By Mark Esper
The San Juan Regional Planning Commission is asking the Silverton Town Council to repeal a statute allowing weekly rentals in residential-zoned areas of town, as concerns mount about the impact of the operations.
But the commission advises allowing existing operations to continue until they become inactive.
Planning commission member Aaron Brill, noting that he will have to leave his rented home because the owner wants to rent it on a weekly basis instead, said “it’s hard for Silverton to have a year-round economy if it’s dictated to the summer” when the weekly rental market is hottest.
Currently some 18 homes in Silverton are permitted to be rented on a weekly basis.
Brill said it puts some neighboring residents in the position of “living next to a motel,” corroding neighborhoods in the process. And he said it also drives up housing costs.
“I think we should ask the town to put a moratorium on weekly rentals,” Brill said.
Planning commission member David Zanoni said he is surprised that more motel and hotel owners aren’t protesting the proliferation of weekly rentals of homes in recent years.
Zanoni said the weekly rentals are hard for the town to monitor to collect lodging fees.
“It’s an honor system,” he said, adding that the weekly rentals take “a lot of property off the monthly rentals.”
Brill said it is tough for his employees at Silverton Mountain ski area to find a quality place to live, even as the weekly rentals cut into the housing pool.
Planning commission member Bev Rich said that a lot of resort communities are struggling with the impact of converting homes to weekly rentals.
Planning commission member Pete McKay said trends in the real estate market in recent years may be having a negative impact on the community.
“Since 2000 almost everything that's moving is for out-of-town owners,” McKay said, suggesting “they don’t care about our workforce. We have a right to say this is destroying our community.”
Town Planning Director Adam Sickmiller noted that weekly rentals are allowed in the Business-Pedestrian zone downtown and in the Economic Development zone. In residential zones, the town permits are needed.
Zanoni suggested having the town staff research how other towns are handling the issue.
“There is an interest in this,” Zanoni said. “It’s loud enough that you have to listen to it.”
Brill entered a motion to ask the town “to consider a moratorium on additional weekly rentals at this time.”
Planning commission chairman Fritz Klinke suggested that the panel could instead ask the town to simply repeal the weekly rental statute, while allowing existing permits to stand until they cease operations.
It was that recommendation to the Town Council that passed in a unanimous vote of the planning commission.