High Country real estate pros head to Capitol in effort to kill short-term rental tax bill
FRISCO — Real estate representatives from Summit, Eagle, Grand and Denver counties headed to the state Capitol on Thursday to speak against Senate Bill 20-109, which proposes taxing short-term rental units as commercial properties.
The Summit Association of Realtors set up the 90-minute meeting with Sen. Bob Gardner — R-Colorado Springs, who proposed the bill — and real estate and government representatives from Denver and surrounding mountain communities.
“We were all really clear that we wanted ‘no’ on SB-109,” Summit Association of Realtors president Dana Cottrell said. “I think some of the biggest points are that it would be a statewide mandate. We have a thriving tourism industry. We don’t want to see anything that hurts that. This bill didn’t have any long-term vision for sustaining our community.”
Grand County Commissioner Richard Cimino said he believes 90% of short-term rental housing in Grand County would not rent or sell if the bill became a law, according to Summit Mountain Rentals co-owner Mary Waldman, who attended the meeting.
“Sen. Gardner, he made it very clear to us that he was aware of the disastrous economic impact that this bill would have in our mountain communities,” Waldman said.
Cottrell and Waldman said Gardner informed them during the meeting that he does not have a Senate or House sponsor for the bill. Without a sponsor, the bill cannot move forward. Based on discussions during the meeting, Waldman said she did not think Gardner was actively looking for a sponsor.
“Mark and I are very hopeful that the bill will not go anywhere,” Waldman said, referring to her husband, the other co-owner of Summit Mountain Rentals. “Overall, I thought it was good that our local businesspeople got together. Certainly, there’s a lot of education for us to do in the community that short-term rentals are not the enemy.”
Cottrell said that while she doesn’t see the bill moving forward, the short-term rental can of worms has been opened at the state level.
“I’m glad that it doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue for us this year, but I think the one thing we all walked away with is it will be a topic that we’ll have to continue to address,” Cottrell said.
Cottrell said she thinks short-term rentals should stay designated as residential properties in Summit County, and Waldman said rule changes should not be initiated at the state level.
“I think that’s best up to our local communities to make these use laws,” Waldman said.
Summit Combined Housing Authority Executive Director Amy Priegel said that while the organization does not have an official stance on this particular bill, it appreciates the much-needed discussion the bill has sparked.
“I think a balance is good in most things as far as housing goes,” Priegel said. “… From our local housing perspective, it does seem to be circling around that bigger issue of balance.”
Priegel noted that a significant portion of units in the county are second homes that sit vacant for portions of the year or are short-term rentals.
“What we like is some of the programs and steps our local organizations are taking to address it,” Priegel said about housing issues in the county, citing programs like Housing Helps, a workforce housing program in Breckenridge.
Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula said he is unsurprised the bill doesn’t seem to be gaining momentum.
“This is the third or fourth time this has come up, and it never gets any legs,” Mamula said. “I think there’s too much resistance. … It’s a hard thing to push.”
Mamula pointed out that there are a lot of players when it comes to property taxes, including the state, counties and individual towns.
“I just think there are too many pieces to make it work,” Mamula said. “It sounds like it’s an easy solution, but it’s really not. What the town’s done with occupancy restrictions and the hotlines for parking and trash have been really effective.”
In addition, Mamula pointed out the work the town has done with the Housing Helps program and deed-restrictions that aim to help the local workforce.
“The town’s doing what it can to mitigate some of the effects,” Mamula said.
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When the Braidwood Condominiums in Winter Park were built in the 1980s, the building lacked hallways wide enough for wheelchairs, walls between units were slim and the fire suppression system couldn’t compare to modern requirements.