Short-term rental talks intensifying
BRECKENRIDGE – After months of public debate, Breckenridge officials are thinking about abandoning a draft ordinance that addresses problems with short-term rental units through licensing and addressing them with zoning and land-use measures.
“The more I thought about it, the more I thought it might be possible to do a stand-alone zoning ordinance to address this,” said Town Attorney Tim Berry.
“The substance wouldn’t be any different,” said Police Chief Rick Holman. “It’d just be cleaner as a zoning ordinance.”
Last month, the Breckenridge Town Council held a first reading of an ordinance to amend the town’s Business Occupation License Tax (BOLT) to address parking, trash and the number of people allowed in short-term rental units. Of particular concern are late-night partiers and illegally parked cars at homes where such events as weddings and family reunions are held.
Many have said there already are laws on the books addressing noise, parking, trash and occupancy levels, and if they could be adequately enforced, there would be no need to enact another ordinance. Many sections within the proposed ordinance, it was noted at a town council meeting Tuesday night, refer to existing laws.
Some second-homeowners said they feel that in drafting the ordinance the town is trying to rid the town of short-term rental units, which town council members vehemently denied.
Daniel Johnson of Resort Loyalty, a local resort research and consulting firm, reminded town council members that second-homeowners – and those who rent from them – bring substantial sales tax revenue to town coffers.
“The most vibrant com- munities have warm beds, not cold beds,” he said. “If we don’t have warm beds, we’ll end up like Vail: a private club for wealthy people.”
Breckenridge isn’t alone in its attempts to solve the problem. Scores of other resorts throughout the nation are addressing the issue – most of them through zoning and land-use guidelines.
“This topic has generated more interest and comment than all the other topics since I’ve been on the council,” said Councilmember Ernie Blake, who was elected to the position in April. “I would like to see all the ramifications, all the possible fixes. I don’t know what they might be, but I want to land in the right place. This is an issue that could be challenged, and we’d better be darn sure we step in the right direction before we step.”
Working on a solution
Since discussion began on the issue, second homeowners, town police, property management companies and year-round residents have met to discuss how the problems might be addressed without having to put another ordinance on the books.
But it might be too late for Diane Dwight, who said she’s unsure where the council stands on commercial endeavors in residential neighborhoods.
She and her husband, Andrew Jackson, were the target of complaints for renting their seven-bedroom home to people who parked cars alongside the road and stayed up late making noise. The couple didn’t know about the problems until after a wedding at the house in May.
They have since asked the town to post no-parking signs and have agreed to discontinue renting their house for large events.
“We thought we had taken care of the problem,” she said. “In the next eight weeks, there were two more wedding-related events. We tried to exercise care, but it was so very upsetting for our neighbors.”
One neighbor, Leon Fetzer, has complained that people staying in Dwight’s house have stayed up late making noise and parked illegally on the cul-de-sac in Sunbeam Estates at the south end of town.
Dwight is unsure how the town will address the issue to the satisfaction of year-round neighbors.
“In a worst case scenario, they would ban short-term rentals in residential areas,” Dwight said. “We’re very concerned.”
Blake and Mayor Sam Mamula said there is no way the town will ban short-term rentals. But Dwight feels if the town doesn’t address the issue sufficiently, her neighbors might form a homeowners association and ban such uses. The couple, who built the home as a vacation getaway, might then be forced to sell it.
“There are a lot of factors that work on us to get rid of this place,” Dwight said. “One of them is unnecessary regulations. I want to be left alone to use my property the way I intended. Do people really want to control the problems or do they really want to restrict the activity? I have no objection to controlling the problems, but if they go too far in the regulatory sphere, that’s where I have my problems. You just get to the point where you say, “I don’t want any part of this, let’s get out of here.’ We would never have built this house if we thought this was going to happen.”
The town council will hold a worksession to address the ordinance Sept. 3 at 3 p.m. and again at its Oct. 8 meeting.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The town council will hold a worksession to address the ordinance at 3 p.m. Sept. 3 and again at its Oct. 8 meeting.
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