Officials support Two Plus plan

City, county endorse affordable housing recommendations

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— The City Council and county commissioners supported the affordable housing recommendations made by the Two Plus Housing Committee.

During Tuesday's joint meeting, the two entities endorsed the letter that was written in January. The committee recommended a multijurisdictional housing authority, impact fee and mill levy, exclusionary zoning, a task force to remove regulatory barriers and the elimination of an improvement tax proposed for development in the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

"I think the point of crux is the committee believes affordable housing is necessary infrastructure for a healthy community," County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said. "I think that is the bottom line for all of these recommendations."

Created from the opponents and proponents of the failed 2000 city excise tax for affordable housing, the Two Plus Housing Committee asked the two governing boards for feedback on its five recommendations.

The council directed staff to come back with a resolution adopting the five-page document, which would provide a chance for public comment.

As part of its support, the council agreed to evaluate and possibly eliminate the tax that will be imposed on all new development in the West of Steamboat Area Plan. The same plan also targets that area as part of the city's affordable housing solution and requires that a third of all development meet affordable housing criteria.

So far, the Regional Affordable Living Foundation's West End Village Project is the only development that has been approved for that area.

"The west of Steamboat plan is not working. It needs to be evaluated," RALF Executive Director Rob Dick said. "I have talked to many developers and some developers many times. They have tried to put projects together and have all come to the conclusion that after you pay for land, after you pay for infrastructure, after you pay for the tax, the projects are not going to work, especially with affordable housing."

Dick also said even if projects would go up in the area, the people who live there are going to resent the tax over time.

The council agreed the tax needed to be evaluated but would not go so far as to say it should be eliminated. Councilman Paul Strong said if the tax is lifted, the city has to look at how growth in that community will pay for the added demands it puts on the city.

"We have to weigh getting affordable housing over trying to provide services to citizens," he said.

The board also supported the idea of a housing authority that would not engage in the building or construction business and use no more than 5 percent of the money raised by the authority for operating expenses.

The group also supported funding the authority through an impact fee of $1 per square foot of new construction and a 1 mill levy within the authority boundary.

City Manager Paul Hughes also said the city could set up a time during the TAC meetings that could work through regulatory barriers in the planning and building process.

The council and commissioners discussed the same letter and recommendations in January and decided to talk to nearby towns about forming a housing authority. After meeting with Yampa, Oak Creek and Hayden officials this summer, the idea of a housing authority was put on hold.

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