Breckenridge candidate Q&A: Describe a misstep of the current council and how you would have handled it differently

I recall being at a Town Council forum where the majority of people in attendance stood and spoke in disagreement to the proposal being discussed. However, even with that overwhelming response, the Town Council voted unanimously in favor of the proposal. While I understand the council has its ear to the ground and communicates with multiple committees and constituents, such a dramatic opposition should warrant either a vote to the people directly or a follow-up public forum for further discussion before such decisions are made. We are meant to be the voice of the people ultimately, and while we are tasked with bringing ideas, we are still meant to enact the wishes of our constituents.

— Jason Libby

I believe that there are always opportunities to improve, to learn and to increasingly engage the community in decisions. With hindsight, I would have pushed for better management of our communications during the short-term rental cap discussions. There was a tremendous amount of interest from the community. While there were many conversations for months leading up to the ordinance — work session discussions, focus group roundtables — town was not as proactive with our communications as we could have been. We could have avoided much of this confusion in the community. For any contentious policy, I intend to push for increased communications and community participation.

— Carol Saade

Town Council has failed to listen to the people of Breckenridge. In 2021, when the town surveyed locals asking for feedback on Walkable Main, 86% of residents and 83% of businesses that responded supported its return. However, five of the six present council members voted “no” on the proposition to reinstate Walkable Main in summer 2021. This is one of many instances where Town Council ignored the input of constituents.

While I have many of my own ideas, I would make it my No. 1 priority to listen to the constituents of Breckenridge. I would also respect the constituents as well as their ideas and opinions. Too often, members of our community attend Town Council meetings only to have their public comments fall on deaf ears. Part of my pledge to constituents will be to hold regular chats with concerned residents so that I can meet with them face-to-face to hear their needs.

Additionally, the current Town Council thinks in unison. They have no diversity of thought. As an aerospace engineer, it is in my nature to question and analyze. I will do my own research and thoroughly consider the costs, benefits and impacts of all ordinances and resolutions.

— Ally “For The People” Doolin

Breckenridge has been graced with forward-thinking and courageous leaders for decades, and the present time is no exception. Great leadership and altruistic goals do not always exempt the best of intentions from unintended consequences.

Last spring, the town surveyed residents and businesses, asking for feedback about the return of Walkable Main despite not having the staffing to support the initiative for the second year in a row. As the survey returned overwhelmingly in favor for the return of the pedestrian-only Main Street concept, the logistics were too intensive to responsibly move forward. There were going to be trade-offs: Does the trash get emptied? Does the street get swept? What obligations go unmet, and what are the consequences?

The misstep of asking a question for which the answer was already clear displays the limitations of government and serves as a reminder that there are boundaries and opportunity costs.

— Jay Beckerman

The short-term rental cap is a huge misstep. It encouraged people to get a short-term rental license before the deadline. This in turn further shrank the amount of long-term rental inventory. That raises rents and makes housing less affordable. At the same time, it takes away homeowner rights without reason. Meanwhile, companies like Breckenridge Grand Vacations are exempt. They will continue to build more short-term rentals, and new homeowners will have to house the new employees of those exempt companies with a long-term rental.

I have proposed two solutions: A three-year waiting period for a short-term rental license instead of a cap, and a guarantee program that would have the town protect a long-term rental landlord against damages and early departures in return for no security deposit or last month’s rent. This would make it easier to obtain a lease.

— Lenny Weisberg

Not listening to the public on several issues, short-term rentals being the most glaring example. After no less than 10 hours of public comment — with almost all asking to put the ordinance on hold to learn more and possibly make a better ordinance — the public was completely ignored and discounted. Now a task force has been put in place to fine tune the ordinance, a step that should have happened before any decision was made. If I am on council, I have to listen to all points of view on an issue, not just the ones I want to hear.

— Nathan Moorefield

The town staff and council have worked hard to ensure there is enough housing in our community. However, given COVID, an increase in visitation and more remote workers in our town, that effort has fallen short of the current needs in town. The town and council could have been more aggressive in acquiring land for future use and developing more projects quicker.

I favor a stronger focus on human capital and employees. As one of the top ski towns in the country, the town of Breckenridge should be a leader when it comes to housing employees. Going forward, we also need to reengage the private sector and our local government partners to see what additional housing projects we can get out of the ground this summer. On top of what is planned, can we get another 100 units built by summer 2023? If elected, I hope to focus extra energy and resources on our employees and housing.

— Todd Rankin

The major misstep by town council is the implementation of the short-term rental restrictions. This will not result in anywhere near the necessary long-term housing to make things better. As I said before, we are way behind the eight ball on this problem, and it should’ve been dealt with three or four town councils ago, at least. We need to build massive affordable rental housing, which creates an income stream for the town of Breckenridge for years to come and is the highest and best use of the almost 4,000 acres of land the town owns. As far as I know, Breckenridge is still the most visited single ski resort in North America. We need to act like it.

— Tom Day

I think the Town Council could have handled the decision of whether to reimplement the Walkable Main program for summer 2021 differently. The town issued a survey to gather input from local business leaders and residents on the impacts of the program and whether to proceed with it again. Even though the survey data indicated overwhelming support for the program, albeit with caveats on how the program should be executed, Town Council voted unanimously against supporting the program for a second year.

While the decision not to proceed was reportedly based upon multiple factors, including traffic safety and economic equity for business owners, the decision by council was overshadowed by public perception that the council disregarded public sentiment. In my opinion, Town Council should have been clearer with the public that the survey was only one component of the decision-making process and thus the results of the survey would be weighed accordingly.

— Mike Zobbe

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