CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — In the St. Mary's Glacier community, the winds of change are blowing. But that change, some worry, could come at a high cost.
Clear Creek County commissioners are considering putting a 5% cap on non-owner-occupied short-term rentals.
County records show there were a total of 128 rentals in its unincorporated parts, including those whose owners live on the property. Those rentals wouldn't be affected by this cap.
"They're making a problem where there isn't a problem," short-term rental owner Thomas Meyers said. "The only economy right now [in St. Mary's Glacier] is basically lodging."
His short-term rental has been a good source of income, which is why he and other owners filled a schoolhouse Sunday afternoon.
If the commissioners consider a cap, many of the owners who attended the community meeting want it higher than 5%. But if they don't consider the cap, they worry their rentals will be in jeopardy.
"The county commissioners are now looking to overstep what the planning commission has recommended and completely do away with non-owner-occupied short-term rentals," Meyers said.
Gino Della Penna, a prospective short-term rental owner, says 34 out of the 35 rentals in the St. Mary's Glacier community qualify under the proposed regulation changes.
He says prohibiting them from operating will be devastating to the community and the owners who've invested thousands of dollars.
"This is the only industry that our community has, and it's proven to be very successful," Penna said.
The county's planning commission considered concerns over housing stock in mountain towns and complaints from neighbors about rentals in its recommendations.
The complaints are few and far in between, Meyers says, and getting rid of non-owner-occupied short-term rentals won't solve a future housing crisis.
"If short-term rentals go away, I'm sure there will be some that go for sale, but nothing's going to guarantee that those are affordable houses," he said.
Instead, the owners suggest building more apartments, condos and houses that are affordable for the workforce. But coming after their rentals, they say, is not it.
"Balance is the key to success in everything," Penna said.
A proposed cap or elimination of non-owner-occupied short-term rentals is not the only change commissioners are considering. They're also considering changes to occupancy limits, garage storage requirements, enforcement and more.
You can read more about the changes here.
The Clear Creek County Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on the changes in December.