Letter to the Editor: Short-term rentals should not be seen as an adversary in our community

Julie Koster

The July 24 letter by John Warner, Tim Gagen and Tim Casey was filled with exaggerations, assumptions and misrepresentations that leap to conclusions without presenting any quantitative or qualitative data.

It was the shoot-first-ask-questions-later reaction we must avoid if we hope to craft meaningful vacation rental regulations that meet our community’s needs without bringing unintended consequences to a Summit County tourism-driven economy.

Waging war on locally owned, small businesses is not how to enact positive change in our community.

Vacation rentals are not commercial property. Commercial property in Colorado is defined as real estate that is used solely for business purposes. Data shows most vacation rentals are owner-occupied multiple weeks annually and only rented on average 43.8% of the time when not owner-occupied. Should commercial tax apply to a home office? Or an in-home day care? Or long-term rentals, where money is also exchanged for occupancy?

Obviously, the answer is no.

“Vacation rentals do not pay their fair share” is categorically false. As part of our community, vacation rentals contribute more than any other industry to local excise funds through lodging and sales taxes, and they already pay additional fees for water and sewer access. We contribute more than our “fair share,” and if we add property and real estate transfer taxes, part-time residents and guests pay the majority of local tax revenues.

The authors assert vacation-rental-affiliated jobs are low paying. Data shows this industry provides among the best-paying local jobs while supporting the success of many other locally operated businesses.

The very industry being cast by some as an adversary is already engaged with the county and each town within our community on what are realistic next steps. That, along with supporting facts — rather than scare tactics — will continue to be the basis of our conversations.

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.