Call Ketchum to limit short-term rentals | Customer reviews

While there are many potential solutions to Ketchum’s housing crisis, the signatories of this letter wish to draw attention to a major contributing factor to our housing crisis: short-term rentals. We’re calling on Mayor Neil Bradshaw to tackle this issue head-on by seeking to limit short-term rentals.

What are the impacts of short-term rentals (or STRs) on the local housing market?

STRs reduce the supply of housing available to residents. In 2017, there were about 471 STRs, according to a city study of STRs. Today, the town of Ketchum estimates there are as many as 900 in a town of 2,800. From 2010 to 2018, the number of rental units in Ketchum decreased by more than 40% according to SVED.

STRs increase the demand for available housing. Working families must compete with investors and wealthy second-home owners, both of whom can offset high purchase prices with STR income. This leads to STRs driving up housing prices to levels that residents cannot compete with. That was a finding of the 2017 study conducted by the City of Ketchum.

STRs do orders of magnitude more than long-term rentals, incentivizing landlords to convert long-term rentals to STRs. The median rate per night for STRs is $350, according to AirDNA.

STRs at current levels are not necessary to maintain a healthy level of tourism. The occupancy rates of our hotels are relatively low. In 2019, hotel occupancy in Ketchum averaged just 40%, peaking at 71% in July according to SVED.

While we think STRs are an issue, we would like to make a distinction: renting a primary residence for short periods does not concern us and, in fact, can help offset the cost of housing for local residents. We are also not proposing a ban on non-owner occupied STRs, but reasonable limits, to rebalance tourism with local housing needs.

STRs should be limited according to the Sandpoint, Idaho model. The legal risks are far outweighed by the potential impact on current and future local housing stock that a limitation would have. Losing a legal challenge here would only strengthen the case for changing Idaho state law, working with other resort communities in the state that are also impacted by STRs.

STRs need to be taxed more heavily, both to discourage STRs and to capture some of the revenue from this lucrative market. Proceeds should be earmarked for affordable housing solutions. Options such as increasing the LOT tax which will affect hotels or increasing the cost of business licenses should be explored.

STRs compete with hotels and must be held to the same fire and safety standards. Enforcing the existing fire and safety code would eliminate many older condos from the STR market, as compliance costs would be prohibitive. Existing ordinances, which prohibit STRs in the avalanche zone, must also be enforced.

The city must take concrete and transparent steps to change Idaho state law, allowing Ketchum to regulate and limit STRs.

We call on Mayor Bradshaw to recognize the detrimental impact of STRs on our housing market and to act quickly to limit them, following in Sandpoint’s footsteps.

Nathan Harville, Executive Director of the Blaine County Housing Authority

Liz Kegan, Vice President, BCHA

Kris Gilarowski, Organizer of Occupy Ketchum Town Square

Perry Boyle, former candidate, mayor of Ketchum

Gwen Raney, former candidate, Ketchum City Council

Reid Stillman, former candidate, Ketchum City Council

Kingsley Murphy, local business owner

About Michael B. Billingsley

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