No easy solution

City Council gets an earful on housing policies, tables revisions

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Blue skies and puffy white clouds are reflected in the windows of the Steamboat Springs Airport on Tuesday afternoon near a sign posting the operating hours for Bob Adams Field. The City Council on Tuesday voted to hire Denver consultants Matrix Design Group for a comprehensive study of Steamboat Springs Airport and its local economic impact, cost of operations and scenarios for alternate uses of the 255-acre site.

— Creating a one-size-fits-all affordable housing policy may be an impossible task for the Steamboat Springs City Council.

After several hours of discussion Tuesday night, and after hearing extensive public comment from business owners, developers, homeowners and community representatives, the City Council tabled any action on proposed revisions to the city's inclusionary zoning ordinance, which regulates how the city provides and funds affordable housing.

The City Council voted to continue the first reading of the ordinance at a meeting May 1. Councilman Paul Strong was absent.

The City Council approved two resolutions that support eventual adoption of a controversial linkage policy. Linkage would require residential and commercial developers to compensate the city, either by a fee or by construction of affordable homes, for a percentage of the market-rate housing units or employees created by their new development.

But debate arose about whether a linkage policy, which would assess thousands of dollars in fees or construction costs, should apply to developments already approved by the city or only to development applications filed after the revised inclusionary ordinance is adopted.

Several development projects both in downtown Steamboat Springs and at the base of Steamboat Ski Area - such as Riverwalk on Yampa Street and Wildhorse Meadows on Mount Werner Road - have city approval but have not yet filed for all the building permits required for multi-year construction, or for any building permit at all.

"The city could legally apply (linkage) to any building permit that comes in after adoption of the ordinance," city planning director Tom Leeson said.

City Council President Pro-tem Steve Ivancie said projects already approved should not be charged additional linkage fees.

"I think it's a question of changing the rules mid-stream," Ivancie said. "To change it after the fact is unfair."

City Council President Susan Dellinger countered that missing out on the large number of projects currently in the pipeline would cost the city valuable dollars for affordable housing.

"The only thing we'll really be able to look at in the future is West Steamboat," Dellinger said. "We're going to have buildings come up with no housing linked to them - we're not solving the problem."

Brent Pearson of Wildhorse Meadows developers Resort Ventures West noted that during the project's approval process last summer, issues of trust between the City Council and developers were often discussed.

"It seems your approval is not really an approval," Pearson said. "If this type of thing starts to happen, I think that trust factor gets taken away."

Representatives from the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority spoke in favor of the council's efforts to revise the inclusionary zoning ordinance.

"Many of our residents don't feel there is a place for them here," said Housing Authority executive director Elizabeth Black.

Also Tuesday, the City Council voted to hire Denver consultants Matrix Design Group for a comprehensive study of Steamboat Springs Airport. The $100,000 study will examine the facility's local economic impact and cost of operations and scenarios for alternate uses of the 255-acre airport site.

While several members of a committee appointed by the council recommended not conducting the study, citing the financial unfeasibility of alternate uses for the airport, Ivancie disregarded that recommendation Tuesday.

"I don't think it's the committee's place to decide whether we're going to do that (study) or not," Ivancie said. "I'm all in favor of spending that money and approving this contract."

- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203

or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

another_local 7 years, 6 months ago

Let's have a study to determine whether a consultant can help us evaluate whether an outside advisor should assist in measuring the impact of the study that the other consultant told us we needed..........

Give us break council. Stop wasting money on this nonsense.

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Gadfly 7 years, 6 months ago

Right on, local. Perhaps there's a silver lining to this council's being "bogged down" on everything? As bad as that is, it's even worse when they actually make a decision. Consultants must be swarming to Steamboat like ants to a picnic.

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 6 months ago

clevedave, come on lets face it not every where is for every body, that is the system, I am frustrated there is not a place for me in Florence, Italy, or Monte Carlo, or even Aspen, for that matter, things are tough...

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marathon 7 years, 6 months ago

Here we go again! We have a council President who has an agenda, doesn't do her homework first, pushes through an action, gets public outcry and now wastes more moeny on consultants - does this ring a bell??? Hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted by this council - its time for a change. There is NO leadership on this council. We as citizens have to stop this mis-use of our taxpayer dollars - its absurd!!!

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elphaba 7 years, 6 months ago

That's right Council - appoint a committee and then ignore their work and input and spend money on someone from outside for a study. Don't like their answer? Put it in the warehouse with the hundreds of other studies that have been paid for that didn't fit the pre-determined agenda of Council. Is there a secondary market for the City to sell all these second-hand studies to another community? We could fund lots of things with that!

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Ilike2dv8 7 years, 6 months ago

It shouldn't take much for even the uninformed citizen to see that this city council is out of control. The decisions and actions they have taken are criminal (at least philosophically speaking). The amount of time and money that has been wasted is way beyond reason. They have absolutely no concern or regard for affordable housing, this is about growth control. IZ and Linkage are very poor growth control tools that will continue to sky rocket prices and hurt those most intended to benefit. Trust me, they know this too:

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agentofchange 7 years, 6 months ago

SIMPLE: RECALL COUNCIL !! NOW We need to get rid of at least 4 of them, and you know who they are.

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marathon 7 years, 6 months ago

So how do we get started? or should we wait until the election gets going and make every attempt to get these uneducated ego maniacs out? Don't know much about politics, some of us need help on how to start. I hope it is not too late.

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another_local 7 years, 6 months ago

At this point we have an election on the horizon as it is. Much as I would like to see several of them gone right away, it would be a waste of effort and money. Just go to the meetings and speak up to slow down the process until the election later this year.

Five of the seven seats are up for election this time around. If you have an interest, get on the ballot, work with like-minded candidates to form a slate of more reasonable, practical and EXPERIENCED people and lets change some things around here!

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marathon 7 years, 6 months ago

thank you - I will keep reading this forum to keep abreast too. I have many interested friends who are fed up and just do not know what to do.

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agentofchange 7 years, 6 months ago

Yes, the election process is where it's at. I do like the Tar & Feather idea. The "slow-down" tactic is a must. My idea of "Recall" is born out of frustration with the "Socialistic" agenda of this Council.

Your are right on "Ilike2dv8", the general public out there, goes about their business, not knowing anything about what Market effects will come about due to Linkage, etc. The general public probably thinks I'm a wacko for opposing Councils idea of so-called "affordable housing.

We DO NOT NEED AFFORDABLE HOUSING DONE COUNCIL'S WAY! We need incentives for developers to bring "ENTRY LEVEL HOUSING", with no deed restrictions on line !!

Of course the Pilot doesn't help in any way, like actually interviewing people who know what the real ramifications to the "Retail Housing Market" will be if these nuts get their way with "Linkage", etc.

We need to fill these Council meetings with people who are vocal, and call these clowns on the carpet. Tell everyone you know, before this becomes the "REBUBLIC OF STEAMBOAT".

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jlkar 7 years, 6 months ago

What about electing a Mayor? Then someone could be held accountable.

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agentofchange 7 years, 6 months ago

We don't have a Mayor. It is not in our home rule charter.

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 6 months ago

agentof change , you are no wacko, you are a good thinker who happens to be closer to correct on this topic, people will learn the hard way, once a city gets into twisting the natural order of things, namely a free market system there is no going back, it just gets bad then worse, more people end up offended and angry, and it is impossible to reverse the damage, that's whats wacko...........

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another_local 7 years, 6 months ago

Attend planning commission meetings as well. If anything, the crew there is even farther to the left. They need to hear from folks that there are other views!

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agentofchange 7 years, 6 months ago

Thanks... back at ya ! How is it that few people see what is really going on ? The whole idea of Linkage is just so wrong. Penalize the "doers" in the name of entitlement. Unreal !! Of course, "it takes a village". Gag me.

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Watcher 7 years, 6 months ago

This is really the question:

Are affordable-housing efforts a public subsidy to employers with low-paying jobs? What will be their incentive to pay higher wages if the city insures that their workers can live here in 'low cost or affordable/subsidized housing? IF they can't get workers because of high housing costs then the employers will either have to provide housing or pay better wages so that their workers can afford to live within a reasonable distance.

Those of us who have worked for many years in order to be able to buy a house will have to pay extra money to the city in order to enlarge our homes. What's up with that?

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elphaba 7 years, 6 months ago

Congratulatioms to our brilliant Council for enacting policy that will raise the price of all existing housing and price most professional level people out of the market. This group is either totally self-serving or unbelievably dumb. There is no middle ground.

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 6 months ago

watcher.......another good thinker...........economics 101, council needs to go back to school.

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agentofchange 7 years, 6 months ago

Editor Scott; I know you read this stuff... why not have a public forum ?

I know the venue is the City Meetings, however we could get this out in the open. Scott, there is a real economic travesty going on here. If you agree with what Council is doing... we are going nowhere with my suggestion.

As you know most people read the news at an 8th grade level. If you want real debate... put your thinking cap on. You are in charge of "the local media" here in River City, what do you think ?? Let's put this infront of the public, again.

Of course, you would probably want us to spend $$$ in the TODAY to once again bring this to the public's attention, in order to raise revenues.

We could have a "real public exchange". Any thoughts ?

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OnTheBusGus 7 years, 6 months ago

Why does affordable housing have to require ownership? I would like a reasonable place to rent. Yes, rent. I'm not talking about Mountain Village. How about a townhome community where residents can have pets, pay reasonable rent on their Steamboat wages and live happily. It's not all about home ownership!!

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jeannie berger 7 years, 6 months ago

It's called buying a trailer and hoping the land isn't sold out from under you. It's just renting the land. That is the entry level housing. But hey I have a great view of the mountain and the river right out back, two dogs and a fenced in yard, low taxes, live in town. Just wish I could buy the property under the trailer. BTW I make to much to qualify for so called low income housing but not enough to afford anything in Routt county.

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inmate2007 7 years, 6 months ago

OBG I agree what ever happened to the idea of Rent Control ? Wait I know the landlords loath it, investors shy from it and the realtor's (largest class in SS) can't sell it. Sad to say the ruling class in Steamboat are to self interested to entertain this classic social program that could provide the low income workers they so desire.

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OnTheBusGus 7 years, 6 months ago

Sadly, I had a great trailer at West Acres. I sold it because I thought I was moving away from here but I returned a bit over a year later (that darn curse!) to find that I was priced out of the market. Yeah, I know, I'm an idiot. The point is, that I would gladly move into a rent controlled place.

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 6 months ago

gentle persons, equipped with my 2.5 in econ 101, I know rent controls do not work either, hence, Amsterdam, Santa Monica, and New York City, check um out, in the long run, it's a failure for the people who need help the most....sorry, we are gonna have to pay.

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inmate2007 7 years, 6 months ago

So is rent control worse then the promise of restricted ownership? To me they are just the same failure bound to happen, the only difference is who profits from the policy.

Since the free market works so well who can name the resort town that depends on free market forces to provide for their labor force? If there isn't one does that mean that free market is also a failure waiting to happen?

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thecondoguy1 7 years, 6 months ago

sbvor, excellent work with references and facts, you got to be the one with the 3.5 in econ 101 they are talking about, good job................ If clevedave doesn't mind to much I will kiss up to you as well, you are another good thinker able to put it across and back it up, thanks again....................

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