Breckenridge is trying something different as it works to figure out the housing crisis affecting almost all mountain towns in Colorado.
After a city council meeting Tuesday night, a unanimous vote to support the plan for short-term rental zoning and regulations passed its first hurdle. The plan will need another vote next week to pass officially, but it's well on its way.
The plan adjusts areas in town and gives particular parts a bigger allowance of percentages of homes that can get a short-term rental license. That's a lot to digest, but basically, the town wants to control how many Airbnb and VRBO rentals are in particular parts of town. They want more near the resort, fewer in the neighborhoods, east of Main Street. It's the latest in attempts to stop what the mayor put as a "boom" in vacation rentals during COVID.
"What you don't want is to have a town like this which has a great heart and soul right now and before you know it, nobody works here, lives here, or nobody who owns a business lives here," Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said. "That's the danger. "
The plan follows what are called "overlay zones" to help make decisions on how many or few rentals should go where. Resorts are still their own zone, but zone 1 will be allowed 90% of homes to be short-term rentals. Zone 1 includes anything near a ski hill, ski lift, has ski-in/ski-out access, basically right on the resort.
Zone 2 will be in the "Historic District" and will allow 50% of homes to have a license if the plan passes. Zone 3 is most of what is east of Main Street in Breckenridge, and will be cut from the current 30% of homes with short-term rental licenses down to 10%. That doesn't mean if you have a license there now, it's being taken away.
"If you have your license; you keep your license as long as you pay your fee every year and get your new license," Mamula explained. "This really will be by attrition."
The town is already working with a limit of short-term rentals of 2,200, based on an ordinance back in 2021 (excluding resort listings). Right now the mayor said Breckenridge is sitting around 2,700 licenses, and since it is already over the limit it would be a while before new licenses were pushed out, although if the plan passes it would go out in the order of priority zone 1,2,3.
Mamula said Breckenridge wouldn't be what it is without short-term rentals, but it will change beyond recognition if they don't act soon to curb the massive growth and popularity in short-term rentals, leading to housing crisis issues.
"They are not the boogie man, but it is part of it," Mamula said. "If we had stayed in that more traditional sense of 'these units are vacation rentals, and these are long term for employees.' everything would probably be going on as it was. But when the pandemic hit, people were buying everything and converting it to vacation rentals. So we lost hundreds of units that were normally employee units to short-term rental or vacation rentals."
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