More people are deciding to live full-time in Colorado’s resort towns
September 19, 2005
DENVER (AP) ” More people are deciding to live full-time in Colorado’s resort communities, leaving counties to determine how the change will affect them.
Some of the growth is from retirees who have decided to live year-round in their vacation homes in Colorado’s mountain communities, while others have been drawn by the construction boom.
Primary residences, as opposed to second homes, grew from 53 percent of the market in 1990 to 62 percent in 2000. Those figures cover Colorado’s eight mountain resort counties ” Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, La Plata, Pitkin, Routt, San Miguel and Summit counties.
The shift is helping make the Western Slope the fastest growing part of the state as the full-time combined population of Eagle, Grand, Garfield, Summit, Pitkin and Routt counties is expected to more than double from 192,000 to 389,000 by 2030, according to the state demographer’s office.
Second homes are considered “hidden” economic drivers because they sit in neighborhoods and bring outside dollars into counties, state demographer Elizabeth Garner said Monday. Their conversion to permanent homes could further drive the economy by creating year-round needs for services that include restaurants, gardeners, lawyers, real estate agents, and health care.
But the switch creates a need for additional housing where the additional employees live.
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“That’s the big problem, is really looking at where can they live, what are counties doing?” Garner said. “If they’re not living in that area, then they’re driving there, is Interstate 70 prepared, is the community?”
With lodging taxes one way that many of the resort communities gear their revenue collection mechanisms to tourism, a change could produce a shortfall, said Jonathan Schechter, a Jackson, Wyo., economist who has studied Western resort towns.
Steamboat Springs officials are considering a property tax to add more revenue from second homes to the sales-tax revenue coming mostly from full-time locals, said Steve Stamey, the city’s planning director.
Elsewhere, communities are considering new impact fees, said Andy Knudson, a consultant with Economic and Planning Systems in Denver.
Sparky and Linda Lyle, both retired U.S. Navy officers, in 1998 wound up deciding to live in what was supposed to be their vacation home in Grand County. In between their part-time jobs, they golf, hike and bike in the summer and ski in the winter.
“It was supposed to be a second home,” Linda Lyle said of their two-bedroom place outside Fraser. “But my heels were dug in. They couldn’t drag me back to the East Coast and the humidity. I just loved the mountains.”