Summit County to consider moratorium on new short-term rental licenses
Proposed rule would only impact unincorporated areas of the county
The Summit Board of County Commissioners next week will consider placing a moratorium on the issuance of new short-term rental licenses in unincorporated parts of the county.
Housing was again the main topic of conversation at the board’s meeting Tuesday, Sept. 7, as officials continue to seek out solutions to address the county’s lack of attainable workforce housing. In time, the county plans to roll out a package of incentives to try to entice short-term rental owners to convert their properties to long-term rentals, part of an ongoing discussion surrounding the “opportunity zone” concept officials have been discussing for the past few months.
As county staff works to iron out the details of what those incentives could look like, and which neighborhoods make the most sense to target, officials say a moratorium on new licenses would give them a chance to breathe and focus on the task ahead.
“The goal of this is really to provide our staff a pause to be able to get these incentives in place and be able to identify these areas of Summit County that we are fine with the huge increase of short-term rental applications we’re seeing as well as identify those areas that short-term rentals really do not fit,” Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said at the meeting.
Unlike Breckenridge, which is drafting legislation to place a blanket cap of 2,200 short-term rental licenses in town, Summit County is hoping to take a more surgical approach to preserve neighborhoods traditionally inhabited by the area’s workforce.
Jessica Potter, a senior planner for the county, said the balance of short-term rental applications has been shifting in the wrong direction over the past year. She noted at the meeting that of all new short-term rental license approvals in 2020, 35% were in neighborhoods and 65% were in the resort areas of Keystone and Copper Mountain. So far in 2021, 45% of new licenses were issued in neighborhoods while 55% were issued in resort areas.
“That is a situation that increasingly we are facing if we don’t find what I would call more of a scalpel-type approach to bring some of these traditional workforce neighborhoods back to balance,” Commissioner Tamara Pogue said.
Lawrence said the board didn’t have any fantasies about converting multimillion-dollar vacation homes to long-term rentals. On the contrary, there appears to be a desire to encourage short-term rentals in areas like Keystone and Copper, which would be exempt from the proposed moratorium.
The board directed staff to have a draft of the moratorium ready by its next work session meeting Tuesday, Sept. 14. If they like what they see, they could pass it at the regular meeting later that day. The commissioners encouraged community members to voice their opinions on the topic at the public hearing or via email before the meeting is held.
If passed, the moratorium would run for 12 weeks and would apply only to unincorporated areas of Summit County. Officials said they would put a map up on the county’s website in the coming days so residents have a clear picture of whether they’re located in unincorporated Summit County or one of the municipalities as well as whether they fall into one of the two exempt resort areas.
Summit County Housing Director Jason Dietz said his department is in the process of surveying short-term rental owners throughout unincorporated areas of the county in hopes of getting feedback on which neighborhoods may generally be amenable to conversion to long-term rentals.
Dietz said the county hopes to have survey results back within the next couple of weeks, and the goal is to have an incentive program rolled out sometime in October before rentals start booking up ahead of ski season.
“This direction is in line with the continued conversations we’ve been having and the strategies we identified early on, and really allow us to focus and get this work done,” Commissioner Josh Blanchard said.
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