Jack White and Stephen Aigner: A negotiation plan for Steamboat 700

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— The city is negotiating a pre-annexation agreement with Steamboat 700 LLC. On May 6, Steamboat's citizens can comment on the city's pressing needs they want the pre-annexation to address.

Not a development review, annexation is a negotiation about which the City Council has complete discretion. If the pre-annexation agreement does not meet the city's needs - if the benefits to the city do not substantially outweigh the costs, as required by the Community Development Code - then, there is no reason to approve the annexation petition.

Given the Steamboat 700 discussions to date and the Pilot's excellent three-part series on annexation, we think these ideas, in addition to ideas already advanced by city staff but not included here, belong in the pre-annexation agreement.

First, to minimize traffic, trips to/through downtown and adhere to the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and the Community Housing Plan, Steamboat 700 should:

- Donate land for a grocery store, a post office, child care facility and a school.

- Construct a school to accommodate the anticipated proportional increase in school age students who live in Steamboat 700.

- Require small-lot zoning and deed-restricted units integrated into neighborhoods, not built off to the side.

- Require full-time residency in neighborhoods, thus reaching the city's goal of 33 percent affordable housing units in West Steamboat.

- Include a capital gains assessment that declines during the first five years to discourage speculation and flipping, thus moderating housing cost appreciation for buyers with incomes between 120 percent and 200 percent of the area median income.

- Dedicate the capital gains assessment (or Real Estate Transfer Assessment RETA) to mitigate areas of the city that are affected adversely by the annexation as identified in the independent studies.

- Compose the organizational body that administers RETA revenue with representatives of all neighborhoods within the new city limits.

- Provide a percentage of residential lots to Habitat for Humanity.

- Include a "luxury" assessment on houses that exceed a certain square footage.

- Require all large residential single family dwellings and commercial construction to meet a specified green standard.

- Require landscaping, such as xeriscaping, to conserve fresh water and minimize its consumption for all new residential construction.

- Require an endowment fund to expand water and sewer capacity.

Second, to amend the Urban Growth Boundary, consistent with city resolution 2006-15 and in collaboration with Routt County, the city should first:

- Annex the 500 or so acres within the Urban Growth Boundary and test assumptions on pressure to grow, on trip reductions and on transit expansion.

- Amend the Urban Growth Boundary if - and only if - explicit assumptions hold, and annexation of the additional 200 acres will yield exceptional benefit, as required, to current residents.

Of course, annexation for development should pay for itself. The city should assure current residents they will not experience diminishing levels of service or pay for additional infrastructure, e.g. a fire station and engine, or fire and law enforcement services triggered by annexation.

Annexation should fulfill unmet needs of the city and mitigate the needs that it will create. In Durango, the Three Springs development dedicated land for "city parks and two schools, fire and police stations, a child care center and affordable housing."

In Minturn, the Battle Mountain Resort "will also bring streets, streetscapes, an $8.5 million recreation center, trails, a scholarship fund for locals, $22 million to acquire land, parking lots, employee housing, local use of the private resort, wildlife mitigation and the final cleanup of an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site created by acid mine leakage from an abandoned mine on Ginn's property. : All in all, Ginn will provide $180 million for town improvements."

One hundred eighty million dollars! All financial and infrastructure negotiations preceed the final pre-annexation agreement and, thus, determine the extent to which public benefits are "extraordinary" or "overwhelming." Annexation can be a positive step forward for Steamboat Springs. Let's not blow it.

White is president of the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley; Aigner is the Community Alliance's organizer.

Comments

steamboatsprings 6 years, 7 months ago

The Steamboat 700 annexation is a process that needs to be handled very carefully but what we don't need is to circumvent market forces in a way that will continue to make market rate housing even less affordable. Unfortunately Steve and Al have little understanding of basic economics and are apparently naive enough to think all of their wish list will come out of the pockets of the Steamboat 700 LLC and the homebuilders when most if not all of it will come out of the people who buy market rate units there. That is an inconvenient truth that they choose to ignore. Market rate units? As so many have forgotten those are homes that fulfill the American dream with market rate appreciation and thus the ability to trade up in the future as your family grows. Affordable units definitely have a place but they are no panacea because they are little more than a long term lease with room for a smidgen of appreciation that will never allow the family to buy a market rate house much less upgrade in any form because affordable units are small by design. To accommodate family growth owners are required to move out of Steamboat placing the people we are trying to keep in Steamboat in a position with no choice but to leave.

Am I say that Steamboat 700 should not have to pay for their impacts on the community? Not one bit, they should help solve the infrastructure problems and cost they create but they shouldn't be solving all infrastructure problems to date in the WOS area and downtown much less a laundry list of wouldn't that be nice if we could stick them with our wish list much less the musings of people who want to bring their forms of socialism to Steamboat. The same thing has been done in Aspen and Vail. Our experience in Steamboat the last two years is that these sorts of policies put far more market rate homes out of the reach of our citizens than they will provide in affordable units.

The last man in scenarios just doesn't work. If the community wants to solve these infrastructure issues a broader effort is required. Traffic is already a mess out there and that is OUR problem. The affordability of housing was already a problem before the current regs were enacted but trying to solve the problem on the backs of the last units built is quite possibly the most efficient way to make all other market rate units unattainable because market rate affordable units like Sunray meadows and the Villas could no longer be built. If we do all of this again in the WOS area the market rate units out there will be unaffordable to the locals we want to be living there.

In regards to the capital gains assessment why not simply ensure some competing supply? Approving just Steamboat 700 gives whomever they flip the entitled land to (and flip it they will) control of supply and that will bring higher prices. Having some competing supply will do far more to control prices and speculation.

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 7 months ago

The city and county should charge a "luxury fee" to homes over a certain square footage. I believe that is done in Telluride and Aspen and I think that Telluride either makes the owner provide an affordable caretaker type unit on the property for a resident to live in or they chip into the housing fund. The policy is not to get money from those who have it but to ensure that the residents who work and live in the area have a place to live. After all they are serving the wealthy homeowners directly and indirectly by working at the grocery store, repairing their skis, mowing the lawn, working at the hospital, etc. Steamboat 700 just needs to be well thought out or the impact won't be pretty!

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elk2 6 years, 7 months ago

How about some sort of housing specifically for teachers. It's time to get the teachers real housing and get them out of campers at the KOA or whatever it's called now.

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okiegal 6 years, 7 months ago

I think extending the bike path should be a requirement.

if we want to curb traffic that would help alot.

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thecondoguy1 6 years, 7 months ago

I sure do agree with that "luxury fee", as long as I get to decide whats "luxury" for example, all vehicles less that 5 years old, (newer a luxury to me), any house larger than 2000 sq ft, (that would be a luxury to me), fine cuts of meat, sea food, wine over $6.99 a bottle, boots costing over $195.00, those fancy cowboy hats, and a daily fee on anybody over 5'8", (that would be a luxury to me), oh, and hair cuts, that's a luxury to me too..........

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OnTheBusGus 6 years, 7 months ago

condoguy, I think I agree with your definitions of luxury.. except for the height. You want to charge by the inch over 5' 8". No fair!!

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