Our View: Housing study needs responses


Editorial Board, May 2008 to August 2008

  • Bryna Larsen, publisher
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Eric Morris, community representative
  • Paul Draper, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— Of the many issues raised by the proposed Steamboat 700 development, the need to accurately identify the specific housing needs of our community shoots to the top of the list.

For years, we have developed comprehensive plans and enacted policies aimed at providing affordable housing for Steamboat's work force, but many of those decisions were made without a complete picture of the existing circumstances and needs of the local market. A much-needed effort to provide such data is now under way, in the form of a market demand analysis commissioned by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and funded by the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County, the developers of Steamboat 700 and a number of other private developers and businesses. The analysis will cost between $125,000 and $150,000.

When completed in August, the market demand analysis will provide the clearest picture to date of Steamboat's work force, its income and its housing needs and preferences. The analysis, being conduced by Robert Charles Lesser & Co., will give local officials an invaluable database of information for devising policies related to affordable housing.

In short, the market demand analysis has the potential to take the guesswork out of determining how and to what extent affordable housing should be mandated within the city limits.

The issue came to a head earlier this year when Steamboat 700 developers proposed aiming their affordable housing at residents making an average of 120 percent of the area median income. The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan, which outlines how residential development should occur in that area, requires developers to provide affordable housing to people who make an average of 80 percent of the AMI.

Danny Mulcahy of Steamboat 700 and others correctly have suggested a need to provide a range of affordable housing for different segments of the population, with a focus on providing the type of housing needed by the kinds of workers the community is most interested in retaining.

The market demand analysis should provide the data needed to better guide our housing policies. But the market demand analysis only will be as good as the information it can collect and assemble. To that end, Yampa Valley Housing Authority officials are seeking feedback from residents in the form of a detailed survey. Yampa Valley Housing Authority executive director Donna Howell said the surveys will be distributed through local employers in early July. We urge employers to pass the surveys on to their workers and to provide time and possibly incentives for employees to complete the detailed, 30-minute questionnaires.

The answers provided by our work force will provide a foundation for understanding our housing needs. Regardless of whether you support subsidized affordable housing, it's clear that any decisions regarding it should be made with hard data rather than anecdotal evidence and guesswork.


ThreeJobs 8 years, 11 months ago

...and if the study is accurate it will find what most of us have know all along: What is needed is rental apartments NOT some deed restricted $350K plus "affordable" space pasted onto a high end development.

But then it will require the City Council to amend the dogmatic direction it has pursued and actually support and encourage development of these kinds of properties.

Face facts. The current scheme only serves a VERY few and when closely examined both penalizes and puts the participants at great risk. A smart person would not enter into a contract that serverly limits any gains and marketability.

I will gladly rent rather than be bound to a property that has so little ownership advantage.


another_local 8 years, 11 months ago

Great, another study. Another 150K wasted.

Threejobs is right: Build rental property.



housebound 8 years, 11 months ago

There is a gauge that has a dynamic quality and past councils have chosen to ignore it. Free markets will adjust daily to needs.

Apartment construction was on the rise before the restrictive building department legislation was passed which appeared to compete with free market apartments. I know of six units that were put on hold. This council may have their finger on the pulse in that they recognize that they don't have enough information on housing needs. However, this study costs taxpayers not only money but the possibility of more or different legislation. Councils like to make laws, but seldom do majority votes pass these laws based on what the result will be because coalitions will prioritize the legislative process.

As an example, I witnessed the inclusionary zoning and housing linkage approval, which clearly had a well known coalition and resulted in the immediate change of council. By creating more legislative process around affordable housing, we are at risk for creating coalitions similarly.

This survey and the decisions attempting to be made are putting laws in place that in five years may be completely useless and contradictory to what our needs are at that time. Urge council to limit lawmaking and remove as many laws as possible.


addlip2U 8 years, 11 months ago

Why is it that i.e. City Market is able to bring in 20-30 east Europeans and provide them with jobs and housing.... and we cannot afford to live here having just one full time job?
Is it because they are being paid more than the '"locals", have their (overseas) transportation and housing subsidized? Clearly, we need apartments and NOT homes.


canudigit 8 years, 11 months ago

The reason that City Market can bring all those people over is that they pack a bunch of them into one unit. You would never want to live with 10 people in a 4 bedroom unit but, that is how they could do it. I know, I had to live next to them. I think the women had some "other" source of income too.


Scott Wedel 8 years, 11 months ago

The $150K study could be replaced with an afternoon reading the classified section of the newspaper. There are basically an unlimited number of jobs available paying $10-$12 per hour with a handful of jobs paying more. Then look at places available to rent or buy. 1 Bedroom apts at $900, $2 bedrooms at $1,300 in Steamboat, a bit cheaper in in OC, Hayden or Craig but very few for rent. No condos or houses priced close to what a couple, both working, could ever hope to afford doing local jobs.

The despicable part about Steamboat housing is that City ordinance states that a maximum of 5 adults, not all related, may share a condo or an apartment, but only 3 adults, not all related, may share a house. Thus, we expect our workers to live crammed together, but horror of horrors if two couples try sharing a house. Obviously, goal is to keep the workers crammed together away from the rich people. And I have had City Council members admit to me they have lived in violation of that law and yet tell me they see no need to change it!!!!


Tricia Nickerson 8 years, 11 months ago

gotta be pretty to live in the city I don't get it que paso rental units yes why not this is America I need a place to live in steamboat yesterday


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