Breckenridge short-term rental advisory task force voices optimism following first meeting
Breckenridge’s temporary short-term rental advisory task force met for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 2, to start discussions around the possible establishment of tourism overlay zones that could be exempt from the town’s short-term rental license cap.
The task force includes various stakeholders, including folks from the real estate community, the hotel and exempt short-term rental community, short-term rental property managers, council members and other community members. As an advisory task force, it exists only to make recommendations to the Town Council.
Abbey Browne, with Wood Winds Property Management, said the first meeting was a good start for the group. She said the task force approached this initial conversation at a macro level, primarily diving into historical and existing land uses so everyone had a better understanding of the issues in front of them.
Browne said it’s “obvious” the town is taking its short-term rental regulations seriously given how engaged they were with the task force’s first meeting. Mayor Eric Mamula greeted the group at the start of its meeting, and Browne said there were at least five town staff members present, too.
“There was just a lot of interaction from the town, which I just found very reassuring,” Browne said.
As the task force continues meeting, Browne hopes to bring a different perspective. She said while her business does work with short-term rentals, it also manages homeowners associations, and she said she knows the properties and their histories well.
“I’ve been managing these places for 15-plus years, so that’s really helpful when you’re trying to figure out how they’ve changed over the past 15 years,” Browne said.
Given that her livelihood depends on the presence of short-term rentals in the community, Browne said she also hopes to focus on the fact that Breckenridge is a resort town that needs tourists. She said she understands that unfettered short-term rentals are not realistic, but tourists’ needs still need to be met in the town.
Jim Schlegel, a Realtor with Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate, said the first meeting expanded everyone’s knowledge and laid the foundation of how to move forward creating a tourism overlay district.
“I feel like the town staff and the council people are open-minded and willing to be flexible to amend the ordinance in a way that’s going to be a little bit more workable for the Breckenridge community,” Schlegel said.
Devon O’Neil is an at-large member on the task force who spoke in favor of the rental cap at several council meetings. He said the first meeting helped everyone get a more basic understanding of the task and tools at hand. He said it was nice to have all sides at one table working productively without focusing on being for or against the license cap.
“The town council meetings have gotten really contentious and really uncomfortable to be at, and yet this meeting that I attended on Tuesday was really comfortable and felt productive, even if we didn’t make any final decisions or get close to that yet,” O’Neil said. “But I thought it was a really good sign of what’s to come in our subsequent meetings simply because people are there for the right reasons. They want to do this as well as it can be done and in as fair a manner as it can be done.”
O’Neil also noted that it still isn’t clear exactly what will come out of this task force and what benefits folks in the overlay districts might have. He said there isn’t currently a blueprint for something like this, and it will be tricky to look at the complexes in town and determine guidelines for each, especially because even nearby developments could potentially have different restrictions.
“There’s not a ton of real quantitative, historically tested data to work with here, so we’re trying to understand the makeup of the town and the original intentions of each little nook and cranny so that we can make informed decisions and recommendations for Town Council,” O’Neil said. “… I think the town’s been at capacity, and I think this is a great first step, but it’s really difficult to figure out how to roll it out.”
Dick Carleton is one of the Town Council representatives on the task force, and he said he was impressed by how open-minded everyone in attendance was.
“It’s an open, intelligent, experienced group of folks that I think are coming to the table interested and willing to come to a reasonable agreement for all,” Carleton said.
Carleton said he hopes everyone can continue to learn and understand both sides of what he called “a challenging issue in our community.” He said he thinks the town can make its existing ordinance regulating short-term rentals better, and he was encouraged seeing this group start the work to do so.
O’Neil said he hopes to bring a voice for long-term housing, and he said he thinks the task force will ultimately have to debate whether individual complexes, blocks and neighborhoods are included in overlay districts with the town’s big picture in mind.
“It’s going to be a really tough decision on some properties, but I don’t want us to forget that just because of a place’s location or surroundings that it can’t house long-term locals,” O’Neil said.
Browne said she hopes the task force is able to come up with a plan for council that is sustainable long term, meeting the town’s needs now and able to grow with the town in the future.
“My ultimate goal is to kind of keep that big picture in mind while we’re going through this and realizing that if you start slashing licenses without a really surgical plan there could be really big effects,” Browne said.
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