Steamboat Springs Urged onward by City Council, City Manager Paul Hughes is prepared to hand the councilors the first draft of a proposal tonight to establish a linkage program to support affordable housing. There may not be any vote on the proposal tonight, but the details of the program, including figuring the number of employees generated by each kind of business and the percentage of those employees that must be provided housing by the employer, will likely be discussed, Hughes said.
Councilman Ken Brenner spearheaded the effort to get this legislation passed before any more large development projects received permits. Some council members, however, don't think it will be easy pushing this program through.
"My sense is that this is going to be more complicated than most of council thinks," Councilman Jim Engelken said.
Hughes said he had attempted to get a consultant to speak to council about linkages tonight but was unable to find one available.
The linkage program, in essence, would attempt to make the people who cause the need for affordable housing help fill that need. Owners of new businesses would have to provide housing for a percentage of the employees generated by their businesses.
That doesn't mean the owner would have to pay for the employees' housing, but it would mean he would have to find a way to create affordable housing for the employees. It would not affect current businesses, City Attorney Tony Lettunich said.
No jurisdictions demand that new employers provide 100 percent of their employees with housing. In mountain communities in Colorado such as Steamboat Springs, the highest percentage is 60 percent, required in Aspen and Snowmass Village, Hughes said.
There are a number of ways an employer can fulfill the housing requirement in other communities.
Oftentimes, the business owner can team with other business owners to buy or build a multifamily development or he or she can add apartments onto the business. Some jurisdictions allow owners to submit a cash payment or buy land in lieu of creating residences.
As with impact fees, the city must establish a connection between new development and the need for housing before it can impose the program on new businesses.