Hundreds of public comments were submitted in the week before Breckenridge passed its short-term rental regulations

People walk down Main Street on Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 21, in Breckenridge. Tourist areas will allow for more short-term rental licenses than other parts of town, like neighborhood zones.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct Abbey Browne’s title.

As the town of Breckenridge attempts to tackle the growing number of short-term and vacation rentals in town, some are still skeptical about its efficacy and worry it could cause negative effects in the process. 

Abbey Browne, owner of Wood Woods Property Management and a member of the town’s overlay district task force, said that areas of town such as Peak 8, Upper Warriors Mark and Main Street Junction should be in zones that are more lenient to licenses, which was discussed by the task force in earlier conversations. 

“These were all areas that were actually framed by the task force unanimously to be within non-residential zones — so either Zone 1 or Zone 2. My understanding was that they were cut out because of the (land use guideline) description that they didn’t meet certain lot descriptions or even density allotments. It wasn’t always clear,” Browne said. “During the work session (Tuesday), my new concern is it sounds like you guys can redraw the map. So why is that not happening? Where’s that consideration — especially considering it was a unanimous decision by that task force?”

In addition to those who spoke during the public comment period, the town published 264 pages of digital public comments submitted to town staff and the council. Among the submissions, some were from property owners advocating for their neighborhoods to be moved into more lenient zones. Others work in real estate and are worried that this would affect sales in the county. Some praised Town Council’s move to cap licenses due to the impact they have on traditional neighborhoods. Those impacts include noise complaints and crowding. 

Pam Knudsen, with Avalara, a software platform used by Airbnb, Vrbo and other rental platforms to collect and remit local lodging taxes, told the Summit Daily that as communities across the state and country have begun more strictly regulating short-term rentals, the demand for their services has not really slowed down. She said up until just recently, the demand was outpacing the supply. Regulations could, however, have ripple effects to other spheres, such as business success and where investors and tourists choose to spend their money, she added. 

“Every solution is going to have an impact. It’s just balancing out those impacts,” she said.

Council members said that this ordinance would only be one tool in their toolbox for not only mitigating potential negative impacts from current residents but for housing impacts. They also argued that the ordinance immediately opens up the market once it goes into effect in about a month, adding several hundred licenses in Zone 1. Since the cap of 2,200 licenses was passed last fall and a moratorium was put in place, all new applications for licenses have been added to a waitlist. 

“This has been a long haul,” council member Dick Carleton said. “It started as an organized discussion around the destination management and development. That was five (or) six years ago. Council’s been working on it in earnest for over two years. There has been a lot of thought that has gone into this. There’s been just an incredible number of discussions. All of us have had one-on-ones with many of you in group settings and coffees and in the committee. It’s not perfect, and we have set up a mechanism for reporting data, taking a look at it and having an opportunity to tweak it on an annual basis. But we need to let it work for a while. We need to bring some certainty to the market.”

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