Lose the heavy hands on STR regs

Short-term rentals are a critical component of the local economy and complement our hospitality industry in supporting Aspen’s vibrant tourism, ski industry and culture for the last 50 years. I’m proud of the positive impact my short-term rental has had on the community over the past 45 years. While I understand the need for effective regulations to ensure that STRs don’t proliferate, the City Council is forcing upon us extremely heavy-handed rules (25% reduction in non-commercial/lodge zone permits), against their own technical committee’s recommendations. This will have a devastating impact on a significant portion of our community without materially solving our major problems. 

Aspen City Council is proposing up to 15% in additional lodging taxes on STRs (not on hotels), but they’re doing so without sufficient data (“WAGS,” said the Finance Department). Without better data from CommDev, such as Mayor Torre has requested repeatedly, City Council’s proposal still leaves many open-ended questions — ones that STR owners/hosts, and property managers need to be answered in order to plan a sustainable livelihood for their local family businesses. It’s important that policymakers make decisions based on verified data, not personal opinions. I’m disappointed to see the City Council make the STR industry a scapegoat for our affordable housing emergency. 

Instead of hastily rushing this ordinance through the pipeline, I request again that council members take a pause, approve all STR applicants (like Carbondale and Snowmass Village are proposing), collect solid data over the next year, and then revisit proposed regulations and taxation to come up with something that actually achieves community goals such as improving the inventory of affordable housing.

Gordon G Ledingham and Mitzi Leblon-Ledingham