A vision for housing

Brenner calls City Council meeting 'one of biggest ever'

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Golf spots open

At 4 p.m. today, the City Council will interview 10 applicants for the city's Golf Management Committee, which advises the council and city staff on matters pertaining to the Haymaker Golf Course. Following the interviews, the council will select the committee's five members, two of whom will serve a two-year term and three of which will serve a three-year term.

The applicants are Joe Armstrong, incumbent Jim Bowers, Michelle Diehl, Theodore Kahn, incumbent John Marshall, incumbent Suzi Mitchell, Tom Ptach, Fred Soller, Jr., incumbent John Vanderbloemen and Jim White.

If you go

What: Meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council

When: 5 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: For more information call city offices at 879-2060, or view the City Council agenda on the Web at www.ci.steamboat....>

— The Steamboat Springs City Council will take another step tonight toward defining the city's affordable housing policies, at a time of booming growth and rising real estate prices.

Although tonight's meeting is a work session, primarily for discussion with no action likely, City Council President Ken Brenner said the meeting is important for the council to establish a vision and set goals for maintaining affordable housing in Steamboat.

"To me, this will be one of the biggest meetings we've ever had," Brenner said. "To develop a comprehensive vision as to what the city is going to do about affordable housing is of great significance to the residents here. We have not, as a council, sat down and had this discussion."

Beginning at 5 p.m. at Centennial Hall on 10th Street, the council will meet with staff from RRC Associates, a research and consulting firm based in Boulder. RRC Associates has assisted city officials with several housing studies in Steamboat, including a community survey in 2005. The consultants met with the City Council in August and for a work session Oct. 4.

In a report outlining tonight's meeting, RRC staff emphasized the importance of a well-defined housing plan.

"The City Council should create a vision for housing in Steamboat and establish community housing goals before making specific decisions on potential linkage requirements or meeting with the (Yampa Valley) Housing Authority to discuss roles, responsibilities and objectives," recommended Wendy Sullivan of RRC Associates, and Melanie Rees of Rees Consulting, Inc. "A vision and goals are needed in order to determine how a housing linkage program should be structured to achieve desired outcomes and to complement inclusionary zoning and other efforts that may be pursued by the city or housing authority."

Linkage is a policy that requires new commercial developments to also provide affordable housing units for a portion of its workers.

The council tonight also will address the city's calculation of fee-in-lieu payments, which the city can allow developers to pay instead of building the required affordable housing on site.

Brenner said the city's housing plan should include multiple mechanisms, such as zoning requirements, incentives for developers, partnerships with public groups, and revenue generation through fees and taxes.

"I think the key will be that we develop a multi-faceted plan that balances the impact of providing affordable housing evenly throughout our community," Brenner said. "We need to use a balance of all these different tools."

Future housing work sessions are scheduled for January and February, meaning the council is at least two months away from making substantive changes to city housing policies.

Brenner said those changes cannot come too soon.

"Next year, we will probably see the biggest housing construction boom in the city's history," he said.

He cited projects - either approved or pending approval - such as The Olympian at Fifth and Yampa streets, Riverwalk on the east end of Yampa Street, Wildhorse Meadows adjacent to the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, One Steamboat Place at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, the Howelsen Place and Alpenglow projects downtown, and Steamboat Barn Village near the Yampa Valley Medical Center.

All of those projects are subject to the city's inclusionary zoning requirements.

"The housing regulations put in place will simply guarantee that a percentage of this new growth is permanently available to the workforce here," Brenner said. "I would like the council to go through an adoption process that sets a housing plan for Steamboat Springs."

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