Short-Term Rentals May Require Business Licenses
City of Aspen officials may require every individual property engaging in short-term vacation rentals to have a business license to address the surge of such properties, the Aspen Daily News reported. This change is parallel with a new software system the city is implementing that’s intended to streamline the process of applying for a business license and remitting taxes. The software package, known as MuniRevs with its companion piece LodgingRevs, will also scan popular short-term rental websites to cross-check tax and licensing compliance.
The last time the city updated short-term rental regulations, in 2012, it lifted a little-enforced cap on the annual number of vacation rentals a property was allowed, while requiring that all residential short-term rentals pay sales and lodging taxes. The code amendment also required that every short-term rental obtain a permit from the community development department and designate an on-call representative who could be responsible for responding to trash, parking or other neighborhood concerns. Currently, there are 61 active permits on the books for 2019.
Aspen Starting Historic Inventory Process
The city of Aspen is beginning a process of taking stock of all its historic properties — information that is required to be brought up to date and shared with the state of Colorado every five to 10 years, the Aspen Daily News reported. It’s been almost 20 years since the city updated its inventory. Aspen is home to a total of 300 historic structures, all but 40 of which are from the Victorian era.
City of Aspen Buys Aspen Mini Storage for Housing Redevelopment
Aspen City Council agreed to move forward with an $11 million land purchase that is intended to enhance a future affordable housing development near the Aspen Airport Business Center, the Aspen Daily News reported. The 3-acre parcel is currently home of Aspen Mini Storage and is adjacent to the city-owned lumberyard property, which was purchased in 2008 in an affordable housing land banking effort. The lumberyard has been grouped together with the final phase of Burlingame Ranch and new housing for city employees at Water Place in a public outreach campaign dubbed “Framing the Future.”
Mayor Torre Questions Downtowner Cost
Aspen’s elected officials are re-examining the city’s half-million-dollar annual expenditure for the free Downtowner transit service, the Aspen Times reported. The Downtowner micro-transit service began three years ago and was intended to provide short-distance, on-demand transportation within or near the downtown core in an effort to reduce parking and traffic congestion. From January to Sept. 10, 83% of the 57,780 rides given were less than a mile.
The Florida-based Downtowner operates under an annually renewable five-year contract with the city that expires in 2022. The expenditure is $540,000 a year for the service, which is limited by geographical boundaries to keep ridership in the downtown core. Mayor Torre asked for more information about who is receiving the benefit of services for the amount of money the city is spending. Ridership has grown from 22,000 people the first year to more than 70,000 in 2018.
Aspen Is A One-Gas-Station Town
For the first time in at least three decades, Aspen is now a one-gas-station town, the Aspen Times reported. The Conoco at 232 E. Main St. closed at the end of September in preparation for the lot it sits on to be developed into a bank building. The closure forces Aspen motorists to go a block away to the Shell station at Local’s Corner for gas and sundries.
Set on the bank of the Roaring Fork River yet conveniently located in town at the end of Durant Ave, this sophisticated townhome offers luxury and serenity to those looking for their Aspen dream home. Remodeled in 2013/17, the 4110 square foot, 4/5-bedroom residence is a blend of mountain chic modernism. From the state-of-the-art kitchen to the glass enclosed wine storage, the open floor plan lends itself well to entertaining and with access to the generous patio overlooking the river, this is indoor/outdoor living at its finest. Special amenities such as a thoughtfully built media room, custom office, elevator, underground garage, and cleverly created hidden storage for everything from ski boots to bicycles, this is the property that will end your search for a haven in Aspen! An easy walk to the gondola, restaurants, shopping, and all that Aspen has to offer.
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Governor’s Conference Coming Back to Snowmass in 2020
One of the largest annual tourism gatherings in the state, the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference, will be coming to Snowmass Village in 2020, the Aspen Daily News reported.
It will be the first time in the Roaring Fork Valley for GovCon since Snowmass hosted the event in 2010 at what was then the Silvertree Hotel. A decade later, the Silvertree is now the Westin Snowmass Resort, and it will be the host again. The announcement that Snowmass’s proposal was selected means great exposure for a town that is markedly different than the one that greeted the state’s tourism professionals in 2010, when Base Village and the Limelight Hotel Snowmass were years from being built.
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Basalt Gives Ushering Refund Money into Nonprofits
Now that Basalt property owners are receiving their tax refunds for overcharges, a new group is stepping up a campaign to plow that money back into nonprofits serving the midvalley, the Aspen Times reported. Basalt Gives is urging Basalt residents and business owners to consider giving some or all of their refunds to the cause. It has received about $77,000 in pledges so far. The goal is to raise $500,000 for Basalt-area nonprofits for immediate use.
We-Cycle Delayed for Carbondale, Glenwood Springs
Carbondale and Glenwood Springs will have to wait longer for bike-sharing in town, the Aspen Times reported. WE-cycle, which launched the first-ever free bike-sharing program in Aspen and Basalt last year, will need another year to put together a comprehensive, regional plan for bike-sharing. WE-cycle initially planned to roll out the bike share in Carbondale in 2020, but the extra planning means bikes won’t be on the streets until 2021.
RFTA, which currently partners with WE-cycle, needs more time to develop a plan, and marshal financial resources to deploy services further down valley. Officials hope the service is free downvalley as well.
Former Woodbridge CEO Sentenced to 25 Years
Robert Shapiro, a former Carbondale-area resident and ex-CEO of the Woodbridge Group of Companies LLC, was sentenced in Florida to the maximum 25 years in prison for running a $1.3 billion real estate Ponzi scheme, according to a report in the Miami Herald. He faced up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty last week to running a $1.3 billion Ponzi scheme that claimed more than 7,000 victims.
Shapiro pleaded guilty to orchestrating and leading a massive investment fraud scheme that ultimately swindled his mostly elderly investors out of $470 million.
Garfield County Adjusting its Budget
As Garfield County plans its 2020 budget, it’s approaching it conservatively, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. The adjustment can be attributed to less revenue because of declining property taxes from oil and gas development. Property tax revenues, which include taxes on oil and gas companies, dropped nearly 30 percent from 2016 to 2017. While they increased slightly in 2019, the county expects next year’s tax revenue will be nearly $10 million lower than 2016 figures.
In addition, Glenwood Springs’ 2020 budget has $2.61 million more earmarked for street improvements than what was in the 2019 budget. The city will continue to perform standard street maintenance such as crack sealing in 2020 in addition to alley reconstruction projects.
The city will also pour a significant amount of money into West Glenwood’s streets in 2020.
Glenwood Canyon Speed Limit Increases
Glenwood Canyon commutes could gain some speed later this year when the state will raise the speed limit on Interstate 70, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported. Thanks to a variable speed limit system that CDOT crews are installing, the speed limit will increase from 50 to 60 miles per hour for most parts of the 14-mile canyon in good weather. Speed limits will also drop to as low as needed when the road conditions worsen, or construction or emergency closures occur.
Survey Seek Input for North Star Nature Preserve
Pitkin County Open Space and Trails has launched an online survey to seek public input as the department prepares to update the North Star Nature Preserve Management Plan, the Aspen Daily News reported. The survey went live at www.pitkinOSTprojects.com. It will close Jan. 6, 2020.
Pitkin County Budgets for Economic Dip
Of requests for 26 new full-time employees that come from various Pitkin County departments, government administrators are recommending 2020 budget approval for about 12, the Aspen Daily News reported. Twelve new full-time workers may not seem like a lot, especially since the county already has 317. Still, adding full-time staff to local government could be seen as unusual, given expectations of an economic correction.
Pitkin County Manager John Peacock said the annual budget is put together in an extremely conservative manner. They projected 2 percent decrease in sales-tax revenue in 2020, even though such collections in 2019 are expected to rise by $1.4 million, or 16 percent, above 2018’s $9.6 million.
Airport Visioning Stalls
The work of five committees tasked with developing a plan for the future of the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport continues, with one of the groups issuing a recommendation to proceed with discussions about terminal improvements — and to slow down the process for air-side improvements until more data is available on potential impacts to the community.
The group felt there wasn’t enough baseline data to gauge the impacts of a runway expansion — a project deemed necessary by expansion supporters so that a new generation of commercial aircraft with a wider wingspan can be accommodated. Those areas of concern include air quality, noise levels, vehicle trips and light pollution.
New Skier Shuttle to Aspen Highlands in the Works
Aspen Skiing Co. is making good on a pledge to address weekend crowding at Aspen Highlands by paying for more bus service, the Aspen Times reported. Skico is negotiating with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority for service dubbed “the Flyer.” The service would be between the Highlands’ base and the parking area at Brush Creek Road’s intersection with Highway 82, formerly known as the Intercept Lot.
Negotiations haven’t been finalized yet, and there was some consideration of Friday service, as well. Shuttles would run every 20 minutes at peak times on weekend days with reduced service during mid-day.