Crested Butte census shows decline in owner-occupied units

Dog population on the decline

By Mark Reaman

After a four-year hiatus, the town of Crested Butte has conducted a local census for 2018. Results of the survey conducted by the town’s planning department shows a town population of 1,565 people and 281 dogs living in 767 long-term rental or owner-occupied units. There are 187 short-term rentals and 209 second homes out of the 1,182 units located within town boundaries.

Town planner Bob Nevins presented the numbers to the town council last month. He explained the purpose of the local census was to identify changes in town over time and to evaluate where the town is in achieving the council goal of having 75 percent of the housing units being occupied full-time and 30 percent of the units in town being deed-restricted.

The numbers indicate that while 80 percent of the units in town were occupied by full-time residents in 1994, today that percentage is closer to 65 percent. Nevins said that while there are more people living in town now, the occupancy rate has decreased from 2.4 people per unit to two people per unit. He said 22 percent of the housing units in Crested Butte are deed-restricted, while about 16 percent are short-term rentals.

“Looking at the community over 25 years, the growth rate changes have been gradual and consistent,” Nevins explained to the council. “Other resort communities have higher spikes, in part because of their aggressive annexation policies. Crested Butte has not grown much physically.

“The really exciting thing is that there are 259 deed-restricted units today,” Nevins continued. “In 1994 there were only 48 in town. That’s something the community can be proud of.”

Nevins said the numbers indicate a challenge for the town in that the second homeowner population is increasing while the local workforce is being pushed out. He said the town was also approaching build-out. “This is a desirable place to live,” Nevins noted. “So the second home market is expanding. But without year-round residents the community is very different.”

Nevins said while there hasn’t been dramatic growth, real estate prices could see dramatic shifts. “It works both ways,” he said. “Prices can go up quickly but they also decline dramatically at times.”

The peak population in town was the year 2000 when 1,630 people and 366 dogs lived in town. “The dog population is declining at an alarming rate,” Nevins quipped.

To achieve the council’s five-year goal for a 70 percent occupancy rate by full-time residents, Nevins wrote in a memo to council, “The existing 767 resident-occupied units need to be maintained and an additional 183 units of new construction and/or conversion of short-term rentals and second homes needs to occur.” This equates to approximately 37 units per year over a five-year period. To get to the 30 percent deed-restriction goal, Nevins wrote, an average of 24 new deed-restricted units annually would be needed.

The data was collected through personal interviews, prepaid mailers and door-to-door contacts with people.

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