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Mountain News: Getting a grip on the size of internet-based rentals

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. — Ski towns of the West continue to struggle with how to deal with the power of internet-based vacation rentals, gaining the benefits but also the revenues while ensuring that neighbourhoods don't get trashed.

In South Lake Tahoe, located on the California-Nevada border, city officials recently heard from a Bay Area firm that offers a suite of services designed to manage the vacation home rental sector on behalf of towns, cities, and counties.

As reported by Lake Tahoe News, Host Compliance has software that it claims is time-efficient in monitoring the private homes being advertised on the internet for rentals. It monitors primarily the listings on Expedia, TripAdvisor, Airbnb and their 25 subsidiaries. South Lake Tahoe currently does this manually.

Fluidity characterizes the market of vacation rentals in South Lake Tahoe. For example, 1,832 homes became available for short-term rental in South Lake Tahoe last year while 1,488 were de-activated.

The company said its 70 clients in the United States can earn three to five times the return of investment through added revenue collection of taxes that above-ground rental businesses must pay for short-term rentals.

Lake Tahoe News said many in South Lake Tahoe complain that ordinances governing short-term rentals have not been enforced.

In Colorado, Crested Butte town officials have decided to charge US$750 per property for unlimited short-term rentals and US$200 for a license that would go to primary residents who want to rent their homes out for a little extra cash, but at a maximum of 60 days or nights a year.

In effect, there was no fee before, save for a $100 business licence, noted the Crested Butte News. "I think a lot of people will stop doing short-term rentals at the unlimited level when they have to pay $1,500," predicted Councillor Paul Merck.

Dreamers march to protest Trump's proposed policy

JACKSON, Wyo. — A march on behalf of the American dream was conducted in Jackson on a recent Saturday. But it was a quiet one. Many of the marchers had taped their mouths shut with black Xs.

Marchers wanted to bring attention to the Donald Trump administration's vow to end the legal protections for children of immigrants under the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The DACA children have been called "dreamers."

Dreamers who had been brought up in Jackson but without legal status were cheered as they walked on the city's streets. "These people are here through no fault of their own," Carol Wauters told the Jackson Hole News&Guide. "They are contributing to our society and our culture, and trying very hard to be responsible people, I think we should reward that instead of punishing them."

The News&Guide told the story most poignantly through the lives of individuals such as Maggie Ordonez. She grew up playing in the park, visiting the local library, and delighting in the sugary confections at Jackson's candy store.

Until she was a freshman at Jackson Hole High School, she had no idea she was undocumented. She had arrived in the United States when she was seven years old.

"I couldn't start taking driver's ed. Things like that, you can't do," she said. "You have to be cautious."

Then came DACA in 2012, offering immigrants who had entered the U.S. illegally as minors protection from deportation and making them eligible for work permits. That allowed Ordonez to get a social security number and a Wyoming driver's license, which in turn gave her access to higher-level jobs.

"Sometimes people take these things for granted, but they are basically your identity," she said. "Before DACA, I didn't have any identity. I didn't have anything to show who I am."

In Colorado, Claudia Garcia told much the same story to the Telluride Daily Planet

. Arriving in the United States at age six, she discovered at age 16 she was different than her peers, because she was ineligible to get a driver's licence.

Then came DACA, which led to her employment by a Dallas family as a nanny. The family visited Telluride regularly, and that's how she decided to move there, too.

DACA does not deliver her citizenship. She described it as "somewhere between being undocumented and having a visa — because with a visa you actually have a pathway to citizenship."

This halfway world comes with a price: She must reapply every two years, and it costs her $2,000 in attorney and application fees.

Her bottom line: "I consider myself American, but I just don't have the right documentation."

Jasper to get crosswalk painted in rainbow hues

JASPER, Alberta — Jasper municipal councillors have decided to allow a pedestrian crosswalk painted with the rainbow colours commonly used to identify the gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender community.

OUT Jasper, the local applicant, must bear the cost for the painting and maintenance of the crosswalk. Under the new policy adopted by Jasper, it must reapply after two years. Others may also apply for non-standard crosswalks under the new rules, reported the Jasper Fitzhugh.

The rainbow colours actually don't represent sexual identity, but rather beneficial aspects of life, according to Mychol Ormandy, executive director of OUT Jasper. Red is for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, and violet for human spirit — inclusive to everybody, he said.

But one council member, Gilbert Wall, remained opposed — not because he objects to various sexual identities. "I will proudly walk across the rainbow crosswalk. So will my family," he said during a council meeting. But he said he continues to oppose such symbols that reflect group identities as he believes they encourage "divisive politics."

Snowmass tepidly considers sale of cannabis products

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. — Snowmass Village councillors plan to get the opinions of voters in coming months to see if there is interest in allowing sales of medical marijuana or recreational marijuana, or both.

Colorado began allowing sales of marijuana for recreational purposes in January 2014. A theme quickly emerged. Those towns that tend to be most liberal legalized sales. Sales commenced in Aspen, Crested Butte, and Telluride. But their adjacent slope-side towns — Snowmass Village, Mount Crested Butte, and Mountain Village, all more conservative by nature — decided to wait and see.

Increased tax revenues remain attractive to towns, though. Tax collections have increased from US$76 million in Colorado in 2014 to US$200 million in 2016, according to the July study by a company called VS Strategies.

Meanwhile, cannabis purveyors in Colorado have a new restriction effective Oct. 1. Edibles infused with THC, the primary psychoactive agent of marijuana, cannot be in the shapes of humans, animals or fruits, whether artistic or cartoonish in their renderings.

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