From courtroom to boardroom: ACRA creates a safe space to talk about STRs | Business


Exactly one month before a judge is set to rule on a lawsuit between the Aspen Board of Realtors and the City of Aspen challenging the urgency of the latter’s passing of an ordinance temporarily halting new rental licenses short-term — known as STRs in the industry — as well as most residential developments, a city official showed up at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association asking for help. And, potentially, extend an olive branch.

“We will be actively beginning the process of community engagement around this topic — which will involve direct outreach to stakeholders,” City of Aspen Community Development Manager Phillip Supino said during Tuesday morning’s virtual meeting.

Many ACRA board members on Tuesday expressed concern, if not outright skepticism, about the practicality of the Aspen City Council’s temporary moratorium on vacation rental permits, which went into effect. effective in December and is due to expire on September 30. the tone of the conversation remained respectful and solutions-oriented.

“I’ve been active with the Aspen Board of Realtors for some time and also own a vacation rental business,” noted Tracy Sutton, who represents ABOR on the ACRA board and also founded Aspen Signature. Vacation Rentals in 2004. “Where are those numbers coming from, and how can we help you? Because to many of us, that’s what we do for a lot of our real estate business.

It was a welcome question – and an offer, Supino replied. While the City and County of Pitkin (as well as ACRA, as Communications Director Alycin Bektesh later introduced) have undertaken data collection initiatives to get as accurate a snapshot of the vacation rental industry in the area – the number of units, where they are located, who owns them, etc. – it’s a mature Herculean effort with nuances, everyone recognized it.

“We recognize that this is more of an art than a science; I don’t know if there is a single person or algorithm that can definitively tell you how many properties can be rented… In terms of how you can help – and I really appreciate this question – our engagement process community to arrive at these new regulations will depend heavily on input from expert stakeholders,” he said. “I’ve been working in this area of ​​community development for 15 years, and it still doesn’t give me the expertise I need…

“Trust me, if you do [reach out]you will be given work because we desperately need help and we recognize that we are not the experts in this area,” Supino continued.

Almost immediately, other members of the ACRA Board of Directors answered his call – to at least help by offering their views at the time. And Supino, along with Pitkin County Executive Jon Peacock, who also briefed members on the first reading of a county ordinance that commissioners will consider again at a hearing this afternoon, expressed their gratitude for the ideas. For example, as the city considers potentially regulating short-term rentals, Snowmass Village Director of Tourism Rose Abello pointed out that many properties already recognize the limits of short-term rentals through homeowners associations.

“In multi-unit facilities, they all have HOAs, and the HOAs made a decision for their communities,” she said, adding that some government entities may not allow STRs at all or only one or more. two rentals per property per year. “I really think a lot of people have made their buying decisions based on what the HOA does or doesn’t allow.”

That’s exactly the kind of feedback the city hopes to glean through upcoming outreach efforts, slated for the spring, Supino said. Being able to consider a property-by-property level of data would be “extremely helpful” to the city, he added.

As far as the county is concerned, commissioners will be asked, after hearing public comment on the matter, to continue to refine an order that would make it mandatory for any vacation rental permit that the property applying for the permit be owned by a person physical – that an LLC or other legal person is not – and that the property serves as a principal residence. Currently, according to Peacock, of the 157 properties identified by the county that double as STRs are roughly split 50/50 between those owned by full-time residents and those owned by secondary owners.

“About 40 to 50 percent are not occupied as a primary residence, so this licensing requirement would have a significant restriction on the number of STRs allowed in unincorporated Pitkin County,” Peacock said.

Charlie Bantis, Market President of First Western Trust, expressed concern that the county’s potential order could unfairly prevent people from pursuing a vacation rental license.

“You discussed not allowing STRs that aren’t owned by an individual,” he said, referencing Peacock’s presentation. “I just want to point out that…there are a lot of reasons people buy properties in a specific LLC or a family trust or a family partnership that have nothing to do with being a business – a corporation STR. And I wonder how you’re going to factor that into this process as you move forward.

“The county’s proposed order very specifically addresses that, of course,” Peacock replied, but refrained from answering directly as the answer to the question will depend on the decisions of the commissioners in the future. “I think that will be one of the issues the board will talk about today.”

One thing remained clear: the impacts of STRs on the community are widely seen as significant — including according to ACRA members, Bektesh said, citing a survey that was published long before the city’s moratorium was passed. and which went on to dominate the local headlines. The other thing everyone seems to agree on? Whatever answer emerges, the STR genie does not return to its bottle, whatever some may wish.

“We saw $2.9 million in lodging and sales taxes flow through STRs,” Supino said. “STRs represent a fairly large portion of our total taxable accommodation sales.”


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