At Snowmass Village, approaching short-term rentals starts with identifying the problem

Anecdotal evidence abounds regarding the Snowmass Village short-term rental landscape. And there was no shortage of it at a Snowmass Village Town Council meeting on Jan. 3, which ushered in the New Year with an hour and a half of discussion of the town’s short-term rental market as officials try to get a feel for what the problems are and how they would like to solve those problems.

There are council members who say they are worried about the character of the city; the housing manager who noted that there appears to be less shared accommodation and much higher rents; owners who say they have seen the impacts of short-term rentals on the infrastructure and ambiance of their neighborhoods.

Staff and elected officials agreed that it would be helpful to first know how many short-term rentals there are at Snowmass Village. But throughout discussions on the topic this winter, town staff stressed that it would be neither easy nor achievable to have a precise and complete understanding of Snowmass Village’s short-term rental inventory.



Some tourism officials tried to collect data in October by scraping websites like AirBnB and VRBO for listings, but “that didn’t help,” Snowmass tourism director Rose Abello told the board, and “there are quite a few challenges in getting good data from that.”

On the one hand, some homes are rented out almost every day of the year and would be easy to check online, but other properties are only rented during peak holiday weeks or when owners are out of town. ; pulling the data on these properties could skew the averages of rental rates and availability, noted Abello. There’s also the issue of duplicate listings across multiple sites, although Abello said the wrinkles were largely ironed out.



Still, some data is already available, according to a “White Paper” report compiled for the January 3 council discussion.

The city knows, on the basis of a construction table showing all the units in the village, that there are 966 single-family houses, 2,820 multi-family units such as duplexes and apartments and 982 accommodation units (hotels, namely ) within city limits, to give or take as the graph is being updated.

Of that total number of 4,768 units, a 2018 home inventory study found 1,699 units rented in the short-term market – again a give or take, with the caveat that there are variances due to how officials count some in the short term. rentals. About half of short-term rentals (880 according to the 2018 study count) are hotel rooms, 735 are condos, and 84 are private homes.

The study was conducted by data tracking company Inntopia DestiMetrics on behalf of central reservation agency Stay Aspen Snowmass and examined Aspen, Snowmass, Basalt and Carbondale. Similar studies took place in 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2015; another round is planned for 2022.

The white sheet notes that the difference of a hundred units between the number of accommodation units in the construction table and the count of hotel rooms in the inventory study is “probable” due to how condo-hotels are classified; and other changes such as the purchase of the Snowmass Inn, a hotel that now functions as employee accommodation.

Snowmass Village does not have a specific licensing or authorization process for people who rent their homes in the short-term market – people just need a business license when they rent their home for 30 days or less. at a time – so the city does not have an accurate count of how many units are actively in the short-term market.

Going forward, Abello said she would like to see a collaboration between the City of Aspen and the Aspen Chamber and Resort Association on an additional study specific to short-term rentals (rather than transitional inventory in general, this that previous studies have looked at), so officials can get “apple-to-apples” statistics.

Getting more data is a slam dunk piece of action for city staff, chief executive Clint Kinney said at this week’s meeting. But there are still many questions to consider before the board takes any sort of action.

The white paper report in this week’s advice package includes 17 items related only to the first step, defining the problem. The second step – consider possible actions – has 12 other possible topics to explore; the third step, focused on implementing best practices, has its own seven-item checklist, each with more breakout steps.

Everyone has the impacts on workforce housing on their minds, but with only anecdotal evidence, there is no clear consensus on how or if this relates to the short-term market. Snowmass Village. And board members are not all on the same page with what they see as the heart of the matter.

Councilor Bob Sirkus maintained from the start that he was concerned about the impact on the character of the community; City Councilor Tom Fridstein has expressed concerns about people operating houses as hotels in residential areas, which Sirkus also identified as a concern. Councilor Tom Goode and Councilor Alyssa Shenk were more concerned with making sure short-term rental owners pay their dues to the city.

“It’s an emotional issue, but it’s important to all of us,” said Mayor Bill Madsen.

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