Breckenridge officials debrief after intense Town Council meeting that approved a short-term rental cap on 1st reading

Public comment suggestions discussed

Park Place Plaza on Four O'Clock Road in Breckenridge is pictured on Sunday, Sept. 5. Owners at the high-density condo complex are concerned about the impact of the proposed short-term rental license cap's impact on property value.
Liz Copan/For the Summit Daily News

Three days following an intense Town Council meeting, the town of Breckenridge’s elected officials once again met for a work session meeting to debrief about its nonexempt short-term rental cap, which passed on first reading Tuesday, Sept. 14. During Tuesday’s meeting, elected officials and town staff heard five hours’ worth of public comment that largely opposed the move, and officials used their work session Friday, Sept. 17, to discuss some of the suggestions introduced by community members.

Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula explained that some minor modifications can be made after the first reading, but some things are too broad to modify and these could be added later as an amendment. The second reading for the measure is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Possible exemptions

The first set of suggestions the town discussed were a number of possible exemptions, including:

  • Exceptions for transfers as a result of the death of the owner or transferring to other family members.
  • An exemption for fractional properties when a quarter or half share and fraction of the property changes hands.
  • An exemption for properties with an active building permit and homes under contract at the time the cap takes effect.

Of these, council showed support for everything except an exemption for fractional properties where a portion of the ownership changes hands. Council member Kelly Owens said she was hesitant to explore this exemption in time for the ordinance’s second reading, mostly because she thinks this could stem from a broader issue. A few other council members agreed with her and wanted more time to flesh out this issue.

“This one is tougher to me because I think (it relates to) a lot of those issues that we’ve been reading about with companies coming in and sort of orchestrating these timeshare properties,” Owens said. “This one makes me a little more nervous, like it might be one part of a bigger conversation we need to have. I’m not sure I feel comfortable slipping it into the ordinance in two weeks. I’m perfectly happy to look at it in depth, but I do feel like this is one part of possibly a bigger issue.”

Following the meeting, it was announced that building permits active on Sept. 14 will have an 18 month window to apply for a short-term rental license and any property under contract to sell by Sept. 28 will have a six-month window to apply for a license. Those additions to the ordinance will be reviewed at second reading.

District exemptions

Another suggestion introduced in Tuesday’s public comment period was the possibility of identifying a tourism core that identifies certain areas that are specifically designed for tourists and thus would be exempt or warrant a higher cap.

Prior to Friday’s meeting, Mamula said he identified how something similar could be implemented in the town. Mamula noted that the town has a little less than 50 land use districts. Mamula said he used the town’s planning code to identify which land use districts currently had language around the town’s ski areas. Of these, districts 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 39 and 40 all have language that point out their close proximity to the town’s ski area and thus could be ideal for short-term rentals.

Mamula noted that he only recently identified this strategy and that it would need to be worked out further before being implemented. Most council members favored the idea and all agreed that they’d like to see planning commission staff review these districts more thoroughly to see if any additional districts should make the cut. This is an approach that would likely take a couple months.

“I like the approach where we’re using language in the current zoning,” council member Dick Carleton said. “I think that is a great approach I hadn’t thought of previously.”

A tiered system

Another suggestion that was discussed by the town was whether or not to implement a tiered licensure system for certain short-term rental owners. For example, should short-term rental owners that rent their properties for 14 days or less be included in the cap?

Some council members mentioned that this system is a new process and that the town should start with a simple broad system before getting into specifics. Others said that some people might want to short-term rent their extra bedrooms, but then it was noted that these bedrooms are typically good spots for workforce housing.

For now, this idea was added to a list of discussion items that would be further vetted in the future.

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