Guest editorial: It’s your turn, Summit County

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

The Park City Council on Oct. 27 passed an ordinance greatly limiting the zoning areas where fractional ownership properties are allowed. The primary intent of the new ordinance is to protect established single-family neighborhoods. Unfortunately, this ordinance only applies to Park City itself.

Clearly fractional ownership is not the same as vacation clubs and timeshares. Vacation clubs and timeshares declared their structure and intent before they were even built. Furthermore, these enterprises are primarily located near the resorts and cater primarily to vacationers.

The companies that sell fractional ownership properties are litigious and bullying. Pacaso is currently suing St. Helena, California for passing zoning changes similar to what Park City has enacted. At the Oct. 27 Park City Council meeting, a Pacaso representative clearly hinted at the possibility of legal action should the city enact the proposed ordinance.

Pacaso, Ember, and other companies that promote fractional ownership are purposely invading single-family neighborhoods where they are not wanted. They turn communities treasured for their privacy and tranquility into essentially long-stay hotels and commercial enterprises.

Ember, another fractional ownership company, has been operating primarily in Southern Utah. However, there is nothing to prevent them from coming north. While Pacaso is smart enough not to list the number of people each of their properties can sleep, Ember has no such restraint.

Ember’s current listings in St. George feature a 5,300-square-foot home they claim sleeps 24-plus, a 4,900-square-foot home that sleeps 14-plus, a 1,231-square-foot home that sleeps 8-plus, a 2,608-square-foot home that sleeps 16-plus, and two 4,739-square-foot homes and a 5,373-square-foot home that sleep 30-plus. Four of these listings proudly proclaim the owners can rent them. Who would want to live next door to such an obviously commercial enterprise?

Summit County cannot let these companies operate with no restrictions. Pacaso already has two current listings in Summit County and the rebuff by Park City could cause them to be more active here while they explore legal or even legislative remedies. Pacaso also lists two Summit County properties as “prospects.”

Think of the communities that would appeal to these companies. Sun Peak, where I serve on the Master Homeowners’ Association Board, is probably right in their crosshairs. We have many large homes and are located minutes from Canyons Village. Sun Peak already prohibits nightly rentals, but our HOA legal counsel advises this may be insufficient.

Other Summit County communities that would appeal to these enterprises include Silver Springs, Silver Summit, Trailside, Snyder’s Mill, Ranch Place, Mountain Ranch Estates, Pinebrook, Jeremy Ranch, Summit Park, Quarry Mountain Estates, Promontory, and Glenwild, just to name a few. As the County develops, even more communities will become attractive to these purveyors.

It is entirely possible Pacaso or other fractional ownership companies might litigate if the Summit County Council takes appropriate action to preserve our established communities. This threat should in no way prevent the County Council from protecting their constituents by doing everything within their power to protect our community and single-family neighborhoods.

Disparate actions by scattered HOAs will most likely not prevent these companies from wreaking havoc on our neighborhoods. It is entirely possible HOAs will not be able to afford adequate legal representation to fight these companies on their own. A countywide ban, at least in designated zones, is the only effective measure that will prevent our communities from being irreparably harmed. We, the homeowners and residents of Summit County, must collectively implore the Council to take swift and decisive action to ward off this threat.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Park City and Summit County make the Park Record's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.