Some time ago, I made a request of the Commissioners for the County to enforce existing ordinances/ codes etc. re: short-term rentals, as well as to use the resultant monies for additional staffing/ services and worker housing.
At that time, I was building support for creating a short-term rental process in my subdivision and it was a delicate time. However, things are in standard operating mode now (with that process) and I would like to respond, as an individual living in Chaffee County (outside of a municipal area), to Ms. Charter’s over-reaching comments regarding short-term rentals.
1. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Is it reasonable for other Chaffee County residents, (i.e., non-short-term rental owners), and county business owners, to subsidize short-term rental owners? If the county is not at least recovering its administrative costs through short-term rental permitting fees, then other residents, including businesses, are subsidizing short-term rental owners. In the case of lodging businesses, the county has been unintentionally providing a competitive advantage to short-term-rental owners. The same is true for HOAs [Home Owner Associations] that provide trash, road, water and or other services to HOA members conducting short-term rentals, but without a separate fee.
2. I would also argue the RPI report (to determine the cost to the county of administering short-term-rentals) was too narrow in its focus. Most notably, the report gave no consideration to cost of living increases, improving staffing for the county, or to aiding the county’s worker housing crisis; or, for that matter, to the work of Envision Chaffee County. The county should not only be re-cooping its costs but it should also be using the additional monies for improving Chaffee County and its services.
3. Short-term rentals make money. It’s a multi-billion-dollar, multi-national industry and for far too long most short-term rentals, at least in Chaffee County, have been and continue to operate outside of state/ local licensing, taxation, life/ health/ safety codes. (VRBO was started in 1995.)
Of course, there is going to be push back to leveling the playing field for Chaffee County lodging businesses and for enforcing the regulations that do apply — even if short-term rental owners don’t want them to apply. As one short-term rental owner said to me, “Nobody pays those taxes!”
Hotels and B&Bs most certainly do “pay those taxes” and are required to comply with their licensing and taxing obligations.
4. During a strong economy, short-term rental owners can bring welcome tourism dollars to the county for restaurants, rafting, etc.However, the flip-side is also true. During the last economic downturn, second homes flooded the real estate market in Chaffee County, including bankruptcies and foreclosures, de-valuing everyone’s property values. Having a planned, mixed-use community is not only more enjoyable, but also makes the County a more economically viable place in which to live.
Please note that my comments are a response to Ms. Charter’s published statements and that this letter does not address the short-term rental issues related to:
(a) septic/ ground water/ health/ life safety;
(b) the “complexities” of having short term-rentals in a residential mountain community; and or
(c) the lack of transparency of Chaffee County’s in-process/ approved short-term-rental properties.
I send a copy of this letter (e-mail and printed) to the Commissioners, urging them to maintain a reasonable course of action.
Buena Vista, Full-time Chaffee County resident and Home Owner