Breckenridge’s tourism overlay advisory task force decides on final recommendations for Town Council
The task force had its last meeting this week
In the final meeting of Breckenridge’s tourism overlay task force, three overlay districts were agreed upon, and there was a general consensus that more licenses should be grouped in Zone 1, the district that most supports tourism.
Since November, the task force made up of various stakeholders joined in a series of meetings with the goal of providing recommendations related to short-term rentals to the Breckenridge Town Council. These stakeholders include 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.
Though some specifics were discussed — such as whether to keep the cap of non-exempt licenses at 2,200 and exempt licenses at 1,500 for a total of 3,700 licenses — Breckenridge Town Manager Rick Holman said the biggest takeaway was developing the three zones and identifying a ballpark for how many licenses should be offered in each zone. He noted that any final numbers are ultimately the council’s decision.
Zone 1 would be the tourism overlay zone; Zone 2 would be the smallest zone, which includes historic areas and some of Upper Warrior’s Mark; and everywhere else would fall into Zone 3.
“The majority of people recommended that if we’re going to have more (licenses), let’s have more in Zone 1, which is the tourism overlay, and less in the other zones,” Holman said.
Under this new model, exempt and non-exempt licenses would go away. It’s also important to note that hotels do not classify as short-term rentals since they don’t need this type of license.
Though a conclusion was eventually reached, task force member and Realtor Abby Epperson questioned how much progress the task force was making. She said she wasn’t sure why the tourism overlay district had restrictions at all, especially since its focus was tourism. She also compared the town’s operations to Keystone and Copper Mountain.
“Zone 1, especially west of Park Avenue — I don’t even understand why we’re having restrictions there,” she said. “The overlay district clearly said lodging. I just feel like it’s complicated things, and I thought the original (intent) was to try and possibly pull some of the trouble (from) the neighborhoods.”
Task force members Devon O’Neil and Michelle Zimmerman agreed that even though this was a tourism zone, it should still have some kind of cap considering how saturated the town is with short-term rentals.
“The overall cap addresses a much larger problem that is growing by the day, by the year, and I think to compare Breckenridge to Copper and Keystone in terms of the regulations as they relate to tourism, they don’t have nearly the amount of year-round residents that might not want to see the traffic every single day when they bring their kids home from school,” O’Neil said.
Zimmerman said the town’s overcrowding doesn’t just have to do with short-term rentals and that this “piece of the pie” — meaning the task force’s focus — was the first thing to tackle. Instead, she said the purpose of this meeting and the group’s role was to tackle short-term rental issues as they relate to available and affordable housing.
“I think what we really want to be focused on is can people, who are living here year-round or who are working in these restaurants, afford to live here and be able to have a place to lay their head,” she said. “That’s where I think, again, should real estate be a business opportunity, a return on investment or a place to make your home, and I think you can’t have both in all places and still have a livable community.”
Task force member Abbey Browne said that to her, the point of Zones 2 and 3 was to separate homes and businesses, which wasn’t so much the case in Zone 1.
“That’s what the Zones 2 and 3 were meant for, and that’s what they’ve actually done in other places,” Browne said. “Real estate is always going to be a business, especially in a tourism economy. All we’re going to do is start limiting tourists, and then the day traffic is going to just keep going.”
During the meeting, Holman acknowledged the passion present on both sides of the issue and noted that higher caps were wanted by one side in Zone 1 while the opposite side wanted lower caps on the number of licenses.
Moving forward, the town’s staff will have a work session with the Town Council to review some of the recommendations made by the task force. The first reading of a new measure would likely be on April 12, which is when the council would take public comment on the issue in addition to a possible second reading April 26.
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