CAST meets in Fraser
The town of Fraser hosted a meeting for the Colorado Association of Ski Towns (CAST) at the Fraser Town Meeting Hall last week. CAST is an organization of 28 municipalities and four counties whose economies are largely dependent on the ski industry and tourism. Members include the mayors, managers, and council members of the resort towns. According to their website, the organization was formed in part to recognize that resort communities face unique challenges in providing municipal services to residents and visitors. At the CAST meetings and conferences, members share their knowledge and experience. CAST members use the “power of coalition” to seek support for legislation that will benefit and sustain mountain communities, according to their website. They support actions that keep mountain communities livable, protect pristine environment, and promote community-based land use, mass transit, affordable housing, and sustain tourism. The meeting of about fifty people included representatives from ski towns such as Winter Park, Aspen, Telluride, and Jackson Hole, Wyo, and more.
Fraser Mayor Philip Vandernail said some main topics of discussion at the meeting were water quality, wastewater management, regional transit, vacation rentals, and the lack of affordable housing most ski towns are facing. Vandernail said affordable housing was a common theme among discussion at the meeting amongst most towns present, especially with the rise of the vacation rental market, such as VRBO and Airbnb, mountain towns are experiencing. Fraser does not currently have any restrictions on vacation rentals except that the owner of the unit must have a business license. Vandernail said he sees both good and bad sides of vacation rentals and the management of them, though he is not sure what Fraser will do to regulate the rentals in the future.
Some towns have implemented regulations on short-term vacation rentals, and are experimenting with the new challenge ski communities are facing: owners not paying appropriate taxes for vacation rentals. Durango, for example, has limited the number of vacation rentals per determined “zone.” People looking to rent out their residential unit must obtain a Limited Use Permit for the property. In residential zones in Durango, only one Limited Use Permit can be granted per street segment.
Vandernail said CAST is a great organization for the betterment of the community and businesses for ski towns. Fraser is definitely not the only town in Colorado facing issues with affordable housing and vacation rental regulation, and CAST is a great way for Fraser to compare itself with, share knowledge and learn from other ski towns across the state.