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Trash, noise and parking scofflaws

Jane Stebbins

Under the terms of the proposed BOLT license amendment, owners of short-term property rentals shall ensure that renters:

? Only park on-site at the unit or in a town-designated parking area

? Do not park on the lawn, landscaped areas or in the public street or right of way adjacent to the property

? Properly store and dispose of all trash

? Do not make unreasonable noise audible at other residences

? Do not exceed the maximum occupancy allowed under the town’s building code

BRECKENRIDGE – Leon Fetzer has seen as many as 20 cars parked at the home next door to his in Sunbeam Estates on the southwest side of Breckenridge. He’s seen tour buses pull up and spill out as many as 50 people, who enter the seven-bedroom house – and leave about a half-hour later.

“I’ve seen used-car lots with fewer cars,” he told town council members at a work session Tuesday afternoon .

Fetzer’s plight is all too familiar to many Breckenridge residents who live near short-term rental homes and experience problems with late-night noise, unsecured trash that gets ravaged by dogs or bears, and numerous cars parked along the streets in neighborhoods where many purchased homes to find peace and tranquility.

Peter and Skip Diamond live across the street from a rental house in the Highlands where 16 cars were parked last month.

“It’s 2 a.m., and there’s a bunch of guys and they’re drinking kegs of beer and yelling and screaming,” Diamond said. “The problems are real. The reality is, the quality of life suffers very badly.”

The town council now is considering an ordinance that would modify the town’s business licenses and hold short-term rental homeowners liable for noise, trash and parking problems caused by people who lease their property.

As it stands, police often are summoned to address the perpetrators, but they can do little more than issue a citation, said Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman. It doesn’t solve the problem, primarily because that group will be replaced by another within the week.

“It’s easy to tell the neighbors they can call the police,” said councilmember Dave Hinton. “But if they have to call every Saturday night, that gets pretty old. That’s a quality-of-life issue.”

“And if the citation is purely against the renter, it’s kind of like giving a citation to a bar customer and not the bar owner,” said Mayor Sam Mamula. “The bar owner has a responsibility to manage their business. This responsibility doesn’t end with the offender. It goes to the owner and the management company.

“There is nothing more upsetting to a neighbor than noise,” Mamula added. “You’ve got to feel his pain. It’s a quality-of-life issue, and we have to find a way to protect it. We are not going to become a party community.”

Holman said many homeowners have no clue what goes on in their homes after an agreement is signed.

“They’re big stakeholders in this problem,” he said. “We’re not having any impact right now.”

Owners of property management companies said Tuesday the problem might be mitigated if renters are made aware of town ordinances and repercussions for violating them. Additionally, it was suggested management company owners or homeowners hold one person in the renting party accountable for any violations that occur while they are there.

Town council members agreed a provision giving homeowners three chances before their Business and Occupational License (BOLT) would be revoked was too onerous, and they omitted it from the ordinance.

The threat of a license revocation might not work, it was noted, as numerous rental-home owners – one estimate put it as high as 200 – don’t hold BOLT licenses or independently advertise their rental properties on the Internet.

The penalty for operating a business without a BOLT license is $999, said town manager Tim Gagen. Additionally, the town reserves the right to go back three years to determine how much lodging tax revenue might have been lost.

Management companies and homeowners urged council members to reconsider the ordinance, saying it would be easier to enforce existing local ordinances and improve communications between the police, homeowners and management firms.

“The second homeowner has the least control over it,” said John Koenig of Summit Mountain Rentals. “You have the ability to give a ticket. We have the ability to keep a security deposit. I’d rather work with the town on enforcement and communication.”

Others question the ability of town officials to hold one individual responsible for the actions of another.

“That’s vicarious liability,” said Don Wilkin, owner of Wilkin’s Property Management. “That’s like saying I own a rental car agency and I rent a car to a guy who speeds and another to a guy who double-parks. How can I be responsible for their actions? Why should my cars be impounded and my shop shut down?”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at 668-3998 ext. 228 or jstebbins@summitdaily.com.


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