My name is Hayley Nenadal, and I am one of the three committee members on Ballot Initiative 300. I’m also affectionately known as “festival girl” (or at least that’s how I’m known in the 2D circle). I live in Telluride. I work in Telluride. My lifelong community is in Telluride.
I first want to talk about the reason behind 300 and the journey to this initiative. Two years ago, I was a part of the citizen’s initiative that passed the 2.5 percent short-term rental (STR) tax. In the last two years we have seen that tax raise a combined $1.2 million for affordable housing in the Town of Telluride. Just in the month of July 2021 alone, we raised $145,348. In 2021, even with all this affordable housing money raised, housing was scarcer than ever, while the town was flooded with tourists at an unsustainable rate, and friends’ businesses were closing due to lack of workforce to hire. Friends were getting pushed out of their houses by the dozens, while their homes were turned into STRs to feed the pockets of the few and pump more tourists into the canyon. My community was moving away.
I teamed up with Emily Scott Robinson and Olivia Lavercombe, two other very involved Telluride citizens, and wrote 300 with the help of legal counsel. We wanted to “stop the bleed” of long-term rentals converting to STRs and roll things back a few years to a less chaotic town, which was a more sustainable time. Question 300 is a citizen’s initiative, which means we needed to get signatures to send it to the ballot. We had over 100 signatures that first day from everyday citizens, just like us. Then 300 passed, the opposition got scared, and when they couldn’t stop it with legal action, they proposed 2D at the final hour. Now, we have two ballot measures: 2D and 300. Question 300 is about limiting the number of STRs in town and 2D is about maintaining the status quo — STR licenses don’t go down and they put a small amount of money towards affordable housing, roughly $200,000 a year.
Now comes the fun part. Question 2D has positioned themselves as the affordable housing bill. Unfortunately, that just can’t be true. Many of the same people, working almost exclusively in lodging and real estate, opposed our 2.5 percent tax bill in 2019. During that 2019 campaign, the opposition spent $5,000 against us. This year, a similar group has already raised $92,000 to try to kill 300. I don’t blame them for being scared. Any good business owner protects their clients. When the Realtors sold these STRs, they made a promise: the owners could have their cake and eat it, too. They told them that they could borrow our town for the weeks a year they wanted a vacation, and for the rest of the year pay their mortgage and make money in the process. The fact is, for the past two years, owning an STR has been great business and bad community. I want to be clear, Realtors and the lodging community are made up of hardworking, longtime locals who helped build Telluride. From what I’ve observed at our public debates and community forums, they care about the housing crisis just as much as we do. With 2D, they just didn’t propose anything new. I don't blame the Realtors for doing business with the tools at their disposal. Which is why I hope they won't blame me for using the tool of a democratic citizen’s initiative 300 to rebuild this community.
As Festival Girl, I have worked hundreds of hours for two Telluride festivals this summer that were severely understaffed and lacked volunteers. You know what? I like to work, but I’d just prefer to do it with some help. I am proud to be “Festival Girl.” In fact, this town made me love the energy and vibe of these festivals so much, I started my own film festival right before COVID hit. I learned from looking around at my hardworking friends in this box canyon, those same friends that now can’t find enough housing to even work a basic restaurant job or become ski instructors on a mountain they love, that we needed to do something because doing nothing wasn’t working. We do not have to cannibalize the free market housing in this town to feed the tourism beast, or the lodging beast. Our town is out of balance. We believe that STRs are causing that imbalance. Question 300 is about balance. It won’t solve the housing crisis, as 2D claims in their bill. Money is not the answer. In fact, it’s the problem. Question 300 is a solution, a step in the right direction. And it’s certainly not the last. The girls and I are proud to be pushing for balance, even if it requires sacrifice or compromise. What else would you expect from Festival Girl? Vote 300.