Dillon shoots down emergency short-term rental moratorium
The Dillon Town Council unanimously voted against placing a moratorium on the issuance of new short-term rental licenses in town during its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 21.
The town had an emergency ordinance on the agenda, which would have established a moratorium on new short-term rental licenses in town between Sept. 29 and April 30, 2022. The topic was broached in part due to recent legislation passed by Summit County and the town of Breckenridge.
Earlier this month, Breckenridge passed an ordinance on first reading to cap the number of short-term rental licenses in town at 2,200. The Breckenridge Town Council is expected to hear a second reading on the ordinance at its next meeting Sept. 28. Summit County meanwhile imposed a 90-day moratorium on the issuance of short-term rental licenses in unincorporated areas of the county on Sept. 17.
Given the growing pressure on elected officials to improve access to affordable workforce housing in the community — and the position of short-term rental properties at center stage of the countywide discussion — some residents and second-home owners decided to submit their license applications as soon as possible, fearing that further restrictions were on the horizon.
“There have been various entities working to put further restrictions on short-term rentals, which in turn has caused what we believe — if you look at historical data — a sizable shift in where our community is headed,” Town Manager Nathan Johnson said. “Historically speaking, you’d usually have a handful — roughly around five applications a month — that we typically process in terms of short-term rental licenses. In the last 30 days, we’ve had 50. We think that’s a direct result of what Breckenridge and what Summit County decided to do.”
Of the 1,365 residential units in town, 281 have active short-term rental licenses — more than 20% of the town’s housing stock, Johnson said.
Johnson continued to say that the goal of the moratorium as proposed was to provide a break for town staff inundated with license applications and to give officials a chance to address topics surrounding the local short-term rental industry, such as setting occupancy limits, increasing licensing fees to commensurate levels with staff time, and gathering public input on the community’s preferred balance between short-term renters and full-time residents.
There was some discussion during the council’s work session that a moratorium would be in the town’s best interest to help dial in new regulations. But ultimately, the council decided a moratorium might do more harm than good by spurring another flood of last-minute license applications over the next week, preventing local property owners from renting while on vacation over the winter holidays and causing unnecessary problems for individuals who may need to rely on renting a space if their financial situation changes.
“That was part of the reason I (short-term rented) back in 2008, when I had a condo in Frisco,” council member Steve Milroy said. “Things were slow, and I ended up renting it just to generate a little extra money. And that was based on the market changing. … It can help to offset some of those costs when you’re struggling, which I think is important.”
“I feel like us slapping a moratorium on instantly because we’ve had extra work because of what others have done is just kind of reactionary,” council member Karen Kaminski added. “… People’s living conditions can change, and if we say, ‘You’re a homeowner and now we’re not going to let you short-term rent because of what Breckenridge did,’ I don’t think that’s a good citizenship for the people that are living here now.”
While the moratorium won’t move forward, residents likely should expect some alterations to the town’s short-term rental policies in the future. But officials promised ample opportunity for public engagement before changes are made.
The Dillon Town Council has decided to earmark additional time to the short-term rental topic on a biweekly basis, dedicating at least an hour at each work session over the coming months to conversations surrounding potential license caps, occupancy limits, license fee increases and bringing a new tax increase to the voters, among other possibilities floated by council. The town also plans to facilitate community discussions on the issue to ensure that residents and second-home owners are able to effectively share their thoughts.
Whatever changes may come, officials say for now they’re trying to focus on carrots instead of sticks: finding ways to encouraging long-term rentals instead of demonizing short-term rental owners.
“By saying that we’re not going to do the moratorium, I think we should make it so that Dillon’s focus is on incentivizing long-term rentals, and that can sort of be our theme moving forward,” council member Jen Barchers said. “If we encourage long-term rentals, and that’s sort of our point for not doing a moratorium, I think that kind of gives everybody an idea where we’re going, and it gives a little more positivity to it instead of, ‘No more short-term rentals.’”
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