Our View: Housing policy needs work

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The Steamboat Springs City Council was right to delay action on its revised inclusionary zoning ordinance.

On Tuesday, the council heard hours of discussion about the ordinance. Once the input was finished, the council took the only realistic step it could. It tabled action for another time.

We support city policies aimed at increasing the supply of affordable housing in Steamboat Springs and the surrounding area. Such housing is vital to the stability of our workforce and thus the long-term economic health of our community. We think an ordinance that spurs the creation of such housing is appropriate.

But we have yet to feel confident, in the original ordinance or the revised one, that the city has it right. Above all, we fear the council still is trying too hard to force developers to build the wrong kind of housing in the wrong place. And we fear the linkage requirements are so over-reaching that they will be an impediment to, rather than catalyst for, affordable housing.

The basic premise of the inclusionary zoning ordinance has remained the same. The law requires 15 percent of the units in any new residential development that includes three or more units to be community housing. The ordinance defines community housing as housing subject to income guidelines, size limits and deed restrictions. The new ordinance would allow developers to build the community housing off-site, but would eliminate the chance for the developer to pay a fee in lieu of building the required housing. We think that's a mistake.

The ordinance includes a linkage requirement for all commercial and residential development of 1,200 square feet or more. Under linkage, developers pay a fee for community housing relative to the impact the development will have on the need for housing. Linkage has worked well in other resort towns such as Aspen, Telluride and Crested Butte.

Most of the frustration with the new rules is that the linkage requirement would apply not only to major developments, but also to almost everyone else including nonprofits and do-it-yourselfers. Developers subject to the 15 percent housing requirement also would have to pay a linkage fee. Institutions, such as the nonprofit library and the nonprofit hospital, would have to pay linkage fees on their building plans. The guy down the street who wants to expand his house by 1,300 square feet would have to pay a linkage fee. And it isn't clear if developments already approved by the city would still have to pay linkage fees.

These new fees will generate lots of money for community housing, assuming of course, they don't discourage development altogether. But how that money will be used isn't clear. The city hasn't defined what it will do with the fees, and the ordinance makes scant mention of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, the agency the city created together with the county to address affordable housing in the region.

It is our sense that the city's greatest workforce housing needs include modest single-family homes and more rental unit options. It seems most logical that this housing can best be built in areas west of the city. It would be good to see policy that designed to spur such housing. Unfortunately, it seems neither the original inclusionary zoning ordinance nor the revised version is such a policy.

Comments

agentofchange 7 years ago

Finally ! Thank you Scott. Here's the real deal here in River City. We have a need for "Entry Level Housing", not entitlement.

We need "Entry Level Housing" with no deed restrictions, and major incentives to the private sector to put that type of housing on line. What does the Yampa Valley Housing Authority actually do? I do know this, they ask for money. Ok, they make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. But not this little back duck.

As far as this notion that planning and council have about "just charging everyone money", and the situation will get better... they all need to read the story of the Goose and a Golden Egg.

The original ordinance and the revised, is "heavy handed", "socailist in form and substance", and just plain wrong.

It will come as a horrific shock to planning and council that solutions to this situation do not need to come from government. Certainaly not the current Steamboat Springs government.

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agentofchange 7 years ago

clevedave, we really need to talk. I don't know where you are getting these ideas, and I'm having troble following your syntax. You seem to be offbase.

I can answer the question about "how does increasing the supply of affordable housing make prices go up" ?

It has to do largely with "how that number of so-called affordable housing" is "placed" or "forced" into the Market.

If that "new inventory" is "forced", (though linkage, or other government tactics) it will decrease the free market from "placing" voluntary new inventory on line, hence the upward price point. In addition, the increased price tag to developers, individuales, and the Hospital, increase price point upward.

When this happens, and it will if that perfect storm is allowed to take place... it's not pretty for the very people we want to assist.

In addition, do you really trust this Council to "take care" of all of the proposed dollars from the proposed linkage? Good Golly Miss Molly! Stand back, there's a fox in the henhouse.

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thecondoguy1 7 years ago

clevedave, you just recieved a brilliant, lucid, accurate economic thesis, free of charge by 2 smart people. To think I paid good money for college lectures, that were not as consise and useful towards an advanced degree in business, economics, and finance. these guys are good, say thanks....................

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thecondoguy1 7 years ago

oh, man, now I have to kiss up to hash_, as well as agent, sbvor, and others, another clear thinker, vivid on the points that make you think.............. captalism is beautiful, even for us who have to struggle. cleve, are you paying attention? Regards to all...........

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agentofchange 7 years ago

hash, your points are well taken, however... I know there is a better way to provide "Entry Level Housing", rather then this Socalist idea that Ken Brenner and Council have.

I am not asking a builder to give up profit. I am asking government to give permit, tap etc., incentives to builders in order to bring this product on line.

By the way, "government can conspire", but the free market connot! I am a "free market guy", however Council and planning will do somthing about what they call "affordable housing", and we need to stop them, by showing them another direction.

I am not in favor of subdividing the Nat'l Forest. (where did that come from) There is land here, it however is not in the City of Steamboat. I am against "entitlement" !

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agentofchange 7 years ago

hash, credit to your points, however, if another method is not given to Council & Planning, they WILL figure out some "voter-proof" way to turn the Socailist method into a reality.

So, while you are "dissecting the Anchoviy" here, I and others are looking forward to the future. By the way, if YVHA actually puts you on the payroll, without a funding scource, don't write any checks till the YVHA check clears.

In the meantime, I will eat the Anchovy!! I still love your ideas. Cheers.

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thecondoguy1 7 years ago

Hash, I used to love to build, it was just so hard to make any money, I studied architecture and wanted to be an artist, even art cost money, it's the capatilistic system, it all costs money. People are happy to have you work for nothing, I went back to school and studied, real estate, construction management, business management, finance, economics and painfully, ACCOUNTING, it is ALL about the accounting, I don't care what business your are in. Home building has to be treated like a outdoor manufacturing process, planning, profit, management, and risk has got to be priced in. I would not lift a finger untill I knew I could pay my bills, make a profit, and provide for my future, look at John Elway, he did not break his neck for nothing, neither should you. lots of luck at all you do............

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thecondoguy1 7 years ago

cleve,cleve,cleve, you have some great points and certainly a viable argument, it is just that free market conditions is the only thing that works to provide for those who struggle, the harder they try the more expensive housing is going to get, left alone we can get an education, work hard, save our money, make some sacrafices, and get a piece of the pie, most of us were not born with a diaper full of benjamins. I know my beloved mother cleaned up some billys and jimmys, good luck at all you do.....

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agentofchange 7 years ago

cleve, "what you resist, will persist". It's a law.

If you anything about me, I've already "lowered-high commissions".

good luck, & be well.

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agentofchange 7 years ago

cleve, sorry: that should have been "If you KNEW anything about me" Too much fun at Woodstock. Cheers

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jeannie berger 7 years ago

sbvor, lower your blood pressure and go for a walk in the beautiful place you decided to retire in, or get some anger management........... peace

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jeannie berger 7 years ago

Assulted, insulted or just a different opinion. There is a big difference but I am sure that you know that.

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jeannie berger 7 years ago

What I get is that you are one angry dude. Sorry, not into arguing my view over yours.

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ThreeJobs 7 years ago

Seems like dreamriver23 has the right screen name. "Sorry, not into arguing my view over yours" clearly shows that "dream" has NO facts or history to back up his viewpoint. Not surprising since there are none!

Pretty tough to convince those that think they are entitled or the limo-liberals that want to mitigate guilt for their own economic status with FACTS isn't it sbvor?

Face it "dreamer" , going for "a walk in a beautiful place " is not going to buy you a condo on the mountain. Better go to work and get on that Stagecoach deal before your fellow socialist policies drive prices there out of reach too!

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thecondoguy1 7 years ago

good advice, threejobs, sbvor is tough to argue with, must be the facts, some people just hate the facts and he puts up some terrific factual information, gotta say thanks.... makes you think.............

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jeannie berger 7 years ago

I don't want to buy condo on the mountain and I do work full time and make a fine living. I wasn't arguing with sbvors facts just his arrogant attitude that comes across in his postings. Not everyone has to think the same. He comes off like he is the only one with the answers. If that is the case sbvor and you have all of the answers then I suggest you run for one of the city council seats that will be coming up vacant. Put your facts to use, not just ranting here on the web. Threejobs, just because I don't cite any wikkipedia sites to back up any position I may have doesn't mean I don't have history or knowledge of the market in Routt county. I happen to believe that free market works best but sbvor just keeps hitting everyone over the head with it as though the rest of the public are lunatics that can't think for themselves.

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thecondoguy1 7 years ago

dream, your points are well taken, and well put, I do not agree that sbvor is coming off arrogant at all, the guy has a good grip on the facts, that can be frustrating to get across in a way that pleases everybody. Your input is valuable and welcome as well, good luck at all you do.................

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JQPUBLIC 7 years ago

Keep the market open:Charge reasonable permit fees for say, the first 1000 sq. ft of the house, higher rates for the 2nd 1000 sq. ft, even higher for the 3rd 1000 sq. ft, and so on. The smaller homes is what the working man will be able to afford if the market ever became glutted and cheaper building fees is an incentive for the builder to build smaller homes. The housing authority can receive the extra money from the permits, let them become "landlords" and build rent controlled apartments and townhouses. To provide the workingman the opportunity to own their own place, let the authority build manufactured home parks where the small lots must be purchased (deed restricted) by the homeowner. In all reality you'll never stop the Steamboat area from becoming another Vail Valley. If the housing authority were to buy up Oak Creek now while its prices are still attainable, the Springs will at least have some place for their maids to live that isn't an impossible commute. Alas, that won't last long: the maids will sell out for double their money, the next buyers for double theirs and your right back where you started. The only way to provide and maintain affordable housing is for the government to buy/build their own, then rent them out. As long as homeowners can make a large profit, they're going to sell.

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ThreeJobs 7 years ago

I'm puzzled. If you " happen to believe that free market works best " and the rest of the public aren't lunatics why is the city council mandating socialist housing?

I don't see your perception of sbvor's "attitude" as being relevant. Shooting at the messenger doesn't change the facts. (If I look for any "tone" in savor's posts it's probably one of frustration. )

What I read is that the city council has established a housing authority even though the public was overwhelmingly against it. What I read is that the city council has shoved "affordable housing" on us even though no proponent can show that policies like this work. Initially sounds good and 'the right thing to do" but ultimately is colossal failure.

I ask you dreamer; how do you propose getting the message out that "free candy" is bad? How do you propose changing the tunnel vision and of the arrogance of the council?

I recommend that in stead of taking pot shots at your perceived tone of savor's posts that you do everything you can to get the message out in whatever way that you feel will be most persuasive. "Walking in a beautiful place" while the socialist implement their destructive policies is grossly irresponsible.

Frankly, I don't think saying savor's assessment "unattainable, destructive, counter productive, uninformed, ignorant, stupid, GREEDY ENTITLEMENT FANTASY" is anything other than very descriptive.

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Amy Harris 6 years, 11 months ago

Thanks to Hash, sbvor and the others for putting it straight: City Council is only making our housing situation worse through its misguided actions. Our future is this: skyrocketing real estate prices, driven up in large part due to bad policy.

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