In a recent KZMU Community Radio story by reporter Molly Marcello, she detailed the following statistics: “Per a legislative audit there are 10,400 people living Grand County and 3 million visitors per year, equaling 2.4 tourists for every permanent resident.”
My unofficial research in February of this year showed the city and county have approximately 3,900 units devoted to nightly rentals with another 1,030 in various stages of construction from permit to near completion.
An interesting fact never mentioned is that a “unit” can house an amazing amount of people … one to 12 usually. Even if we average the capacity of a “unit” at five, the 3,900 units that are already in business can house 19,500 visitors.
Adding an average of five visitors to each of the future short-term rental units, means an additional 5,150 folks that can visit the Grand County side of the valley for a total of 24,650 per night. I have no idea how the current 3 million visitors are actually calculated, but if we do not throw our weight behind Landmark’s Option 5: No Overnight Rental Growth to be presented to the city and county councils, we will, in the not too distant future, wish for the good ‘ole days of only 2.4 more visitors than each and every one of us living in this valley.
If we do not stop building overnight rentals, the hope of creating a balance between a tourist-based economy and those services aimed at stabilizing a healthy financial system for local residents will never happen because …
First, overnight rentals are a much bigger bang for the property owners’ and developers’ bucks than building commercial suites/buildings for dry cleaners, dentists, day-care centers and other nontourist aimed products and services.
Secondly, instead of concentrating our efforts on the creation of a) nontourist centered jobs with living wages and b) affordable homes for those worker to buy or rent, we will continue just importing workers from outside the city, state and/or country to fill all the additional low-wage jobs it will take to service the increased tourist load and providing them with “bunkhouse” style living to get the most workers into the least space.
Third, traffic, parking, crowded eateries and grocery stores, law enforcement shortages, national park overcrowding, amusement park-like congestion on our famous trails, noise, pollution, etc., will make life not worth living here any more.