I make the following comments on behalf of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley. On Sunday, April 22, the Steamboat Pilot & Today continued its discussion of the housing policies being proposed for Steamboat Springs. We thank the Pilot & Today for keeping this important issue on the minds of our community.
We agree that the Steamboat Springs City Council was right to delay action on its revised inclusionary zoning ordinance. Even though there have been numerous council sessions dedicated to this subject, there still appears to be many of the public still not familiar with either the existing inclusionary zoning or the proposed linkage ordinances. A more informed community is good for affordable housing.
We are glad to see the Pilot & Today's statement, "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."
The editorial states that housing west of Steamboat Springs should be on par to housing in new developments within the current city limits. The Pilot & Today recommends allowing the 15 percent affordable housing requirement, in the inclusionary zoning ordinance, to be built off site. If this happens most if not all of our new affordable housing will be placed west of town.
In the 2005 community survey, residents identified traffic mobility and circulation as the second most important issue in the city. In an editorial on commuting, the Pilot & Today wrote, "That's a lot of traffic on U.S. Highway 40, a lot of time lost in the car" (June 3, 2003). We think moving a majority of our workers out of town into the west will only make this problem worse.
The draft linkage ordinance requires mitigation for any residential space of more than 1,200 square feet. We agree with the editorial that we should not penalize homes intended for our workforce. Exempting homes up to 2,000 square feet would be more appropriate.
We also agree that new linkage ordinances should not be retroactive. Developers put a lot of work into their permits. Linkage changes the costs of the project. There are many new projects that have obtained a development permit but don't have a building permit. These projects could legally be required to provide linkage, but assessing a large fee after a project has been approved is not the right thing to do.
Linkage requires new developments to provide some mitigation for the new workers that will be needed. The Bud Werner Memorial Library expects to create 50 percent more jobs due to expansion. If the Yampa Valley Medical Center were to expand, I'm sure it too would be creating many new jobs. Without linkage there is no hope of continuing to house all these people right here in Steamboat.
There will always be people who wish to live outside of Steamboat Springs. However we should not force people to live farther and farther away. This increases traffic, pollution and parking problems, while reducing the amount of free time we have to spend with our families, volunteering and enjoying the benefits that our great community has to offer.