The first topic for the Town of Jackson to examine as they begin their review of the Land Development Regulations is the Lodging Overlay. SHJH looks at some questions and answers on this topic that could have major impact on our Town.
Q: What is the Lodging Overlay (LO)?
A: It is an area in the Town of Jackson where the Land Development Regulations allow short term rentals. Short term lodging is defined as less than 30 days.
Q: What is the purpose of the Lodging Overlay?
A: The purpose is to keep short term visitors close to the area of Town that has the services they need like restaurants and shops. By keeping them close to the services it is hoped that it will reduce the amount of driving that short term visitors need to do. The boundaries of the LO were drawn to keep short term lodging out of residential areas. This was intended to protect residential areas. The 1994 Comp Plan said that we were a community first and a resort second.
Q: Why should we expand the Lodging Overlay?
A: While expanding the LO benefits individual property owners by greatly increasing the value of their property, there is no benefit to the Community. Except for a very short period during the Christmas Holidays and a short period during the summer season our local lodging is never at full occupancy, so why would we add more hotel rooms that are farther from the downtown area?
Q: What is driving this?
A: Our elected officials believe our lodging in Town is “tired” and needs to be redeveloped to be competitive with Teton Village.
Q: What are the other options to expanding the Lodging Overlay?
A: Instead of expanding the LO and giving a “gift” to select landowners, we should look for ways to increase visitation during the shoulder seasons. We should also look for ways to incentivize redevelopment of properties in the existing LO rather than expand it. There have been recent examples of successful redevelopment of lodging in Town. There have also been some failures. Expanding the LO will not ensure that projects will succeed. Well thought out projects that meet the demands of our visitors will succeed. Poorly planned projects will fail regardless of the location of the LO.
Q: What about existing lodging outside the Lodging Overlay?
A: Existing lodging operations that are outside the LO are “grandfathered” and are allowed to continue their operation as is. If they need to replace their buildings they are allowed to replace what they currently have, so expanding the LO has no real impact on them.
Q: I live in the County, why should I worry about a Town Issue?
A: Every one should worry about expanding the LO regardless of where they live. Moving short term lodging from downtown will encourage a migration of services to outlying areas and willchange the character of our Town.