Friday, March 24, 2017

Summit County real estate roundup: High-end real estate sales see spike in January

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit County Assessors Office

Summit Daily News Link

Property inventory in Summit County remains low, causing a fast-moving market with a sense of urgency in the start of 2017.
Real estate sales for January started the year off strong with 136 sales, 12 more than the same time in 2016. Sales value also saw a boost. Revenue from sales was over $86 million, compared to $63 million last year.
Sales for properties hitting the million-dollar mark more than doubled in January. In 2016, there were 11 sales in that range. This year, January had 25 sales for properties at $1 million or more.
“I’ve never seen it like this. Right now it’s tight. It’s challenging for buyers to find property that meets all their criteria in our market given the low inventory.”Dennis ClauerOwner and broker at Real Estate of the Summit Inc.
Dennis Clauer, owner and broker at Real Estate of the Summit Inc., said that this shows that the high-end market is trending up.
The month's highest sale was a 4,500-square-foot home in Breckenridge that sold for more than $4 million. Before the most recent home was built on the plot, the land was home to a small gray shack. Beverly Breakstone, the assessor for Summit County, said that the previous owner sold the property in 2010. The shack was then torn down to make room for the new home.
January is not typically a strong month for real estate in the county. The reason for higher sales can be hard to nail down, especially because brokers are still seeing low property inventory. Breakstone said that the nice weather Summit has been seeing could be a factor. Nice weather can make it easier for brokers to show properties.
Cody Thomas, a broker associate with Paffrath and Thomas Real Estate, said that since Summit is still in vacation mode in January, there's not typically a high volume in sales. But this year, he said there was a sense of urgency for buyers trying to find the right property. Some of this is created by the brokers hoping to get eager buyers into homes. Having a low inventory means that properties have not been staying on the market for long.
"Part of that urgency is created by brokers to try and get these people that really want to be in the market and help them to get in," Thomas said.
In previous markets, buyers could take their time, and be more picky about shopping for a future home. Unlike last year, Thomas said that he's seen multiple offers for one property. While people are not getting bid up over asking price, he said that offers get closer to it because buyers are afraid the next property they look at may be more expensive.
"It was not this way last year. This year, who knows what will come available, so you might want to move on something," Thomas said.
Many of the recent stream of buyers are trying to take advantage of the low interest rates. But Clauer thinks that the recent interest rate raise will start to have an impact on the market. Nationally, he said that for every increase of one-tenth of a percent, home sales decline by approximately 35,000 units. Average mortgage interest rates have risen from 3.5 to 4.2 percent.
"On a national basis … we're looking at maybe a slowing of sales by a quarter of a million units in an annual year because of that interest rate," Clauer said.
Currently, the market is enjoying the wealth effect from people who made money in the recent stock market increases. Clauer said that the effect helps to fuel buyers looking at resort properties.
As many as 40 percent of buyers, mostly on the higher-priced end of the market, pay for properties upfront. The interest hikes are not going to affect these buyers. But on the lower end of the market, where the county has some of the lowest property inventory, Clauer suspects that demand will go down.
In the meantime, inventory remains a barrier for buyers, particularly those looking in the lower end of the market where there only a handful of properties available.
"I've never seen it like this," Clauer said. "Right now it's tight. It's challenging for buyers to find property that meets all their criteria in our market given the low inventory."
1. $4,060,000 — Breckenridge, TR 6-7B Sec 36 Qtr 4 (residential home)
2. $2,800,000 — Breckenridge, One Ski Hill Place, Unit 8421 (residential condo)
3, $2,795,000 — Breckenridge, Cottage at Shock Hill, Lot 11 (residential home)
4. $2,500,000 — Copper, Lewis Ranch at Copper, Lot 34R (residential home)
5. $2,220,000 — Breckenridge, Gilrose SUB, Lot 25 (residential home)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Summit County’s adoptable pets

#Summit County #Colorado
Courtesy Michael Yearout Photography

Summit Daily News Link

Pets available for adoption at the Summit County Animal Shelter.

Contact the Summit County Animal Shelter at 970-668-3230.
FRAPPI, 3 years, Domestic Shorthair, orange and white, neutered male
MIMI, 13 years, Domestic Longhair, gray tab and black, spayed female
YULE, 1 year 2 months, Domestic Shorthair, gray tab, neutered male
SNOWFLAKE, 2 years, Domestic Shorthair mix, black, neutered male
GRINGO, 2 years, Domestic Shorthair mix, black, neutered male
TULIP, 9 months, Domestic Shorthair, black and white, spayed female
COOPER, 9 months, Domestic Shorthair, black and white, neutered male
MITCHELL, 1 year, Siamese mix, flame point, neutered male
TORREY, 12 years, Domestic Shorthair, black, neutered male
CHIEF, 3 years, Domestic Shorthair, white and orng tabby, neutered male
SKITTLES, 3 years, Domestic Shorthair, white and orange, spayed female
CHEDDAR, 1 year, Domestic Shorthair, orng tiger, neutered male
PENNY, 2 years, Domestic Shorthair, brown tabby, spayed female
MITTENS, 2 years, Domestic Shorthair mix, black and white, spayed female
MR BIGGS, 3 years, Domestic Shorthair mix, white and gray tab, neutered male
RICKY MARTIN, 11 years, Domestic Shorthair mix, brown tabby, neutered male
BING, 13 years, Domestic Shorthair mix, orange and white, neutered male
ARNOLD, 16 years, Domestic Shorthair, brown tabby, neutered male
ROSIE PETAL, 3 years, Pit Bull Terrier and Boxer mix, white and tan, spayed female
COLBY, 3 years, Siberian Husky mix, tan and white, neutered male
MAX, no age, Miniature Pinscher mix, black and tan, neutered male
JERA, 1 year, Australian Cattle Dog mix, red merle, unaltered female
JESSY, no age, Australian Cattle Dog mix, blue merle and black, unaltered male
CARRIE, 1 year, Pit Bull Terrier mix, tan and white, spayed female
RHINO, 2 years, Pit Bull Terrier mix, brindle and white, neutered male
DIAMOND, 5 years, French Bulldog mix, black, spayed female
TANK, 3 years, German Shepherd Dog and Akita mix, blonde, neutered male
MIDNIGHT, 2 years, Australian Cattle Dog mix, black and tan, spayed female
SUGAR, 6 months, Chihuahua – Smooth Coated, white, unaltered female
OBI, 5 years, Tibetan Mastiff and Belgian Tervuren mix, brown, neutered male
HOWIE, 11 years, Cairn Terrier mix, tan, neutered male
SHAGGY, 1 year 2 months, Labrador Retriever and Doberman Pinscher mix, black, neutered male
KOA, 8 months, Bull Terrier and Siberian Husky mix, white and tan, neutered male

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Frisco BBQ Challenge hosting essay contest for Father’s Day weekend getaway

#Frisco #Colorado

Summit Daily News Link

The annual Frisco Colorado BBQ Challenge is once again sponsoring a contest to find a dad deserving of a chance to kick back during the event and enjoy some barbecue and quality time with the family.
Youth ages 16 and under are invited to submit a short essay detailing why there dad is most deserving of a free barbecue-filled weekend in Frisco. Essays should be no longer than 600 words and can be submitted at
The BBQ Challenge happens every Father's Day weekend, and this year that will be June 15-17. To enter the BBQ Challenge's Father's Day contest, youth 16 and under must submit a short essay detailing why their dad is deserving of a free BBQ-filled weekend in Frisco.
The winner will receive lodging for two nights — June 16 and 17 — in a two-bedroom condominium courtesy of Mountain Managers. They will also be awarded $100 worth of Hogbacks, the official currency of the Colorado Barbecue Challenge, and two tickets to Friday's "Rub It, Smoke It, Sip It," Whiskey Tour courtesy of the Breckenridge Distillery.
All essays must be submitted by midnight on Friday, May 5.
The 2017 Frisco Colorado BBQ Challenge will feature seven bands playing on the Main Street stage Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the 6K run, the Bacon Burner, on Saturday.
For more details about the Colorado BBQ Challenge, the Bacon Burner 6K run, lodging specials and activities, visit or call 1-800-424-1554.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Vail Underpass construction to resume in early April


The Colorado Department of Transportation will resume construction on the Interstate 70 Vail Underpass project. The project is in the final phase of completion. Contractors will return to Vail next week, with crews doing stonework through March.
On April 3, crews will continue with frontage road work. Lane closures will begin at the same time for crews to restripe lanes in preparation for frontage road detours. Detours will start on April 24. Crews expect to work on the roads from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the project. The final phase of construction is focusing on the underpass roundabouts. The project is scheduled to be completed by fall of this year.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Historic preservation is a mixed bag in Summit — “lots of places have disappeared.”

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

Back in the 1970s, "spring cleaning" had a different meaning in Breckenridge: It referred to the practice of sprucing up the town by tearing down the old log cabin houses that had stood there for nearly a century.
At the time, local historian Maureen Nicholls said, people didn't see historic preservation as a priority — they were more interested in shedding the town's mining heritage and building up its new identity as a ski town.
"Back then if someone bought a property and there was a building on it they tore it down," Nicholls said. "Some of the buildings were pretty derelict, but I think that would've shocked some people in the town now. It was commended at the time."
As Breckenridge and the rest of Summit County have developed, however, the importance of preserving vestiges of the area's hardscrabble origins has taken on urgency among some locals.
An example of that came late last year in Frisco, when a proposed hotel on Main Street that would have required moving the historic Staley-Rouse House to a new location sparked outcry from residents, who argued that the town's last historic structure in its original spot should stay there.
After a series of contentious public meetings, the town revised the terms of the deal to keep the house on its current plot — although it will be moved closer to the street.
It's unclear if that will be grounds for removing the house from the state register of historic places, town staff said.
Had the original deal gone through, it would have been in keeping with Frisco's longstanding, laissez-faire approach to historic preservation.
Throughout building boom ins the 1980s and 1990s, 10 of Frisco's original structures were donated to the town and moved to the Frisco Historic Park and Museum in order to make way for new development. Many others were simply razed.
A full accounting of what has been lost is difficult to come by, because unlike Breckenridge — which has created an inventory of historic buildings throughout the town — Frisco doesn't keep a list of its historic assets.
That contrast reflects the two towns' very different approaches to historic preservation: Frisco doesn't need to keep a list of original buildings because there aren't any regulations in place restricting what owners can do with them, town staff said.
In Breckenridge, on the other hand, the 232 historic structures listed in its inventory lie within a nationally recognized historic district. Design standards established in 1992 limit what property owners can do to those structures and what they can build around them.
"The most important standards in the historic district have to do with the size of buildings: height, fa├žade width, square footage," said community development director Peter Grosshuesch. "In a resort community like this, property gets pretty valuable and people would tend to put a lot of square footage on those properties, and that blows away the surviving historic structures in terms of scale."
While that strict regulatory approach ensures more buildings are preserved, it also limits the freedom of property owners to do what they want with their land.
"It's hard for some people to realize they can't tear down an old shed," Nicholls said. "They think if you own a property why can't you build on it? It's private property and government, and it can be messy."
In Frisco, the town council has chosen to assume a more passive role in historic preservation, encouraging it when possible but generally ruling on the side of respecting property rights.
"Frisco has tended to think the carrot is sweeter than the stick," said community development director Joyce Allgaier. "Does it always work? No. We've razed a lot of buildings or moved them to the historic park."
But, Allgaier said, getting too heavy-handed with preservation infringes on the rights of property owners, who are entitled to do what they want with their property as long as it is line with the town code.
"I'm not sure you can always go 'pro-con,' but a 'pro' of the regulatory approach is there ends up being more historic fabric in your community," she said. "The downside is that it's a heavier hand of government, and people tend to not like that."
Instead, the town prefers to incentivize preservation on a case-by-case basis by offering leeway on zoning rules — things like setbacks and parking spaces — in exchange for developers choosing to preserve old structures.
In the Staley House deal, which was given final approval by the council on Feb. 14, developer Kelly Foote was granted exemptions from certain zoning rules. In exchange, he agreed to place the Staley property and his adjacent Foote's Rest sweet shop — itself a nationally-registered historic site that also includes several old cabins — under a historic preservation covenant, which will permanently protect them.
Dillon and Silverthorne take a similar hands-off approach, however those towns have only existed for around 50 years, and their historic holdings have all been moved from their original locations.
"In theory, once you move a building it loses some of its historic significance," Silverthorne mayor Bruce Butler said. "So in that sense, everything that has history in Silverthorne doesn't qualify for historic designation."
One historic structure in Dillon, the Rebekah Lodge, has been moved three times since it was built in Frisco in 1882. It could be on the chopping block if a proposed hotel development goes through.
Sandie Mather, president of the Summit Historical Society, said her organization would like to save the building if it can secure funding for purchasing and moving it.
If the price tag for the Rebekah proves to be prohibitive, it would join a long list of historic properties across the county that have been razed over the course of its transformation from mining country to a resort area.
"It's very interesting that the town is now 'rah rah' about historic preservation," Nicholls said, referring to Breckenridge. "But it's too bad they waited so long."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Summit County remains a desirable location for hotel development

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

Despite continued tourism growth in ski resorts, hotel developers are hesitant to build in the area. High construction costs and limited space to build on act as barriers in starting a successful hotel out in the mountains. But Ralf Garrison founder of DestiMetrics, a Denver-based resort analytics firm, said that it's also the seasonal business model that resorts have held on to for so long: businesses struggle to stay afloat when they're only busy for part of the year.
"The real challenge in the mountain resort industry is sustaining a solid, year round economic foundation," Garrison said.
Garrison said that hotels need to maintain an average of around 65 percent occupancy all year in order to sustain their businesses. For resort communities, there is a need to balance out the peaks of winter with the slower valleys in summer.
Despite barriers, some still consider Summit County a good investment for possible hotels. In December of 2015, the Hampton Inn opened in Silverthorne. A Residence Inn opened in Breckenridge at the end of 2016, replacing the Breckenridge Mountain Lodge. More recently, the town of Dillon's Planning and Zoning Commission approved plans for a six-story hotel. The hotel would be located at the entrance of the town, providing guests with views of the surrounding area. The hotel needs to be approved by the Dillon Town Council before moving forward.
Some of the towns in Summit naturally lend themselves to attracting summer guests because of their proximity to Lake Dillon. July and August tend to be the strongest months in the county, with other peaks during the three-day weekends for Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Hampton Inn is operated and managed through a franchise agreement with Hilton and Denver-based Silverwest Hotels. Ed Mace, Silverest's president and CEO told the Daily last September that the Hampton's first summer of business went better than expected. He was not available to comment on recent occupancy numbers.
In Breckenridge, there has been a 13 percent increase in year round occupancy numbers from 2016 compared to 2013. Austyn Dineen, the public relations manager at the Breckenridge Tourism Office, said that a large portion of the growth was due to summer visitors, which have grown 25 percent over the same time frame. Winter visits also continue to see increases.
"Seasonality is nowhere near what it used to be," said Brett Russell, the senior vice president of HVS Denver and director of business development for HVS.
As a company, HVS works with businesses within the hospitality industry, aiding them with finance and market research.
Russell added that if resorts can increase year round offerings, it can push marketing opportunities further into spring and summer, using Copper Mountain as an example. The resort recently approved new plans for an alpine mountain coaster and bike trail hoping to draw summer visitors.
"The more that happens the less seasonality there is, and (resorts) can drive rates in the summer," Russell said.
Despite an increase in visitors coming in for the ski season, resort areas have not increased their bed base — total number of available beds for tourists — using traditional hotels. Instead, the burden falls on timeshares and condos. Airbnb, VRBO and other online markets that allow property owners to rent rooms have also started to take on some of the increase.
Russell added that in Breckenridge, the market has been focused around short-term rentals for the last 20 years, and that online opportunities have added to that pool.
Garrison added that after the United States started to rebound from the Recession, there was a spike in demand for lodging. But real estate was never added to supply the demand, causing unit prices to go up. A larger bed base means more people can stay in the area, where they will likely shop or spend money at local restaurants. While the hospitality industry may have an indirect competitor in online rental companies, Garrison said that they build on the community economy as a whole.
"It's gotten more and more economically viable for somebody that owns their unit, or rents their unit out long-term, to move it over and make it available short-term," Garrison said. "Now we have a new source of beds during high seasons coming from the occasional use of a rent by owner. That's good for the overall community."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Breckenridge ski pass frauds see spring break uptick

#Breckenridge  #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

Ski pass fraud cases in Breckenridge typically spike in the month of March, and this year has been no different: There have been at least 23 court summonses issued to people allegedly using passes not belonging to them so far this month.
That accounts for nearly half of the 50 total ski pass fraud cases reported to the Breckenridge Police Department since the ski season began last November.
Police spokeswoman Colleen Goettelman speculated that the routinely higher March totals might be related to the high number of spring break vacationers in town.
"It could also be because we're toward the end of the season, and people don't care as much if they lose their passes for loaning them out," she said.
On March 9 alone, five ski pass fraud summonses were issued in Breckenridge.
Overall, however, ski pass frauds are down significantly this season. Pass frauds over the same period from November 1, 2015, to March 14, 2016, totaled 135, roughly two-and-a-half times as many violations that have occurred this season, according to police statistics.
That reflects the wide variations in enforcement of a town ordinance that relies on resort pass scanners noticing fraudulent pass users and reporting them.
When they do, resort security contacts the suspected parties and typically calls the police, who go to the mountain and issue a ticket.
Fines for ski pass fraud range broadly, but can be as high as $2,650, according to an official at the Breckenridge Municipal Court. The severity of the fine is up to the discretion of a judge and typically centers on how cooperative — or uncooperative — the suspect was with police.
An average fine, the court official said, is around $400. By comparison, an adult pays $859 for an Epic Pass, which grants full access to mountains owned by Vail Resorts.
Displays on the scanners used by pass-checkers show a host of information for each ticket scanned, including the age of the pass-holder and a large photograph. Employees are also given a cash incentive to report fraudsters, similar to how many bouncers at bars are given bonuses for confiscating fake IDs.
In a February pass fraud incident documented in a police report, a scanner reportedly asked a man for $10 on suspicion that he was using someone else's pass, citing the bonus that pass-checkers receive for reporting fraud suspects to resort security.
Sometimes, reporting pass fraud suspects can be dicey. In what was described as the "most rude pass fraud situation yet this year," a man reportedly shouted repeated obscenities at pass scanners and was very uncooperative with security and police officers.
In another incident in January, a woman who appeared to be in her early 20s allegedly attempted to use a pass that belonged to a woman in her 50s. Security followed the woman and the man she was with to their car, and they proceeded to jump a curb and take out several traffic cones in order to circumvent a parking lot security gate.
While skiers and snowboarders passing off other people's passes as their own is the more common type of fraud, another stems from scammers selling bogus lift tickets on Craigslist to unsuspecting tourists.
Several such cases have occurred in Breckenridge and Vail this season, prompting police to warn visitors to only purchase lift tickets through vetted sources, such as
In one case, Vail police said, an individual sold around $2,000 worth of lift tickets via Craigslist and then reported the credit card used to purchase them as stolen.
The buyers of the tickets were then flagged down for insufficient payment shortly after the resort opened.
"The Vail Police Department and Vail Resorts would like to remind everyone that ski lift tickets and season passes are non-transferable, meaning they cannot be resold, loaned or gifted," police said in a news release.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Breckenridge Music Festival calls on local, regional artists

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

The Breckenridge Music Festival is hoping a regional or local artist hears these eight words — music, dance, timeless, imaginative, mountains, adventure, fresh and Breckenridge — and expresses them in a way that breathes new life into the festival's annual poster contest.
Calling it a "Call to Artists," Breckenridge Music Festival officials say that to "reinvigorate" the poster competition rooted in almost 40 years of collaboration with regional visual artists and artworks highlighting Breck's unique environmental and historic aesthetics, they're looking for new ink — or maybe not necessarily ink.
In previous years, the competition has primarily accepted water color and oil painting, but this year they're seeking a broader range of mediums — which could include screen printing, photography, digital printing, lithography, mixed media, pen and ink and painting.
"We hope to receive artworks that can capture the energetic spirit of the festival," said Tamara Nuzzaci Park, executive director, in a news release highlighting the reinvented contest.
"We value the history of the Bach, Beethoven and Breckenridge poster competition and look to that for directional guidance," Park said. "However, this year we seek artwork that reflects the music festival experience and is representative of the BMF brand."
The 2017 festival will feature live music set to film, contemporary dance and theatrical productions with concerts — from jazz and bluegrass to orchestra performances and intimate chamber ensembles playing in private Summit County homes.
"The inspiration behind the season is drawn from the natural relationship between music and dance," Park said. "We not only will have two contemporary dance companies join the chamber orchestra at the Riverwalk Center, but also explore compositions from across cultures and centuries that are inspired by human movement and rhythm."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

CDOT exploring project to reduce congestion on westbound I-70 corridor

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

On the road between Idaho Springs and the Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnel, Crested Butte has several billboards that take a not-so-subtle jab at Summit County's ski areas.
"A refreshing toll-free drive, take Hwy 285" they read, featuring the Interstate 70 logo with a red slash through it.
That message, designed to lure away skiers stuck in the I-70 gridlock, reflects the tremendous strain placed on the mostly two-lane highway by a booming population in the country's second-fastest growing state.
Last spring, the Colorado Department of Transportation completed work on improvements to the eastbound stretch of I-70 between the tunnel and Front Range. According to a third-party analytics firm, those decreased travel times by as much as 20 to 50 percent during peak hours.
Now, CDOT hopes to replicate that success on the westbound side by adding overflow lanes to loosen the bottlenecks that routinely develop as throngs of skiers and outdoor enthusiasts make their way to the High Country.
According to CDOT estimates, westbound travel from C-470 to Silverthorne during peak hours can take nearly three hours, compared with only 55 minutes under normal conditions. Average speeds on the weekend can be as low as 18 miles per hour.
"You've seen major improvements in Summit County," said Joe Mahoney, who works in the CDOT Office of Major Project Development. "The (eastbound) peak used to be around 2 or 3 o'clock, and now it's 4 or 5. That means people can take more runs or have a bite to eat in town, which is good for sales revenues."
Mahoney noted that just two years ago, peak traffic times saw 3,200 vehicles per hour crawling along at speeds of just 5 to 10 miles per hour.
Since last year's improvements, he said, average speeds are now 35 to 40 miles per hour despite around 1,000 more vehicles passing through each hour.
That improvement was achieved primarily through the construction of express lanes, which remain closed throughout most of the week but open up as a third lane during peak hours.
"Before, if you had a tractor-trailer slowly winding down on a snowy night, that was essentially a one-lane interstate," Mahoney said.
Mahoney was one of nearly a dozen CDOT officials on hand for a Tuesday night public meeting in Idaho Springs to discuss the I-70 Mountain Corridor project.
The gathering was intended as a way for local residents to express their concerns about the project. There were many, and attendees peppered a large map of the corridor with sticky notes denoting areas of concern.
A big-ticket item for many people was an overhaul of the Empire Junction interchange to Highway 40, which features a very sharp curve that many described as a growing safety hazard.
Several people were somewhat leery of the project, which would entail extensive construction work through the communities of Clear Creek primarily for the benefit of Summit and Eagle counties.
"Summit County has a vested interest in this project, and I would like to encourage our neighbors in the next county over to support us on this," one Clear Creek resident said during the public comment period of the meeting.
The benefits of clearing congestion along the corridor are clear, at least as far as Summit's businesses and ski areas are concerned, CDOT officials said.
"The congestion starts every Friday morning, and it's a drag on the local economy, it affects tourism and it affects safety: The number of crashes is higher when there is congestion," said Jonathan Bartsch, CEO of CDR Associates, a consulting firm that ran Tuesday's meeting.
CDOT is still working on a specific plan for the project, although it will be modeled off the eastbound improvements. The cost for those ultimately came in at around $300 million, and the agency expects the cost on this new project to be in that same ballpark.
The agency hopes to begin an environmental impact study this summer, and construction could start in about three years.
For Summit's Front Range visitors, it couldn't come a moment too soon.
"The more congested it becomes, people aren't going to start leaving their houses at 4 a.m.," Mahoney said. "There's a point where enough is enough, and I think we're reaching that point."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Saturday presents Opportunity in Breckenridge

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Courtesy YouTube

Summit Daily News Link

More than 13 years after landing on Mars, Opportunity is still knocking around the Red Planet, relaying images back to Earth that have captured imaginations worldwide.
This Saturday at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge, people will have the opportunity to meet one of the NASA engineers responsible for the remarkable longevity of the Mars Exploration Rovers — aka MERs. One two rovers successfully deployed to Mars in 2004, Opportunity along with its twin, Spirit, each far outlived their 90-day planned lifespan.
While Spirit didn't go silent until 2010, Opportunity remains operational to this day. According to NASA's latest update, it last recorded driving 42 feet to the west on March 2 as it exits the Endeavour Crater.
That stands a personal triumph for Kobie Boykins, a mechanical engineer who helped design and build the solar arrays that enabled the rovers to keep going and who will be appearing Saturday in Breckenridge as the second installment of the three-part National Geographic Live series.
First up in the series that seeks to showcase the world through the eyes of great explorers, filmmakers and photographers was Joel Sartore, whose photographic work has contributed to what's likely the most complete collection of animal portraits ever taken.
Now it's Boykins turn, and in addition to the earlier Mars mission, he is also intimately involved with NASA's latest venture to the Red Planet as supervisor of the mobility and remote sensing mast teams for the Mars Science Laboratory, better known as Curiosity.
Landing on Mars in August 2012, Curiosity has already made headlines by finding evidence that conditions existed on Mars — including the presence of water — that once could have supported life. More recently, it proved that dust devils or whirlwinds are not exclusive to the third rock from the Sun.
For his work on this and other projects, Boykins last year received a NASA Exceptional Service Medal, one of the highest honors NASA employees and contractors can earn.
In his presentations, Boykins is enthusiastic and he moves quickly, covering the technical aspects of a space mission as only an engineer could, while adding a personal, infectious love for unraveling the mysteries of the universe. In addition doing lectures nationally and internationally for the National Geographic Live series, Boykins has also served as a featured speaker to students across the U.S. regarding careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Tickets range from $25-$35 for adults while children and students are $10. For more info or to buy tickets, go to
Mountaineer Hilaree O'Neill will be the final featured speaker in the National Geographic Live series. She is scheduled to speak April 15, also at the Riverwalk Center.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Moose runs down Breckenridge ski slope

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (AP) — A moose on the loose caught several skiers and snowboarders by surprise as it galloped headlong down a run at Breckenridge Ski Resort in Colorado.
Cheri Luther was snowboarding Friday when she saw the moose approaching, and she shot video of the large animal coming within feet of her.
Luther, who kept snowboarding, is heard saying, "Oh, my God, I don't know where to go" before screaming as the moose runs by her.
Resort officials say no one was hurt, and the encounter is a good reminder that skiers and snowboarders share the mountain with wildlife.
In late December, a rare lynx strolled nonchalantly across the Purgatory Mountain Resort in Durango in southwestern Colorado, walking through a crowd of skiers and snowboarders who stopped to take videos.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Summit’s best sledding hills

#Summit County #Colorado
Summit Daily News

Summit Daily News Link

Skiing isn't for everyone, but don't worry, that doesn't mean you are doomed to a life of watching daytime television while everyone else enjoys the powder. No, luckily there is more than one way down a snowy hill and no matter your method — snow bike, snowmobile, snowshoe or saucer — there's a place for you.
If you do decide to venture into the world of sledding, keep in mind you are headed into lawless land. While the hope is that the innocence and laughter of a child on a Radio Flyer would be enough to tame the greatest daredevil, you are still responsible for yourself. This means your sled may never touch groomed powder and there will be no yellow jackets swooping in to pull a sled from a reckless rider; sled at your own risk. Consider a sledding hill the last bastion for common sense, if you will.
I'm happy to provide some tips to up that sense though and make sure you don't ruin a small child's day with your gaper ways. First off, it's never fun to become divorced from your sled mid-run. Hold on to your vehicle at all times in order to keep your union, and to keep from sending a projectile hurling into little Timmy's birthday party. Positioning is also key in the sledding game: The standard sit-and-push is a preferred method for riders everywhere, followed by the back-down-feet-first position and, if you're a real pro, the belly-down-head-first maneuver. Go with whatever method matches your style and keeps you headed in the right direction. Just avoid standing — that never ends well.
Now that you know how to go, the question becomes where to go. In Summit, there are sledding hills tucked in all around the county that are open to the public, and there are also those hidden gems where you pretty much need to know a neighbor.
For the more popular variety, check out Rainbow Park in Silverthorne. The hill here is good for youngsters and those looking to take it easy. It doesn't offer the longest ride in the county, but it's an easy location to get to and is built like a bowl, so you can get a little variety.
On the other end of the county, Carter Park in Breckenridge offers an equally convenient, yet slightly steeper hill next to the dog park. This means you can wear out the kids and the dogs without ever needing to move your car — a real consideration given the current parking wars.
In case you find yourself somewhere in between, the Frisco Nordic Center sits right next to a fine slope. And when you need to switch things up, the tubing hill and cross-country and snowshoe trails at the Nordic center offer just enough variety — not to mention hot cocoa at the Day Lodge.
Finally, if you find yourself stuck in traffic between Keystone and Dillon there's a quality hill near the parking lot for the Dillon Nature Preserve. This can be a good option if you have a crew of people with different aspirations; ice fishing, skiing, coffee shops and the sledding hill are all within a five-minute drive of one another.
Again, none of these are maintained hills so realize that if you take a bump a little too hard and break your saucer, or worse, there is no one you can sue for replacement parts. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Summit County towns work with Airbnb to create tax collection agreement

#Summit County #Colorado
Kailyn Lamb /

Summit Daily News Link

Near the end of January, Airbnb, the online lodging company, struck a deal with the state of Colorado to begin collecting sales and lodging taxes from people hoping to rent their homes on the site. But the deal did not apply to every municipality, as many, including those in Summit, are "home-ruled," meaning individual town codes require councils to sign a separate agreement with the company.
The statewide agreement is a step forward and the company has been working with towns in Summit to put a similar tax collection structure in place locally. But the process is slow. Leslie Fischer, the county services manager, said that Airbnb does not have a large staff and contact with the company can be difficult. She reached out to them back in September of 2014. Since then she has been heading the effort in Summit in conjunction with 17 other towns to try and build an agreement with the company.
"When the state signed the agreement, that's what really kind of put the wrench in the system of 'Well, wouldn't it just be easier if Airbnb just remitted for everybody,' and sure it would be. We want to get there," Fischer said.
Property owners must have an accommodation unit license through the town, as well as a license through the state to do short-term rentals. Without a local agreement, town staff members have to search through listings to make sure that the host has the appropriate paperwork to list their space and collect taxes.
The town of Breckenridge has a unique method of license enforcement, sending letters to new property owners and immediately informing them of short-term rental policies.
"We have an education effort on the front end and we also have audit compliance efforts on the back end," said Brian Waldes, the director of finance for Breckenridge.
Because of this, Waldes said that the town has a fairly high compliance rate. Of approximately 3,300 short-term properties, only 15 of them did not have the appropriate license. But high compliance can also make it harder for the town to find properties that aren't collecting taxes.
"It becomes harder when you have a high compliance rate because most of your leads don't take you anywhere," Waldes said.
Efforts to find properties can take time without adequate technology. Chad Most, the revenue specialist in Frisco said that he spends an average of two weeks a year looking through listings to find ones without licenses.
"The process should get easier moving forward should we move forward with any of the third party providers," Most said.
The county put together a request for proposals for tech companies to create software that would help towns search through a multitude of online listings. The hired company has since gone out of business, creating another roadblock for towns. Fischer said they are in the process of looking for a new company to take over.
Fischer said that there are other online data collectors that can help towns get an idea of how many possible listings there are. Airdna, a data and analytics company, collects listing information across more than 5,000 cities. According to the site, Breckenridge has more than 2,400 active Airbnb listings, although Fischer said that some of the numbers on the site are cushioned based of where town limits are measured.
The site also tracks the percentage of how long listings are available to renters, and how long renters actually stay at properties. Between Silverthorne, Breckenridge, Dillon and Frisco, the towns average 39.4 percent of properties that are available to rent for 10 to 12 months out of the year. Nearly 84 percent of customers opt to stay between one and three months on average, according to the site.
For Waldes, the ease of Airbnb and other online rental options poses a concern for the local housing market. Every home available to rent online for months at a time is one less property that could be rented out to a Summit local. Some neighborhood housing authorities have rules for rentals, such as some of the deed-restricted properties, which only allow locals to live there.
"We all really want to understand what impact this online sharing economy is having on long-term housing," Waldes said. "That's part of these compliance efforts is just trying to get our arms around those kinds of statistics. The more we can understand about this the better we can help to answer that question."