Locals react to what are likely to be Summit County’s new short-term rental licensing regulations
Some believe there shouldn’t be a cap on the number of nights for various licenses while others don’t agree with Peak 7 neighborhood’s classification as a resort zone
Throughout the year, Summit County leaders have taken numerous steps to increase the amount of attainable and affordable housing for locals, and one such measure is revamping its short-term rental license regulations. Over the past few months, the county’s planning department has led the charge in gathering public feedback and collecting data to determine the best course of action for its program.
That work started to come to fruition at a Summit Board of County Commissioners meeting Nov. 23, when the board passed the new licensing regulations on first reading. The new regulations divide unincorporated Summit County into resort zones — which include areas such as the Peaks 7 and 8 neighborhoods, Copper Mountain and Keystone — and neighborhood zones, which include areas such as Dillon Valley, Wildernest and Summit Cove.
The county began exploring an overhaul of its short-term rental licensing program after learning that its program is quickly growing. Summit County Senior Planner Jessica Potter, who helped spearhead the county’s new regulations, explained at the meeting that home sales in the first half of 2021 that resulted in short-term rental license applications increased 21% compared with the first half of 2020. She emphasized that while only 35% of the county’s short-term rentals are in neighborhood areas, that is where 86% of all short-term rental complaints come from.
When condos, townhomes and other properties turn into short-term rentals, it effectively removes these properties as potential housing for locals. Summit County leaders believe these changes will indirectly “stop the bleed,” or slow the pace of short-term rental unit conversions. Others aren’t so sure.
Kyle Rogers and his wife, Marlene, own a second home outside of Breckenridge in unincorporated Summit County. The couple said they remain unconvinced that these new regulations will create housing for full-time residents.
Under the proposed regulations, the couple would likely get a Type 2 license, which limits the number of nights they can rent to 135. The couple said they usually rent far more than that and believe county leaders should take a second look at how much lost revenue the rules could cost the community.
“If you cap these (short-term rentals) at a certain number less than what they are being rented for, those (guests) will simply go elsewhere, and they’ll take their money with them, and they’ll go to communities where they can have that superhost-like experience in a mountain home,” Rogers said.
Dillon Valley resident Erica Dove said she’s skeptical about the capped number of nights, too, though she’s concerned how it will impact locals. Owners who rent their primary residences are limited to 60 nights per year to rent the entire unit under the Type 1 license for properties that fall in a neighborhood zone, though there’s no limit to how much they can rent out extra bedrooms. Dove said she believes locals should rent out their properties however much they want and that extra regulations such as this could have a negative impact on full-time residents.
“Sometimes, I think more regulation is stressful on the local community, and I truly believe … we need to provide more service and less regulations on people who live here locally,” Dove said. “I think it’s different if you used to live here and you moved away. Then the Type 1 would make sense.”
Other community members are more concerned with the Peak 7 neighborhood, which was designated as a resort zone and doesn’t have any restrictions on short-term rental licenses. Thom Beckett has owned a home along Discovery Road for 17 years and said the Peak 7 neighborhood should have been classified as a neighborhood zone.
“Our proximity to Breck ski resort gives a false impression that we are a neighborhood that is capable of the density … and the commercial traffic and commercial behaviors,” Beckett said. “Peak 7 is a longstanding locals’ and long-term rental neighborhood, and I’ve been there for 17 years. It’s been a quiet neighborhood.”
Becky Bowers agrees that Peak 7 was wrongfully classified. To her, Peak 7 doesn’t share the same characteristics as other resort zones, such as Copper Mountain, Keystone and Peak 8.
“In the county’s proposed ordinance, it states that resort overlay zones are areas that have amenities to support tourists and intense (short-term rental) use,” Bowers wrote in an email. “Peak 7 has single-family homes on gravel roads, many on steep grades, with no bus service and 2 miles to the nearest lift.”
Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue noted that Peak 7 was one of the hardest neighborhoods to classify, mostly because there is data to support arguments for designating it as a resort zone and arguments for designating it a neighborhood zone.
“From a data perspective, there’s a lot of different data trends that make Peak 7 very unique,” Pogue said. “Certainly, its proximity to Breckenridge resort makes it unique, its density in terms of the fact that it’s really solely single-family units that are relatively far apart, its relatively low-level of conflict related to short-term rental units. If you look at its homeownership over time, and who actually owns the units on Peak 7, it’s been relatively stable, and if you look at its home value prices — for several years now — it’s consistently been out of the range that would be attainable for most of our workforce.”
Pogue noted that roughly 30 to 40 community members spoke in favor of designating the Peak 7 neighborhood as a resort zone at the board’s meeting Nov. 23 and that these opinions were weighed heavily when the board made its decision.
The commissioners voted to hold a public hearing on the ordinance and code changes Dec. 16, when they’ll vote on the new regulations on second reading.
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