Breckenridge short-term rental owners concerned license cap will decrease property values
Breckenridge is looking to cap its short-term rental licenses, but local vacation homeowners are concerned about how this could impact their property values.
Property owners have expressed understanding of the issue in residential areas, but many noted that there are areas and complexes in town designed to be high-density, short-term lodging for vacationers. In particular, owners along the Four O’Clock corridor fear the impact of licenses being nontransferable at sale.
Abby Epperson, a Realtor who owns a unit and lives full time at the Park Place Plaza condominiums on the corner of Four O’Clock Road and Park Avenue, said the town should consider exempting this corridor. While she lives in Breckenridge for most of the year, she short-term rents her home whenever she is away. She said the inability of a new owner to get a short-term rental license will decrease the value of all the properties at the base of the ski area.
“What the council is proposing is a serious, purposeful devaluation in our property prices,” Epperson said. “… I do understand some people wanting to cap in the single-family residences in the neighborhoods, but this Four O’Clock corridor should 100% be exempt purely on the fact of the location. We’re not in a residential neighborhood. It was traditionally built for the skiers and the visitors, and anybody that bought along this corridor knew that.”
Epperson said while the council says it wants to protect the character of the town, it is damaging it by limiting licenses to an area traditionally for vacationers.
“They’re trying to do a blanket policy, so they’re picking winners and losers because it’s going to affect the values of our homes,” Epperson said. “When you have a residence for 17 years, you don’t expect it to go down because of the decision of seven people, and that’s heartbreaking.”
She also expressed concern that the exempt properties are ones run by “corporate hotels and wealthy vacation groups.”
According to town codes, condominiums, hotels and other types of lodging are exempt if they have a 24-hour front desk, a 24-hour telephone system and 24-hour on-site private security. Exempt properties include 413 licenses at Beaver Run Resort, 160 at Grand Timber Lodge and 110 at Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge at Breckenridge among others.
Breckenridge wouldn’t be the first to cap short-term rental licenses. The town of Crested Butte has had a percentage cap on its unlimited vacation rental licenses since 2017. Unlimited licenses have no limit on how many nights per year they can rent. Town Manager Dara MacDonald said there are 217 licenses of this kind in Crested Butte, and no more are available. This cap is based on 30% of housing units in the zone districts where vacation rentals are allowed.
The town also offers primary-resident vacation licenses available to any owner who lives in their home and wants to make extra cash, allowing them to rent for up to 60 nights per year. Crested Butte does not permit vacation rentals in bed and breakfasts, condos, hotels, lodges, motels or short-term residential accommodations. The town’s licenses are also nontransferable.
Breckenridge Town Council and staff are aware of the concerns some have expressed with the cap. The town sent out a community letter about short-term rentals Friday, Sept. 3, noting that some disagree with its plans, but that very few people deny the challenges the town is facing.
The letter asserted that the town believes short-term rentals have value in Breckenridge’s tourist economy but also create community challenges and impact residential neighborhoods.
“The council’s decision to place a cap on (short-term rentals) was intended to protect our quality of life and the fabric of our community,” the letter reads. “It is important to note that the council’s actions are not intended to convert (short-term rentals) to long-term rentals. Though the implementation of a cap, with additional incentives, may result in this change, we do not believe this measure will lead to a large-scale conversion. The cap is intended to stop the rapid loss of (long-term rentals) to (short-term rentals) that has been occurring.”
The letter also outlines next steps, noting officials intend to talk about possible exemptions at the Sept. 14 Town Council meeting. The letter says the town does not expect an exemption for units under construction or real estate sales under contract.
According to Leslie Edwards, Breckenridge’s accounting services manager, short-term rental licenses have never been transferable at sale, and council intends to continue this. Edwards encouraged the public to join the Town Council meeting Sept. 14 to provide feedback on potential exemptions during public comment. Public comment can also be provided by emailing email@example.com.
If passed, the town would continue to accept applications for licenses until the ordnance goes into effect 35 days after the second reading. The town will keep a waitlist on a first-come, first-served basis after the ordinance goes into effect, but no one will receive a license until the number of licenses is reduced through attrition to 2,200.
Mayor Eric Mamula said concerned residents have made good points, and he believes the town will look into various aspects of the cap as time goes on, with exemptions and incentives at the top of the list.
Mamula said there are a couple things that the council has been thinking about regarding this cap. First is the fact that Breckenridge has more short-term rental licenses than “virtually every other town of our makeup in the state.” The second concern, Mamula said, is that the balance traditionally maintained between short- and long-term rentals is off. He said when these conversations happen, everyone on council will have their own opinions as to what the best next steps will be.
“This step is to stop that transition right now from long term to short term,” Mamula said. “With what we’re talking about currently, it is more fair to the entire community to have this be for the entire community to start, and then we’ll start talking about other things.”
Gary Stephens has owned a condo at Park Place Plaza for 30 years. He agreed with Epperson that there is a need to regulate short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods, but he said the Four O’Clock corridor was developed specifically to house visitors to Breckenridge in lieu of more hotels.
Stephens also said the complexes in this area and at the base of the ski area all have property management companies that enforce rules and restrictions, which isn’t the case in single-family neighborhoods.
“I bought my place in this corridor with the hopes that its value would go up as all these new town and ski resort amenities were brought to fruition,” Stephens said.
Stephens said council’s plans will create a monopoly for timeshare properties and large corporate lodging companies since capping short-term rentals will “diminish the competition.”
“This has historically provided lodging for Breckenridge visitors for decades,” Stephens said about the Four O’Clock corridor. “Capping these will not provide more workforce housing. … These places aren’t set up for long-term renting.”
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