Letter to the Editor: Short-term rentals do not pay their way and need regulated

John Warner, former Breckenridge Mayor; Tim Gagen, former Breckenridge Town Manager; Tim Casey, chairperson of Building Hope Summit County

We’d like to compliment the various governmental entities in Summit County for trying to deal with the impacts of short-term rentals. Our message and warning is: short-term rentals do not pay their way.

How can we say this? For starters, the Upper Blue Sanitation District has effluent studies showing that short-term rentals have double the impact of owner occupied residential units. Thus the district charges higher fees for short-term rentals.

Short-term rentals are commercial enterprises often in the middle of owner occupied residential areas, and they pay a residential property tax, not a commercial property tax. A commercial property tax would be almost three times a residential property tax year after year. We understand that this unfortunate taxation loophole is based on the Colorado Constitution, but we can’t help wonder why there is such an uproar to levy “impact fees” on short-term rentals and limit the number of them, when they clearly do not pay their way.

Another indicator of the lack of a level playing field for short-term rentals is that conventional hotels do pay the commercial property tax rate, and they manage many of the impacts of their operations. These impacts are easily defined as a loss of workforce housing, disruption of neighborhoods with noise, trash pick up, parking, increased stress on town infrastructure. Short-term rentals also impact the labor force by creating more low-wage jobs, and, thus, the need for more affordable housing.

Additionally, there are many life-safety issues involved in operating a short-term rentals that are rarely addressed by their owners.

Furthermore, the incentivized demolition of existing homes to be replaced by mega homes are the fuel added to the present run up of prices in local real estate.

We applaud the entities in Summit working to alleviate what we consider an existential problem. 

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