Tuesday night was a first for me. It was the first time I've truly been afraid while living in Steamboat.
Not afraid of bears or the Rainbows, but of City Council and the decisions the council is trying to make regarding affordable housing. It is evident in sitting through one of the comical sessions that the last three years of "studying" the affordable housing issue has brought the council no closer to a solution and done nothing to educate them about what is actually taking place.
The banter between the council was truly jaw-dropping. One minute they would agree on something and the next they would agree on the exact opposite. Dellinger made the comment that if there was no employee housing on-site that hotels, etc, could not operate because they had no employees. Madam Chair Dellinger, have you been to the base area recently or downtown for that matter? Every establishment in Steamboat has plenty of employees and is running very well.
I especially liked the part when council discussed not allowing Loui Antonucci to vote on certain items because he was building a commercial building and would be negatively impacted financially by the ordinance. However, they failed to recognize that Dellinger's adamant concerns for affordable housing are rooted in her own financial inability to afford construction of her house. She benefits from an ordinance like this and yet she is allowed to lead the discussion and decision making for the entire community. Wow.
Another fun part of the evening was the discussion eliminating the vested approvals clause and/or shortening the time period that a project is exempt. The conversation actually made it all the way to retro-implementing the IZ ordinance and the linkage program in projects such as Wildhorse, Bear Claw III, One Steamboat Place - any project that hasn't pulled its building permit yet. Well, why stop there? Why not retro-charge the Crawfords' original construction or maybe send a bill to the developers of the original Harbor Hotel (who cares if it has been torn down). We could send a "payment due" to Buddy Werner for even dreaming of a resort. In fact, back charge those who built the first jumps on Howelsen Hill because, we need our affordable housing and no one who has ever built anything in the history of Steamboat is getting away without paying; dead or alive.
Anyway, each member of the council had plenty of idiotic comments to share. The only bright lights of the night were Tom Leeson and Loui Antonucci, who brought some sense of logic to the debates. Leeson served as a would be cat herder, leading the council in understanding issues they should have gotten down over the last three years. It's actually fun to watch an employee tell the "bosses" what needs to be done.
But what can they do? Maybe they should create a housing authority to take care of the issue. Oh wait, they did and it's now almost bankrupt. Maybe they should hire a consultant (someone from out of town with a briefcase claiming to be an expert). Oh wait, they did that too and it provided the council with lots of paper and not a lot of action.
Maybe the council should ask for the help of the very people they are trying to punish, the developers. At least they know how to make money and what it takes to have good employees in a town like Steamboat. And by the way, in case you haven't heard, a little company named Intrawest just shelled out $265 million to make Steamboat into a world-class resort, and they're probably not going to put up with the antics of City Council for long. Maybe they'll just do their own thing and leave the council behind.