Community members provide input during town hall about Summit County’s new short-term rental conversion program
Concerns about the future ability to short-term rent and awarding those who already long-term rent were raised
Display boards were up, the survey was live and comment cards were sitting at the ready inside the Summit Board of County Commissioners’ meeting room at the Summit County Courthouse on Thursday, Oct. 14.
The town hall was one of two where community members had the opportunity to give input on the county’s new Lease to Locals program, which aims to incentivize owners of short-term rentals to convert their properties into long-term housing.
The first town hall was held Thursday, Oct. 7, at the Summit County Library’s north branch in Silverthorne, where 39 community members showed up to ask questions. The second town hall welcomed 42 attendees, one of which was Jaci Marie Louise.
Louise was a long-time resident who lived in Breckenridge before moving to Aurora. She’s owned a home in unincorporated Summit County for 34 years, 10 of which she’s rented out to locals long term. The house is currently getting remodeled, and once completed, Louise said she’d like to turn it into a scrapbooking retreat on the weekends and use it herself throughout the week.
Louise said she attended the town hall to see if the conversion program was a good fit for her home.
“The problem is that a lot of people who like to scrapbook have already booked for this winter,” Louise said. “It needed to be marketed a lot sooner so this would give me a six-month leeway. I could market (the house) during these six months. It’s going to sit vacant until I can get people interested to come.”
Louise’s biggest question was whether the ability to short-term rent her property would be taken away if she decided to participate in the conversion program, to which the answer was “no.” Prior to the county’s short-term rental moratorium, Louise got a short-term rental license, making her eligible for the Lease to Locals program. She said she’s looking forward to the prospect of short-term renting her home, mostly because it gives her the opportunity to use it again.
“I would like to have a scrapbook retreat where people come up and scrapbook on the weekends — not every weekend — and then I get to use the home, because I haven’t been able to use my home for the past 10 years,” Louise said. “Quite frankly, I miss Breckenridge so much.”
In general, Louise said she’d like to see the county put more pressure on businesses to help solve the affordable housing issue.
Oliver Le attended the town hall for many of the same reasons Louise did. Le lives full time in Littleton and is building a home near Blue River. He visited the town hall as an attempt to understand the county’s program.
“We just kind of wanted to get an idea of what direction the county is going and what ideas they’re proposing for short-term rentals,” Le said. “I know it’s a hot topic, and as a property owner, we feel like we should have property rights and make decisions for our property versus cities or counties coming in and dictating. With that said, I understand that there is a problem with affordable housing.”
Le said his home is estimated to be completed by May 2022 and when finished, he’d hoped to use it once or twice a month and short-term rent it when he’s not there.
“I know a lot of other homeowners are in the same dilemma where if you’re forced to long-term lease, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our property,” Le said. “Also if we long-term lease, I don’t think our property would be a good fit for the housing that they’re looking for.”
Le pointed out that if he were to long-term rent his home, it wouldn’t be doable to do so at or below market rate, meaning most locals would be priced out.
Both Le and Brooks said they’re glad the county is taking additional time to gather feedback from the community as they continue to develop and fine-tune these various programs.
“I do think we have a good group of council members, and I feel like they are mindful and thoughtful on how they maneuver the affordable housing crisis,” Le said.
Other individuals, like Randy Brooks, visited the town hall for a number of reasons. The Breckenridge resident lives in Summit County full-time, and he and his wife own a couple of units that they currently rent long term. The couple also lives nearby several short-term rentals and has had to make use of the hotline to make formal complaints.
In general, Brooks said he attended because he wanted to provide his two cents.
“The way Breck went about it was just, in my mind, so egregious that I have an appreciation for the county,” Brooks said. “On the one hand, there’s a sense of urgency to do something, and at the same time, (they’re) wanting to get input from people and creating the opportunity for people to come and take a look at what the thoughts are and give some input.”
Part of his attendance was also to advocate for locals who are already renting out their units long term. In his opinion, he’d like to see the county award these individuals with a tax break, but when he voiced this to county staff, it was pointed out that this move might need to be approved by state or even federal entities.
“I get you’re trying to incentivize people to transition from short term to long term, but is there a bone you could throw to those of us that actually have obviously been ahead of the curve of this for some time?” Brooks asked.
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