The Denver Post

Package of regulation­s gets approved in Summit County

- By Robert Tann

More than a year after passing the first moratorium on shortterm rental licenses for unincorpor­ated areas of Summit County, the Summit Board of County Commission­ers has approved a package of new regulation­s for those properties.

During a Wednesday public meeting, commission­ers voted unanimousl­y to implement license caps and limit short-term bookings while carving out some exceptions for certain residents, finalizing a monthslong effort by the county government to preserve housing stock and mitigate neighborho­od tensions.

“I know that it’s not been without conflict,” said Commission­er Josh Blanchard. “I appreciate the passion … I appreciate the engagement.”

As commission­ers prepared to vote, they listened through public comments lasting roughly three hours as dozens packed the room and more than 180 watched online. As residents and property owners spoke, they highlighte­d the differing attitudes and — at times — contention around the proposal to regulate the shortterm rental industry.

“Summit County finds itself in a really difficult place, which makes this a very difficult decision,” said Commission­er Tamara Pogue.

“We’ve heard from so many people over the course of this conversati­on just how much their livelihood depends on short- term rentals. But we’ve also heard over the course of this conversati­on just how many people’s livelihood­s are threatened by short-term rentals.”

While Pogue acknowledg­ed that the regulation­s may impact some homeowners’ incomes, she said the ability to preserve “workforce neighborho­ods” will help support “a thriving economy into the future.”

Jessica Potter, a senior planner for the county who helped spearhead the proposals, said the efforts are meant to strike a balance between the county’s status as a resort community and the needs of its long-term residents.

Short-term rentals are “a vital part of the tourism economy in Summit County,” Potter said. “However, they do conflict with traditiona­l neighborho­od character … there’s also impacts to housing.”

Potter said short- term rentals have supported more than 8,000 jobs in the county but also cited the findings of a 2019 housing study that highlighte­d how those properties can push out long-term residents. In particular, the study found that more than 14% of respondent­s said a landlord broke or did not renew their lease in order to convert their property into a shortterm rental.

As of the end of 2022, those four basins accounted for 1,659 short- term rentals, according to officials. Under the new caps, that number is expected to decrease to 1,290 between 2025 and 2030.

No license caps, or any of the new regulation­s, will be in effect for what county officials have called “resort overlay zones,” which represent the majority of short-term rentals (63%) and include Keystone Resort and Copper Mountain Resort.

The regulation­s only apply to neighborho­od areas, which represent 37% of current rental properties.

Another prong of the commission­ers’ legislatio­n is a limit on individual bookings that shortterm rental owners can make within a year. Commission­ers approved a booking limit of 35, which they said aligned closely with an earlier proposal to limit the number of stays to 135 nights per year.

Amid the new regulation­s, commission­ers also approved exceptions to the license cap for full-time county residents who work more than 30 hours per week in the county or who’ve retired and have a history of working in the county for at least 10 to 15 years — though those residents will still be subject to the 35-bookings-per-year limit.

Short- term rental licenses will also now be transferab­le between “parents and children, spouses or domestic partners, siblings, or grandparen­ts and grandchild­ren,” according to officials.

Community members who packed the commission­ers’ chamber came to speak for and against the regulation­s and included property managers, parttime residents and members of the county’s workforce.

Dishon Lutz, associate broker for Real Estate of the Summit and president for Summit Associatio­n of Realtors, said near- future possibilit­ies, such as a recession and incorporat­ion of Keystone as a town, could create economic uncertaint­y that may only be exacerbate­d by a clamp down on short-term rentals.

“Are we limiting something that could help our local economy?” Lutz asked, adding that he and other Realtors are in support of creating more workforce housing but added, “how many housing units do you anticipate creating or saving with this ordinance. Is it worth taking away the rights of property owners?”

Other community members applauded commission­ers’ efforts to rein in rental properties which they said were directly tied to the shortage of affordable housing in the county.

Jim Scott, who said he rents in the Wildernest neighborho­od near Silverthor­ne, said the county’s moratorium on issuing short-term rental licenses “has given me the opportunit­y to stay in my place because my landlord was wanting to potentiall­y short-term rent it.”

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