At Snowmass Village, a different perspective on short-term rentals might be right next door

The intersection of Lemond Place and Sinclair Road in the Melton Ranch subdivision of Snowmass Village overlooks the town and ski area on Tuesday, January 4, 2021.
Kaya Williams / The Sun of the Snow Mass

Hotels and condo rentals make up the bulk of Snowmass Village’s short-term inventory. But there are several dozen private homes – many in residential neighborhoods – that are among the nearly 1,700 units rented for less than 30 days at a time in Snowmass Village.

For some, a short-term rental can help offset the costs of owning a home in Snowmass Village; for others, this setup might offset the residential feeling they were looking for when looking for a home in the city.

For both, that means that a different approach to short-term rental could live right next door.

This was the case at a Snowmass Village Town Council meeting on January 3 when two neighbors from Lemond Place in the Melton Ranch subdivision shared very different views on the role of short-term rentals in the town during public comments.

Gary Doehling and his wife, Olga, have lived in the subdivision for almost a decade and raised a family there, Gary Doehling told the council. The couple appreciated that their neighborhood was specifically zoned for single-family residences; there are no condos or hotels at Melton Ranch.

But another house across the street functions as a short-term rental which often accommodates groups for shorter stays. The listing on VRBO says the house with four bedrooms and two additional sleeping areas can accommodate up to 14 people.

“It’s not a neighborhood, it’s a hotel,” Doehling said. “It’s an ongoing business next to us that welcomes our tourist clients, which is absolutely good. We are both a community and a seaside resort. We have to house our guests to make the place what we love, but do we house them in our single family residential quarters? “

Doehling said he recognizes the value of having accommodations for visitors to the city, but he’s not convinced Melton Ranch is the place for it.

“This is not the neighborhood I want and this is not the neighborhood I bought in,” Doehling said.

It was, however, exactly the kind of neighborhood the Truscots bought in the late 1960s, according to a statement by Al Truscott his son Cody read during public comments at the city council meeting this week.

The Truscots are currently renting out a short-term home – the same one Doehling expressed concerns about – in the Melton Ranch neighborhood on Lemond Place, which at the time was a more accessible neighborhood than the runway developments. For a family that was not very wealthy, the possibility of vacationing in Snowmass Village was “at the heart of the sales pitch since 1968,” Al Truscott wrote in his statement.

Al was still a teenager when his parents Harry and Ida Truscott bought land and built a house on Oak Ridge Road, a ridge above Lemond Place. Even then, short-term rentals were promoted as an option – there if needed – as a way for middle-class families to afford a home away from home in Snowmass Village.

“My family, now in their fourth generation, continued to call Snowmass their spiritual home for over five decades,” he wrote. “But we wouldn’t be able to do it without the cushion offered by short-term rentals. … I urge you to maintain and improve the vacation rental system that allows those of us who love this valley to continue to contribute to Snowmass and into the future.

The family sold the Oak Ridge home in 2005 and moved to Lemond Place, which they now rent to families and groups. They rented the house short and long term and occupied the house on an ongoing basis, tailoring the use to the needs of the family, Cody Truscott wrote in a follow-up email.

The Truscott family currently spends about four months a year at the home, according to Cody, who now manages the property. Even today, the use of short-term rentals helps cover the ongoing costs of homeownership, such as property taxes, maintenance, and utilities. The property broke for the first time last year, Cody said.

The Truscott family currently spends about four months a year at the home, according to Cody Truscott. Even today, the use of short-term rentals helps cover the ongoing costs of homeownership such as property taxes, maintenance and utilities. The property broke for the first time last year, Cody said.

In his own prepared statement, Cody said he was concerned that any limitations on short-term rentals at Snowmass Village could negatively impact his family’s ability to continue to be a part of the town.

Snowmass City Council is still in the process of collecting data and information and has yet to take action on the restrictions, but neighboring municipalities like Aspen and Pitkin County have come forward with ideas for regulation, just like other resort communities.

“It is a place that is close to our hearts more than anything and the idea that we might have to move out if we are not able to continue renting for the short term is troubling,” he said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct where the Truscots bought property in the 1960s and how long the Truscots have short-termed their home on Lemond Place.

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