I commend Pepper, Elena and Hayley for standing up for the Telluride workforce and for not backing down in the face of challenge and criticism. Both sides for and against this measure have had justifiable arguments since the collection of signatures back in June. To completely dumb it down, the opposition's biggest argument is that the 2.5 percent tax on short-term rentals is an attack on property owners and will hurt our tourism economy. Supporters see that the number of short-term rentals have increased exponentially over the past few years, creating a loss of available and affordable housing for hardworking locals.
Each side has spent a lot of time and energy trying to convince the other that they are wrong. Statistics, speculation and personal experience have been used to argue points online, in person and in the paper. What everyone can agree upon is that there is an affordable housing crisis in Telluride. What Pepper, Elena and Hayley have done is put a part of the solution onto this year's ballot.
I hope that once the tax gets voted in, or doesn't, all of the people who claim "we can do better" actually do. This issue shouldn't be an us-against-them situation. We all know that we live in and rely on a tourism-based town and economy. We choose to live here because we love it and there is no other place like it. No one actually knows if adding a 2.5 percent tax on to short-term rentals will hurt the economy. I have a tough time believing that an added $2.50 on every $100 spent on a short-term rental will send prospective visitors (of any economic status) running from this world-class destination that we all know is worth a little sacrifice, but how will we ever know if we don't try?
I'd love to see everyone use their newly ignited fires to eventually come together to make our home a thriving Telluride that both locals and tourists can continue to enjoy together for years to come. We cannot have one without the other, and we cannot keep pushing proposed solutions to a very serious problem aside. On Nov. 5, Vote yes on Ballot Issue 300, and let's keep chipping away at the housing crisis!