Affordable housing issues debated

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— The Steamboat Springs City Council touched on a subject Tuesday night that could foretell a difficult debate in weeks to come.

Council members Scott Myller and Cari Hermacinski brought up an affordable housing-related issue that philosophically pits the enticement to build such housing against the point of providing it in the first place.

"I'd like to see some relief from architectural standards for affordable housing," Myller said while the council was considering the first reading of an ordinance adopting the urban design standards and entry corridor concepts for commercial, mixed-use and multifamily developments outside of the mountain base and downtown areas.

Hermacinski agreed. She said expecting the same quality of development from affordable projects that the city requires of other projects is counterproductive.

"There's such a need for affordable housing in this community," Hermacinski said. "I'd like to do everything we can to make it cost-effective to do it."

City planner Jonathan Spence said the city's planning department has, on principle, taken a strong stance that there should be no difference in architectural standards between affordable projects and others. Spence said the stance has put the planning department at odds with some planning commissioners.

Councilman Steve Ivancie agreed with Myller and Hermacinski that the city should encourage affordable housing, but noted the potential consequences of relaxing design standards. Noting he didn't want to say "the 'G' word," Ivancie said it is important that affordable housing doesn't "stand out."

The issue also was touched on at last week's meeting of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission. Chairman Steve Lewis cast the lone "no" vote against the First Tracks affordable housing project being constructed at Wildhorse Meadows. Wildhorse Meadows' original development plan showed 11 townhouse buildings on the First Tracks parcel. The latest proposal is for four condominium buildings. Lewis said he felt the proposal was "lower class" than the original.

After their discussions, City Council unanimously approved the first reading of the design standards ordinance with no changes but will consider revisions during the ordinance's second reading in two weeks. Also Tuesday, City Council followed Planning Commission's 6-1 approval of First Tracks with a unanimous approval of its own.

Other action

n City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would authorize the owners of property benefited by the construction of public improvements to share in their cost. The ordinance would allow developers to recoup some of the cost of constructing infrastructure such as roads and water lines from subsequent developers who benefit from the improvements free of charge.

n Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would restructure the city's Local Liquor License Authority into two divisions: administrative and compliance.

n Council unanimously approved a proposal by Wildhorse Meadows to leave the historic Butterfly Barn in its current location south of Mount Werner Road.

Comments

addlip2U 6 years, 8 months ago

Affordable housing ? LOL! Where is the trailer park? Bring in the trailers, but don't rush to set them on the concrete pad 'cause they need to be moved once the ski season is over.

We need well designed and quality built affordable apartments.... and NOT at the cost of the tax payers.

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digit1964 6 years, 8 months ago

I guess I was pretty suspect of the "new councel",,, but it sure seems like they are much more efficiant?? any one see that as well ... or disagree?

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id04sp 6 years, 8 months ago

If you want to relax the standards, go visit some of the HUD housing developments in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, etc., and get your ideas from them.

It makes no sense to build them from the ground up to be slums in this county.

I once owned a house in Steamboat II and cannot believe what they are going for now! Modular homes set on poured foundations going for 1/2 MIL? Wow. How much cheaper would a modular on a slab be? That would be a very quick and reasonable solution if not for the cost of land, and that's the piece you can't fix.

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btheball 6 years, 8 months ago

Council needs to listen to their head City Planner that we are paying and shouldn't excuse the City from the same minimum quality standards that everyone else adheres to. They are not that stringent!?

Scott Myller? What id said...

Please, don't revise the design standards just for the City's "affordable Projects".

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jagonzales 6 years, 8 months ago

Hi everyone:

As a person who works across the country (and here in Colorado) with communities who are struggling with the same affordable housing (workforce housing) issues, I'd like to add that affordable housing/workforce housing can be designed to look great. As an example, the Colorado Rural Housing Development Corporation designed and built a senior affordable housing complex in Center, Colorado, that received a AIA Award for the best designed building built in 2006 (I think that was the year).

Design doesn't have to be a major obstacle to building housing that people who work in high cost communities need; it takes a partnership between all the residents to define why it's important then develop a team that helps develop strategies that effectively deal with the local challenges.

Good luck.

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