Guest editorial: Fractional ownership will change the very nature of Park City neighborhoods

Vincent A. (Van) Novack, PhD Snyderville Basin
Park Record guest editorial

Housing availability and cost is a complex ongoing problem facing Utah as we remain one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Balancing the need for affordable housing while still preserving open space and maintaining the character of existing neighborhoods is especially challenging. Unfortunately, there is a new player in the housing market that particularly threatens established single-family home neighborhoods in Summit County and throughout the state.

Fractional ownership, or timeshares, are nothing new and such ventures are well established in many areas of Utah and are mostly clustered near resorts. Fractional ownership is allowed at many condominium and vacation club projects in Utah that currently serve a certain clientele consisting of mostly vacationers and investors.

However, there are now companies trying to establish fractional ownership in existing single-family home neighborhoods, many of which that expressly prohibit short term rentals in order to preserve their community environment. Seemingly most active in this arena is Pacaso, a San Francisco based corporation. Pacaso is currently purchasing homes in desirable locations throughout Summit County and Utah.

Once Pacaso or companies like them purchase a single-family home they form a unique Limited Liability Corporation  (LLC) which then sells shares (usually one eighth) of the property. In this case, each “owner” receives 6.5 weeks availability per year, but they cannot stay more than two weeks in a single visit. This results in a minimum of twenty-six changeovers in residents/occupants per year. If the “owners” choose to sublet their available time the frequency of arrivals and departures could be exacerbated. Even if subletting is prohibited, policing such activities is nearly impossible given the proliferation of vacation rental websites. Pacaso also collects various monthly fees from each shareholder to manage the property thus effectively setting each home up as a business which is also expressly prohibited by many homeowners’ associations.

If this practice is allowed in primarily single-family home communities it can only produce negative impacts for the residents and will change the very nature of our neighborhoods. In my view this practice should only be allowed in areas already zoned for fractional ownership of some sort.

The Park City Planning Department is already studying this issue and is proposing to allow fractional ownership of Single-Family Dwellings only in those Zoning Districts where Timeshares and Private Residence Clubs are currently allowed. The Summit County Council has acknowledged they are aware of this issue and are planning to consider it as part of a broader discussion of the housing situation in the county.I urge all residents of Summit County to contact their representatives and beseech them to prohibit this practice at least in established single-family neighborhoods.  The tranquility and family friendly atmosphere of these enclaves is being threatened in a fundamental way.

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