City considers polling second-home owners

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The county's refusal to participate in a second-home owners' study has the city looking to poll rural residents itself.

At Tuesday's Steamboat Springs City Council meeting, Councilman Ken Brenner asked staff to look at what the cost of a second-home owners' study would be if surveys were sent outside the city limits. He suggested including homes in the Steamboat Springs School District or the Steamboat Springs Rural Fire Protection District.

Brenner worried that if only the city's second-home owners' data is included in the survey, the information would not be comparable to other mountain communities that have the data organized by county.

In the fall, the council decided to join the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments and participate in its study of second-home owners. The NCCOG had done a similar study for Pitkin, Eagle, Summit and Grand counties.

The city will have a survey done to bring its data up to date with the four-county study and then join them in the second phase of the survey.

Routt County Manager Tom Sullivan said the commissioners made the decision a few months ago not to do the survey. Sullivan said that with the information from the first NCCOG study, community members were able to extrapolate the influence of second-home owners in Routt County.

"We felt that information is all that we needed to understand the impacts of second-home owners," Sullivan said. "The commissioners didn't feel like it would be a value to participate in that study."

City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said the city's data would not be comparable to the countywide data that other governments had done.

"This is not going to be comparable to other communities. It is county data rather than municipal data, but we still will have the information you want to know about second-home owners," DuBord said.

To have the city pay for a study of second-home owners in all of Routt County could more than double the cost, DuBord said. The council agreed to have NCCOG figure out how much it would cost to expand the study to just outside the city limits, where many second-home owners live.

For $14,350 plus an annual $11,000 membership fee, NCCOG said it would do the first phase of the city's second-home owners' study, include the city in its second phase and update the community survey.

Councilwoman Nancy Kramer noted that 55 percent of residences inside the city limits are second homes, regardless of countywide statistics.

"It is still going to be of some value," she said.

Completed in summer 2004, one of the study's main findings was that second homes increase the demand for jobs -- mostly in the service industry. At the same time that more lawn-mowing and house-cleaning type jobs are needed, the people working those jobs have a harder time affording to live there because of the increasing cost of housing.


-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229 or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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