Silverthorne council approves caps on short-term rental licenses

Silverthorne council approves caps on short-term rental licenses
January 17, 2023

Silverthorne council approves caps on short-term rental licenses

Council becomes third governing body in Summit County to implement caps — ranging from 10% to a total ban in some areas

Jan 17, 2023

Robert Tann

New development is seen on Fourth Street in Silverthorne. The town recently passed several caps on short-term rental licenses for homeowners.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

Silverthorne Town Council became the third governing body in Summit County to approve a cap on short-term rental licenses after a majority of its council members voted for the measure during a Jan. 11 meeting.

Most of the town will now be capped at 10% to 50% — meaning no more than half the housing units in any given area can be used as short-term rentals. The move came after months of public outreach and community discussion about regulating an industry that has garnered both praise and concern from property owners and local residents.

Mark Leidal, assistant town manager and community development director, said Silverthorne currently has around 302 short-term rental licenses — a slight increase from 280 last month when council members last discussed the ordinance. With the new caps in place, the town could support up to 740 licenses, which Leidal said gives the industry “plenty of room.”

The approved caps will be divided into three areas of the town. The largest, which encompasses much of the town’s main corridors and neighborhoods, will see a cap of 10%, which means 10% of the total housing stock in that zone can hold a license. A second area, which includes much of southern downtown along the Blue River as well as Summit Sky Ranch to the north, will be capped at 50%. And a third area, which encompasses what staff called much of the town’s workforce housing just south of the Willowbrook neighborhood, will have a total ban on short-term rentals.

An exemption to the caps was carved out for owner-occupied rentals, meaning residents living in their home who may rent out a bedroom.

Julie Koster, a Frisco resident and executive director of the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers, was the lone speaker during the meeting’s public comment period and spoke against the caps.

“We can’t help but ask, as an industry, why do a cap anyway, why even bother?” Koster said, adding that the low number of rental licenses in the town shows there is no need for regulation. “Just because everybody else in the county is doing this doesn’t necessarily mean that Silverthorne has to also.”

Debate over short-term rentals have captivated elected officials throughout the county. The towns of Breckenridge and Frisco have implemented caps both to preserve existing workforce housing and to mitigate disruptions to neighbors’ quality of life. And the Summit Board of County Commissioners is set to have a first-reading and vote on proposed caps for the county’s unincorporated areas Jan. 24.

Silverthorne began drafting a policy on license caps in June before surveying more than 1,400 town residents in September. A majority of responses showed support for some form of license cap.

“I think I am supporting what the people in Silverthorne have asked for,” said Councilmember Kelly Baldwin shortly before voting for the caps.

Councilmember Erin Young said even though there’s still room for how many short-term rentals licenses the town can provide, the intention of the caps is to be “proactive as a council rather than reactive as a council.”

By passing caps now before those limits are exceeded, Young said the town can avoid having to rescind licenses or create long waitlists.

Tim Applegate, the only council member to vote against the measure, said he has “fears that we might be heading into a recession,” and added, “I’m just afraid that putting caps might put some stress on people purchasing these units that we’re building.”