The Home Front: In Colorado, an ‘ever-growing list of mountain towns’ regulate short-term rentals

Your morning roundup of stories from the front pages of newspapers across Colorado

“As the short-term rental industry continues to grow in Summit County, the town of Frisco is looking to join the ever-growing list of mountain towns adding regulations to their town codes,” reports Summit Daily. “Details surrounding a new short-term rental ordinance emerged at the Frisco Town Council meeting last week, outlining a number of goals and nuisances the town hopes to address with the measure. The timing of the ordinance is no accident. Conversations surrounding short-term rentals have snowballed in recent years following the industry’s emergence as a vital and significant portion of Frisco’s tourist economy, rising to combat relative lack of lodging supply and growing demand over recent years. In 2015, short-term rentals made up about 32 percent of Frisco’s lodging tax revenues. Today, that number is well over 40 percent and rising.”

“Depending on who’s talking, the proposed changes to the Colorado Constitution drawn out in Amendment 74 could weaken local governments, hampering the way they handle everything from roadwork to economic development incentives — or it could give private property owners more power to fight back against regulations that reduce the value of their property,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The amendment, proposed by the Colorado Farm Bureau with support from the oil and gas industry and opposed by the Colorado Municipal League and local governments, would require governments to award “just compensation” to private property owners when government regulations reduce the “fair market value” of a property. Both sides of the amendment have one thing in common: They’re fighting hard to make sure voters are listening before they cast their ballots.”

“The man whose burning toilet paper sparked a sizeable wildfire during one of Mesa County’s driest years on record was sentenced to 80 hours of useful public service as part of a plea agreement,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Mike ‘Marlow’ Mewborn was cited earlier this year for his involvement in the April 19 Skipper Island Fire, which torched more than 200 acres along the Colorado River west of Fruita. Mewborn, who quickly came forward and claimed responsibility, told The Daily Sentinel he had been camping on the southeast corner of Skipper Island along with two friends who hoped to launch a low-impact community, close to nature, but not far from civilization.”

“The flurry of government spending typical at the end of the federal fiscal year has sent $17 million in contracts to a Loveland company that specializes in construction on dams and hydroelectric power plants,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “In the past three weeks, Gracon LLC has won five federal contracts for work on projects ranging from the Hoover Dam in Nevada to Silverthorne to the Dakotas, according to Matt Hannah, work acquisition manager for Gracon.”

“There’s a new way for Routt County residents to determine if they’ll face hazy days or a breath of fresh air,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “An air quality-monitoring device installed near the Routt County Courthouse downtown now provides real-time air quality updates accessible online. ‘What prompted our interest in getting this device was the increase in wildfire haze that we’re seeing in the summers, and the haze that you see from these fires is from fine particulate matter,’ said Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman. ‘That’s what this device measures.'”

“The man who died Saturday mountain biking at Snowmass Ski Area was identified Monday as a resident of Woody Creek and was part of Colorado’s old-school kayaking community,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Dr. Steve Ayers, Pitkin County coroner, said Monday that David Eckardt, 62, was conscious and talking when another biker found him at 1:10 p.m. Saturday. However, when mountain patrol and medical staff arrived about 10 minutes later Eckardt was in full cardiac arrest from trauma and paramedics were not successful in reviving him, Ayers said.”

“As the opening chords of an impromptu run-through of the symbolic “This Land is Your Land” rang out, a solitary sign near the musical collective told the story behind the day’s gathering,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “‘Support local music on the Riverwalk.’ On Saturday, guitarists, percussionists and vocalists who believe the performance policy for the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo to be unfairly restrictive gathered near the splash fountain to audibly state their case.”

“A representative of Magpie Operating, Inc. confirmed Monday that the drilling planned to take place in southeast Loveland in 2019 will include ‘hydraulic stimulation,’ a process commonly referred to as fracking,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “And, he said, the company is trying to move fast to get the well’s permitting completed before a ballot issue for statewide oil and gas setbacks reaches voters in November. Most mineral rights owners in southeast Loveland will have financial options when it comes to receiving compensation for the extraction that will take place below several neighborhoods, said Ed Doka, a consultant for Magpie Operating Inc. and a self-described “lawyer-lite.'”

“The first time school superintendent Dr. Carlos Ramirez addressed a roomful of local teachers they actually applauded the boss,” reports Vail Daily. “Ramirez started in July, arriving about the same time as Eagle County Schools’ state standardized test scores. Ramirez told the teachers he was going leave two central office administration jobs unfilled, and move that money to the schools that need the most help. Applause ensued.”

“The Boulder Valley school board has decided not to review a proposal to open a classical charter school in the district, citing an incomplete application,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Looking to replicate two existing charter schools, charter organizers on Aug. 1 filed an application to open the K-12 Ascent Classical Academy Flatirons in the fall of 2019 in eastern Boulder County. Ascent organizers say they plan to appeal Boulder Valley’s decision to the Colorado State Board of Education. Ascent organizers responded that the application was more than 200 pages and ‘thoroughly outlined all aspects of the proposed school in line with best practices outlined in state statute.'”

“Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers proposes a 2019 budget with millions to hire police and firefighters and raise their salaries,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “The $302.1 million general fund that he recommended Monday to the City Council would provide $9.9 million to increase pay for police officers, firefighters and civilian employees, plus $4.5 million to hire 61 officers and eight firefighters.”

“The owner of the Florence Bowling Alley died Sunday after being caught in a pinsetter at the business, according to a press release from the Florence Police Department,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Florence Chief Mike DeLaurentis said authorities were dispatched at about 1:20 p.m. Sunday for a report of a man stuck in a machine at the bowling alley at 108 W. Main St. Officers found Ector Rodriguez, 65, of Penrose, pinned inside of a bowling pin-setting machine, unconscious and not breathing. Florence police detectives responded to the scene along with the Fremont County Coroner’s office. Authorities said foul play is not suspected, and the incident is being treated as an accident.”

“A subsidiary of Denver-based DaVita Inc. will pay $270 million to settle allegations it reported inaccurate information about medical patients’ conditions to the government, leading to higher Medicare reimbursements to insurers — of which the company received a share,” reports The Denver Post. “The agreement, announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice, is the latest in a string of settlements with the government under which DaVita, a dialysis provider, has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to resolve cases ranging from improper billing to anti-kickback probes. “This settlement demonstrates our tireless commitment to rooting out fraud that drains too many taxpayer dollars from public health programs like Medicare,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement. “This case involved illegal conduct in which patients’ medical conditions were improperly reported and were not corrected after further review — all for the purpose of boosting the bottom line.”

“The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has been awarded a $1.6 million Department of Justice grant to improve public safety,” reports The Cortez Journal. “Of that amount, $898,918 is for public safety and community policing, and $748,013 was awarded to the tribe for justice systems and alcohol and substance abuse. The announcement was made at the annual Four Corners Indian Country Conference, which is being held this year in Santa Fe, New Mexico.”

“Radiology technologist Jeff Dettbarn said he knew something was wrong at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, when a patient arrived in February 2017 for a CT scan, but the doctor’s order for it had been canceled,” reports USA Today on the front page of The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “‘To have a patient show up for a scan and not have an order – you’re like, ‘What the heck is going on?’’ he told USA TODAY in an interview. Dettbarn started collecting cancellation notices for diagnostic procedures such as CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds.”

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.

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