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Park City Council delays action on fractional ownership ordinance

The Park City Council will revisit the issue of fractional ownership in October.
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The Park City Council will revisit the issue of fractional ownership in October.

The Park City Council delayed a decision about whether to regulate fractional ownerships – allowing as many as 8 families to purchase one home – until October. In the meantime, while the ordinance is pending, Park City leaders say they’ve prevented this type of property ownership from expanding into residential neighborhoods.

The Park City planning department has received more than two dozen comments about fractional ownerships and the company that brought them here, Pacaso. Many of the comments are from longtime, year-round residents who oppose the practice of fractional ownership.

Aerie resident Paul Zane Pilzer said there is no such thing as fractional ownership. He said the arrangements are timeshares, and the backbone of the Park City community is being threatened by them.

“There's no word ‘fractional ownership,’” Pilzer said. “I'm an economist. Let's call fractional ownership what it is. Pacaso is in the time-sharing business. Can we all say it in unison? Pacaso is in the time-sharing business, not the fractional ownership business. This is a timeshare — it smells like a timeshare, it looks like a timeshare. It will destroy our way of life and values.”

But Park City Board of Realtors CEO Jamie Johnson asked the council to continue the discussion to a future meeting. She said the proposed ordinance, which was unanimously endorsed by the Park City Planning Commission, doesn’t solve the community’s concerns. These are multi-million dollar homes, she said, that would never be used for workforce housing or affordable home ownership.

“We do believe that this is fractional ownership, it is not a timeshare,” Johnson said. “So in respect to what was just mentioned, we believe that this is an opportunity for families to invest in properties and to use those for their use.”

Johnson added that the Realtor group is working with other western mountain resort communities and the city needs to know what other communities are doing before approving an ordinance here.

But Jessica Chambers, a member of the Jackson, Wyoming, Town Council, said she’s watching what Park City is doing because Jackson is facing a similar debate. She said not having a neighbor in a house 11 months out of the year can be better than having eight of them cycling in and out throughout the year.

“They [Pacaso] have misunderstandings about what our community needs,” Chambers said. “We don't need stimulation of our economies. They've argued that by having eight people in a home throughout the year that they’re going to provide us with opportunities when really, we are struggling with workforce shortages, affordable housing. We do not have the people to service them, to serve them food at restaurants. They add work to our plates, and they don't really give anything back.”

Steve Lewis, a Pacaso homeowner, explained that the homes are not rentals, and instead of being left empty most of the year, they are contributing to the community.

“We are, as owners, are precluded from renting our properties,” Lewis said. “There's no nightly rentals, no weekly rentals or even monthly rentals. The only people that are permitted to stay there are homeowners with their friends and family. I feel more comfortable knowing that there are owners there that there are going to be people staying there because most of these homes stay empty for a big part of the year. Nothing good happens to empty property.”

And Pacaso owner Dustin Warren said this form of ownership actually helps Park City’s affordable housing crisis.

“If the goal is to increase affordable housing, would you prefer that myself and the seven other co-owners in this home each come in and take eight medium price homes off the market? Or would you rather us all come together in one home that's significantly higher than the median?" Warren said. "And you know, again, it begs the question: What's better for the city and what's better for the housing crisis?”

Park City Councilor Jeremy Rubell told KPCW the council may hold a joint discussion with the planning commission to hammer out the ordinance’s details and collaborate with industry players to make sure they’re doing the right thing for everyone.

While critics complain that Pacaso has created a revolving carousel of vacationers in neighborhoods, Pacaso maintains that it is not a timeshare operation and serves co-property owners who own real estate, not time.