Silverthorne council aims to focus on community, public input in short-term rental discussions

The Smith Ranch neighborhood in Silverthorne is pictured Sunday, Nov. 7. Because Smith Ranch is deed-restricted, short-term rentals are not allowed.
Lindsey Toomer/Summit Daily News archive

Silverthorne Town Council further discussed how to potentially approach short-term rentals in town at its work session on Wednesday, June 29, and Town Council members were eager to find ways to engage the public during future processes. 

Currently, short-term rentals in Silverthorne are not affecting affordable workforce housing. Of the 3,724 total residential units in the town of Silverthorne, 349 built units are deed-restricted, meaning short-term rentals are not allowed at all. More restricted units are on the way in Smith Ranch, bringing the number up to 525 units. 

Town Council members and staff are more concerned about how short-term rentals could impact traditional town neighborhoods and community character. 

One concern from the council’s last meeting was if conversations about short-term rentals began, a large number of applications would come in quickly from property owners wanting to get ahead of any regulations. However, assistant town manager Mark Leidal said that though some did come in, it was not as many as initially anticipated. 

“We currently have seen an increase but not a substantial increase from the last work session,” he said. “We’ve seen five additional short-term rental applications that have come in, so we have 231 short-term rentals currently.”

Liedal presented a preliminary map for the council to consider as a starting point. On that map, a large majority of town was under a 10% cap, which includes most traditional neighborhood zones. Deed-restricted communities were not given a cap since they legally can not have any, and other areas including the downtown core are slated with a 50% cap. Of the neighborhoods in Silverthorne, nine are above 10% short-term rentals currently. Though the map is likely to change over the coming discussions, town staff wanted to create a preliminary one to get discussion started.

For most neighborhoods, a 10% cap would put somewhere between one to 10 short-term rentals in each neighborhood, depending on its size. Some homeowners associations do not allow them at all, and those rules supersede any ordinance the town may pass. As the map stands now, caps would allow for 642 rentals in the entire town.  

“My main concern is that we are about to close on another 200 houses in the next two years,” council member Tim Applegate said. “I’d like to welcome them to our town and not all of a sudden tell them, ‘No, you can’t do it.’ Some of these people might not have been able to afford this without that extra income from (short-term renting). So I just like to make sure that we have these conversations.”

Council members agreed that having public comment is the No. 1 priority to make sure that everyone feels represented during the process. Council member Erin Young said that one option could be to let citizens speak for how many short-term rentals, if any, they would want specifically in their neighborhood as well as how they feel about them overall in Silverthorne. 

Mayor Ann-Marie Sandquist said, in the future, some exceptions should be made for Summit Sky Ranch, a newer development on the north side of town. In the preliminary map, it’s grouped in with other neighborhoods with a 10% cap, but currently, Summit Sky Ranch is more than double that cap. Town manager Ryan Hyland said that could be done if the council chooses, and Summit Sky Ranch is much different than a neighborhood of homes where families have lived in Silverthorne for years. 

Council members also acknowledge that short-term rentals do bring business to Silverthorne and their contribution should not be ignored, but managing potential impacts on infrastructure and community should be the primary focus. No concrete decisions were made on Wednesday, but the Town Council will continue to have discussions and public outreach over the next few weeks. 

“If this is the starting place, we would like to set up a website, (and) we’d like to do some community surveys to send to homeowners associations and the realtor community,” Leidal said. “Everybody can solicit that information, and we can have some community open houses. Then if we propose an ordinance, that’s going to then come back for first and second reading before (council). I think we can have, over the next several months, probably some conversations to say let’s get the information out there.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.