Pitkin County’s proposal tantamount to STR ban for second-homeowners

Pitkin County’s proposed legislation to limit future short-term rental licenses to “primary residence” owners is essentially a ban on second-home owners obtaining a short-term rental license.

Many homes in unincorporated Pitkin County are second-homes. Some of these owners choose to defray ownership costs by limited rental of their homes. This is very different than the professional “investor“ who removes dwelling units from the long-term/local resident rental pool by only engaging in short-term rentals, solely for profit.

Second-homes, by definition, are not a part of the long-term/local resident rental pool. They are second-homes, used by their owners. Many are ranch properties on larger parcels, the use of which has no effect on neighbors. Yet this proposed ordinance excludes their owners from eligibility for a short-term rental license. To prohibit a second-home owner from renting to defray costs (and paying the appropriate fees and taxes) means that second homes will stay fallow when the owners are not there. How does that help the community? It doesn’t add to the long-term rental pool. It doesn’t generate taxes and fees. It doesn’t generate sales revenue for the local economy. It just sits empty.

Clearly there is a housing shortage in Pitkin County exacerbated by conversion of housing to short-term rentals. The effects should be mitigated. But this is a nuanced issue and deserves a more nuanced approach, not a blanket ban on second-home owners from obtaining licenses for short-term rentals. A nuanced approach might include limitations on the number of short-term rentals annually, or different rules based on land use (dense neighborhoods or townhomes/condo/apartment complexes might be regulated differently than rural areas).

Whatever the rules, they should apply to primary and second homeowners equally. Discriminating against second homeowners isn’t the right approach.

Mike Kamm