Summit County officials cite short-term rental conversion ideas as a “starting point”

Short term rental properties in the Copper Mountain Resort Village are pictured on August 13th. Community leaders discuss strategies that would encourage short-term rental owners to convert their properties into long-term housing by using opportunity zones. These zones would target areas traditionally occupied by locals rather than areas like Copper Mountain or Keystone.
Photo by Ashley Low

When the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers was putting together its Welcome Workforce program, President Toby Babich said the document was intended as a catalyst to kickstart the nationwide discussion on how short-term rental owners could be incentivized to convert their units into long-term renters . Timely housing for locals.

The document, with detailed proposals – including monthly subsidies, property tax exemptions, and free nights – was presented to Summit County employees earlier this month and to elected officials and employees during a working meeting of the Summit Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, August 24th from the Housing Department had the opportunity to discuss their findings.

Summit County’s Housing Director Jason Dietz said the document should be viewed as a starting point, saying it was important for the county’s eventual program to be adopted by key stakeholders like the Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers.

“As we develop and prepare this program, I think this is part of the much larger program that is aimed at short-term rentals and has a good working relationship with (the alliance),” said Dietz. “I think that a public-private partnership ideally offers a lot of approval for the project from short-term tenants to support this conversion process.”

Dietz pointed to some areas in which the district and the alliance approach the housing shortage differently. For example, Dietz said the alliance’s Workforce Welcome program is more focused on property management companies that own units rather than individuals.

Both Dietz and Summit County manager Scott Vargo said the county’s program will likely focus more on individual owners who have units in traditionally local neighborhoods, although others can join if they choose.

Vargo also noted that if the county’s program was targeted at underperforming units, funding could go further than if it were spent on short-term, high-performing units.

“It’s a more attractive and hopefully cheaper opportunity for them to take advantage of this subsidy compared to a really well-functioning short-term rental that seeks to convert that into a long-term rental and make up for that difference,” said Vargo.

Dietz pointed out that the county’s program is not aimed at converting all short-term rental units within the unincorporated Summit County, but rather targeting these types of units in the hope that their owners will convert their properties into long-term apartments. Dietz emphasized that incentives for these owners are a “minor financial boost” where these types of units could potentially do as well, if not better, as long-term rentals.

“Working with the (Allianz) property managers who manage short term rentals should certainly be part of the county’s program, but (the Allianz) may not have many of the unregistered county short term rentals that we want to convert. “, Wrote Dietz in an email. “Our overall program should be more comprehensive to include others who do not use property management or are not (Alliance) members, and be linked to other rental clearinghouse programs that are being investigated.”

Additionally, Summit County Commissioner Elisabeth Lawrence said the alliance’s program felt “very Breck focused”. Lawrence referred to some of the proposed additional incentives outlined in the program that could be waived or reduced for short-term renters, such as Breckenridge’s business and professional licenses and taxes, and offers seven free nights in the city.

Breckenridge Town Manager Rick Holman said he and his staff had also reviewed the document compiled by the Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers. Holman noted that some of the proposed incentives that are directly related to the city are not incentives that are likely to appear in some of the city’s own programs. Nevertheless, he is glad that the group is working with the city and county employees to develop possible solutions.

“Some of these warrant further scrutiny, and we do that when it comes to how we subsidize property owners and offset costs, and that is a valid expense that we are ready for,” said Holman. “I think some of the things in it are unrealistic. But at the same time I appreciate your willingness to get involved and find solutions. That doesn’t mean that everything is feasible. “

Dietz agreed that some of the proposed incentives would not be workable.

“When I read it for the first time, I had a lot of questions,” said Dietz. “It felt like the incentives were pretty high for what they were looking for, but again, this is just a place to start the conversation.”

Although the district’s program is still being finalized, Dietz told district officials that many of these incentives are unlikely to appear in the district’s program in general.

“Many of these additional things are probably not really needed in many cases,” said Dietz. “In some cases, they can be very good. But it’s not necessarily what we consider the first step in the Summit County program. “

As for next steps, Dietz said he continues to work with stakeholders like the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers and other property managers, small businesses and others to get a better understanding of how these short term rental units are going to be currently used. From there, Dietz said, he and his team will identify potential rental terms that could work for short-term rental owners when they switch to long-term rentals.

Dietz said the district would like to convert about 100 units per year into long-term housing for locals, which is the same goal that Allianz quantified in its plan.

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