Letter to the editor: Breckenridge should reject punitive short-term rental fee increase

Alec Blumenthal
San Francisco and Breckenridge

Breckenridge is proposing a yearly $756 per bedroom regulatory fee for short-term rentals to support the cost of housing workers whose jobs are supported by short-term rental guests. Using their faulty logic, the more money visitors spend, the more lodging providers should be penalized for the jobs that spending creates. Is the town’s ideal visitor one that spends nothing at Breckenridge’s restaurants and shops? The high fee also makes a license difficult to justify for locals who might rent out their place once or twice a year to offset their mortgage payments.

If we do accept the town’s twisted logic, though, the analysis used to justify the fee amount (and a potential maximum fee of $2,161) relies on faulty assumptions and omissions to get to such a high fee, including:

  • Ignoring existing contributions to the town from short-term rentals and their guests (sales taxes paid by guests at restaurants/shops, accommodation taxes, etc.)
  • Using the median home price in Breckenridge as the housing cost for all workers. Wouldn’t someone making 50% of the median income get a lower-cost place?
  • Excluding lower cost deed-restricted properties (which local workers are eligible to buy) from the housing cost estimate
  • Excluding housing in lower cost areas within a reasonable commute to Breckenridge
  • Ignoring programs that assist low-income homebuyers with down payments and other costs
  • Using guest spending estimates based on all accommodations types, not short-term rentals specifically

If Breckenridge is committed to increasing short-term rental fees, at least be honest about it. This is a punitive fee targeted at short-term rentals because they’re a convenient punching bag for decades of planning failures that created the current housing “crisis.“ I encourage the town to reject this punitive fee increase or at least reconsider the flawed analysis that officials feel justifies the ridiculously high fees.

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