SF Town Board continues discussions on workforce housing


SOUTH FORK — During the Town of South Fork Board of Trustee meeting on Aug. 23, the public voiced continued concern about short-term rentals in South Fork. The town recently passed a moratorium prohibiting any new short-term rentals within the 81154-zip code and the community asked that the moratorium continue.

Several area lodge and RV park owners were present to thank the town for acting against the massive growth of the short-term rental market in South Fork, which, according to a recent study, makes up about 19 percent of the lodging in South Fork.

Prior to the start of the busy summer season, the town began having conversations on how they could help local lodge and RV park business owners.

Many lodge and RV park people at the recent meeting stated their nightly and summer rentals were still down, but they also stated that they had noticed a difference compared to previous years.

“First of all, thank you for getting together and doing the moratorium, for hiring a short-term rental code enforcement officer, for doing what you need to do to raise fees, these were all great steps in the right direction, but along with everyone else, we don’t stay full. So, if we aren’t staying full, why would we need more short-term rentals? Why are we not taking care of the city people, the people that live here year-round, the guys who are paying the taxes, instead of letting people come in from outside, buy a house and turn around and rent it. This is our livelihood, this is how we make a living,” said local business owner Keith Johnson.

South Fork is one of many communities that is dealing with the recent growth of short-term rentals in the Valley. Several municipalities are struggling with the need for workforce housing, especially in the summer tourism driven communities that rely on summer workers like South Fork and Creede.

Though many of the Valley communities struggle with the lack of housing for employees, other issues have come from the increase in short-term rentals, including the impact the market has on established hotel, motel, lodge, and RV park businesses.

Because these comments were made during the public comment portion of the agenda no further action was taken by the board.

The board unanimously passed resolution 22-27 later in the meeting which made further steps toward resolving the workforce housing issue in town. In a previous meeting, the town chose to hire a code enforcement officer who would also serve as a code enforcement officer for short-term rentals to ensure that those in South Fork were following all state and local regulations.

Resolution 22-27 states, “The board of trustees of the Town of South Fork recognizes an immediate and urgent need to support efforts in developing workforce and affordable housing in the Town of South fork and Whereas, currently there are no houses for rent in the South Fork and the immediate area and the South Fork Housing Action Plan for August 2022 has determined the current urgency to build new rental and for sale housing to mee the housing goal of 20-30 new housing units by 2027. The Board of Trustees is determined to support the efforts to meet this goal for the Town of South Fork and San Luis Valley.”

According to the resolution, the town will create a program to subsidize or otherwise reduce local development review or fees, grant duplexes, triplexes, or other multi-family housing use by right to build in residential areas, allow planned unit developments and the development of small square footage homes and promote innovative or creative approaches to affordable housing to help solve the immediate need.

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