners have encouraged the sharing of additional public comments online..

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