Affordable housing discussed

New City Council members sworn in today

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Of the nine items on the City Council's agenda today, half involve the swearing in and orientation of the four new or re-elected council members.

But when the introductions are over, the council will jump into business with a discussion of important citywide affordable housing issues.

To learn more about issues related to affordable housing, the city hired RRC Associates, as well as private consultant Melanie Reese to make a presentation last month. The council will review and field questions about the consultants' proposal tonight. The council also is expected to consider whether to hire the consultants to assist the city.

The first affordable housing item on the agenda is a zoning mandate that would require developers to include a percentage of affordable housing in residential developments. Council members will be able to review two sample ordinances for direction.

Developers generally are given a density bonus, are allowed to increase building height or receive other incentives when they include affordable housing in their projects. Density and height requirements also may be altered when developers provide more affordable units than they are required to build. The changes are meant to offset the cost associated with building affordable housing units, said Tom Leeson, the city's planning director.

City staff is recommending that Steamboat officials develop the city's zoning requirement without the assistance of the consultants.

City staff also has suggested that council members discuss whether to retain the consultants to advise the city about employee housing linkage. Employee housing linkage explores the relationship between commercial space and the employee need it creates. The employees who are hired will require housing, thus commercial developers are required to provide funds for the employees or build residential units. The units may or may not be the same as affordable housing, City Manager Paul Hughes said.

To reduce the chance that developers will challenge em--ployee housing linkage requirements, cities usually refer to nexus studies exploring the link. The consultants have offered to perform a study of commercial space in Steamboat. According to a staff report, the council should discuss whether to pay the consultants $18,500 to conduct the survey and related meetings, as well as produce a report. Council members are expected to discuss whether to hire the consultants tonight.

What: City council meeting

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

The council also is set to discuss whether to change the city's housing matrix. The matrix, which is part of the city's community development code, is a chart that defines concessions or subsidies the city will reward developers for building affordable housing.

The affordable housing issues on tonight's agenda are review topics, and council members are expected to give city staff direction on the issues.

Tonight's discussions are coming parallel to a crucial time for other affordable housing issues. The city's moratorium on new plans for the ski base area is set to end Nov. 30.

, and city officials have discussed affordable housing as it relates to the area. They also have reviewed affordable housing requirements for the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

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