While I always appreciate good debate about any issue, I am very disappointed in some disinformation that has been written in the Daily Planet by some of the supporters of Question 300. First, to the best of my knowledge, the property owners that do short-term rent in Telluride followed the existing local laws and ordinances required by the Town of Telluride. The fact that the supporters of 300 think it’s OK to punish over 300 of them financially every year from now on for the failure of the Town of Telluride government to adequately address workforce housing is just wrong. Additionally, many locals voted against part of the Valley Floor being set aside for other public needs like affordable housing, future school needs, medical facilities or a host of other public improvements that have been needed by this community for a long time. A majority of locals also voted against annexing the Idarado Legacy Development, which would have generated a significant portion of the money necessary to pay for a lot of our employee housing needs through its transfer tax long into the future. We’ve done this to ourselves and blaming second homeowners that have legal short-term rentals (STRs) is just wrong. What message does that send? Basically, that the Town of Telluride and its citizens are not trustworthy and will renege on any laws, ordinances or regulations at any time in the future if the citizens who can vote decide they don’t like those rules, ordinances or regulations that property owners trusted when they made their purchases. What does that say about us as a community and a resort that depends on tourism to survive? That we can’t be trusted?
Question 300 claim that it will bring 300 long-term rentals to the free market is completely false. Those properties are already in the free market and their owners are free to rent them, not rent them, sell them or use them. The reality is that some owners will sell them because they need the income to offset expenses to new owners who don’t need to rent them. How does that help locals who need a place to live? While I haven’t seen any supporting data that Telluride has the highest ratio of STR to hotel rooms, that isn’t the fault of the second homeowners. Ask any local Realtor with a client who has tried to build a hotel in Telluride how frustrating it can be to get through HARC and P&Z. While those two entities are vital to our character they can also kill the enthusiasm of a hotel developer. There has only been one hotel built in the Town of Telluride in the last 25 years, which was Hotel Columbia. And on top of that, some Town Council members want to eliminate the marketing of Telluride. Do you think that any hotel developer will risk their money on Telluride, a town that is not sure it wants tourists anymore?
One of the most egregious comments was about the real estate community opposing the 2.5 percent tax on VRBO-type rentals in 2019. Yes, we did so because we wanted a much bigger income source and supported a 1 percent sales tax on everyone shopping in Telluride, locals and tourists alike. We felt then and now that everyone should be part of workforce housing solutions here and everyone should be paying something. Look how much 300 has divided our community. That wasn’t necessary. We would have gladly sat down with the three petitioners and worked together on solutions. Unfortunate is my experience with the current and some past Telluride Town Council members has been that they only want to work with the real estate community when they are running for office. Some of them are just brazen about not wanting to work with Realtors and other local entities because some of them think only Town Council members have the "good ideas." That has got to change.
Lastly, vote "yes" for 2D because it doesn’t pit one group of people against another. Question 2D is not perfect but a start of a bigger conversation. Where should workforce housing be built? How will it get paid for? What should it cost? Should it be built on the most valuable land in the Town of Telluride, where the building costs are the highest, or in our region where we can build much more housing with the same amount of dollars? I do not have the answers, but these questions aren’t even being discussed by Telluride Town Council or by the broader Telluride community. Maybe a Town of Telluride meeting moderator could call a meeting for the whole town in the high school gym or bigger venue, if needed. We need to work with each other, not against each other. That destroys community and the resort business that we are all in one way or another.