New STR Rules in Effect
The city of Aspen’s updated short-term rental regulations took effect July 29, the Aspen Daily News reported. Under Ordinance 9, all current permits must now comply with new occupancy limits, life safety requirements and new tax filing and complaints systems, or risk revocation. More information about the specifics of the new regulations can be found at aspen.gov/strs.
The city hired a commercial core and lodging program manager to oversee the new program. The city implemented a GIS map that shows which zones in town allow which types of permits and whether there is a permit cap in those areas. The city has also created a new 311 complaint system, which will be an enforcement tool overseen by the city.
Cozy Point Improvements Underway
The city is putting together a multi-year plan for improvements at Cozy Point Ranch across from the Brush Creek Park ‘n’ Ride on Highway 82, the Aspen Daily News reported. The city is currently working on several projects there, such as a grading and drainage project to address safety concerns on the ranch due to a lack of consistent infrastructure. City staff is planning improvements to the boarding facility, a potential replacement of the riding arena, and improvements to the employee housing on the ranch, of which there are currently four units on site.
Additionally, the parks staff is hoping to collaborate with Pitkin County Open Space and Trails next year on a wildlife crossing feasibility study in the Cozy Point Ranch Area. The city is considering studying the parcels of city-owned land on both sides of Highway 82 near Brush Creek Road, where wildlife migration and movement are common.
Pickleball Courts Get OK from Council
As Aspen pickleball becomes more popular, the city has given the go-head for a new facility that combines tennis and pickleball courts, the Aspen Daily News reported. The pickleball courts will be installed at the same location as the current tennis courts at the Aspen Recreation Center. However, construction is not planned to begin until after next year’s budget cycle is approved by Aspen City Council.
Construction will cost about $2 million, which is separate from the $400,000 the project received in this year’s budget for design and planning. The project will expand the current footprint of the ARC’s tennis facility to make room for separate pickleball courts, more space for tennis and pickleball players, and other potential improvements such as restrooms.
Underground Surprise Ups Paepcke Transit Station Construction Costs
When crews this past spring began to dig up the intersection at Garmisch and Main streets to build a new bus shelter and pedestrian crossing, they discovered a displaced section of stormwater pipe, the Aspen Times reported. For proper drainage, it requires an additional 57 linear feet and nearly $230,695 in a change order to Gould Construction’s contract with the city.
It’s the second change order to the contract, with the first one being $238,840. The additional work brings the project to $4.8 million, although the cost to the city is $4 million with grants, other government contributions and development fee revenue making up the difference.
Snowmass Inn Renovations Nearly Complete for Affordable Housing
The Town of Snowmass Village acquired 39 studio units at the Snowmass Inn in 2020 to renovate for affordable housing, the Aspen Times reported. The units are 330-square-feet and required substantial upgrades to make them livable for employees. There are still year-round workers living in about half of the units. They get dibs first on the remodeled studio units, which will rent for $1,200 per month with all utilities included. The rent is more on par with a one-bedroom or two-bedroom unit in the town’s rental inventory, where other studios currently rent for $550-$1070 per month, according to the town’s 2022 rental rates chart.
Council Starts to Consider Building a Library
Town officials in Snowmass are considering building a library to provide the community with library services and meeting space that is not currently available, the Aspen Times reported. A feasibility report said the Snowmass facility would be at least 2,000 square feet with a preferred size in the 5,000 to 8,000 square feet ballpark. The location could likely be in Town Park because it’s next to the Snowmass Recreation Center.
Based on current construction costs, an 8,000-square-foot library would cost $5.6 million to build. Pitkin County Library has saved $4 million for the potential construction. But officials all recognized that staffing is the major operational expense once the library is built.
Council Approves Last Willits Development Component
Basalt Town Council gave a green light to a project that will add 109 luxury, free-market condominiums and 46 deed-restricted affordable housing units to the midvalley mix, the Aspen Daily News reported. The council voted 7-0 to grant first reading approval to an ordinance of approval for Parcel 5 of the Sopris Meadows subdivision. Developer Michael Lipkin and his Possumco LLC applied to build the 155 residences on 12 acres of vacant land located between Willits Lane and Willits Lake. The site is the last major undeveloped portion of the Willits residential area.
The 2020 Basalt Master Plan identifies the site as appropriate for medium-density residential housing, with a range of 73 to 155 dwellings. The council approved the high end of the range with no questions asked. Lipkin is building roughly double what is required in terms of affordable housing mitigation, and he honored a request by the council to offer half of them for sale.
Grocery Store, Apartments Win Approval from Council
The council voted 6-0 to approve 65 apartments and 9,000 square feet of commercial space at the site where Clark’s Market was once located, near the intersection of Midland Avenue and Two Rivers Road, the Aspen Daily News reported. The 65 apartments will have a guarantee that all leases will be for six months or longer. In addition, 60% of the units must be occupied by local residents as their primary residence. These restrictions were agreed to try to ensure that the new housing would go to local residents.
Short-Term Rental Tax Going to the Voters
Carbondale voters will be asked this November whether to impose a 6% excise tax on private home vacation rentals to help bolster the town’s affordable housing fund, the Aspen Times reports. Homeowners who rent out all or a portion of their homes for vacation stays are now required to obtain a town license. The potential for an extra tax on short-term rentals (STRs) and/or a boost in Carbondale’s existing 2% lodging tax has been discussed in recent months as a way to address the demand for more affordable housing. There are a relatively small number of STRs in Carbondale, so the new tax is likely to generate only about $150,000 to $180,000 a year.
Carbondale Next in Line for WE-Cycle
A free bike-share program supported by the intergovernmental organization that operates the valleywide bus system is on track to expand to Carbondale in 2023, the Glenwood Springs Independent reported. Glenwood Springs could be right around the corner. Currently, the free bike service operates in Aspen, Snowmass Village and Basalt, including the Willits commercial area and surrounding residential neighborhoods. It allows people to check out a bike from one of the bicycle stations and use it to get to another station. WE-Cycle operates 284 bikes across 55 stations. During the 2021 season, the system provided 50,573 rides to nearly 6,000 unique riders.
RFTA Eyes Motel for Affordable Housing
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority is under contract for an undisclosed Glenwood Springs hotel property to convert to housing for the transit agency’s bus drivers and other employees, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. A newly adopted Glenwood Springs city ordinance makes it easier to do such property conversions and could help expedite the housing development. The operator of the valleywide bus system that serves the area from Aspen to Rifle is currently down 40 drivers, eight mechanics and about a half dozen administrative positions.
County Creates 26-Member Board to Advise on Growth
Twenty-six members were selected for Pitkin County’s new Community Growth Advisory Committee, which will begin meeting in August for the next six months to advise county commissioners on growth, the Aspen Daily News reported. There are four members from the development industry, three land-use planners or attorneys and one member from the real estate community. Rounding out the committee are seven members from the “broad community interest” category; four from the “resident property owner” classification; three individuals that work in the climate sector; three in the “other category” and one with an agriculture background.
The committee will debate how the county’s elaborate growth-management system should be changed and updated, particularly in light of the county’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% from the 2019 level by 2050. One point of discussion will be house-size caps.
The Community Growth Advisory Committee is scheduled to meet every other week for six months. Its recommendations will go to the Pitkin County Planning and Zoning Commission for review and ultimately to the county commissioners.
Occupancy Down in Aspen, Snowmass
The pandemic surge in visitor numbers for Aspen and Snowmass Village over the last two summers appears to be waning this year, the Aspen Daily News reported. Tourist accommodations in the two towns saw the June occupancy rates slip below the level set in 2021. “Aspen recorded 63.4%, a slight decrease from 2021’s 64.3% and Snowmass reported down 10.3%, recording 42.7% vs. 47.6% last year,” said a report released by Aspen Skiing Co., Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Snowmass Tourism. (Last year, two major properties in Snowmass were closed for renovation, which accounts for the larger variance.)
The combined occupancy of both destinations was 53.8% in June, compared with last year’s 58% — an overall decline of 7.1% The average daily rate in Aspen surged to $622 this June compared to $459 for the month last year.In Snowmass Village, the average daily rate inched up to $266 from $221 last year.
Several Open Spots Remain for School Coaches
Aspen School District gained seven more teachers than it lost over the summer, a reprieve from the staffing crisis that was brought on by a pandemic and continued environmental factors, but the crisis continues to loom for jobs that aren’t year round or full time: school bus drivers, food services and athletics coaches, the Aspen Daily News reported. As of July, 17 of the district’s 45 open positions listed on its job openings website are in athletics, including six varsity head coaching gigs. There are vacancies in boys tennis, softball, nordic skiing, hockey, swimming and girls basketball. Ten more positions are for assistant slots.