By Elli Wright
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that planning commission membership is already set.
One month into Summit County’s nine-month-long short term rental moratorium in neighborhood zones, it was decided that public input would be the priority when creating new regulations.
The Summit County Planning Department and the Board of County Commissioners met Tuesday, June 21, to figure out the best way to use the next eight months and come out the other side with short term rental regulations that work in the best interest for everyone.
In previous years, short term rentals have boomed in Summit County. According to numbers provided at the commissioners’ May 24 meeting, approximately a third of all houses in Summit County have a short term rental license, and of those, only 10% of them are unincorporated county residents.
This has caused workforce housing to dwindle, housing prices to skyrocket, and it’s even led to unexpected ramifications like emergency responders who struggle to live close enough to work to go home during the week.
The county came up with a preliminary set of newer regulations over the course of last fall, including different zones that would separately prioritize the needs of neighborhoods vs. resorts. However, “Summit County is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said.
For the past month, then, the planning department came up with five goals for the next round of regulations: preserve access to local workforce housing, foster character and uphold the values of Summit County’s neighborhoods, reduce conflicts, create balance and finally, produce clear and easy-to-understand regulations.
The balance between locals, non-short-term rental second homes and short-term rentals was the most challenging hurdle to tackle, officials say, which is why there was such an emphasis on public opinion.
“This is a tough conversation where there are competing interests, so it’s important for everyone in the community to give their input,” Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue said.
For example, Pogue mentioned that in the past, there has been conflict about whether or not a neighborhood like Peak 7 in Breckenridge should be more focused on resort housing or neighborhood characteristics.
Lawrence also said that she has heard complaints from people who have lived in apartments for almost 10 years that are now being sold to be used as short-term rentals.
And while county officials have started to come up with some ideas, like capping short term rental licenses on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, the consensus from all of the commissioners seemed to be that they need to hear from the public before moving forward on anything because even as they try to come up with new regulations, towns are also brainstorming their own short-term rental regulations.
“We don’t operate in a vacuum,” Pogue said, which is why that additional piece will have to be taken into account moving forward.
Pogue said the first potential mode of action will be to hold town halls for each of Summit County’s basin communities. At these town halls, Pogue hopes to hear from the public about “how short term rentals should be regulated, ideas around regulation, thoughts around impacts, positive and negative impacts that need to be mitigated.”
That information will then be relayed to planning commissions, whose members are appointed by county commissioners. After the planning commissions have a chance to consider the first round of public input, then the county commissioners will take the summary from the planning commissions for consideration. From that information, they will create a first round of potential regulations, and then the process will start all over again by those regulations being shared with the public at more town halls and neighborhood conversations around the county.
“That’s really why we thought that this moratorium needed to be nine months because we wanted to have a lot of opportunity for the community to give their input, and that takes time,” Pogue said.
Jessica Potter, the senior planner of the Summit County Planning Department, presented on the goals, process and data that has gone into the new short-term rental regulation plans.
“We do have the bones to move forward in a really efficient way,” she said.
Interstate 70 leading towards the basin of Summit County is pictured on Tuesday, March 27, 2018 near Loveland Pass. County officials met Tuesday to discuss how best to spend the next eight months of the short-term rental moratorium to create new and improved regulations in unincorporated areas of the county, like Keystone near Loveland Pass.
Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News archive