Breckenridge business leaders oppose recent town council ideas in public letter
A letter opposing recent actions and discussions of the Breckenridge Town Council stirred the pot at Tuesday’s council meeting. Mayor Eric Mamula responded to the letter, and community members chimed in during the public comment period asking the council to work with them to address the lack of attainable workforce housing in town.
The 71 signatures on the letter included both individuals as well as people who signed for their business, including Breckenridge Grand Vacations CEO and co-owner Mike Dudick, Breckenridge Resort Managers President Toby Babich and Breckenridge Associates Real Estate founding partner Rob Neyland. The letter was labeled “One Voice” in an email that was sent to the Town Council and forwarded to the Summit Daily News.
The letter asks the Town Council questions about how a moratorium on short-term rental licenses would address the workforce housing shortage and how the workforce can be sustained with a seasonal economy. Referencing recent discussions where some council members suggested scaling back town events, the letter also asks the council to define how it judges the success of events and other town programs.
“All of us in the business community of Breckenridge have key metrics to define our success,” the letter reads. “We venture to say very few make strategic decisions without a defined end goal. What is your vision of our town with more shoulder season and less economic activity overall?”
In addition to events, the letter’s main concerns deal with recent council decisions and discussions about potential short-term rental restrictions, development code changes and the rejection of a proposed workforce housing project.
“We have heard it voiced more than once recently that this Town Council is anti-business and anti-tourism,” the letter stated.
The overall theme of the letter was that the council isn’t representing the interests of community members, and signees requested a two-way dialogue with the Town Council.
Babich explained in an email that recent Town Council discussions have triggered concerns in the local small business community, and he said the purpose of the letter was to make sure concerns were heard from individual members of the community.
“Due to the fundamental impact to our community the multitude of recent discussions could have, I think a large portion of our community wants to ensure that we take care to collect valuable and relevant data, engage our community in thoughtful and ongoing discussions, and reach collaborative solutions to the issues that impact us all,” Babich said.
Babich gave the example of workforce housing, saying that looking at the lack of workforce housing as solely a short-term rental issue clouds discussion.
Mamula addressed the letter at Tuesday’s meeting, stating that the town is not trying to curtail events but instead wants to make sure the town has “the right events at the right time.”
“We have heard from the community, ‘There are too many alcohol-based events,’” Mamula said. “That was the genesis of that discussion, and through those discussions (Assistant Town Manager Shannon Haynes) and the events committee have come up with a tiered structure for how we allow new events in the community. At no point have we talked about getting rid of any events.”
Mamula said the council discussed a moratorium on new short-term rental licenses but didn’t go through with it. As for development code changes, Mamula pointed out that these are specific to amenity clubs, which the council has heard concerns about from community members. He said that amenity clubs are being discussed because they weren’t originally considered in the town’s planning process, but the discussion has been tabled.
The letter pointed out that the Town Council has stated its wishes to take the time as the county moves out of the pandemic to reset community priorities. Mamula responded by saying, “We should.”
“This is a great time for us to reset and make sure that we are on the right path for this town,” Mamula said.
It is not a council goal to bring back the town’s shoulder season, Mamula said, which was speculated in the letter. He also addressed the rejection of a workforce housing development, stating that this was mainly due to the proposal being in a high-traffic location. Mamula summed up his comments by saying he feels the current Town Council is approachable and works to engage the community.
Mamula noted that while the council doesn’t usually respond to letters like this, it had circulated quickly in the community and should be addressed.
“We generally don’t respond to things, in particular in the paper, because I feel that it’s really detrimental to our community to have fights in the newspaper about it, but I thought that some of these falsehoods really needed to be addressed right now,” Mamula said.
Two people who signed the letter — River Ridge Rentals CEO Ashley Kubiszyn and Summit Mountain Rentals co-owner Mary Waldman — spoke during the public comment period.
Waldman shared her experience with recent homebuyers and said she wanted to dispel a misconception that second-homeowners are buying homes in Breckenridge to rent them out.
“I think that 99% of all the homeowners we manage, they are buying for personal reasons,” Waldman said. “So if you look at the assessor’s data, half of the second-homeowners in Breckenridge are from the Front Range. This is their backyard. If you limit short-term rentals, then they will simply not rent, not contribute to our local economy. They will not give up their … housing dream to house the locals here.”
Kubiszyn also shared current real estate trends she has noticed at River Ridge Rentals, which indicates that short-term rentals are on the decline.
“A trend that we have noticed in the past few months is actually a lot of our properties are selling,” Kubiszyn said, attributing the trend to factors like remote work. “We’ve lost about 10% of our inventory because they are selling to buyers who are not planning to rent them at all — short-term or long-term.”
Kubiszyn added that the lodging community wants to help the town find solutions for workforce housing shortages, as lodging employees are also struggling to find housing, but she said she doesn’t think limiting short-term rentals will solve the problem.
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