Frisco resident starts petition to restrict short-term rentals
Vacation rental group president says proposed ordinance will not solve workforce housing woes
A petition is circulating around Frisco to restrict short-term rental units as one resident’s effort to address a lack of affordable workforce housing.
James Hayes Walsh announced his intention to start a petition to prohibit short-term rentals for single-family homes, except when the home rented is a person’s primary residence, at a Frisco Town Council meeting in early June.
“I’m trying to, through direct initiative, pass an ordinance that will prioritize locals for single-family home rentals,” Walsh said. “If somebody can finance a house to help subsidize their mortgage because they’re living there and turning the rooms over and getting a high return, that’s great, we want that. If an investment group can come in, buy a house, pay a management company to do short-term rentals … for five to 10 years then flip the property for a profit, that’s bad.”
To bring the ordinance to the Frisco Town Council for potential ratification, Walsh needs 15% of the town’s voting population to sign the petition — nearly 400 people.
During the June 22 Frisco Town Council meeting’s public comment period, Walsh was confident he would collect the necessary signatures and urged the council to implement an ordinance on their own. He cited a Denver ordinance that allows short-term rentals of all types of real estate to operate only if the property is the owner’s primary residence.
Walsh said that prior to pursuing this effort, he talked to homeowners around town and found that residents who support the petition do so because they don’t intend to leave Frisco and feel short-term rentals are diminishing their quality of life. On the flip side, he said resident homeowners who don’t support the petition own multiple properties and believe an ordinance like this would decrease their home value.
“We have residents who live here, and they believe short-term rentals are ruining their quality of life, and you have residents planning to leave the community after they cash out. Which side is council going to be on?” Walsh said to the council. “Council has a chance to make a statement by supporting this ordinance, an opportunity to take action for people who live full time in this community, to show that our town has values beyond mainstream American greed.”
Toby Babich, president of the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers, said the group has drafted a letter in opposition to the petition. He said that if the goal is to increase housing for locals, the proposed regulation would be ineffective.
“Banning, just in general across the nation, does not increase workforce housing,” Babich said. “There are several criteria involved in that. The first one is most people who own a second home up here own it because they want to come and use it, so they’re unable to rent it long term. … The second one, and where this discussion gets lost on people, is it’s one thing to have available housing but that doesn’t address the affordability of it.”
Babich said that while this type of ban might work in Denver, Summit County is set up to be a vacation destination. He said that there aren’t a lot of people that live in Summit County that want to rent out their bedrooms, and preventing second homeowners from short-term renting their properties would negatively affect the real estate market as it could encourage homeowners to sell their properties at a depressed value. Babich added that this type of restriction would result in job losses, as well.
Babich noted that the county and towns have already come together to develop workforce housing solutions, and there are dedicated tax revenue streams to fund initiatives. Banning is not a solution, Babich said, but building is.
“The county and the town of Breckenridge, and there are a few other municipalities, have greenlighted some workforce housing projects, which is always a really good solution because they’re able to build them in strategic areas at a specific cost,” Babich said. “And they’re able to subsidize those things so they can be rented affordably for the workforce.”
He added that the alliance is working on incentives like tax credits for homeowners to offer suitable units to the long-term renters market.
“Hopefully we can continue with our constructive process of solving these problems and not get sidetracked by punitive bans and restrictions that just aren’t going to solve the problem,” Babich said.
Walsh can be contacted regarding the petition at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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