Seems like we have some sound thinking with this proposal and solid leadership with Keith Hampton. This seems like a “no-brainer” and hopefully council will place it on the November in simple fairness.
Good read from the Daily Planet:
Public demands voice in new STR proposal
Council will vote on certifying alternative measure for the ballot Thursday
By Suzanne Cheavens, Associate Editor 17 hrs ago
Telluride Town Attorney Kevin Geiger guided Town Council through last week’s lengthy discussion of a new short-term rental proposal. On Thursday, council will vote on whether to certify the new draft of the proposed measure for November’s ballot. (Planet file photo)
Last week, Telluride Town council exhaustively discussed a new, late entry of a potential ballot question that was presented as an alternative to the citizen’s initiative, which calls for a cap on short-term rental (STR) licenses. It will be taking up the matter again Thursday in an action item that could send it to the ballot. In public comment, and with strong support from some on council, putting it to a vote of the electorate — rather than legislating the terms of the proposal — was the preferred path.
The latest option, titled “Proposed Ordinance Regarding Short-Term Rentals and Increasing Funding for Workforce Affordable Housing,” would also cap STR licenses, but also proposes a new revenue stream for workforce housing and rental assistance by skimming off annual Real Estate Transfer Tax collections. The alternative measure was presented by local businessman Keith Hampton and placed on last week’s Town Council meeting agenda by council members Tom Watkinson, Lars Carlson and Jessie Rae Arguelles. Hampton explained the proposal’s main objectives.
“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.”
Arguelles was adamant that the new proposal should also be placed on the Nov. 2 ballot alongside the citizen’s initiative measure. (The formal protest hearing of that proposal, scheduled for Tuesday, was canceled after being withdrawn by the filer of the protest, Stacy Ticsay.) She noted that there were economic reverberations associated with the citizen’s initiative’s goals, as well as impacts on jobs.
“If we cut the short-term rentals in half and decrease our inventory, the available inventory will be inflated by such a rate that the town once again will become more exclusive, rather than inclusive,” she said. “So I’m asking for our council and our community to look at the greater picture of what some of these decisions and votes will do to our community. Where do we see our town in 10 years, in 15 years? Do we want people to live here? Do we want the disparity to be bigger between lower class and upper class? Because these are the issues that we need to talk about in regards to short-term rentals. Do I like it that we’re even having this conversation? No. Is this our reality? One hundred percent. So what do we do as a community to tackle all of these issues, secure jobs, promote healthy infrastructure, promote sales tax and rental tax which funds a majority of everything that goes on in town, and then try and curb inflation so that there is room for a middle class. This is what I’m putting back on everyone not just Town Council, but everyone in this community. Where do we want our community to be in 10 to 15 years, because these are the decisions that like will rely on that end result, infinitely.”
Carlson also wanted to see the new proposal go to the voters as a “viable alternative” to the citizen’s initiative.
“Why wouldn’t we just put this on the ballot and let the voters decide,” Carlson said. “This referendum is going to increase the affordable housing budget so why wouldn’t we do that? I don’t think there’s any argument that the citizens-based initiative can say that says their initiative is going to produce housing. I think that’s just a fallacy.”
In public comment, in which most spoke in support of seeing council place the new proposal on the ballot, Steve Palmer weighed in first.
“This item that we’re talking about now is really just an opportunity, if you will, to pressure-test your community, and to allow them to vote on a measure that really does put forward good ideas,” Palmer said. “I’m mindful and respectful of the council members who have said these are things that we should do. But at the same time I think you should allow your voters to contemplate this issue in a much more constructive way. I think as the council members have brought forward, it’s not so much to ask what each of your respective positions are on the issue. It’s really more so a question about do you support the notion of allowing your constituents to have a say on the future of their community? Yes, it’s a hyper-charged issue. It’s emotional across the board and, and I see in everyone’s face and I feel it myself, because it’s tough to afford a home in the mountains. It’s tough to afford a home a lot of places we’d like to live. But let’s be honest, short-term rentals allow people to feel like they’re part of the community and come in and stay there for a while. And this idea, as I as I understand it, enables the community to decide. If I were in your chair I think I would want to trust the electorate a little bit and really find out where they stand on this issue.”
Palmer was far from alone as others agreed in public comment and more than 70 emails were received by council, most urging elected officials to place the measure on the ballot.
Thursday’s council meeting — the first of its annual budget talks — will have added on in an early session, a vote on a compromised version of the original proposal. That version includes increasing business license fees, specifically on short-term rentals, accommodations and lodging licenses, but removing the proposed two-year sunset on the fee increase, capping the number of STR licenses (leaving the two-year sunset in place), and voting on certification of the measure for the ballot without the proposed new revenue stream for affordable housing, including using a portion of Real Estate Transfer Tax collections for workforce housing.
Council meets at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Packet materials can be found at telluride-co.gov.