Breckenridge looking at all options to help with housing shortage

Council members say short-term rental moratorium is still on the table

The 128-acre Alta Verde property in Breckenridge is pictured May 19, 2020.
Photo by Liz Copan / Summit Daily archives

Discussions around housing have become commonplace at town council meetings across the county as everyone is looking for a solution to the ongoing workforce housing shortage.

The town of Breckenridge is considering all of its options to bring more long-term rentals and workforce housing onto the market, and they haven’t ruled out a moratorium on short-term rentals.

At its meeting Tuesday, July 13, Breckenridge Town Council and staff discussed what is in the works to improve housing opportunities in town.

Town Manager Rick Holman said the town is under contract with the company Economic and Planning Systems to do a nexus study on the relationship between new short-term rental properties and the loss of traditional long-term rentals and workforce housing units in the town.

Council member Jeffrey Bergeron wondered whether the study would provide information the town already knows, but Holman said even if that is the case, it’s still important to have the data to support it. Holman said the study will aim to “put science to what your gut is telling you.”

Holman said the study will take two to three months, and while he hopes to keep it to 60 days, it will likely go over. He anticipates the study will confirm a dollar amount needed based on the town’s current housing initiatives: new construction, Housing Helps, the buy-down program and incentivising converting short-term rentals to long-term rentals.

Holman also said he thinks the council should plan to consult with legal counsel in an executive session to determine the best course of action based on the study, whether it be a ballot initiative or an impact fee.

Should the council decide to send a question about a tax to the ballot in April, it would need to be finalized by its second meeting in January. Holman said it would be best to have this done sooner rather than later, hopefully by early fall.

“We know from our 2019 housing assessment that we need 1,000 units today in the Upper Blue,” Holman said about the Breckenridge area. He added that it would cost anywhere from $100 million to a half-billion, on the lower end, to build 1,000 units in today’s market.

The town currently has several housing projects in the works as well as many more in the pipeline, according to housing manager Laurie Best.

“We’re trying to react to deficiencies in the housing inventory by doing some new construction, and we have a pretty decent pipeline of projects,” Best said.

Projects include Alta Verde, Block 11 as well as an unnamed project in the works south of Alta Verde that will bring anywhere from 150 to 200 units.

“I don’t think there’s any more right now we could be doing to expedite new construction,” Holman said.

Council member Kelly Owens wondered whether there was anything more the council could do to help immediately, to which Holman said the council could implement a moratorium on short-term rentals, similar to Steamboat Springs. He added that it would be up to council to determine how long it would be implemented.

While council wasn’t ready to implement a moratorium right away, council members said it is still an option should it come down to it.

Holman also mentioned that there will be a housing action initiative meeting from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 21, at Beaver Run that will bring together stakeholders from across the county to discuss the issue of housing. He said he hopes to see a group of 60 to 80 people brainstorming solutions.

Breckenridge housing projects

Alta Verde: 80 net-zero apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms. Broke ground Tuesday, July 13, with first units expected by November 2022.

Block 11: 27 one-bedroom apartments. Breaking ground in 1 1/2 months with first units expected by fall 2022.

South of Alta Verde: 150 to 200 apartments in the design phase. Expected to break ground next year after Alta Verde is near completion.

Other projects: The town owns an additional five properties designated as housing sites to be built in the future. Other non-town projects are in the works, as well, including the Braddock-Miller subdivision project that will bring up to 162 units off Stan Miller Drive.

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