Letter: Working to achieve fair taxation, neighborhood preservation is just common sense
It appears to me that the letters to the editor by opponents of the short-term rentals tax and the zoning overlay are inadvertently making a strong case why both are needed.
Short-term rentals currently have a tax advantage over motels and hotels because STRs are allowed to pay residential property tax rates while hotels and motels pay have to pay commercial property tax rates. Thus, the STR tax levels the playing field in a way available to city government.
If that is catastrophic for the local STR industry, then that would be great for the community, as tourists primarily would stay in hotels and motels, resulting in a lot of housing becoming available for locals. Though, I think the actual impact will be minimal because studies show 26% of people’s vacation budget is spent on lodging, so a 9% tax on STRs would represent a net vacation budget impact of 2.3%, and that would not likely prevent tourists from coming to Steamboat and staying in STRs.
Similarly, a recent claim that the STR zoning overlay will cost an owner $50,000 a year is precisely why the zoning overlay was needed. The fact that so much money can be made from renting a single family house as an STR demonstrates that house is more valuable as an STR than as a home for locals. Thus, the community would experience more and more homes being converted to STRs until there is no community left. The point of single-family-zoning is to have neighborhoods with residential housing, not STRs. The need for a zoning overlay to prevent additional STRs in parts of the city was imperative.
Tax fairness and preserving family neighborhoods is pretty much common sense for a community. The fact that opponents to each are seeking to recall three City Council members demonstrates the STR industry has lost touch with the community.
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