Statewide summit reviews latest short-term regulations in mountain towns
Leaders from Steamboat Springs, Durango, Denver, Telluride and Summit County speak about the latest regulations to hit their local vacation rental industries
The revolution against the short-term rental industry isn’t confined to the borders of Summit County.
During the third annual virtual Good Neighbor Summit on Wednesday, Dec. 8, industry leaders across the state gathered to discuss the rapidly changing regulations and rules in addition to how travel trends will impact their markets in the years to come.
The event reviewed local travel trends on the Front Range and in mountain communities, and featured speakers from VRBO and Airbnb.
Next up was a panel discussion from the leaders of five mountain communities about how changing regulations are impacting ski towns. Sitting on the panel was Toby Babich, mayor of Blue River, owner of Breckenridge Resort Managers and president of the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers. Other panelists included Alline Arguelles, president of Exceptional Stays in Telluride; Robin Craigen, co-founder and president of Moving Mountains based in Steamboat Springs; Dana Lubner, head of leadership development for Rent Responsibly in Denver; and Chris Bettin, managing broker and owner of Durango Land and Homes.
The discussion kicked off with an elevator pitch of the regulations each community has in place and what leaders expect to come down the pike. Lubner pointed to Denver’s ordinance that any rental must be a host’s primary residence. Craigen expressed his frustration that Steamboat’s community is mostly focused on short-term rentals in single-family homes and condos and not in multifamily complexes. Arguelles said Telluride voters recently passed a two-year suspension on the issuance of new licenses and currently has a 2.5% tax on all vacation rentals, which is used for affordable housing.
“In Telluride two years ago, they passed an additional 2.5% tax that is only on short-term rental lodging, not on traditional lodging or any other local businesses, which we feel is really unfairly targeting our industry,” Arguelles said during the discussion.
Babich called Summit County’s cluster of new regulations “a myriad — a patchwork quilt — of different types of regulations, restrictions, fees, taxes.”
Most of the panelists noted that these regulations are in an effort to boost the amount of affordable housing in the community but have vilified owners in the process. Babich said “this is a hard necklace to wear” and that to change this narrative, he and others in Summit County introduced the concept of a conversion program where the community could incentivize short-term rental owners to offer their properties as long-term housing to locals. The program is now known as Lease to Locals and has shown signs of early success.
“They’re having a little bit of success, which not only allows us to present an idea and back an idea and work collaboratively with our governmental entities, but it’s also taken some of the heat off because it’s having an impact. … That’s one thing to do is make sure your tactics are not just saying ‘no’ but find something to say ‘yes’ about and collaborate on,” Babich suggested.
Lubner pointed out that the Good Neighbor Summit was born out of a need to show community members that owners of short-term rentals mostly come from a good place of wanting to contribute to the economy and provide valuable experiences for guests.
After the panel discussion, Mile High Hosts — the organization hosting the event — presented a few awards, one recognizing an owner with a couple of properties in Frisco. Stefani Pastorini of Broomfield was recognized with Colorado’s Most Remarkable Host award.
Pastorini began renting in Summit County in 2003. She owns her own rental and manages another, and she said doing so allows her to share the community she fell in love with years ago.
“I thought that by sharing my little slice of heaven that others could enjoy it as well and get to see parts of the town and part of the community,” Pastorini said.
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