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Crested Butte council sets STR limit ordinance for public hearing

Two types of licenses, two zones and different nightly caps…

By Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Town Council has circled back around to the short-term rental (STR) discussion and will hold a public hearing on June 5 concerning a proposed ordinance limiting STRs in town. It is not simple.

Basically, the council is considering two types of STR licenses. For the first type of license, all permanent residents in town who own their homes would be able to use their houses for up to 60 days as STRs. They will have to prove the home they propose to rent is their primary residence.

For the second type of license, people with homes in zones where STRs are currently allowed will be able to obtain a license with no cap on the number of nights the property can be rented. Permanent residents in these zones can get either license.

In the zones where STRs are currently allowed, council wants to establish a limit of having no more than 30 percent of the free market homes used for STRs for an unlimited number of nights. Those licenses would also carry a higher fee than the ones issued to owner-occupied primary residences with the 60-night cap, but no fee structure has been discussed.

In zones where STRs are not currently legally permitted, the council would “grandfather in” those with business licenses that were previously issued by the town, and allow permanent residents to apply for the 60-day limit permits. The council wants to consider changing the zoning for homes in the Verzuh annexation to move them to the zone allowing unlimited STR nights.

According to figures recently compiled by the town, there are 938 free-market units in Crested Butte. More than half, 485, are owned by out-of-towners. Of those, 368 are located in the zone where unlimited STR permits are allowed. Of the current 244 STR business licenses, 171 are held by out-of-towners. Of the 73 STR business licenses held by locals, 34 license-holders live in town in a residence other than the one they short-term rent and 39 vacate their primary residence to rent it out.

“This is admittedly complex stuff,” said departing building and zoning director Bob Gillie.

Mayor pro tem Roland Mason, who was running the meeting since mayor Glenn Michel and councilwoman Laura Mitchell recused themselves from the STR discussion, said he’d prefer to keep it simple and just impose a percentage cap of, say, 35 percent on the entire town. “I think having two licenses and trying to monitor all of that becomes really complicated and tough for the staff,” he said.

Citizen Liz Sawyer agreed with Mason’s suggestion.

Councilman Jackson Petito liked the idea of the two-tiered system to help locals living in town make some extra money. He suggested that as part of the proof of residency, people fill out an affidavit swearing they are indeed residents.

“I really want to hear from people on both sides of the issue on the Verzuh annexation discussion,” Petito added.

Those homeowners and others will have a chance to comment on the proposal at a public hearing set for June 5.

In a related move, the council approved a software licensing agreement with Bear Cloud software for the implementation of “STR Helper.” Gunnison County has already entered into an agreement with the company to use their software to help regulate STRs. The system is meant to track vacation rentals in town and help track down people not in compliance with town STR regulations.

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