Short-term rental cap in Frisco passes on first reading

The town of Frisco and Dillon Reservoir are pictured from Mount Royal on July 13, 2022.
Steven Josephson/Summit Daily News

Frisco Town Council voted to approve the first reading of a short-term rental regulation in the town. 

The ordinance would cap licenses at 25% of the residential housing stock, allowing a maximum of 900 licenses in Frisco. Property owners that already have licenses would not be affected, and Frisco reports that about 22% of the current housing stock has a license. As of Sept. 26, that is 805 licenses.

The ordinance includes an exemption for properties that are under construction or under contract before Oct. 11, and it includes exemptions to allow an active license to transfer under certain circumstances.

Several Town Council members said that the focus of the ordinance is on reducing the negative impacts of short-term rentals on community character and preserving neighborhoods rather being a solution to housing shortages for the workforce. 

“I feel strongly about this because I do believe that we need to preserve our neighborhoods,” council member Lisa Holenko said. “Unfortunately, they don’t show up at meetings like the property managers and the realtors. There are a lot of people very unhappy — as (one public commenter) had mentioned — with having the short-term rentals next to them because some people might be very careful to who they rent to and how they monitor it, but others are not. And so I am concerned about our neighborhoods. I think that our economy is pretty robust right now, and we don’t have a workforce to support this.”

David Rolling, a resident of Frisco, said that the ordinance would ease some of the issues that long-term residents face from short-term units, such as loud guests. He added that as the economy ebbs and flows, so do visitors, and regulations on short-term rentals would not cause detrimental financial impacts to the town.

“Let’s keep in mind the full-time residents (are the ones) who vote here, who do business here, who spend our money here, and who don’t want to live next to an animal house,” Rolling said. “Everybody says, ‘Well, that doesn’t happen’ until it does, and I’ve seen it happen.”

Kate Marrone, who owns property in Frisco, said that she believes there should not be any limits on short-term licensing in town and that restrictions take away the rights of property owners. Marrone said that she does not believe that short-term rentals negatively affect local workforce housing because they are two different kinds of properties.

At its Sept. 13 meeting, council members discussed creating a short-term license category for residents, which would have been issued alongside normal short-term rental licenses but would not have counted towards the overall cap. However, a New Orleans court case found that this kind of strategy was discriminatory against out-of-state property owners.  

“In several meetings, I’ve heard many times people say we don’t want to do anything that makes it harder for locals. I think taking away home ownership rights makes it harder for locals,” Marrone said. “When you take away their ability to earn income by renting out a room and their property or by renting their property when they go visit family for Christmas, you’re taking away income and you’re making it harder for locals.”

Council members voted 6-1 to approve the first reading. Mayor Hunter Mortensen was absent, and the dissenting vote came from council member Andy Held. Held said that zones could make more sense when it comes to licenses, since downtown areas of Frisco are different from traditional neighborhoods. 

“If the goal is to create more workforce housing, I don’t think this is remotely getting us there,” Held said. “If the goal is creating stronger community, I personally believe there’s going to be more vacant homes than it will do anything for our community.”

Council will vote again on the second reading on Oct. 11. If adopted, the ordinance will go into effect on Oct. 17.

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