Ghost town or real town?
During the public comments section of Monday’s Crested Butte Town Council meeting, three local renters, all living in an apartment on Teocalli Avenue in Crested Butte, talked about their housing situation to the Town Council. The council had just spent an hour in a work session discussing the issue of declining rental housing in town.
Trevor Main has lived in Crested Butte for eight years and is looking to now purchase a home in town. He isn’t having a lot of luck. “More than 33 percent of the homes here are owned by second homeowners or are being VRBOed,” he said. “That’s a lot. That means just 67 percent of the houses here are occupied by owners or renters.
“In other towns, that number is in the 80 or 90 percentile,” he continued. “Between 2000 and 2010, the population in town shrank. I think short-term rentals contributed to that. I want to see more opportunity for people to own or rent in town.”
Peter Richmond seconded those thoughts to the council. “I grew up in Frisco and have lived in Carbondale and Gunnison,” he explained. “I saw what happened in Frisco and don’t want to see it happen here. VRBO is an unsustainable thing and Crested Butte has a lot of short-term rentals. Walking around town in mud season you can really see it. There are a lot of dark houses here.
“I don’t think the workers in a community should have to drive from Crested Butte South or Gunnison to their jobs,” he continued. “They should be able to walk or bike home from work. Think about what it means for a community. I would like the council to pursue this more. People of my age and demographic are really feeling this.”
Andy Richmond echoed those thoughts to the council. “What kind of community do you want?” he asked the council. “Having a percentage like 39 percent of VRBOs in town is high. There doesn’t have to be tension and a choice between the young people trying to live here now and the old guard who are renting out their houses. But if the old guard doesn’t allow young kids to live here it won’t be easy.
“If we want this community to be a ghost town then give VRBOs a free rein,” he said. “It will hurt the economy and the feel of the town if workers have to live in Riverbend or Crested Butte South or wherever. I urge the council to take real action on this.”
The council will be gathering information and looking into the issue of available housing over the next several months.