Breckenridge Candidate Forum Review
March 16, 2022 at Beaver Run
The Breckenridge Candidate Forum was hosted at Beaver RunResort on the evening of March 16th, sponsored by several localprofessional organizations. In attendance were approximately 100 communitymembers, representing a multitude of industries in Breckenridge.
Scott Cowperthwaite of TV8 and Phil Lindeman of Krystal 93FMwere moderators, working together to address candidates with pre-draftedquestions as well as audience questions throughout the evening.
Candidates were offered one minute to respond to eachquestion, with additional opportunities to speak in follow up, plus a fewlightning round questions offering 15-second responses on shorter yes/no stylequestions.
A series of notes from each candidates’ responses toquestions follows below. For the full zoom recording, visit the link below anduse the passcode provided.
Access Passcode: WZdumL8@
Opening remarks included candidate introductions, insummary below:
Owner of Blue River Bistro and Bistro North, running forCouncil because he wants to protect the fabric of the community for hischildren. He has been part of the BTO Board of Directors, Planning Commission,Summit School District Finance Committee, and the Upper Blue PlanningCommission. He has learned ways to problem solve and how to listen to communityfeedback.
Lived in town for almost 40 years. He has worked for SummitHuts for 25 years. He’s also worked in construction trades. Running because hewants Breckenridge to remain a place where people can live and prosper. We havea lot of challenges here and he would like to work with locals to work throughthese issues. Believes we need to work together.
Lived in town for 35 years, started as a ski instructorbefore getting into real estate. Tom owns his own real estate company. Tom has beeninvolved with the NRO, cycling, and Snow Sculpture. He wants to make sure everyvoice is heard.
Lived in town since 1998, and has worked in “every” job intown and is now a realtor. He wants to make sure everyone has a say in thecommunity, hearing people’s concerns from all walks of life.
Currently serving on Town Council. Breckenridge has beenhome since 2012. She has served on Mountain Dreamers, High Country ConservationCenter, Open Space Advisory, and others. She is experiencing the samechallenges many community members face. We have a great community but we canalways do better.
He has worked in the ski industry for 18 years, and nowworks in real estate. His goal for Council is to promote the community voices.He feels that current Council has not considered the voices of the community.He will be open minded to all ideas, including those he does not agree with atfirst blush.
Has been a member of the Events Committee with the BTO, andthe Troll committee, as well as hockey involvement. Todd is a realtor also andhas been working on the Smith Ranch project in Silverthorne. He wants toprotect the Breckenridge brand.
In town since 2004, and has raised a family here. Lenny ison an HOA board for Warriors Mark and also the Figure Skating organization.Lenny thinks everyone should be treated fairly and equally without being biasedtowards certain areas of town.
Environmental question – if ski tourism were to be “down”what would you invision for Breckenridge.
We are tied to Vail, we need to be able to stand on our ownaside from the ski industry.
As the snow pack dwindles, and climate change happens, wecould shift our focus towards more summer recreation and attractions.
Breckenridge is the highest ski area in the country. When weare affected, other areas will be affected even more. So we might actually seemore people coming here as those other places see a decrease in snow. We have alot of other activity options that we can improve with what snow we do have.
Our elevation sort of say we’ll be the last man standing.The good news is there are way more activities in the summer than the winter.Beautiful summer weather makes visiting in the summer seasons very attractive.
One of our destination plan goals is to create a robustyear-round economy. Shoulder seasons have trended very strong, and our summersare very healthy. Regardless of the time of year, we have an amazing naturalenvironment.
People will continue to come here because they enjoy thepeople of Breckenridge, also. Keeping a happy workforce will help preserve thatreputation and keep guests coming here.
The traffic numbers in the summer sort of show what willhappen if we see shorter winters – people will continue to come here for thesummer activities. The shift of zoom workers will continue to happen. Managingopen space and trails will continue to be even more important.
Try to preserve our winters by slowing down the clearcutting. Clear cutting does not help with fire prevention, it actually createsother issues with erosion and by speeding up the snow melt process in thespring. Go back to having more festivals, bring back walkable Main, maximizethe mountain adventure activities.
Short Term Rentals question – legislation is dominatingthe landscape; zoning cap in Breckenridge has been proposed. What will you doto further STR regulations? And do you support current regulations, yes or no.
Jay: Short term rentals are what this town was built on. Inthe past, we were scrambling to get more people into town. But now, with thenumber of visitors, we need a more sustainable and smaller footprint guest thatuses public transportation while they’re here. In zones 1 and 2, this exists.Yes – support current regulations.
Mike: Yes, I support the current regulations. We need torecognize that STRs are an important part of the business in this community. Weneed to continue to manage growth but also preserve as much of our long termrental market as possible. We all need to work together.
Tom: No, I do not agree with the current direction. I thinkit is a taking of property rights. There are 240 new affordable long termhousing coming on line. If the town and county were to remove restrictions onADUs, we would not have anywhere near the problem we have now. Need to loosenup current restrictions and stop taking property rights.
Jason: I do not believe there is one silver bullet. Takingaway home owners rights is not the answer. Our focus should be to incentivizehomeowners to rent long term and improve properties so that they can rent. Weshould have a walk to town zone and a neighborhood zone. Neighborhood zonewould be capped.
Carol: We are not unique with these conversations – this ishappening across the country. Some solutions are extreme and would not work inour tourism driven economy. Focusing forward on our task force for the tourismoverlay is the next step. We need to remain agile and monitor the dynamic atthe state level and how that might impact our local market here.
Nathan: No, I do not support the current direction. Youcan’t put the genie back in the bottle, but we can move forward. Maybe a threetier transfer tax based on intent to rent. Different zones based on number ofdays allowed to rent. That way you don’t take away anybody’s right to rent. Ifthis is such a crisis, we can’t wait eight years.
Todd: All for investing in the community and a fan of thecap. We need to protect the guests experience and locals quality of life.Making sure that we have enough locals here in the future or we will gethollowed out as a community. We need to adapt and all work together.
Lenny: Against the caps and the overlay district. Everyoneneeds to be treated equally and fairly. There is no reason to be discriminatingagainst people who live in different areas. It is similar to treating peopledifferently based on the color of their skin. One idea in Vermont was to longterm rent for 3 years and then owner can short term rent. Another idea is toincentivize owners to long term rent and the town helps manage the program.
Question from the audience – where does the “right” toshort term rent come from? Where is it implied or written?
Additional question: Second homeowners are feelingalienated. What message would you convey to them to make them feel welcomehere?
Jay: Has this conversation with employees who would like tobe able to live here. It’s hard to find a place. The town has made hugestrides. How do we keep workforce housing growing? We have 1,000 units comingonline in the next five years, but that will just tread water.
Mike: Second homeowners are not the boogeyman here. We needto acknowledge that folks will purchase here just like they always have,because they have the means to do so. Incentives might not be helpful becausemany of the owners of these properties would not long term rent anyway.
Tom: I’ve lost 12 or 14 deals since November because of thepermit cap. I’ve been selling elsewhere because there are restrictions but nota cap. Addressing the rights question, the answer is more: where don’t thoserights come from? It’s written in the constitution that you have the right touse your property.
Jason: Something needs to be done, but a cap is not theanswer. I would encourage anybody who comes here to buy. This is a greatcommunity. Our second homeowners are an incredibly important part of thecommunity. We should incentivize folks to buy here.
Carol: I would tell any new member here, welcome. We have anincredible, vibrant community. We are lucky to live in this place. I wouldencourage new owners to get involved in local activities. Having more messagingfrom the town to welcome new residents.
Nathan: To answer the rights question, there is aprescriptive rule in real estate. When you’ve been given permission over a longperiod of time to do something, it then becomes considered a given right.
Todd: I would tell folks this is an incredible place to be.We have amazing amenities. The leadership at the town and county level willcontinue to build those things. The BTO has done a great job of managing thedestination piece.
Lenny: A lot of second homeowners contribute here. They comeup and work and shop and eat at restaurants. They might work at the resort onthe weekends, too. But to tell people what they can or cannot do with theirproperty is unfair. You should allow owners to rent if they want to and notforce their hand. Make permits more aligned with what the owners will actuallyuse them for – if they only rent one or two bedrooms of the whole house, offera permit for that.
Question from the audience: would you support anordinance requiring a long term rental license so we can monitor how many longterm rentals are actually out there and whether or not the cap is accomplishingwhat the current council thinks it will in terms of influencing more long termrentals?
Lenny: I am opposed to creating preferences overneighborhoods. I’m not sure about the long term license but maybe to havepeople register so the town can track.
Todd: I think a unifying vision will be valuable in thislong term license concept. Gathering the data to understand how many homes areavailable would be useful moving forward to make smart decisions.
Nathan: Having a positive discource among councilmemberswill be helpful moving forward. Tracking long term rentals will be helpful, butis nerve-wracking because it makes the town have too much power.
Carol: I think having the data would be valuable. Denver hasa similar system. The town grandfathered licenses and allowed people to keeptheir licenses. The town has been meeting with CAST to discuss options that areworking in other communities.
Jason: Tracking long term rentals would be great. Creatingthe walk to town and neighborhood zones would help incentivize long termrentals in those neighborhoods.
Tom: We’ve allowed Vail Resorts to get off the hook easilyhere. They employ almost 1,000 ski instructors – not to mention the other jobs.We need to get Vail on board to develop. Find private developers to buildunits. The town has a lot of land we can use. And yes, let’s track long termrentals to see if this is being successful.
Mike: Tracking long term rentals is a good idea but we alsohave to incentivize owners to long term rent or they’re just not going to doit. We also have to acknowledge that this cannot go on forever but we need tocome up with some regulations for the long run.
Jay: Lessening the impact of the guest will help byencouraging guests to be in areas that were designed for them. Managing thedata around long term rentals would be helpful. We should have put a moratoriumin place for short term rentals in order to take time to do these things theright way.
Question from the audience: the dynamic of short termrentals have changed with arrival of VRBO and AirBnB. Why are we not taxingshort term rentals as a business?
Affordable Housing: what are your plans to addressworkforce affordable housing?
Jay: As a member of the planning commission, I have hadinvolvement in the developments being worked on. We need to create moreopportunities for people who work here to be able to live here also. We need tokeep being creative and work to protect the fabric of this community.
Mike: We have a great program going with the new units comingonline. Continuing to offer incentives to property owners to rent long term. Weshould make that easier for folks. From property tax reductions to financialbonuses.
Tom: People who come here for short term go out torestaurants and participate in activities, they spend more money in ourcommunity which brings more tax dollars in as well. We need to get Vail andbigger companies to contribute to housing.
Jason: I’d like to see the town offer more programs like thebuy downs, new developments and so on. The future of our workforce depends onit.
Carol: The lack of affordable housing is starting to impactour community. We need to offer support to owners willing to long term rent. Weshould offer support to small businesses who cannot afford to purchase or buildproperties. There is an unprecedented amount of dollars available from thestate and federal government that we should use to build.
Nathan: Offering buydown options where folk can lease backfrom the town, or offer something that the town can purchase homes and rentthem out.
Todd: Increasing incentives for buydowns and lease to localshelps. Let’s talk to the school district about the land they own. I don’t thinkwe can force Vail to do anything, but we can certainly make the ask to them andBGV. Offering accessory unit incentives.
Lenny: Many owners have decided to short term rent simplybecause it gives them the flexibility to do what they wish with the propertyand use it in the gaps around rental guests.
Question about tax: Would you support a passthrough taxor a sales tax that everyone would contribute to for workforce housing?
Lenny: passthrough tax.
Todd: sales tax – we all need to chip in.
Carol: right now, neither. We should use the federal dollarsto support this.
Jason: passthrough tax.
Tom: passthrough tax.
Mike: ideally, neither but possibly a combination of both.
Jay: all options have to be on the table. Federal funds aregood. We also all need to chip in, so I like the sales tax. And then, if we canbolster that funding with a passthrough tax then we should do it.
Audience Question: is it government or business role tomanage workforce housing?
Tom: both, small businesses are being taxed to death
Carol: both, a business/government partnership would be crucial
Todd: both, but the support of the government will helpsmaller businesses