Colorado mountain towns asked voters to weigh in on solving their housing woes. These are the measures that passed and failed

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
In Telluride on Sunday, August 29, 2021.

Roughly a dozen ballot initiatives across the state sought to deal with the lack of affordable housing.

Most of them were in the state’s mountain towns, where housing costs are rising further out of reach for the people that actually work there. Many argue that growth in short-term rentals like Airbnb is making the situation worse.

The pandemic brought an influx of remote workers fleeing cities for the open space of Colorado’s resort communities, further burdening housing supply and local services.

Voters overwhelmingly supported levying additional taxes on short-term rentals.  That means property owners in Avon, Crested Butte, Leadville, Ouray and Telluride that rent their homes to visitors will be paying more to support the local community, with much of the extra cash going toward funding housing initiatives.  

In Telluride — which had three housing questions on the ballot — voters rejected a measure that would cap short-term rentals at 400. Still, a measure capping them at the current level passed. As part of that measure, license fees will rise.

Colorado housing ballot measure results:

Avon — Excise tax on short-term rental units to fund community housing | ✅ YES, 70.18 percent

Basalt — $18 million in debt authority to fund affordable housing, infrastructure improvements and green projects, to be paid for with the extension of previously approved property taxes | ✅ YES, 66.71 percent

Crested Butte — The ballot has two housing-related questions:

  1. $8.985 million in debt authority, to be paid for with an increase of the excise tax on vacation rentals | ✅ YES, 74.91 percent
  2. $24 million in debt authority, to be paid for with two taxes: a sales and use tax and a Community Housing tax on undeveloped residential land and on residential units that are not a primary residence and are not being rented for residential purposes for at least six consecutive months per year | ❌ NO, 56.57 percent

Lafayette — Sales tax to be used for mental health and human services, which may include rent assistance, as well as assistance with food, utilities, childcare, and medical care, mental health care and resources and support for victims of domestic violence | ✅ YES, 70.79 percent

Leadville — Accommodations tax on the leasing of short-term rental units and short-term commercial public accommodations to fund affordable and community housing programs | ✅ YES, 69.71 percent

Ouray — Excise tax on the leasing of short-term rentals to fund housing programs, as well as to fund debt for the water and wastewater treatment plants | ✅ YES, 56.83 percent

Vail — Sales tax to fund housing initiatives, developments and programs | ✅ YES, 53.74 percent

Telluride — The ballot has three housing-related questions:

  1. Lodging tax to manage the effects of tourism on the community, including the acquisition of property for and construction of affordable or employee housing, as well as transportation improvements and wastewater treatment facility improvements. | ✅ YES, 65.1 percent
  2. An increase to the business license fees for short-term rental units and a cap on the number of licenses to the number that have been issued as of Nov. 2, 2021. | ✅ YES, 55.3 percent
  3. An initiative to cap the number of short-term rental business licenses available for non-primary residences to 400. | ❌ NO, 59.9 percent

Boulder — Voters will consider an initiative to increase the number of people allowed to reside in housing units. | ❌ NO, 57.85 percent

Denver — The ballot will include a referendum on an ordinance concerning the number of unrelated adults who can live in a household, which would strike down an increase in permitted housing residency by unrelated adults in Denver should the referendum pass. The ordinance also concerns residential care facilities and community corrections facilities. | ❌ NO, 68.26 percent