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Western vacation towns look to limit short-term rentals

Steamboat Springs
Katatonic28
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Flickr Creative Commons
Downtown Steamboat Springs, Colo.

News Brief

Steamboat Springs, Colo., has been making headlines this summer for its crackdown on short-term rentals. Listing properties on sites such as Airbnb and VRBO has been banned in most of town, and voters will decide this November if they want to further tax vacation property owners.

City councilmember and 20-year Steamboat resident Heather Sloop said during a recent meeting that she supported the measures because of the sheer number of locals struggling to find a stable place to live.

“I see people that have worked here as long as I have, having to find alternative housing sources or leaving this valley because of the economic strain that is having on them,” Sloop said. “That is where I see the problem.”

Nearly 30 percent of Steamboat’s homes are vacation rentals, according to the analytics firm AirDNA and the U.S. Census Bureau, as reported by the AP.

Other mountain towns struggling with limited housing supply and affordability, including Jackson Hole, Crested Butte, and Breckenridge, are also debating new vacation rental regulations. Some, including Aspen, have even passed new development moratoriums in recent years to slow down growth.

A study commissioned by Airbnb this year found that short-term rentals support about 15 percent of the jobs in several popular Mountain West communities and added $1.5 billion to the economy. It also argues that short-term rental growth has had little impact on local housing markets.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.
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