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In the Mountain West—“God’s country, renter’s hell,” as one alt-weekly tagged it—where towns are already chronically beset by housing shortages, traffic problems, and the invariable ambivalence about sharing one’s slice of heaven with the tourists who help sustain it, the entrance of Airbnbs and VRBOs and Home Aways has heightened the tension.

Some places, including Boulder and Denver, have passed tough regulations that permit only primary residents to rent out their properties for short periods.

From Barcelona to Boston, the world has been grappling with the ­arrival of home-sharing platforms.

Amid any number of skirmishes—neighbor against neighbor, tourist against townie, lobbyist against legislator—cities have scrambled to get a handle on this “wild west” (one of the most common descriptors of the new home-rental landscape) and rushed to enact regulations. In Flagler County, Florida, just north of Daytona Beach, 150 people turned out for a March meeting over a bill, backed by home-­rental companies, that would limit how ­local governments can regulate short-term rentals, or STRs, as they are now frequently ­abbreviated.

He has tracked down countless leads and joined multiple waiting lists for deed-restricted housing reserved for local workers, which comprises 21 percent of the town.

He does not own a dog, ­despite his kids’ pestering, to make ­himself a more attractive tenant.

This is precisely the drama playing out in Crested Butte, and Barker has found himself cast in an unwanted walk-on part.

“I’m literally losing sleep over the fact that I don’t know where I’m going to be living in a few months,” he tells me.

But to revise the old saw, the singular of data is anecdote. I wondered what part I—as the consumer of an STR—was playing in this story.It’s often referred to as the last great American ski town, a distinction that locals, despite acknowledging it with a hint of self-deprecating smirk, do not really go out of their way to dispute.Phenomenal skiing aside, it is the sort of place where doors go unlocked (except, occasionally, to keep bears out); where locals on the Crested Butte Bitch and Moan Facebook page gripe about tourists (typi­cally Texans) exceeding the 15-mile-per-hour speed limit downtown; where powder days mean closed stores and canceled meetings; where even the gas pumps at the local Shell station seem to take things just a bit more slowly.“The manager said, ‘I know you have kids, but the owners are thinking about turning your place into a VRBO.You should probably start looking.’ ” Barker suddenly found himself in the eye of a gathering social and economic storm, caused by the rise of the online short-term rental.

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