Letter to the Editor: We should reform short-term rental regulations today, not wait

Steve Acker

The disruptions in community life engendered by the proliferation of short-term rental licenses has been noted in many Colorado communities. For example, Steamboat Springs, Crested Butte and Boulder are publishing new forward-looking regulations in 2023.

Boulder’s approach:

  • The short-term rental property must be the owner’s principal residence
  • A Principal Residency Affidavit must be submitted annually
  • The short-term rental license does not go with the property if sold
  • Short-term rental signage visible from the street is mandatory
  • Rental income must be supported by Airbnb/Vrbo 1099ks annually.

In many respects, Summit County faces the same policy choices as our world does regarding climate change and sustainable development. To privilege preservation over exploitation, we need strong community voices to share the preservation perspective with the BOCC.

Who speaks for the sustainability priorities of our younger generation? What does Gen Z (ages 8-23) think of crowds, traffic, the proliferation of short-term rentals in their residential neighborhoods? They’re silent because they haven’t been asked. Our responsibility is to offer Gen Z an adulthood that cherishes quiet enjoyment of their neighborhoods and tranquil appreciation of our natural environment.

Read the report The 2021 Breckenridge Expectations survey (page 8): 61% of respondents indicate short-term rentals are a threat to quality of life in Breckenridge.

Watch the documentaryOvertourism: Your vacation in my home.”

Listen to Joni Mitchell’s  Big Yellow Taxi “Don’t it always seem to go you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?”

Our Summit Board of County Commissioners are thoughtful, insightful individuals looking to balance the needs of Summit County regarding short-term rental licensing. However, they can only respond to stated preferences from the community. Those who favor community preservation over commercial exploitation must speak up to be heard. We should reform short-term rental regulations today, rather than compound the problems and friction over the coming years.

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