Steve Aigner: Annexation review

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— The paper's editorial, "An open-door housing policy" (Feb. 10, 2008) implies that the policies expressed by the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan are just too narrow. Additionally, the paper seems to be really impressed that Mr. Mulcahy and the Steamboat 700 team is thinking about "creative, forward looking-ideas" that appear to be a request to relax the rules. But while the paper directs its gaze on the development plan, it ignores the far more important issue of annexation, and if the city follows suit, it will be a costly mistake.

Annexation is a rare opportunity to negotiate our community needs as a community. Steamboat 700 has every right to "pitch and woo" in pursuit of profit, and we the community have the pre-emptory right to say no, we will not abandon carefully, deliberatively developed affordable housing goals, articulated in the WSSAP, a social contract achieved through extensive public participatory processes. We must not squander the opportunity to negotiate and realize "exceptional" benefits that must exceed the costs of infrastructure, impacts on water supply and downstream quality, and services to current Steamboat Springs residents in addition to current, unmet needs.

If the City Council accepts the Steamboat 700 proposal to target households averaging 120 percent of the area median income, as the paper seems to urge, then Steamboat Springs loses big time. The WSSAP stipulates that 20 percent of the new housing units will be available to those households whose incomes average 80 percent of the AMI. This stipulation wasn't drawn out of thin air. The city's analysis of income levels, "keep up" and "catch up" housing objectives and specific strategies to achieve these objectives is well documented (see http://steamboatsprings.net/fileadmin/all_documents/planning_doc/forms/ImplementationProgram_draft2.doc).

Annexation is a negotiation between the city and the petitioner, and we cannot let the city acquiesce to Steamboat 700's desire to change the target - at least not without a substantial offer of public benefit in return. We have to recognize we are negotiating the future of our community. Negotiating an annexation is a process well beyond the scope of simply reviewing an attractive conceptual master plan.

We welcome the paper's point of "creative, forward looking ideas" that flexibly expand "the range of buyers who could qualify for affordable homes," but only after we reach the well-substantiated target of an average of 80 percent AMI for 20 percent of the housing units. That's the beauty of annexation - Steamboat 700 can and should stipulate some "creative, forward-looking ideas."

Here are some examples of such ideas: 1) a capital gains fee or a real estate transfer assessment (RETA, as Steamboat 700 proposes) that declines from 10 percent or more on the resale in the first year to 1 percent after year five to discourage "flipping" lots and houses - the primary driver of real estate speculation here; 2) title restrictions requiring sales and resales to qualified buyers, defined as full-time residents (at least eight months per year, for example), and used as an overlay on specified residential zones; 3) small lot zoning (think Old Town). Combing all of the above could yield more profit for the developer and more for our community - maybe achieving 33 percent, or even 40 percent, affordable housing.

At this stage of the annexation, the city should identify and put forth community needs - what needs can annexation satisfy? This is what differentiates annexations from developments. We must take full advantage of this rare opportunity, and we can do it in partnership with Steamboat 700 as the annexation petitioner. As we all know, good partnerships are created through negotiated agreements where each party wins.

Steve Aigner

Community organizer, Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley

Comments

skitownpuppet 6 years, 5 months ago

are one thing but an opinion should be based on facts, credible sources and a well laid out plan. Hey, I have an idea, lets make a huge aquarium downtown, a monster waterpark, free food on every Thurs and Sat at all restaurants, free beer to any local and because we live here free ski passes as well. Good ideas but I don't see any of it happening. Think before you speak and especially before you write. If you want to get some critical thought out of something you write and get in the paper it needs to be a lot more thought out than this. Give the City a check for 5 million bucks and tell them it is for affordable housing and have them tell you how it will be put to great use right now today. You won't get an answer, they don't have one either does the YVHA. Wake up!!

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bloggyblog 6 years, 5 months ago

ski town puppet, well said! blog says 'touche'.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 5 months ago

sbvor, must be on vacation and left his/her computer at home........Skitownpuppet has to do your work with the lucid thinking, and the make sense propositions, it's lonely out there puppet, keep up the good thinking.............

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skitownpuppet 6 years, 5 months ago

Wake up and realize that it is not up to the community to deliver affordable housing to anyone. Last I checked I got a job, education and worked my butt off to be here and afford to live here. Why is it the obligation of this community to provide to those who refuse to provide for themselves? Why make a developer pay if we won't? The YVHA and the City aren't even interested in managing or controling the nightmare that affordable housing creates and the City and YVHA cannot deliver the AMI at a level that makes the whole thing work. To make the model work they have to defer managing it to someone else because they know it won't work. Just call Mtn Village Apts and ask them why they have 3 bdrms for 915 a month sitting empty. How about the 3bdrm afforadble unit at Sun Ray? There isn't a need!!!! The town, YVHA and you certainly cannot prove it. Wait, it gets better. Not only is there not the need but the ones that are lined up for it cannot even afford a 1,000 car. They can't buy anything anyway. We are a capitlaist country for a reason and I would suggest that you and all your trust fund pals put a group together to purchase the 700 land for all affordable housing. Maybe run a model and have some meeting as if you were going to buy it and be a great citizen. Afterwards you would find that your ability to actually get something done that works, is worth while and somebody else would manage isn't possible. Steamboat 700 is just one of a large number of projects in this town and at least this project has the ability to actually do something for the masses in this town. Maybe you would rather see Target, HomeDepot, Super Wal MArt and the like come in to ensure our sales tax revenue goes through the roof to subsidize affordable housing? Kind of like Gypsum with Costco to pay for the Rec Center. Oh, you didn't know about that? Well, before you start thinking you have answers and actually know what you are talking about you should take a step back and try to resolve issues and maybe volunteer your time to work with the 700 since you think we ought to give housing away I guess we could give your time away as well. Wake up! It is 2008, we are a ski town, we all have to work and if we can't make it happen here we'll be livin in Craig or Hayden and driving back and forth just like Basalt, Eagle, Gypsum, Summit County, Snowmass. Why are we so different? Why should we be the socialists of CO who give our housing away? Are you for real on the 40% affordable housing? The fact that your article was even printed is a joke. Opinions

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rodcarew 6 years, 5 months ago

Good thinking? The guy can barely form a complete sentence. It's a good thing he arrived in town early enough to be able to afford a home because I'm not sure his "education" would provide for him today.

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bloggyblog 6 years, 5 months ago

ski town puppy, blog wants to know, where should we build the gate? at the south or west entrance? should the 'servants' have a separate entrance? a distinctive class structure should be formed. we could use colored cowboy hats to differentuate 'workers' from 'the elite' who actually live here.

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 5 months ago

Gus thinks blog is funny! Cowboy hats in colours... I can't wait until we don't have any workers or the ones at Starbucks are getting $25/hour to serve the elite their lattees.

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skitownpuppet 6 years, 5 months ago

I would like to see the housing supplied by the City. We can all share in the supply cost. The City can buy tracts of land and develope as they see fit. I think it is unfair to put the "demand" that has yet to even be proven on any one development or developer. The City wants it built but wants nothing to do with it. This is a fact. They will not manage it, develope it or control the inventory of it. How is it fair to place this burden solely on a developer when it is the town that needs it?
We all have the opportunity to live here and there are a number of units that are not sold even though they meet the requirments of "affordable" units. There is no money for down payment assistance nor is there a program in place to deliver it even if there was money. Establish what the true needs are, have the City and COunty manage what they want built, fund it and deliver it to those that need it. To throw out a % for the sake of throwing out a % doesn't do anything for anyone. How is it fair for Edgemont or the others to pay a fee in lieu of fee that is so far below the current affordable values to provide housing fair? How is it that any money recieved isn't capable of being utilized for afforadble housing here in town. If you look at how the system is set up it doesn't work period. I am all for affordable housing but getting the right people to deliver the program, have them manage that program and generate future revenue streams for that program don't exist. It is time to make the City and County step up to deliver a program that they insist on having in place. This isn't about Steamboat 700 or anyone else it is about a program that is a socialist program not being serviced by the ones who want the plan implemented. You take my comments as "classist" but that isn't the case it is more a matter of stepping up and being responsible for what you want done instead of placing the burden on developers. I am not a developer. I could care less. But I am so sick of people passing the burden of traffic, affordable housing and all the rest on developers. It is a community issue and burden we all share and it is up to all of us to find a solution not up to us to pass the burden on to developers for them to "deal with".
My cowboy hat would be black FYI.

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps instead of messing with "affordable housing" there could be rental assistance. I don't see rent decreasing anytime soon but maybe all this money that is somewhere (??) for "affordable housing" could be used to offset the market rate for rent for those who qualify. The landlord wins, the tenants win and the community wins by retaining workers. Perhaps employers could pay into a fund to subsidize rent for their employees, especially if they can't pay them more. The city has a fund for airline subsidies, so surely they could do one for rental subsidies. Now I'm waiting for sbvor to tell me why this won't work...

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seeuski 6 years, 5 months ago

rodcarew, I am so impressed with your thoughts and grammar.

Skitownpuppet, I like your thought provoking point of view and tend to agree with your assessment of the current AH situation. The employee pool is so seasonal and many are from foriegn countries that high density short term housing supplimented by the local retailers,local govt and fees in lieu etc. could provide housing that doesn't require the employees to purchase or be able to pass tough rental standards like Mt. Village and others require. Some suggest that developers set asside some % of space for this housing at sites like Edgemont, are you kidding me, ski in/ski out affordable housing, sign me up today.

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factsfirst 6 years, 5 months ago

Perhaps we should look at our 70 year national tract record for trying to house those who seemingly can't house themselves. Clustered Public Housing (the Projects), Dispersed Public Housing (Section VIII), and the latest Hope VI programs have all worked so well..... Oh, wait.

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addlip2U 6 years, 5 months ago

This ( winter) seasonal foreign workers came from Brazil with pockets loaded.

They were law, engineering, and of other profession students that did not care about making money especially when they rented condos with a 6 months lease only to stay for 2-1/2 months. They came to become fluent in English, play and work. In that order. At home, they grew up with servants, cooks, gardeners and nannies. Now they are off traveling the country or to study in Europe before returning home.

They certainly would not need rent subsidy.

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retiredinss 6 years, 5 months ago

A good start might be to establish just what the unmet housing needs are. I haven't lived here all that long-not a decade yet-but I do not recall seeing a simple chart describing the various groups who need housing. For example, in personal conversations I have heard some law firms have trouble attracting lawyers because of the cost of housing, but can't really see the city jumping in to make sure that the lawyer supply here is not impacted adversely. Also, have heard that teachers who move here can't afford houses, but wonder why this is a problem for the city rather than the school district. Does anyone have a simple chart or table which describes how big the 'problem' is and how fast it is changing?

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 5 months ago

keep up the good thinking puppet, you don't need a PHD to have valid lucid thoughts and the guts to put them down for all to see, don't worry about the spelling, get those ideas across, if we are all so damn smart, we will figure out the words.......................... sbvor, where are you???????????

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SilverSpoon 6 years, 5 months ago

Iron horse is creating good city jobs:

House Keeper I

I wonder what House Keeper II pays?

I hope the janitors don't leave their cushy school positions.

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another_local 6 years, 5 months ago

People who earn 80% of the average local income are not home buyers at any price. Affordable rental units would be more help. Requiring the 700 club to build a couple of hundred smaller apartments (say 600 square feet for one bedroom 1000 feet for 2 and 1400 feet for three) and zoned NO NIGHTLY RENTAL would go a long way. Do not allow them to be condo'd either. No condo and no nightly rental will keep the speculators at bay. Provide basic amenities like laundary facilities in the basement and some play-ground equipment. Make sure the bus stops out front. No hot tubs, tennis courts etc to drive up common area fees.

Then go with the 120% level for some condo's for sale but make them in smaller buildings like 4-plexes. Same deal on the nightly rentals: zone them out.

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colowoodsman 6 years, 5 months ago

The city is being forced into the housing buisness because it has been supporting the tourism industry. Tourism should be a strickly private enterprise but due to their never ending whinning and crying they have weaseled hundreds of thousands of tax dollars out of city and state government. I think it was back in '86 that voters disbanded the state tourism board but some back room politics has then getting tax dollars to promote tourism again.

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ThreeJobs 6 years, 5 months ago

Steve,

A bunch of us just decided that you should sell your condo at 202 Sundance Creek to someone needing affordable housing for the majestic price of $89,000 since that is the maximium they can afford based on 80% of the average income.

The fact that you paid $374,900 in 2006 for the property is not the issue. You are not entitled to profit from your purchase just because there are LOTS of others who can't afford what you have. We have decided that it is your responsibility to GIVE these people what they can't afford.

We picked your property because it is closer to the mountain than anything in Steamboat 700 will be. We believe that it is grossly unfair for anyone not to have a ski in/ski out home reguardless of their economic situation. Yours is the closest we could find that had an owner that thinks like you do.

We are looking for alternative housing for you at this time; however, as yet, we have been unable to find anyone in Dakota Ridge, the Torian Plum, or anywhere else for that matter that is willing to GIVE you their residence for even 120% of AI.

Looks like our only alternative is to try to convince the city to let us build some apartments that you would really like and could afford but frankly we are not making any headway on that. They all seem to be occupied with trying to figure out what to do with a trailer park and an old motel they bought.

We have located a place with affordable if not free housing that you might want to consider. I understand it is very close to a spectacular beach area. The developer's last name is Castro. You may want to contact him soon since from what we hear the project isn't going all that well and he may want to change the ground rules before too long.

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424now 6 years, 5 months ago

When it comes to affordable housing you have a choice.

You build something the people who need it, can afford or you dont. The question before us is, what do we as a City? Yes we need to develop the mountain area with grand residences to rent out to all the ski tourists in the hopes of selling them dinner and a show.

Ask yourself, what else do "WE" want to do?

Do we want a work force of locals that can get to work on time?

Do we want a neighborhood filled with people needing groceries and utilities year round?

Do we want all the homes built to go to the rental market?

In this current market although we are insulated we do have to consider the pressures in and from the national market. A motivated buyer in a mortgage that is reasonably within their means is the secure choice of home buyer you want in a tight financial market. Not the zero down interest only folks that were buying homes three years ago.

You can let the city get involved in the housing business, which invites a commitee decision on major factors regarding your new home. I am sure City Hall will make these decision in a timely manner and when it best suites the new owners.

Or

You encourage a developer to build what it is you desire. They are the people who do this for a living. They usually know what their doing. Our city manager has the contacts and sales skills to get this kind of thing done.

Perhaps he could court a developer and propose they climb into bed with Steamboat Springs to the tune tune of 70 acres developed in lots of 1/4 or 1/6th acre. Any major developer worth their salt can pull a serious profit out of 280 to 420 3 bedroom 2 ba shotgun houses. With that many hitting the market at the same time We might be able to swing a 400K asking price. Which maybe just maybe a few of our local dual income young families might be able to afford if they started saving a year or two ago. I think a few might have done just that.

I know I did.

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424now 6 years, 5 months ago

My over sized cowboy hat is blue and orange. The normal omne is tan.

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424now 6 years, 5 months ago

Correction to post dated February 26, 2008 at 11:35 a.m.

The 3rd sentance should read, what do we as a city want to do?

Sorry about that.

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retiredinss 6 years, 5 months ago

There seems to have been no response to my query earlier on list of those who need affordable housing, numbers, occupations, etc. That causes me to think that we do not have any kind of handle on the 'problem' itself! Suggest we define the 'problem' before we get any distance down the road towards options for solving the 'problem'. Also, to Steve's credit, I think the discussion here veered away from his basic point which I thought was the the annexation discussion is the largest, most important we have had, and we all need to participate in it, or else suffer the consequences of a not well thought out 'solution' which impacts, roads, water, sewers, school, etc etc etc.

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