Summit County urges second-home owners to stay away |

Summit County urges second-home owners to stay away

Rows of condos overlooking the Snake River near Keystone Resort on Friday, May 1.
Liz Copan /

FRISCO — Summit County’s safer-at-home public health order encourages second-home owners to avoid visiting the county, but some people worry the recommendation, along with others outlined in the order, will have a severe impact on the economy.

The order states that “second homeowners are strongly encouraged to avoid visiting their second home unless required for necessary activities or necessary travel as defined by the state of Colorado.” Because the county can’t legally prevent homeowners from visiting their properties, the Summit County Board of Health chose to discourage them from returning during the pandemic.

Regardless of whether the county can keep homeowners from their properties, Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said she would feel uncomfortable putting that sort of restriction in place.

“I value our second-home owners, what they do for our community in Summit County,” she said.

The order falls in line with state recommendations. Gov. Jared Polis has urged people to recreate within 10 miles of their homes and avoid traveling from county to county. Lawrence said the goal of the second-home owner recommendation was to prevent the spread of the virus.

“I understand that (second-home owners) want to be here, and I don’t blame them for that,” she said. “It makes sense. Of course, they would want to come to their second home, but we might have very different rules than wherever they are coming from.”

Kim McGahey, a Breckenridge real estate agent, said he worries the recommendation will severely damage the county’s economy, which relies on visitors to function.

“The rental income that (second-home owners) generate and the renters that they attract to Summit County is really the lifeblood of the resort community,” he said.

CJ Milmoe, who lives in Corral Condos in Breckenridge, agrees with McGahey that the order and the other restrictions will damage the local economy. Corral Condos has 65 units and only 10 of them are owned by permanent residents, said Milmoe, who is also on the HOA board for the complex.

“I don’t have any data on exactly how many millions of dollars of rental revenue are going to be lost, but it’s going to be in the millions, depending on how long it goes,” he said.

Milmoe said the county encouraging people not to come “is the dumbest thing” he’s ever heard a resort community say. He believes the county should open up to visitors by Memorial Day.

“People don’t come during mud season. They do come by Memorial Day,” he said. “There’s demand for Breckenridge accommodations that is being artificially repressed by these restrictions.”

McGahey believes the county should take a “common sense” approach and let people decide for themselves the risks they want to take.

“I think (the county) is sending the wrong message,” he said. “I think the message they want to send is, ‘Hey, Summit County is open for business. Come on in.”

Lawrence made it clear that second-home owners are not prohibited from coming to the county. They are still allowed to come for necessary maintenance or other necessary activities.

“I would ask for those that do come here that they pick a location, stick with it and follow along with the public health order that’s here in place in Summit County,” she said.

The county has been figuring out how to enforce the rules in the public health order. In a news release sent Wednesday, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office announced there have been 72 complaints related to the public health order since April 1 and that the office has issued cease-and-desist notices in two instances.

In the news release, Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons said it would be counter productive to be arresting people for violating the order when that would lead to more contact between individuals that could spread the virus.

Milmoe believes the county isn’t able to enforce the restrictions put in place by the order.

“How are you going to police that?” he said. “Somebody’s got a home here. They come. They drive to it. They go inside. That has zero impact on public health.”

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