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Another proposal brought to town council as an alternative to reducing STR licenses…..

As I mentioned, this topic is just heating up. Like it or now, you have to agree that at least the subject of reducing STRs is definitely getting conversations going amongst all facets of the Telluride community, and this can only be seen as positive. Brought to town council last week, this alternative would raiser the cost for business licenses, immediately take/skim funds from the 3% RETA and put it into affordable housing construction and rental assistance programs and lastly, it would put a two year moratorium on STRs.

Presented by Keith Hampton, council went back and forth on whether this should be added to the November ballot. In fairness, I feel it should in addition to the new ballot item of reducing STRs to 400.

Stay tuned while this topic continues to heat-up and get traction. Never a dull moment here in Telluride, Colorado.

Here’s the article from this weekend’s Daily Planet:

Another housing proposal put before council
Latest consideration would raise fees, cap STR licenses
• By Suzanne Cheavens, Associate Editor

• Aug 27, 2021

In a work session at its Tuesday meeting, Telluride Town Council was presented with another proposal aimed at addressing the area’s housing issues. Titled “Proposed Ordinance Regarding Short-Term Rentals and Increasing Funding for Workforce Affordable Housing,” the document was parsed by council in a discussion that lasted two hours. Presented by local business owner, Keith Hampton, the proposal was offered as an alternative to the citizen’s initiative, which also calls for a cap on short-term rental licenses.
“We’ve reached out to many segments of the community, and talked with people about the citizens initiative about what the impact might be of the reduction in short term rental licenses, what the impact might be in terms of options for long-term housing, and what other ideas there might be out there that could really help with what we see as an immediate crisis of housing,” Hampton said. “Being a business owner in this community for 30 years, I understand right now how hard it is to find good employees to find any employees.”
The proposal includes capping the number of short-term rental business licenses, Hampton told council.
“First, there was a clear understanding that we needed to take a pause on short-term rental licenses, create a moratorium, that would give the community a chance to breath,” he said. “We don’t necessarily believe that’s going to create long-term housing in and of itself, but it’s clearly a lightning rod in the community, and nationally, and so we’re trying to be sensitive to that and step up. So our moratorium … we’ve put forth for council’s consideration is that there would be a two-year moratorium on any new rental licenses.”
Council, earlier in Tuesday’s meeting, had passed a resolution imposing an emergency ordinance that suspends the issuance of STR licenses for six months, effective Tuesday.
The other major component of the proposal is to create a new revenue stream for workforce housing and rental assistance by skimming off Real Estate Transfer Tax collections. If placed on the ballot for the Nov. 2 election and approved by voters, Hampton said the measures proposed would take place immediately.
“The idea is to put this measure on the ballot as a choice, versus the citizen’s initiative, so that voters can have the chance to really understand the problem, understand what’s possible, and how different approaches might affect the community,” Hampton said. “We believe this approach offers two key benefits. One is that it’s immediate … the citizen’s initiative doesn’t take effect until 2023. And second, we believe it’s creating funding sources and creating actions, while not possibly creating unintended consequences for the economy merely by reducing the number of rental licenses. And just to be clear, we talked about a cap of the citizen’s initiative is really a substantial reduction in licenses. It’s going to have enormous economic consequences that I don’t think we can really forecast what that’s going to do two years from now, so we’re trying to propose solutions within the context of our current economy.”
Mayor DeLanie Young and others on council took issue with the late addition of the proposal to the council agenda, as well as expressing concerns about the process. In reference to the proposal’s plan to raise business license fees, Young and others noted that fee increases did not require voter approval. Council member Adrienne Christy said that though flawed, she liked some of the ideas proposed — such as raising business license fees — but that it did not necessarily warrant ballot referral.
“I have no desire to refer this specific document to the voter. However, what I am seeing is a menu of options proposed by some community members of actions that Town Council could take that they feel comfortable with,” Christy said. “I love hearing and seeing that this community is in favor of us raising their business license fees, and just generally raising money for housing which in the past has seemed like something that they have opposed … but things have changed. So I think that’s wonderful. And I’m happy to take that action in our budget meeting and follow their lead budgeting-wise for the fee increase.”
Council also dissected the proposal’s plan to use $2 million in Real Estate Transfer Tax collections for housing. That money is normally directed toward capital projects. Christy also called out a plan to offer rental assistance with dollars taken from the affordable housing fund, a pot of money that is used for new housing projects. The items listed in the proposal, Christy noted, could all take place as council actions.
“I feel like we’re getting a sense from the community of what they want, or at least what some of them want and we can just take action on our own without having to refer this to the citizens and cause some serious confusion and increase the amount of work for our town staff,” she said.
Town attorney Kevin Geiger clarified the process on the proposal, which is neither a citizen’s petition, nor a referendum.
“This is not a citizen initiated petition, this is not a referendum of an already passed ordinance by the Town Council. This is really — and the only reason we’re here — is because council members requested that this be added to the agenda, under the separate authority under the charter that says that council on its own motion shall have the power to submit at a regular or a special election, any proposed ordinance or any question to a vote of the qualified electors.”
If council would like to see the proposal on the ballot, Geiger said staff would need direction on how it should be worded so as to make the Sept. 3 deadline for filing ballot language with the San Miguel County clerk. He added that, though busy with numerous other issues, he would make every effort to redraft a document at council’s direction that would reflect any desired changes.
“If you direct me to make changes I would work in all haste and all good faith to try to do that,” he said.
Council member Geneva Shaunette agreed with Christy that it would be preferable to simply take action on the items within the proposal, rather than sending it to the voters.
“I just don’t think there’s anything in this proposal that we are against. Normally we would have the option of sending it to the voters or approving it as is, or taking parts of it and executing them,” Shaunette said. “I think we should just implement some of these policies. We already have this morning, we’re talking about increasing business license fees, we’re talking about subsidizing rents for a short period of time or longer. We were going to do all of these things so more than anything, I’m really grateful that people are coming to the table with these alternatives, and I really appreciate it and I think it’s awesome, but I don’t see the point of putting this to the ballot.”
Council member Jessie Rae Arguelles, who, with Hampton and council member Tom Watkinson had the item agendized, argued for placing the proposal on the ballot.
“I would like to see the voters have a voice in this because I do think that there is one option that is fairly short-sighted and will affect us economically in a way that will take us at least 15 years to recover from,” she said. “However, there’s one that is more equitable, and that’s a word that I want to resonate in everybody’s head. The biggest thing for me is job security for nearly 40 percent of people who work for short-term rentals. This is a thing that needs to be discussed.”
Watkinson added his support for further discussion by council and explained why it merited referral to the ballot.
“The reason I brought this to council was because I thought this is fundamentally different than the citizens initiative on STRs. It was bringing from substance to table,” Watkinson said. “It was bringing money into the affordable housing fund, it was suggesting ways of maybe taking lesser revenue short-term rentals making long-term rentals, with bridging the gap between owners and renters, suggesting using some of our surplus Real Estate Transfer Tax, increasing business license fees for short-term rentals and lodgers, and I thought it has more meat to it than the citizen’s initiative (and could) actually really help.”
Council then took up an in-depth discussion of each item contained in the proposal.
Editor’s note: This story will be continued in the Wednesday, Sept.1 edition of the Daily Planet.