Michael Buccino was the only Steamboat Springs City Council member to oppose recent policies aimed at reducing short-term rentals, but he said on Friday, Aug. 5, he didn’t agree with all of the tactics used in order to reverse the decisions.
On July 19, the city council approved a ballot question for a 9% short-term rental tax to voters in November with a 6-1 vote and Buccino dissenting.
Buccino voted against the short-term rental tax ballot question, and he said he would have voted against a recently passed overlap zone imposing restrictions on the number of short-term rentals in Steamboat, if any. other council members had not challenged him from the discussions. .
With the tax issue slated for the November ballot, a group known as the Steamboat Springs Community Preservation Alliance filed a petition request for a referendum on the ordinance.
If the petition was approved and enough signatures were collected, the ballot question would go to a special ballot, meaning the public would vote on whether to put the question on the ballot. If passed, the public would again vote to pass or reject the tax.
However, due to timing, this would most likely delay the tax until at least November 2023.
Ultimately, the town clerk denied the preservation alliance’s petition request, saying it violated the Steamboat Springs town charter and would have confused voters. After the city sent notice of the clerk’s decision, the preservation alliance filed a lawsuit against the city.
Buccino said he had mixed feelings about some of the methods employed by the preservation alliance, which filed petitions seeking recall votes for council members Joella West, Dakotah McGinlay and Heather Sloop.
“I’m not into the whole encore like some people might think,” Buccino said. “I’m not about that. What I mean is to agree to disagree.
Buccino added that “it’s just an unfortunate distraction, it really is.”
He said he doesn’t know how the recall effort will pan out, “but citizens have a right to speak their mind.” Additionally, he said he received support in the community for the positions he took.
“I got a lot of support from most of the business community for talking about what they call ‘common sense,'” Buccino said. “And they appreciate me talking about it.”
Regarding the lawsuit against the city, Buccino said he sympathizes with the plaintiffs, but also has some criticism.
“I mean, we approved an order to go vote, and you can let the voters decide,” Buccino said. “I don’t quite understand. … If anything, it’s more of a delay in the process to keep him out of the ballot. It seems to be just a strategy. I don’t know if it’s valid, but (the city) denied it.
Apart from his criticisms, many of Buccino’s positions are similar to those of the alliance. They both oppose overlapping areas but support the process of licensing short-term rentals and better enforcement of city rules against them.
Buccino and the preservation alliance would prefer to see a 0.25% increase in sales tax with a much lower tax on short-term rentals that would be used to build affordable housing.
Buccino said he believes that at the heart of these issues, the short-term tenant community feels ignored, and that may be why they are resorting to alternative strategies.
He said he would have liked to be part of the talks about the short-term rental overlay area, but he was recused because he operates an interior design business and owns real estate which, in the minds of other City Council members, could benefit from more lenient short-term rental policies.
“If I was in that discussion, maybe they would have been a lot friendlier that their voice was heard,” Buccino said. “But everyone I spoke to felt they were being silenced and it all started off on the wrong foot.”
To reach Spencer Powell, call 970-871-4229 or email him at [email protected]