Towny Anderson

Towny Anderson

Towny Anderson: Our affordable housing quandary



Towny Anderson

Our fledgling inclusionary zoning ordinance, as it will be applied to our ski base area, has brought disagreements within our community into sharper focus. Ironically, I see this as a remarkable opportunity to find common ground and bring our community together to define our future.

The current fierce conversation is whether affordable housing units should be built on site or a fee-in-lieu should be granted to the developer. The inclusionary zoning ordinance allows for both, the latter at the sole discretion of City Council. In the quantitative analysis, building the units on site is a sure proposition whereas the fee-in-lieu is dependent upon the availability of land and the city's capability to get units built.

In the sociological analysis, the fee-in-lieu creates the perception that we will have a segregated community with affordable housing relegated to less desirable areas. On the other hand, there is a fear that qualified affordable homeowners living at the ski base area will be treated as "strangers in a strange land" and the ideal of recreating the community that existed 30 years ago will never be realized.

What about the qualitative analysis? One argument posits that Steamboat Springs has a history of rich and poor living as neighbors and friends - a democratic ideal that should be a part of any future vision for the base area. The opposing argument asks if we are truly a community with a resort (as distinct from a resort community), do we want to locate our affordable housing at the resort or in the community?

Unfortunately, the merits of each argument cannot be equitably evaluated because our current methodology for determining the fee-in-lieu is based upon the average purchase price per square foot for a house in Steamboat Springs. Because the price per square foot at the base area is projected to be the highest of any location in Steamboat, it was discarded and not even factored into the average purchase price calculation.

Here is an illustration of the current credibility gap regarding fee-in-lieu. Ninety housing units at the base area averaging 2,700 square feet a unit will conservatively sell for $900 a square foot. The gross revenues at sellout will be $218,700,000. Just 1 percent of gross revenues is $2.187 million.

Working from the 2006 Steamboat Springs Payment-in-lieu Calculation chart, the difference between the affordable purchase price and market rate cost per unit equalized at 900 square feet is $613,158. This compares to our current fee-in-lieu of $20,958 a unit. Thus, with a 15 percent administrative fee and 25 percent premium, 90 housing units at the base area would require 15.3 affordable units generating a $13,485,644 fee-in-lieu (15.3 units multiplied by $881,415 a unit). Using the current methodology and multipliers, those same 90 units will produce a $460,945 fee-in-lieu (15.3 units multiplied by $30,127 a unit). It is no wonder that our current fee-in-lieu has no credibility in the inclusionary zoning debate.

The future before us is to either integrate affordable housing into the resort base area in an attempt to establish a "community," or leverage the redevelopment of the base area to strengthen the community we already have and seek to preserve. Imagine an agreed upon fee-in-lieu that bridges the current credibility gap applied to the purchase of existing housing in our older neighborhoods and land that could be developed into new neighborhoods. We can define either future. We just have to choose:or have it chosen for us?

Towny Anderson is in his first term on the Steamboat Springs City Council. E-mail him at

Towny Anderson is a Steamboat Spriungs City Council member. Contact him at


townyanderson 10 years, 6 months ago

FACTSHEET: Reason Foundation

The Reason Foundation ... describes itself as "a leading voice for individual liberty, economic freedom, and dynamic market-based public policies." Reason Foundation's mission "upholds the classical liberal approach to seeking truth via rational discourse, free inquiry, and the scientific method. We support the rule of law, private property, and limited government."

Reason has an associated environment website which promotes conservative environmental policies. It also has a section praising the environmental stewardship of corporations such as ExxonMobil. Reason's Magazine also badmouths the environmental movement and promotes the interests of Reason's corporate contributers. Several authors of Reason's "Roadmap to Reform" were appointed by CA Gov. Schwarzenegger to his budget working group and transition team. Reason's second President, Lynn Scarlett, is now Assistant Secretary for Policy and Management at the US Department of the Interior under Secretary Gale Norton. Reason Foundation is also a member of the State Policy Network. According to the 1999 Reason Foundation Annual Report, top funders include: C. Boyden Gray and David Koch (each individually contributed $25,000 or more in 1999), the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the JM Foundation, Charles G. Koch Foundation, Lilly Endowmet, Scaife Family Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Sunmark Foundation. Corporate Donors in 1999 included: American Farm Bureau Federation, American Forest and Paper Association, American Petroleum Institute, American Plastics Council, ARCO Foundation, BP Amoco, CA Building Industry Association, Chemical Manufacturers Association, Chevron Corporation, Chlorine Chemistry Council, Clorox, Coca-Cola, American and Continental Airlines, Daimler Chrysler Corp, Dow Chemical, Eastman Chemical, Edison Electric Institute, ENRON, Exxon Mobil, FMC Corporation, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Kimberly-Clark, Koch Industries, Koch Materials, Eli Lilly, Microsoft, National Air Transportation Association, National Beer Wholesalers, National Soft Drink Association, Pfizer, Inc, Philip Morris, Procter and Gamble, Shell Oil, Sun America, Union Carbide Corporation, United Airlines, Western States Petroleum, Watson Land Company, Whole Foods Market, Winston and Strawn.

KEY QUOTES 24 February, 2004 "What we can say is that climate change has been a natural phenomena throughout the course of time. What impact do man's activities have on the Earth's natural climate cycles? That is still open to debate. Some would say none at all while others will say that it is dramatic." Source: Reason website 4/04


snowysteamboat 10 years, 7 months ago

All the time and money put into this figment would be better served providing increased bus service to the existing affordable housing stocks, Hayden and Craig.

Affordable housing programs screw those of us teachers, policemen and general professionals who are bright enough not to get stuck in a deed restricted product.


highmountain 10 years, 7 months ago

Council please wake up. It has taken a long time for the base area to begin the process of improvement. The council should be relieved of duty on the URA. All they have done is delay the process and many developers have/are looking elsewhere. Inclusionary zoning??? Look what it has done to the west area plan! Nothing. Shall I repeat.. NOTHING!! The Brown parcel with no regs would have been developed and there would be a supply of dwelling units. And you think the YVHA can manage this? WRONG again. Fox Creek Park makes this obvious. WAKE UP. Please post all these comments in Brenner's box and force him to read. He can read???


Steve Lewis 10 years, 6 months ago

I read the week of comments to your article Towny. It helped to paste the on-target comments into a reduced, less insulting array of comments. I thought these were fair, and I added some responses: 1) BOODOG "allow market forces to work without interference." HIGHMOUNTAIN "It has taken a long time for the base area to begin the process of improvement. The council should be relieved of duty on the URA"

Design Guidelines were recently adopted which add to the cost of, but significantly raise the Architectural standard at the base area. Visits to competing, more attractive ski area bases convinced me the regulation was needed for Steamboat's future. Disagree?

2) ANON "There is no entitlement due to people who are not willing to make the money necessary to buy their way in" I don't think this is about "tax the rich, feed the poor". I think people (including the base area developers who have been "at the table") agree its about workforce housing. If you are content, as a Steamboat business owner, that all of your carpenters, or managers, are driving from Craig and will never own a home closer to your place of business than Craig then your view is not represented at that "table". If you are content its about Hayden rather than Craig, your voice is represented. Say your new 100 condo building added 5 employees into this valley. Do you own any of the responsibility for fitting them in? Inclusionary Zoning essentially says, yes you do.

3) snowysteamboat "All the time and money put into this figment would be better served providing increased bus service to the existing affordable housing stocks, Hayden and Craig."

Manning Steamboat's essential services of teachers, nurses, policemen, firemen with people from Craig doesn't sound smart to me. From Hayden? Only a little smarter. Consider an exodus over time of workforce to Hayden that results in halving the workforce that lives in Steamboat while doubling Steamboat's population of 50-70 somethings. Would you support that? Only if you live in Hayden, I think.

4) HIGHMOUNTAIN "Inclusionary zoning, The Brown parcel with no regs would have been developed and there would be a supply of dwelling units."

Two years ago realtors put likely lot prices in the Brown parcel at $300,000 or more. Those units would be about a million each. How would that help a workforce housing need? Sure there would be construction jobs, but we've no shortage of those. To the contrary, there may be a shortage of workers.

5) snowysteamboat "Affordable housing programs screw those of us teachers, policemen and general professionals who are bright enough not to get stuck in a deed restricted product."

I agree the deed restrictions are not the best investment, though far better than none, with 3% annual appreciation and you aren't evaporating your money into rent. But I don't get how it screws anyone else?

-Steve Lewis


snowysteamboat 10 years, 6 months ago

Steve- It screws everyone because it raises the price of all the non deed restricted product.

Before a single affordable unit has been built under the new ordinance we have already seen a spike in home costs. This is largely out of fear to what it might do to the market.


Steve Lewis 10 years, 6 months ago

I think the Yampa Valley Housing Authority would say they've built 40-50 deed restricted units. Fox Creek was 30 of those, if indeed they are complete. I wonder if there is an occupation who, in your view, does deserve a "leg up" in owning in Steamboat. Teacher, nurse, EMT... anyone worth it to you? There have been no units built yet to satisfy the Inclusionary Zoning ordinance, thus I wouldn't agree the market has gone up from units still on paper. Also Wildhorse Meadows just sold more lots than expected. They are the 1st who would be impacted by I.Z. I concede when the units are built they will affect the market. But prices are already soaring from second home demand, and affordable housing is a trade every other resort town is taking to help their workers. Steamboat was the last in Colorado to take the step. Thanks for replying. But none of you responded to a Steamboat mostly inhabited by 60 year olds and devoid of thirtysoemthings with kids. Every other year or so I happen to look up just in time to see some athlete on a bike or skis huck some unbelievable move. I respect our old ranchers, but athletes who shred the hillsides are the soul of this valley to me. I hope they find a way to own it. They are worth it to me. -Steve Lewis


snowysteamboat 10 years, 6 months ago


While I admire your goal, it is the means that are so depressing. How many more of us would own homes if West of Steamboat had come online 5 years ago?

There are ways to providing for affordable housing without meddling with the market including silent second mortgages, state and federal monies etc.

IZ just is not the way to go.


Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.