Skico to employee housing tenants: “If you can’t comply, we need to say goodbye”

No new policies, just firm communication, spokesman said

Aspen Skiing Co. had a stern warning for employee housing tenants last week: Failure to comply with public health codes and COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings will result in consequences — no ifs, ands or buts.

Residents in employee housing received an email from housing director Bill Tarallo on Jan. 12 that noted a strict no-guest policy and told tenants that failure to comply with the restrictions — including mask-wearing and social distancing — could result in eviction with a 72-hour notice.

“The unsafe, virus spreading practices of a significant number of residents has resulted in an alarming increase in the number of infections now present throughout employee housing. As we endeavor to contain the spread of COVID-19 cases we have no choice but to take a more regimented approach to enforcement of safe practices to contain the virus,” Tarallo wrote.

Skico employee housing Club Commons in Snowmass Village at the Snowmass Club.
Aspen Times file photo

“Violation of the laws of the health order as they pertain to visitors, mask wearing and social distancing will result in eviction,” the email states.

In the days after the email was sent, staff delivered lease addendums with the policies. Tenants also found laminated signs on the doors of many units with a warning in all capital letters: “STOP: DO NOT ENTER IF YOU DO NOT LIVE IN THIS APARTMENT. NO EXCEPTIONS!”

Tenants had to sign and return that paperwork by Sunday; failure to do so would be “considered a refusal to abide by ASC rules and regulations and subject to eviction,” according to a copy of the addendum sent to The Aspen Times.

The policies noted in the email — masks and social distancing at all times in common areas and no guests allowed — were established in Skico’s COVID-19 operating plan released in November but were not explicitly stated on all employee housing leases, according to a copy of a tenant lease submitted to the Times.

The email was the third in a series of messages sent to employees to remind them of the regulations in place, though earlier correspondence has been gentler in its reminders of the rules.

“This is not new,” said Skico spokesperson Jeff Hanle. The firm correspondence is an effort to curb infection rates and keep employees and the community healthy, he said.

Hanle could not speak to whether Skico has initiated any evictions for failure to comply, he said.

Neither the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority nor the Snowmass Village Housing Department have policies that explicitly ban guests, according to local officials from both departments. Destination Residences, which manages a number of lodging accommodations in Snowmass Village, already had a no guests or gatherings policy in place prior to COVID-19, according to Kirstin Guinn, the company’s director of marketing.

“We think that we’re doing more than anyone in the valley,” Hanle said of the strict policy. “I think we’re doing the right thing.”

In this case, it comes with strong language. The Jan. 12 email concluded with a stern reminder of the consequences: “We’re giving every resident a choice,” Tarallo wrote. “Follow the laws and continue to live in employee housing or disregard the laws and leave. … If you can’t comply, we need to say goodbye.”