Aspen continues leading the way in Colorado on nightly rental regulations.  Historically what happens in Aspen ultimately flows through to other mountain communities.  What is in the exclusion of nightly rentals in Pitkin County?  Are these new regulations legal based on recent court rulings?  What is this new trend of regulation telling us about the changes occurring throughout Colorado ski towns?


What is in the new Aspen/Pitkin County nightly rental regulation?

Commissioners last week passed on first reading an ordinance that would result in a blanket exclusion of properties that lie within the county’s rural remote zone from the licensing and application processes of the STR code. Meaning, no STRs in the farthest reaches of Pitkin County.

Why is Aspen implementing these regulations?

Pitkin county is looking to get ahead of the curve.  We have seen an explosion of nightly rentals in rural areas and residents are worried about the increased demand for services like fire and medical in these more remote areas.  Furthermore, they are much harder to monitor for compliance as opposed to downtown Aspen where there are neighbors that would report issues.

Pitkin county commissioner Greg Poschmann brought up the potential safety concerns of having visitors heading out to a rural property.

“Say you’re out in the (rural remote zone) and someone who’s not familiar with four-wheel drive or snow conditions gets stuck. It may be up to the people living nearby if they’re already to get them out,” he said. “We have issues with safety response and emergency response, whether there’s a fire or an ambulance is needed. Rural remote is not the sort of place where you want to have the renter’s showing up. And then perhaps also the housekeepers and the chef and the florist and whoever else visits the place to service it, which really turns into a mini hotel.”

Aspen/Pitkin County is not unique in their Short Term Rental Ban

Routt County, home to Steamboat, has already implemented a similar ban:

“Short-term rentals sometimes referred to as nightly rentals or vacation home rentals,
are defined as the rental of a dwelling unit for a term or time period of less than one month. Renting a dwelling on a short-term basis is an activity currently prohibited in unincorporated Routt County except in areas zoned Commercial or where a permit has been issued for a use such as a bed and breakfast or guest ranch. As further clarification, your property can be rented for a term or time period of one month or more.”

Other mountain communities will emulate Aspen as we have seen with almost every other nightly rental regulation. 

Is this legal for Pitkin county to prohibit short term rentals?

Yes, there have been numerous recent court cases that have solidified the rights of local governments to regulate and ban nightly rentals.  Multiple federal cases have further concluded that banning nightly rentals is not “government taking”.  Many other counties throughout the country have implemented similar laws and the most common way to regulate nightly rentals is to now set caps in certain areas and create zones where they are prohibited.

Other counties will eventually follow Aspen/Pitkin Counties lead

Over time other resort communities will likely follow Aspen’s lead.  We have seen other regulations (like caps) start in Aspen and then migrate to other resort areas and many times the front range.  Aspen seems to be a trend setter in nightly rental regulations so look for the ban of nightly rentals in rural areas to continue to migrate through the various mountain towns.


I’ve mentioned before that only locals get to vote.  We are seeing the huge change in the local population now; they are voting for more restrictions on nightly rentals and tourism to find better balance.  This is occurring because the makeup of the “local” population has radically changed since Covid.  Many ski towns have totally priced out most of the workers in the hospitality industry and in turn these workers now commute in and are no longer voters in many of the ski resorts that they work in.

For example, many workers in Aspen commute from down valley in Glenwood Springs which is a totally different county, Garfield county.  These displaced residents have been replaced by wealthy full time residents or seasonal residents that are likely not involved in the tourism industry.  This rapid change in demographics is leading to the huge changes in nightly rental regulations and other regulations to preserve the quality of life of residents.  Although the recent ordinance to ban nightly rentals in rural areas is not monumental, the changes we are seeing are only the beginning of the pull from these new voting residents that will radically alter the nightly rental and tourism landscape throughout the Colorado mountains.

Additional Reading/Resources



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Written by Glen Weinberg, Owner Fairview Commercial Lending.  Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in Bloomberg, Businessweek ,the Colorado Real Estate Journal, National Association of Realtors MagazineThe Real Deal real estate news, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.

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