Please Tell Me Again About Your Second Home

Please Tell Me Again About Your Second Home

I love living in a resort town.  Sure, there are exasperating moments being inundated with the ignorant and frustrating behavioural choices of the visitors that some of my friends have come to calling “tourons”.  They come here and ride on the wrong side of the rec path as they whiz past on the electric mountain bike they’ve never ridden before only to yell at you for not getting out of their way.  They park wherever they like and then stride out into traffic without even bothering to look where they are going.  But I get it.  We all act like clueless buffoons when we are on vacation, so a little empathy here goes a long way in not letting it drive you absolutely insane.  Besides, there’s a reason they want to come here in the first place, and we get the priceless gift of living here year round.  But that doesn’t mean that all of those visitors, the people who come here and take advantage of our breathtaking resources and community infrastructure, don’t owe something back for the privilege of getting to do so.  We aren’t just some Trump mistress who you can wham, bam, thank you ma’am- coming and going as you damn well please.  And it is well past time that our state legislature here in Colorado and the people who elect them start acting like it and put forth meaningful property tax proposals that distinguish between owner-occupied homes and those that are used for investment or as second, third or fourth homes.

When Colorado voters turned down Proposition HH last November, they forsook an opportunity to make a necessary distinction between homes used as a primary residence and those that are owned by people outside of this community for the purpose of profit or pleasure.  Now, I am not opposed to folks buying property for either of those reasons, or for any other matter as far as I’m concerned.  Shoot, run some sort of adult swingers club out of it for all I care.  But don’t go telling me that you who are coming into our town, using and putting a strain on our community resources, and then going back to live and pay your income taxes somewhere else, shouldn’t have to pony up for the entitlement of doing so.  You drive on our snowplowed roads, hike our maintained trails, and paddle our managed rivers and lakes.  But more importantly, you take up the most valuable resource we have at this point: housing.

Ski towns have always been expensive, but the pandemic put a disproportionate stress on the housing markets of highly-desirable locales.  With many higher-ups freed from the constraints of geographic proximity to their place of work, they were now able to live wherever the hell they wanted, and let’s face it, they weren’t moving to Nebraska.  Supply-side economics just dictated that housing costs would go skyrocketing.  And, of course, many investors saw that as an opportunity to seize up properties and use them for short-term rentals, taking the vast majority of their profit back to another state to spend in their economy and put into their state’s tax coffers.  Meanwhile, we are the neglected stepdaughter left to clean up the mess they have left behind: a housing crisis that is costing our local communities millions to solve.

Simply put, no one can afford to live here anymore.  Nothing, and I do mean nothing, exists for under a million bucks.  And rent is just as bad.  One bedroom apartments go for $3000 a month, leaving your local liftie with not much more than a couple hundred bucks to feed himself and buy weed at the nearest dispensary.  Unable to afford to live here, they move elsewhere, sending labor costs through the roof as employers then have to pay $20 an hour just to get a high school kid to work there.  No wonder I can’t go out to dinner for under $100 anymore.  I’m paying my weekly pay check for dinner so that some douche bag in Waco, Texas can kick back and make easy money off the house he owns across the street from me.

So you’re damn right they should then have to pay a higher property tax rate than I do.  I live here.  I give back to this community by working here, volunteering here, telling horrible jokes here.  They are exploiting this community for their own personal gain and then splitting town with the loot.  And don’t give me that nonsense about the tourism revenue they bring in.  That’s what hotels are for, not your fucking house.  That’s right, the hotels that have to pay a higher occupancy tax rate than you do.  If you want to make money off our town, fine, but then you have to bear more of the burden for the problems you are creating by paying taxes that go to building the affordable housing this community needs because of your personal indulgences.

And as to all the second homeowners out there, go cry me a river.  Let’s just make this real simple, shall we?  This is your SECOND home.  Your second home is making it impossible for people like teachers and servers to own ONE home here, so if I hear one ounce of bitching out of you over paying a higher property tax rate to help relieve that financial encumbrance on the people who work and live here, you may pleasantly go fuck all the way off and feel free to sell your place to a local.  Our horrible, little paper the Summit Daily recently ran a column on some Denver family sobbing about how they were worried about losing the vacation home that had been in their family for generations.  Ok, but that’s your VACATION home, right?  Um, I don’t have one of those either, so I guess we’re even.

In the end, I’m not suggesting that any of these people shouldn’t be allowed to own second properties here or rent them out however they like.  But I am saying that they then need to be a part of the solution in remedying the issues they have created.  Those higher property taxes can be used to help offset some of the stresses of the housing crisis by providing funds for developing affordable housing.  And maybe that way there will still be servers there to greet them when they go out to all of our amazing restaurants.  

 

Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works.  Read his blog TRUTH: In 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com

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