Saturday, August 31, 2002
Steamboat Springs Keep character of town
I appreciate the newspaper taking the time and effort to tackle affordable housing as I believe that it is of critical importance to maintain the character of Steamboat. I also believe that we are on the very edge of this problem and if no solution is in the wings, it will become much, much worse. The fundamental thing that is driving the prices of the homes up is the effect of supply and demand. This fundamental will never change as long as Steamboat remains an attractive place to be. The solution also is centered in understanding how to develop properties targeted toward residents who are not presently owners but would like to be and that is not attractive to the second-home owner. To do that requires that this property be developed in sizes that the second-home owner does not want to buy and in locations that the second-home owner does not want to be. We all recognize that as you travel to the west on U.S. 40, it is less desirable. If a project were built west of town, on small lots, with restrictions on size and possibly construction, it would be less desirable and command less money. My thought is quarter-acre lots, no bigger than 1,500 square feet, and modular construction would get you there. Examples of this approach Riverside, Steamboat II, Copper Ridge and most trailer parks. While values have appreciated in these areas, they have not seen the appreciation that has occurred in more desirable areas. There are "ideas" that run contrary to supply and demand such as "appreciation being limited to 3 percent per year" (which would create a slum, what incentive do you have to fix it?) or intersperse affordable housing throughout the community (which would essentially raise the values of the affordable housing since it is in a more desirable location). I don't think these can work. Many, like myself, who have owned property through the climb in values, would love to have the character of Steamboat never change; however, we have all seen dramatic change and to think it will not continue is very shortsighted.
Other housing options
After reading all of the information and comments in the Aug. 28 special report on affordable housing, I thought that I should put in my two cents. It amazes me how the desire to live in Steamboat outweighs the reality of many residents' financial/housing situations. The fact that there are affordable places to rent and buy, located anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes away, seems to have missed many of those who want to live so badly in Steamboat. There is gorgeous country located in Yampa, Phippsburg, Oak Creek, Stagecoach, Hayden, Clark and yes, even Craig! In fact, the sole reason I moved from Denver was not to live in a "tourist mountain town" but to live in the mountains. Because Steamboat's economic situation is largely dependent upon tourists, the town will follow in the footsteps of every other small tourist town minimum-wage jobs, high costs, high turnover, seasonal residents, etc. Thus, creative ways of living within and around this community are needed. I moved from Steamboat to Oak Creek three years ago and would never dream of moving back into Steamboat. Maybe many of these people that feel the need to live in Steamboat need to expand their minds and realize that there are beautiful and affordable places to live close by. So stop whining.
Non-residents pay dues
I find it very interesting all the comments about the part-time residents not participating in the tax load for the local economy. I'm here about five weeks out of the year myself, and between my condo and piece of property I own, I pay about $8,000 or $9,000 per year in local property taxes. Also, in the weeks that I am here, I probably spend about $5,000 that goes to local sales tax. Plus we rent our condominium for about $36,000 in gross income and I think that's subject to the 4.5-cent city sales tax. So I really don't see how people can say non-residents don't contribute their tax share.
Why are the pods empty?
I'm calling about the buildings east of the clocktower in the Village. We call them the hexagon pods. They have been vacant about three years and the lot is not tended to. It doesn't seem proper that any individual should be allowed to keep such an eyesore. Some regulations should be proposed.
Water board questions
This is in regard to the consolidation of the water districts. It makes sense to consolidate the two districts, but I question the authority of an autonomous water board.
Pay attention, people
Just a quick vent at those who water their lawns for 12 straight hours, especially when it is raining. Is it ignorance or apathy? I'll bet that they would respond with a smug "I don't know or care!" Pay attention, people. We are in a pretty big drought, so let's all do our part to conserve water.