Silverthorne gets ready to release short-term rental survey to the community |

Silverthorne gets ready to release short-term rental survey to the community

Silverthorne Town Hall is pictured Thursday, July 28, 2022.
Eliza Noe/Summit Daily News

Silverthorne town leaders are getting a survey ready in order to gauge interest from community member in how Silverthorne Town Council should tackle impacts from short-term rentals.

Town Council members have discussed potential options in previous weeks, but they all agreed that gauging public opinion first and foremost would be crucial to make sure any regulation they may — or may not — enforce received input. Town Manager Ryan Hyland said the town has a rough draft of a new community survey, and the town has experience using them for various topics. The town even used one to collect community opinions about short-term rentals back in 2018, when Silverthorne began requiring short-term rentals to have licenses. 

Assistant Town Manager Mike Leidal said that there has been an increase of about 18 licenses in the past couple of months, totaling 247 in Silverthorne. 

“What we have proposed with the map that’s in front of (Town Council) is to say 10% primarily for the majority of town and 50% in the downtown area,” Leidal said. “Based upon that, we’re having 247 in the community today, (and) we could have up to 646 short-term rentals. There’s room for additional short-term rentals to come in.”

In previous conversations, council members agreed that focusing on preserving community character was also a main focus. Currently, council members said short-term rentals do not impact workforce housing. Earlier this year, the council approved updates to the town’s comprehensive plan, which aims to put locals first, but welcome visitors, too. 

“Basically, from the last conversation that we had, we said the location is the most important,” Leidal said. “(Let’s) say the higher-density residential areas that we have in the town core, or in the riverfront area, is where we would allow up to 50% of the units being short-term rentals and 10% everywhere else.” 

Hyland added that instead of going neighborhood by neighborhood and giving each a percentage cap, it may be easier in the future to have zones similar to Breckenridge, where neighborhoods are grouped together with a blanket percentage. Right now, there are neighborhoods that already have met the 10% threshold, but a blanket would allow for more. Council has not yet expressed approval or disapproval of the proposed percentages, and staff has only brought it up as a starting point. 

Council member Mike Spry expressed concerns about the survey since results could contain a lot of bias and that community members would choose to not finish it if it was too long. Council member Tim Applegate said he was concerned that real estate agents or others would flood the results to fit an agenda that possibly did not reflect the majority of community members’ opinions. 

Council member Amy Manka said that it would still bring in some qualitative data for council members, and that they did not have to base every single decision on the survey in the future. In previous meetings, council members have brainstormed various avenues to gather community input on short-term rentals, especially input from people who work multiple jobs and can’t attend meetings or people whose primary language is Spanish. 

Hyland said that they’ve taken measures to reduce the risk of people filling out the survey repeatedly, such as only letting an IP address take it once. Mayor Ann-Marie Sandquist said that a community survey taken with a grain of salt is better than no community survey.

“I know we’re going to do other things to gather information, but is it the worst thing to gather some information for people that don’t want to go to a public meeting and talk?” she said. “I just want to gauge the pulse of the community.”

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