1. Where do you stand on short-term rental regulations?
Limiting STR licenses is unlikely to solve the workforce housing problems because many homeowners who offer properties as short-term rentals (STRs) do so because they also personally occupy their homes/condos during portions of the year.
Rather than limiting STRs, the Town of Breckenridge should incentivize employers to provide housing for their employees. Additionally, the town should re-evaluate certain aspects of its “Lease to Locals” program, which incentivizes homeowners to lease to local workers. In the current program, “Rental rates are set by the property owner or property manager and there are no rent requirements for the program.” This past winter, I saw a listing for a STR to LTR conversion unit on Zillow where the landlord was receiving a subsidy from Breckenridge (and Summit County) through the Lease to Locals program and the asking price was still $3500 a month for a 2-bed, 2-bath apartment: I do not consider this affordable for most of our community’s workforce.
While not currently a viable option due to tax laws, the County and Town should further investigate options to offer a property tax break for homeowners who rent their properties to local workers.
Lease to Locals Housing Incentive Program – Lease to Locals (landinglocals.com)
2. The town and tourism office have shifted their focus to quality of life for residents. Should that be a priority?
The town of Breckenridge must do more for quality of life for full-time residents.
One issue I believe the Town of Breckenridge must address is parking. The Town should investigate options to improve upon parking for residents (who already pay a hefty sum of property and sales taxes to the Town of Breckenridge). One potential solution would be to implement a program where local residents could obtain a parking permit for discounted (or even free) parking in certain parking lots in Town.
Another issue to improve upon is the snow maintenance. Our roads and sidewalks are in disarray during the winter months. Having properly cleared roads will help with traffic flow and also reduce accidents. I have witnessed many people slip and fall on sidewalks on Main Street and around town: walking down the sidewalk in winter should not be a death-defying sport.
The Town of Breckenridge and Vail Resorts should work together to provide events for locals. Let’s bring people of our community, many who are passionate about skiing and snowboarding, together in unity. Events could be as simple as allowing Breckenridge residents to access the lifts one-hour early, one day a month (early-ups) or holding a town ski race on Peak 10. Special events for locals will build community and friendships in our small town.
3. Many employers say a lack of affordable housing is the root cause of the labor shortage. How would you respond to those concerns?
The Town of Breckenridge needs to make Vail Resorts responsible for providing housing for seasonal employees, including J1 visa employees. Seasonal workers in town from December through March are searching for housing during the peak winter season and typically have a budget of $800-$1000 per month. Vail Resorts also needs to take corporate responsibility to provide safe, clean, and affordable housing for its employees: the town and taxpayers of Breckenridge should not have to foot the bill for housing the thousands of employees necessary to operate Vail’s ski resorts. In addition to providing more workforce housing, Vail Resorts should compensate workers enough so they can live in decent accommodations a reasonable distance from work: the current starting wage of $15 an hour is not enough to find housing in Breckenridge. Walmart, Target, Whole Foods and even Taco Bell, have a higher starting wage than Vail Resorts.
At the end of the day, the people who work in this community need to be paid a reasonable wage to be able to obtain housing in Summit County. It is a disgrace that the human beings who provide for the “genuine Breckenridge” experience for tourists are sleeping in their cars, couch surfing, or squeezing 12 people into a 3-bedroom house/condo.
4. Do you support the proposed outdoor energy mitigation program?
At a time when the citizens of our community are already burdened with the highest energy costs they have seen since 2009, I could not support a program which would impose increased financial burden on the people of Breckenridge without any clear benefit to them. This proposal would create new costs for all residents in Breckenridge because the majority of homes in our community include one (or more) of the following: snowmelt systems, natural gas fireplaces, heated pools, and hot tubs. Bureaucrats have come up with slick phrases like “economic price signals to reduce excessive outdoor energy use” to hide the truth of, “we are going to significantly increase your energy costs, taxes and fees.” Town Council must demand that the proponents of this proposed program carefully account for all of its costs, benefits, and the impacts before it imposes any new mandates on residents. Overall, our community needs balance and common-sense when it comes to energy policy.
I am also concerned with the proposed “Pay-as-you-throw” program. This program would provide everyone with a recycling bin in addition to a trash bin and charge by the size of the trash bin. I previously lived in a community where a similar program was implemented and when people’s trash bins became too full, they just ended up throwing their trash into the recycling (to avoid additional trash costs), thus contaminating the recycling stream. As a recycling guru, I personally take my recycling to the facility on Coyne Valley Road on a weekly basis. We need to encourage and educate all members of our community on proper recycling protocols.
5. Describe a misstep of the current council and how you would have handled it differently.
The current town council has failed to listen to the people of Breckenridge. In 2021, when the Town of Breckenridge surveyed locals asking for feedback on Walkable Main, 86% of residents and 83% of businesses that responded supported its return. However, instead of listening to the needs of residents and business owners, five of the six present council members voted “no” on the proposition to re-Instate Walkable Main Street in the summer of 2021. This is one of many instances where Breckenridge Town Council completely ignored the inputs of constituents. While I have many of my own ideas, first and foremost, as a member of Breckenridge Town Council, I would make it my number one priority to listen to the constituents of Breckenridge. I will also respect the constituents, as well as their ideas and opinions. Too often, members of our community attend Town Council meetings only to have their public comments fall on deaf ears. I pledge to listen with an open mind to all constituents. Part of my pledge to constituents will be to hold regular chats with concerned citizens so that I can meet with them face-to-face to hear their needs.
Additionally, the current town council also thinks in unison: they have no diversity of thought. As an aerospace engineer, it is in my nature to question and analyze. I will do my own research and thoroughly consider the costs, benefits, and impacts of all ordnances and resolutions. I pledge to faithfully serve the citizens of Breckenridge and defend their rights and liberties. I genuinely care about the Town of Breckenridge and her citizens, and I will work tirelessly to make this a community where everyone is respected, represented and heard.
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