Second-home study slays myths |

Second-home study slays myths

Allen Best

DURANGO ” A common perception in Durango is that second-home owners are arriving in droves, building mansions, causing britches-busting growth.

But the Durango Telegraph reports that a new study finds all three ideas are myths. The reality is that only 29 percent of local property is owned by people with out-of-town mailing addresses, far less than in other Colorado mountain communities.

The study, called “The Social and Economic Effects of Second Homes in Southwest Colorado,” also finds that the double-nesters generally live in modest dwellings.

“La Plata County has this idea about trophy homes,” explained Laura Lewis, an economic planning director for the regional council of governments. “But what we saw in the study was that non-locals’ homes actually tend to be condos and are not high in value. The trophy homes you see tend to be primary residences.”

In fact, non-locals only own 17 percent of single-family homes, the study found. In contrast, they own 55 percent of the condominiums. The average square footage for locally owned properties is 1,943 square feet compared to 1,831 square feet for those owned by people with out-of-county mailing addresses.

The final myth that the study slays is that Durango and La Plata County are growing at out-of-control rates. In fact, the county grew 3.1 percent in population during the 1990s, and since then has been growing at 1.4 percent annually ” far more slowly than most resort areas of the West. Most planners figure that growth rates of 3 percent are easily within control.

The study also finds that jobs associated with second homes pay a little better. In La Plata, jobs associated with second homes were responsible for 9 percent of jobs, but 11 percent of income.

TRUCKEE, Calif. ” Truckee is losing its lone movie theater, to be replaced by retail shops. The owner of the theater told the Sierra Sun the theater had been only breaking even.

Meanwhile, in the Colorado mountain town of Gunnison, the last movie theater was gone long ago, and lately there have been efforts to recruit one. But writing in Colorado Central Magazine, George Sibley questions whether a movie theater really is necessary anymore.

Gunnison, which has a small college, Western State, brims with activities and entertainment, including live theater and most every home has a DVD player, Sibley says.

Vail, Colorado

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