Our View: No guarantees on affordable housing policy

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council may have approved new affordable housing policies last week, but its work is hardly done.

Foremost, the council needs to clarify for the public exactly how the significant revenues from the new policies will be spent. This is overdue - putting the policies in place without a concrete spending plan put the cart before the horse.

Also, the council needs to be prepared to modify the policy as needed. Council members appear confident the new ordinance will produce the desired outcome - an increased supply of affordable housing for Steamboat's working class. We're less convinced. In fact, we remain concerned the policies will achieve the opposite - reduced development, decreased housing inventory and even higher prices.

The bottom line is the council has to be flexible and react if the new ordinance isn't working. Allowing bad policy to linger unchecked is worse than approving it in the first place.

The inclusionary zoning and linkage ordinance accomplishes several things. First, inclusionary zoning requires 15 percent of the units in all new residential development to be deed-restricted affordable housing. Thanks to a last-minute addition advocated by Councilman Towny Anderson, developers have the option of paying fees in lieu of building the affordable housing.

Linkage requires new development to help pay for housing for the new workers the development creates. This can be done by building housing or paying a fee. The number of required units and the fee are based upon square footage. Commercial developers pay the highest rate of linkage. Homeowners will have to pay linkage fees on home additions on a sliding scale at rates that are lower than commercial development. Industrial development and nonprofits are exempt from linkage requirements.

For commercial development, the linkage fee works out to about $18 per square foot or $1 million in fees for every 55,000 square feet of new development. That is a lot of money when you consider that the five downtown projects currently in development total almost 500,000 square feet. Add in other linkage fees and payments-in-lieu and the city is going to have serious money for affordable housing.

We would venture that in an average economic year, the linkage fee will produce millions for the city, assuming the fees don't scare developers away altogether.

The city should use the new money to give the Yampa Valley Housing Authority - an agency the city created - a much needed boost. The authority and its predecessor, the Regional Affordable Living Foundation, have completed a handful of effective affordable housing projects in the past decade despite having almost no funding.

Yet, the city has largely excluded the authority from discussions about the new housing ordinance. While the city gets ready to start collecting millions in fees and payments, the authority is weighing a long-shot stab at getting permanent tax funding.

Council members Anderson and Loui Antonucci indicated last week that they think helping the Housing Authority is the best use of those funds. Here is what isn't the best use of those funds: creating a separate, competing housing department under the city umbrella. We can only hope the vision of Anderson and Antonucci prevails.

The policy adopted last week is a milestone in city history. It is the most significant housing policy any council has ever adopted. But the jury is out on whether it will work, and when it comes to how the fees will be used, the city still has a lot of explaining to do.

Comments

dave reynolds 7 years, 3 months ago

knowitall should be know nothing..the so called riff-raff is what keeps Steamboat and sorounding areas going..next time you need something done or go out to eat or see the people plowing snow or people picking up you trash or people checking you out at the grocery store or working on your car..gosh what a stupid statement..people like you are ruining this valley

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jeannie berger 7 years, 3 months ago

Knowitall, since when do low level wage earners equal riff raff? I hope your comment was tongue in cheek. I agree that the city council should have come up with a plan for using the money before passing this latest policy. We will probably see more consulting done with the money generated.

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another_local 7 years, 3 months ago

Council should take the money they have so far (~900K from Riverwalk) and give it to the housing authority. After that they should repeal this non-sense and get to work incentivising private enterprise to build things that will sell in the market for more reasonable prices.

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elphaba 7 years, 3 months ago

Let's commission a consultant to study the best option and spend the money collected that way.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 3 months ago

elphaba.... it isn't done that way.... they commission a consultant to do the study then they shelve the study and spend it their way.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 3 months ago

paddlefisher.... as the prices go up, the snobs get worse; they all want to be waited on instantly but want the workers to live 25 miles down the road. I'm totally against affordable housing, I just don't think it works, but.... in this instance, I'd like to see it surround knowitall.

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stmbtprof 7 years, 3 months ago

Affordable housing has been a scam in the past with the wealthy buying homes for kids in the future...this needs to be investigated before more money goes to affordable housing and the cliche of the rich get richer and the poor still have to commute from Maybell or wherever

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agentofchange 7 years, 3 months ago

Hey Scott, what in the world is "Steamboat's Working Class" ?

This is all so crazy. Can't wait till the next Election.

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dave reynolds 7 years, 3 months ago

you're right JQ..several years ago I was in check out line at City Market..over heard a woman say she thought poor people shouldn't live in Steamboat..I thought for a moment the told her I was richer than she was cause I have friends and am not asnarrow minded as she is..hey bellman Wellman I'm back..take care my friend

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dave reynolds 7 years, 3 months ago

one more thought..say know nothing gets his wish..its winter its dumping out..has accumulated about 7 inches in hr and a half..OH NO HIS HOUSE is on fire so lets see..25 miles bad roads it takes fireman a hour to get to Stbt..then 20 min to where ever this nimrod lives..awe shucks your house burned down..but you got what you wanted no riff raff lives in Stbt..lmfao..be carefull what you wish for you just might get it

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corduroy 7 years, 3 months ago

the sad reality is that condos and houses in Stagecoach and Oak Creek are NOT much cheaper at this point. Anything that actually gets to the market gets into a bidding war, and Townhomes previously selling for about $140,000 are not $270,000

What can we do when we can afford Steamboat, but Oak Creek, Hayden, and Stagecoach are just as bad?

The only answer I have is to keep renting forever, but I'm really sick and tired of making someone else richer, just because I don't have $10,000 kicking around for a SMALL down payment.

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JQPUBLIC 7 years, 3 months ago

Hash... who cares if your house burns, the flowers are for the tourists... they are first and foremost! As for the "council to spend money on that kind of facility"... sorry, too busy on affordable housing.

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dave reynolds 7 years, 3 months ago

hash..do you know what firefighters make per hour here..it appauling...was visitng with one the other day..I make more picking up trash..whats wrong with this picture...i'm sure they have other sources of income..but Steamboat and the so called council have lost touch of whats really important here..all they care about is the all mighty buck...with the money spent on studies and such they could have and should have given the city employees a decent raise and said a job well done..then they can pull there heads out and do what they where elected to do,,not nessacerly for affordable housing but something needs to been done..this was an issue a long long time ago but no one had the foresight to deal with it then so now its dumnped on the councels lap really sad situation all the new retail space but no one who can aford to work there I'll be willing to bet that Steamboats work force declines with all the stuff going on in Craig..YOU MADE THE WINE NOW DRINK A CUP

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OnTheBusGus 7 years, 3 months ago

Actually, there are only handful of firefighters at the station at night. They could probably very well handle one fire but if there was another one or the conflagration was too big the volunteers would be the ones commuting from outside town.

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dave reynolds 7 years, 3 months ago

well there is the pipe line,upgrading the power plant and super wal mart..i hear more businesses are moving in but not sure who..oh i forgot i think its applejacks at the old burger king on the corner

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