Complaint hotline for short-term rentals fields 20 calls in Breckenridge in its first weeks
The mayor of Breckenridge has the number programmed into his smartphone, but it was one of his peers on town council who had to use it first.
A new 24-hour complaint hotline that allows people to phone in complaints against short-term rentals operating in Breckenridge and Silverthorne has not gone unused since it went live at the beginning of the year.
With the number — 970-368-2044 — being so new, the data is only starting to materialize. Still, it's the first read on how well the new soon-to-be countywide hotline is working.
"One of those noise calls is mine," Breckenridge Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said Tuesday. "I had to use (the hotline) a week ago Saturday on a new short-term rental in our neighborhood and a very loud, obnoxious barking dog that was running all over the place — and it worked."
So far, there have been just under 20 calls in Breckenridge, said Brian Waldes, the town's finance director. Most have been over noise, and all of the complaints have been addressed.
The hotline is part of a sweeping series of new regulations across Summit County with Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Frisco, Dillon and the Summit County commissioners all moving on new rules for short-term rentals operating in their jurisdictions in recent months. While the new rules aren't universal across the county, each government is requiring that a responsible agent address complaints generated by short-term rentals within an hour. In Silverthorne, the agent has only 30 minutes to address the complaint between the hours of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
Because Breckenridge and Silverthorne were the first to act, their short-term rules went into effect at the beginning of the New Year. Recently approved regulations on short-term rentals in Dillon, Frisco and unincorporated Summit County will take effect later this year.
In Silverthorne, the hotline received two noise complaints over the holidays, but it turned out both of those addresses were actually in the Wildernest neighborhood, which lies outside town limits.
Because the homes were outside Silverthorne's jurisdiction, the calls were relayed to the non-emergency dispatch line of the Summit County Sheriff's Office, Silverthorne director of finance Laura Kennedy said via email.
She added that town staff who've been tasked with ensuring short-term rentals fall in line with the towns' and county's new rules met with dispatch before rolling out the new hotline. At this point, the calls that make their way to dispatch are still being handled by police, she said.
Breckenridge has had a few issues with the contract information it provided the call center, leading to some calls getting forwarded to dispatch, Waldes said. The goal of the call center is to avoid that, and Waldes said they've fixed the problem.
"If that's our worst stumble out of the gate, I'll be pretty happy with that," he told council Tuesday night.
Once the county and all municipal jurisdictions are on board with the complaint hotline, town officials will meet with dispatch again to determine whether they need to make any changes to the procedure, while also looking into co-op advertising to better inform the public about the new complaint hotline, Kennedy said.
Both Silverthorne and Breckenridge have been working to ensure residents are aware of the complaint hotline and how it works. Silverthorne put out an informational flyer in utility bills sent out in early January, and Breckenridge has been making similar efforts to get word out.
Communication and knowledge are a key, and it appears word about the hotline is making its way to locals.
Councilwoman Elisabeth Lawrence said she was visiting friends on Peak 8 in Breckenridge last weekend when an illegally parked car at a short-term rental was blocking a snowplow from getting through. Lawrence said her friends called the hotline and were presently surprised how nice the person who answered the phone was.
It took an hour and a half to resolve the parking issue, Lawrence added, but it did get addressed. That raised at least one question for town manager Rick Holman, who noted that Breckenridge's new rules dictate these issues must be handled more quickly.
"It's still a problem, I think. The rules say an hour," Holman replied before saying that tracking exactly when complaints are phoned in and then not resolved will be something the town needs to focus on as staff look to enforce the new rules, multiple violations of which can lead to an owner losing his or her business license.
Where the towns had to rely on anecdotal stories about individual experiences with short-term rentals before the complaint hotline, staff can now get the calls and type of complaints being levied against the units on a daily basis.