Steve Lewis: Rob Douglas is selling out our town

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Rob Douglas' column is a developer's mouthpiece. He let Mary Brown write his last column on housing. This week, he writes that suspending our affordable housing ordinances amounts to a compromise. Ridiculous! Suspending a zoning code is exactly the same as repealing the code. Billions in development value, such as the Thunderhead, Ski Time Square, St. Cloud Mountain Club and other projects, will become vested with no affordable housing obligations whatsoever.

Douglas ignores an easy counter argument. These ordinances already sleep until someone sees enough demand to build a project. With no demand and no permit pulled, the ordinance is moot.

The "obstacles" Douglas would clear away to stimulate growth happen to be our community goals. Far from the "middle ground" Douglas alleges his column to be, Douglas is advocating selling out our town, plain and simple.

Steve Lewis

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Isn't it more profitable to talk ideas and issues, rather than debate character. Your positions define you well enough don't they?. And Fred has ventured his name. Give him credit for standing behind his beliefs.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Steve,

Did you ever stop to think that the wages paid to people who live in Moffat County and Craig are, in fact, supporting small businesses over there? And that's good? And that people who want to start a viable small business should look to Moffat and Craig because everything costs less over there?

Mentoring and volunteering and all that stuff are really nice. So, why should it get you a break on your housing cost?

All of your arguments are like darts stuck in a board, with no connection among them in terms of hard cash and actual affordability. How was it, again, that affordable housing was supposed to increase local wages and put money back into Steamboat businesses? Do you understand that wages cannot go up without profits? Publicly funded jobs that depend on taxes can't pay more unless the taxpayers have more money to spend.

Is there anyone living in AH in Steamboat who could not have gotten something just as nice, probably cheaper, and on the open market in Craig?

I'll grant you that it makes sense for deed-restricted units to have a better foreclosure history than open market housing. That would indicate that the people going in have steady jobs and good professions. I have nothing against teachers (some of them, anyway) and nurses, radiology techs, cops and fire fighters, etc., getting a break on housing for the benefit of the community. It's the same as paying them more to get into open market housing. Tit for tat. People with skills critical to the health and safety of the community need to be attracted and retained. The military services, for example, do exactly the same thing in order to staff essential positions. Folks in the military get a "variable housing allowance" depending on the local cost of housing, but that's also because we all get a fat tax bill from Uncle Sam ever year to cover the cost. In our case, the cost of AH falls back on developers and purchasers of market value homes. If the city residents want to provide homes for public employees, then tax them and pay public employees (teachers, cops, etc.) more. It's an easy fix.

The end of the story and the sad facts are that there is nothing in Steamboat Springs which is essential for anyone except the people who want to live here. If the town went away, nobody from outside would ever miss it. Another answer to providing housing for teachers is to take your kids and live somewhere else.

Folks making up little stories about how their contributions as educators shape the community really ought to get out into the world and understand that there is indeed nobility in self-sacrifice to do a special deed, but nobody appreciates it as much as the people doing it. Don't take on a low-paying job and then complain about the money. Doing the job should be the reward, and learning to live on the money has to be part of it. Nobody is forcing you to live here, and if you're a good educator, you're probably needed more somewhere else.

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ybul 5 years, 6 months ago

The ordinances that exist may not work. Though the developers should have planned for those units when budgeting their projects. I do not see cause to suspend the ordinance, maybe it should be amended or rewritten to allow those units in process to buy themselves out for and those funds be used for rental properties, affordable lots for singles family homes or something else.

However, the developers new of the requirement and development in this town is not a right as the city must serve those residences. So to forego the ordinance in order help out developers during tough times does nothing to fill their requirement of providing some affordable housing (as who knows if it will help out anyway, kind of like the government throwing good money after bad to maybe help out AIG and again and again).

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Affordable housing works:

Fox Creek Village - 30 deed restricted units, sold out

Sunburst Condos - 7 deed restricted units, sold out

First Tracks - 47 units under construction, 16 undercontract

Hillside Village Apartments - 38 rental assistance units

Mountain Village - rent adjusted or controlled units

I don't know the status of 8 or so units recently finished downtown by Jim Cook and Paul Franklin, but I suspect half are sold.

Deed restrictions work, or this list wouldn't exist. Terms of IZ ordinance has an "escape clause" (as written by developer's) that agrees one year from C.O. would be appropriate time frame to reconsider unsold AH units. The ordinance is not broken, the economy is.

The lower income units show much more demand. Shifting IZ's AH product to lower incomes will better target the ordinance's units.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Steve,

Here's the problem. You are trying to provide affordable housing for hypothetical future residents at the cost of jobs for locals who are not being employed because the additional cost of providing "affordable units" drives up the cost of the rest of the project.

There is a basic truth in mathematical science which applies to all decision making. You cannot improve the final result by adding a constraint. You can only reduce the final "maximum" benefit of local jobs and housing by adding constraints which drive up the cost.

Preservation of green space drives up the cost of land, makes even marginal land desireable for high-end development, and prevents people from building low-cost housing while also making a profit. There is no reason for anyone to build housing targeted at low-income residents as long as there are high-income people standing in line to buy homes here. If there was money to be made building houses that could sell for less than $200k, people would be doing it.

The thing we really need is affordable housing on accessible land within ten miles of town. Mobile homes designed for our snow loads would be perfect. The monthly housing cost difference would more than finance the difference in transportation costs for people who lived there.

The only thing that sets Steamboat apart from any other community between Walden and Rifle is the ski hill. That's the reason for being here, and everybody knows it. Wage-earners want to live here near the hill too, and that's understandable, but unrealistic. It makes no sense for people to sacrifice their lives working 2 or 3 jobs so that their skiing isn't restricted to the weekends, does it? That's what they're doing. Why are we compelled to provide housing for people just because they want it?

Why isn't there an ordinance requiring developers to put up the same penalty payment, and then send that money to help rebuild Iraq, or Palestine, or provide safe and decent low-income housing in Denver? There's no difference between doing one of those things, or spending the money locally, except that the locals are only "needy" because they choose to be.

Again, I'll just have to say that the people with the "vision" didn't have the "money" to make it come true, and class envy is the real emotion driving this issue. There are other places I'd rather live, but I can't afford it, and I don't see those communities penalizing their local workforce in order to provide a place that I can afford to buy. There's no reason for us to do it either.

Back in '93-'94 I risked my own money to put up a spec house in the $250k range. I did a lot of the work with my own hands. It took nine months from idea to Certificate of Occupancy, and I made $18,000. That's why you don't have affordable housing in this town.

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JLM 5 years, 6 months ago

The simple truth of the matter is that the developments which are cited as examples of the ordnance "working" are miniscule and are dwarfed by the need and the demand. They are a ham handed attempt to extract a fictitious price point and to pass the cost along to the other units. They are simply coercive.

Is the development of tax base a good or a bad thing? If it is good to diversify and expand the tax base in order to allow for expansion and continuity of tax funded services, then it is a good thing. I think it is a necessary thing. Otherwise YOUR taxes have to keep going up and up.

Affordable housing is rental housing and it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. And, the coffee? Well, it is also good.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

JLM,

Again, rental housing can't be near here and be affordable and be profitable for the person taking the risk. Publicly funded rental housing is ripe for corruption and nepotism, and guess what? You have to pay people to manage and maintain it, so any profit motive you give up by building using public funds gets offset by having to pay salaries of managers and maintenance workers.

Every legitimate employer knows that the cost of an employee includes his/her pay and income tax withholding, miscellaneous other costs like workmens' comp, and social security payments. So, whatever the employee gets to live on is only a portion of what the employer has to pay. People who have only worked for a paycheck, and have not had to come up with the cash to fund someone else's paycheck, can never truly understand the cost of having an employee . . . especially one that comes in late, gets sick, etc. The people who think housing could be affordable overlook the unseen costs that the providers of the housing must bear. A person who pays $1000 a month in rent is done when they write the check. The landlord has the long-term worries and the financing to cover when there's a vacancy and all that stuff.

If the AH folks had to approach the problem from the landlord's point of view instead of the renters', they'd be looking for housing elsewhere, firmly understanding why it isn't going to happen here unless there are drastic changes in building costs and cheap land is made available.

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ybul 5 years, 6 months ago

<< There is no reason for anyone to build housing targeted at low-income residents as long as there are high-income people standing in line to buy homes here. If there was money to be made building houses that could sell for less than $200k, people would be doing it.>>

I do not think there is a line of people any longer.

Next point is that as opposed to including a unit in a high end short term condo complex. Maybe it would be better to take a $ amount and buy land to build those rent controlled units on. However, what we have today should not be thrown out in order to placate developers, without a suitable alternative.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

Steve,
I will concede one point, you are persistent in trying to keep this bed bug brigade in lockstep. Discard the recent mortgage debacle, and look back to LBJ, and his well meaning welfare giveaway. This started us, into creating a nation of dependancy that is largely non reversable. We are coming from a past of free markets, personal responsibility, and unlimited opportunity. What is your rush to socialism, and lack of the aformentioned? This has been a wonderful ride and we need to forestall it as long as possible. I think it inevitable that we will go to socialism far too soon, if you are in a hurry there are lots of places that will welcome you. I don't think that those societies can compete with free enterprise in solving the problems of the future.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Fred,

Since you bring up LBJ, I'd like to expand a bit.

Under LBJ, job training programs were enacted to help folks from the ghetto qualify for "good" skilled careers. Like meat cutting, for example.

I had a friend who was employed by CETA (comprehensive Employment Training Act) in the late 70s and early 80s helping to administer those programs. Also, one of my college professors had been a consultant to the program. Here's what they found out: People would come in and get paid while training, but then when they were placed in jobs, they would either lose the job or quit because of time and attendance issues -- they'd come in late, or not at all. So, guess what they'd do then? They'd come back to CETA and get trained to do something else, and the cycle would repeat. The government program coddled them along until they were considered "qualified," and then when they were placed in a job they weren't interested because they knew how to live on welfare, or off the street drug trade, and didn't have to do what the people at work told them to do.

The presumption that all people will thrive and prosper if only given a chance is fantasy. A guy who gets laid off from a good job he's had forever might make good use of such a chance. Whether giving him a place to live three blocks from his job so he can serve coffee and shovel snow off the roof in a resort town makes any sense is a matter of debate.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Give me a break.

Look up the definition of the term "ghetto."

Dream Island is a ghetto. So is Oak Creek, for that matter.

Maybe you'd like to explain why the programs were located near the ghetto if not to benefit the people who lived there. If "ghetto" is racist, then so is "Equal Opportunity" and "Affirmative Action."

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flotilla 5 years, 6 months ago

ghetto /Ë gÉtoÊ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [get-oh] Show IPA Pronunciation

noun, plural -tos, -toes. 1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships.

There are PLENTY of people that live in Oak Creek because they chose to. People of ALL walks of life. People that make plenty of money to live in Steamboat if they wanted to. Show me the last time a 835 sqft house in a ghetto sold for $225,000.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Aich, the constraint of affordable housing will not determine the end price. It is a piece of the profit, yes. Its nationally estimated that affordable housing done like we are currently doing it costs a developer 3%. My calcs for One Steamboat Place hit arange of 2-4%. During the same time frame real estate prices climbed at 20% a year.

Much of the above argument centers on the profit motive. And there you make a good point that affordable housing is hardly profitable. Our market builds mainly for the wealthy buyers.

What many above will reject, and what I accept, is that within this town developing is a privilege. If you want to develop, the you do according to our goals. Size and height are set goals, and housing is a set goal. Provide those and we have a contract.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

ybul, You are willing to ask the developer to contribute. Its a lonely concept in this conversation, but I'm there with you.

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JusWondering 5 years, 6 months ago

'tilla; No offense, Oak Creek has many ghetto characteristics and I can understand the confusion.

To answer directly "Show me the last time a 835 sq ft house in a ghetto sold for $225,000".

To do a comparison I looked to our neighbors to the East (Denver) to find a ghetto and prices of homes for comparison since they have a much larger inventory of homes to pick from. As a comparison I chose the well-known ghetto of Montbello.

Couldn't find a 835 sq ft house in Montbello; but found a townhome for $257,900 http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/7777-23Rd-Ave-Bldg-3,-Unit-304_Denver_CO_80238_1105918012

The closest comparable I found was a 914 sq ft townhome for $215k http://www.realtor.com/realestateandhomes-detail/3340-N-Central-Park-Blvd_Denver_CO_80238_1105830547

Sorry, but $225,000 for a home is not a lot of money these days.

I do agree there are some that choose to live in Oak Creek instead of Steamboat; but you have to admit they are the minority. Even some of the business owners in town perfer Steamboat to Oak Creek (yet another characteristic of a ghetto).

We have mental pictures of ghetto as being all bad. It is not. Neither home that i have included is a bad home and Montbello is not a bad neighborhood. It is just working class folks trying to get ahead. But I bet Montbello has better police coverage than Oak Creek :)

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flotilla 5 years, 6 months ago

I know this fight could go on Aich. But a ghetto is reserved for people ethically the same and a slum is reserved for poor people. So, I guess, Oak Creek is a slum.

"Sorry but $225,000 for a home is not a lot of money these days"

choke, cough

So... My point isn't that house that is on the market Aich. My point was the house that sold. Meaning that there is a huge market for homes $225,000. Lets build some!

You see, $225,000 is a lot of money for a home. It is 20% down (45K- not many people have that lying around). And the mortgage on it is probably around 1200K/ month. I don't see that as cheap. And neither do the people that teach your kids how to read/write/play sports, craft your mantle, protect you from crime and fire, survey your developments, draw your homes, catch your dogs, fix your car, fix your pants, fix your skis, bikes, cats, dogs, teeth...plow your roads (in steamboat), sell you gear, cars, jewerly, coffee; protect your wilderness and forests, police the wildlife poachers, bake your bread, run your condo complexes, massage your back, consult on finances, the environment, and own restaurants.

Why can't we let them stay? Because you know how to cook chinese food, fix your head gasket, play all sports and teach chemistry, because you like waxing your own skis? Wait! Can you survey land? Can you do stream mitigation? Finally, you know the people who you deal with when you go into some retail stores in Steamboat? The ones who are too stoned to pour your coffee? Do you want people like them to man all the stores, restaurants and services in Steamboat? Because the people that pass drug tests, have an education, and are bright and helpful don't want to live in Shadow Run.

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flotilla 5 years, 6 months ago

I know they don't Teleflypicker. That was part of my point. And you can't assume that everyone qualifies for FHA. I didn't, I had to come up with 20% down.

And further, my point is that $225,000 IS AFFORDABLE so lets build more of them.

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ybul 5 years, 6 months ago

steve,

the developer is already asked to put a percent of the housing to the program. Maybe, it should go to purchase land in west steamboat, for modular homes, and apartments. IZ is to get people of different income classes to live next to one another, not to have people live in primarily a nightly rental community.

Affordable housing does not need to be ski in ski out, and in reality it should not be.

I think JLM had the best idea, that it should be based upon square footage. That way maybe affordable houses would be built.

Though I still believe that this market correction, will bring the price of housing down. Probably facilitating realistic housing prices in town, allowing those that are realistic in their expectations, to purchase shelter (as that is what a house is), not an investment based on the credit bubble.

The second home market is all but done in the near term. Public mood has changed and people are worried about taking care of themselves in these economic times, not about buying a vacation home that they could simply rent for less than ownership costs. In addition they are less concerned about five diamond resorts today than they were two-three years ago, when these projects were conceptualized.

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Duke_bets 5 years, 6 months ago

JusWondering and Aich - Oak Creek truly doesn't have any ghetto characteristics. It is a community made up of predominantly white / middle-class people with a population of 850.

And, which business owners in Oak Creek prefer Steamboat? There's 1.5 that I'm aware of. And, their children attend S. Routt.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Duke,

Oak Creek is a crowded area of people with similar ethnic and economic characteristics. That's a ghetto. Look it up.

Steve,

Have you done the analysis on what it costs to hold a finished property for 3 months to a year? You either pay interest on the loan, or you have your liquidity tied up in an asset that prevents you from going on to another project. Either way, the people building the houses lose out, because the delay in sales delays further projects, and our neighbors who make a living building houses don't get as much work.

Holding cost and opportunity cost are just as real as the additional building cost, and they have the same effect on driving up the cost of housing. Either that, or they reduce the supply when builders stop building, or choose not to build, units they'll have a hard time selling quickly.

I am pretty sure that most of the homes and building lots in town are privately owned. Did these folks who own these places agree to a "privilege tax" on developers?

Property inside the town limits is not enchanted. There are no pearly gates.

But, then I guess the conflict between you and me is that I figured out it was much cheper, and really nicer, to live out of town. Anything that adds to the traffic and crowding on Lincoln Avenue is terrible for all of us, and that includes affordable housing.

Flo,

I saw an ad today for a home in a southeastern state city suburb. $142,000. 1381 sq. ft. 3 br, garage, 1 acre lot. At $225,000 in OC for 800 to 1000 square feet, people are getting royally screwed. If I could build $225k houses and make $100k a year, I'd be doing it. Instead, I'd be making about $25k. Why should I give people who are going to live in OC a $75,000 gift at my expense?

That's why nobody else is doing it either. Too much work and too much risk for the return.

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freerider 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree with Steve on this one....Rob Douglas does not represent this community at all ...he has no business spewing his opinion about anything...how he got a job at the pilot is amazing to me...all he does is spark useless debates like this one so bored users can argue online about his senseless opinion's ...fortunately his opinion doesn't matter ...he is a dying breed of self serving windbags like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter ...do us all a favor ...get a job Rob and go away forever ...

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upstream 5 years, 6 months ago

my sentiments exactly Freerider. Rob Douglas is an arrogant blow in full of pompous gas. He gets his "facts" from some very questionable sources and bullies those he interviews when they dare to challenge or disagree. But, then again, so do most of the folks who respond to his columns. I hardly ever pick up the Steamboat Enquirer anymore- the whole paper has become no more meaningful than the advertising circulars inside (as in, everyone needs fire starter). Here's one longtimer hoping The Local can get itself together and give us something worth reading.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Try reading Peter Pan. Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson are too realistic to satisfy the people in this town.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Steamboat Magazine: "This is our gift to our kids, for now and for generations" - Marabou

"Call now to find out why other families are making Steamboat ...home." Edgemont, Steamboat Magazine

"Building your dreams, whatever they are made of" - Fox Construction, Steamboat Magazine

A 100 more advertisements wrapped around this journalistic celebration of the awesome COMMUNITY we offer. Meanwhile, in 2004, 1 of 3 Steamboat workers lived in Steamboat.

We're gonna need a lot more statues of children playing.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

In 1990 the real estate community helped kill a real estate transfer tax that everyone, including realtors, pine for today. In 1992 such taxes became illegal under TABOR.

Today council and realtors are suggesting we can do it again in a different way, real estate transfer fees (RTF). Maybe it will work. I'm encouraged the new concept has an escrow that cushions against its vulnerability to TABOR challenges.

This presents the Real Estate community with an opportunity to in effect, give us back what they took away 20 years ago. When the calculations are done on smart percentages of impact fees and RTF's, realtors should argue that the percentages on high end properties are too low, and that, yes, they and their client's can deliver more for the housing needs of their "community".

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

Steve, I think that your best course of action might be to get Rob Douglas silenced.You and your "community Alliance" have spent years shaping this valley, getting surrogates to further the agenda, and making sure that the greedy are dealt with. Rob comes along and takes an alternate view, creates discussion, and we all get to participate regardless of our affiliations. He questions why, and how things ard done, and suggests remedys. I have been around awhile, and he is certainly a breath of fresh air. Reporters from the Pilot are not very investigative and we deserve more than talking points. Those running for office need to be held accountable, if we are going to have a healthy community. Rob has challenged us and that is exactly what the doctor ordered. In the past I have heard of reporter jobs being in jeopardy by people of influence, sounds like Chicago. In Phoenix Don Bowles was dealt with when he dared to ruffle feathers. We are big boys now and we need to accomodate more than one agenda.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

Steve, I think that your best course of action might be to get Rob Douglas silenced. You and your "community Alliance" have spent years shaping this valley, getting surrogates to further the agenda, and making sure that the greedy are dealt with. Rob comes along and takes an alternate view, creates discussion, and we all get to participate regardless of our affiliations. He questions why, and how things ard done, and suggests remedys. I have been around awhile, and he is certainly a breath of fresh air. Reporters from the Pilot are not very investigative and we deserve more than talking points. Those running for office need to be held accountable, if we are going to have a healthy community. Rob has challenged us and that is exactly what the doctor ordered. In the past I have heard of reporter jobs being in jeopardy by people of influence, sounds like Chicago. In Phoenix, Don Bowles was dealt with when he dared to ruffle feathers. We are big boys now and we need to accomodate more than one agenda.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Fred, we need to accommodate more than one agenda. Yes.

I asked Brent to provide a progressive column "to accommodate more than one agenda". He disagreed Rob needed to be balanced, but said he would consider another column if samples of writing warranted one (caveats: no promise of pay, and no promise that he could find the space). He rejected my request that a group, rather than one author, write the column.

So I gave it a shot. And failed my own standards. You have to want to be heard on a lot of topics to do what Rob does. I could barely muster 4 separate columns that I felt John Doe really needed to read. Maybe I know too many people here. Some of my words seemed to unfairly challenge a friend, or other words overly challenged some guy in that "department" who I at least needed to be fair with. I couldn't put my name to so much self-righteousness.

Which gives me less patience for Rob, because it's obvious he doesn't care about those he writes against. His column bruises people. Probably works in DC, but not here. Here he just pisses people off. I got calls from folks I don't know thanking me for the above letter. "He doesn't understand us."

Some people enjoy the bully pulpit. Some towns don't deserve one. And Steamboat is one of those towns.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

And Fred, The evil and underhanded agenda you attribute to the act of citizenship is hopefully a view only you hold. I think so. Maybe if we were getting paid, or had some personal $$ gain at stake? Sigh....

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

Steve, I would say that you represent the social engineering sector of our community. You have done a very good job and are to be commended. I am jealous of this organization that has been able to shape and further your goals. I share many of your goals although we may differ on methods. However I see agenda trumping reality in recent times. Our council elections are now our superbowl, with dueling agendas. Your success, especially with the previous council has certainly embarassed me. This is what enticed me to enter the public comment area. Constant turnover added to the problem. I think that Rob and others are trying help by pointing out problems, and saying to all concerned that this is enough. No more excuses and finger pointing, in the future we want accountability. In a more subtle way the voters agreed. In the meantime, we need other views to avoid past problems. Putting council on notice that future hiring debacles need to be avoided, by leaving agendas at home seems like a good idea. When any political party gets too comfortable, problems arise and I don't think that Rob would blink if the roles were reversed. Rob is saying that poor performance should not go unnoticed. Im sure that you will get a pat on the back when warranted.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

"No more excuses and finger pointing". Rob and I will surely try.

Fred, Your posts are always about me. Its getting old. Here I am:

I'm a planner, in case you haven't noticed. The "pat on the back" I pursue is ten and twenty years away. But...

Less than 33% of Steamboat's workers live in this town. That is no small economic achilles heel.

Social engineering? Well yes, I do enjoy a town with children and families in it.

Can we talk about the facts now?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

Steve, You are a surrogate for the "community alliance" that would like to silence Rob. You are not the victim here. This group has been very influential in local matters and would like to continue unabated to present themselves as the savior of all that is good. You are not happy with the fact that Rob gored your incompetent ox. I just don't think that you are being singled out. I understand that you are unhappy, next time try to present a more competent ox.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

With tactics like this, a better name might be the "good old boys alliance".

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Fred, Your posts are always about me. Its getting old. Readers of this thread deserve something better than your opinion of my character.

Do you have an opinion on the article above, or the Douglas article it responds to?

You have no opinion on 33% of Steamboat workers living in Steamboat?

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barkingschedule 5 years, 6 months ago

Teleflypicker says, "If you are talking about a couple of school teachers, the average teacher salary in our district is abouot 55K. A two income household of teachers who have summer employment on top of the teaching salary is likely to be about 130K: again, enough to buy under the scenario described."

Picker, go to http://www.sssd.k12.co.us/Resources/2210.pdf to see that a beginning teacher in our district makes $32,746 a year. My husband and I are both teachers. We have lived in Steamboat for 27 years and both work two jobs--while raising a family. I have a graduate degree and my husband has completed additional graduate-level work. After twenty-five years in the teaching profession in this town, we certainly do NOT make 130K, as you suggest.

I don't pretend to know all the issues surrounding this debate; however, I do know that making teachers (and nurses, and police officers) sound as if they can actually afford to buy a house in this town is ridiculous.

Do your homework, Picker. We lose excellent teachers each year because they get tired of sharing a townhouse with five roommates. Why would anyone with a Master's degree in mathematics or science--or any other discipline for that matter--teach at our high school when he/she could work in the private sector, make the 130K you're speaking of--and NOT have to work two jobs to afford a home.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Barkingschedule, The irony is, your needs as teachers hold the key to where we should be going. Please consider yourself informed enough to wade in. If you have any questions, ask for Nancy Engelken at the city 879-2060.

Of 17 people to speak, Jody Anagnos and one other single woman where the only two affordable home seekers at the CC discussion Tuesday. Jody expressed dismay that other workers weren't there beside her to support housing in Steamboat.

If the teachers got involved, they could make a big difference in where this discussion goes.

A smaller piece of housing ordinance, Linkage, is being suspended Tuesday (1st reading) with a final hearing (2nd reading) probably the following Tuesday. The larger ordinance is up for 1st reading in early March, 2nd reading soon after. The city website posts the agenda "packet" of letters and staff info as a pdf on the city website the Friday before each meeting.

Please join the discussion.

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steve aigner 5 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Duckels,

The Community Alliance does not wish to silence anyone including Rob Douglas. Nor is Steve Lewis a surrogate for the Community Alliance. Steve Lewis speaks his conscience, that's it pure and simple.

Go back and read his moderating voice between September 10 and September 16 on the attempt by the City Council to forgive contractors and developers the nearly $5 million they owed the community of Steamboat Springs in unpaid use tax. The community should be thankful for Steve Lewis and Bob Enever, who wrote the Letter to the Editor and bugged the Steamboat Pilot and Today editorial staff for sweeping the issue under the rug. If those two and seven members of the audience on September 16 who made public comment against the tax-give away are "incompetent oxen," they we need more such "incompetence." At least the "incompetent oxen" read the law, knew the implications of special interests winning at the expense of the whole community, and simply persuaded City Council to do the right thing.

When the Community Alliance takes a position, it is based on our understanding of what the community at large has expressed as it vision of the future and its discontent with current trends. As I specifically said to you earlier this week, "Every position the Community Alliance takes reflects the results of community surveys, the outcomes of extensive public processes like the SSCAP and the WSSAP, Vision 2020 and 2030. Our positions represent our assessment of what the community wants to protect its unique character, preserve the natural environment, enhance the quality of life and build a local society in harmony with nature. That's our mission."

If you read what I wrote to you, then you chose to ignore it, disrespecting the Community Alliance and going on with your agenda. That is not particularly civil.

You accuse the Community Alliance of presenting ourselves "as the savior of all that is good." That is not how we work. We study issues in the context of our mission and the community preferences as expressed in surveys and at sanctioned public gatherings, we discuss various points of view within the frame of the whole community, we iron out differences among ourselves, and we agree on criteria for parsing our analyses.

Our mission guides us. We carry out our mission with humility, without sideway glances as to how others perceive us. With our nose to the grindstone, we simply pay attention to issues from the perspective of the whole community. Our actions are grounded in the soil of the community, not in some self-annointed role as savior.

Steve Aigner, organizer The Community Alliance of Yampa Valley

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upstream 5 years, 6 months ago

Thank you Mr Aigner for the above post. Fred Duckels has lost 100% of my respect with his posts over a few recent threads. I almost choked when I saw he was elected president of the housing authority board- Fred- your tone is utterly unprofessional and very disheartening. I cannot imagine you leading any sort of community based group given the low regard you seem to have for so many of us who share this valley. When did you become so aloof and arrogant? When did the perspective of one man, who has very shallow roots in this community to say the least, become more valuable to you than the perspective of community activists and leaders who have been hard at work in the Yampa Valley for decades? I fear for the future of the Housing Authority. I can only hope strong voices such as Steve Lewis and Steve Aigner and those who attended the above mentioned CC meeting continue to speak out.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Upstream, Ed MacAuther, not Fred Duckels, is the new president of the Yampa Valey Housing Authority. They both have excavation businesses, maybe that is how you heard it was Fred.

Ed has invested in and given back to this community over many years, in big ways. The housing authority is in capable hands.

Thanks for your support. Much of this new policy will be decided by mid-March. It really has simplified at this point to an impact fee or a transfer fee (both aimed at buying land). Its a very basic question of the amount of the fee.

I support the new fee be equivalent to what we are replacing. I believe that would a 3% impact fee, as IZ amounted to a 3% burden before.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

deed restrictions the way they are used in this area are a joke. they dont do any thing but hurt the person who owns the property. they can not get fair market value and are set up to fail by the government. however if the deed restrictions would sunset after a period of ten years to allow these people the chance to sell at market value they would serve as a good stepping stone.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

it is time the planning, commisioners and the powers that be admit they are the reason there is little to no affordable housing in steamboat. it is the past decisions that have created our current problem. lets take for example not allowing a gravel pit on the south side of town. this caused all gravel to be hauled through town increasing the construction cost for every new subdivision, home ect that is from the pool to rabbitears pass and beyond. next the requirements placed on developers raise the cost of every lot. whether it is the requirement of side walks, playgrounds, or a deed restricted lot all thoes costs just get passed on in the lot prices. no developer is going to take it in the shorts on stuff like this. if they do they will not be a developer for long. i built my own house five years ago and before i could ever break ground i had to spent over $20,000 just for permits and tap fees. having to borrow that extra $20,000 will cost me a total of $50,400 over the life of my loan. kinda crazy. i understand the need for tap fees and such but this seems a little high for a 3 bed 2 bath house. especially when i know the city did not spend a dollar on the infrastructure where live. i know they have money invested in the water treatment and in the wastewater treatment and that is why i understand some tap fees.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

I think one thing they are still looking for in school is the same people were looking for when I was in school; the least common denominator.

In this case, the least common denominator is money.

The people in this town have an unreaslistic set of expectations that are not going to be fulfilled any time soon. When there are four million people out of work in real towns, housing is collapsing, and the whole country is suffering from the results of over-restrictive environmental regulations that have driven our jobs overseas, who the #### do you think is going to rush in here and solve the affordable housing problem? The only people who can do it are already here, and they can't pull it off.

A lucky few will pull together the money and the sets of circumstances that put them into a home they can afford to keep. Teachers are good candidates because they will have steady income compared to folks who are tied to the economy. For anybody else, it's a crap shoot.

If you haven't experienced a setback in your life yet, take it from someone who has been there and had to fight back to solvency that once things start to go bad financially, it's like being on a water slide. There's no stopping until you get to the bottom.

So, if you don't have firm prospects already, forget it. Do something else, or you'll die waiting for it to happen here. It's much easier to go away, make the money elsewhere, and come back than it is to sit here teaching school and hoping for a miracle.

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upstream 5 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for clarifying that Steve- I could not make it make sense in my own mind that a contractor with such contempt for everyday Routt County folk seeking to a maintain a genuine sense of community could become any sort of community leader. I apologize for connecting Ed McArthur to my tirade- he makes a lot more sense as a leader for the Housing Authority Board of Directors. Sadly, everything I said about Fred Duckels remains true...

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

up stream i am not sure about your roots in this community but i do know fred. he and his family have been here for a long time. i also know he employs a large number of people. just what are your roots??

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Steve, My long range view of our community is that at the turn of the next century, I would prefer our population remain as small as possible. With the markets at work, I don't see that our economy will suffer. We will still see a lot of growth. The affordable housing program will find more homes for workers, assure private and public entities of more resources and make investment here attractive. This will accomodate maximum growth. I would prefer that we rely on the private sector to handle housing problems. This takes more faith and wisdom, you might call it tough love, but eventually we will reach equilibrium and find sustainability free of micromanagers and the ensuing folly. Investors will the need to address the employee problem, or face the risks of ignoring it. I believe in facing the most difficult part of a task right at the start. Affordable housing is the opposite of tough love and I believe it has the tendency to fuel growth that will only produce more problems. Steve, when it comes to kids and dogs, I am the arch enabler, so we do agree on that.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Mr. Duckels does, indeed, employ a lot of people through his business.

I think you would find, if you checked his records, that he doesn't employ people continuously unless he has work for them to do. Nobody in business CAN do that for very long, because the money needed to pay employees bleeds at an amazing rate whether or not there's any money coming in.

All of this, "we need community-minded people who will . . . etc." talk really means, "We need somebody to come in here with money they can give away and provide housing for people who want something they cannot afford."

Some of you may think we need affordable housing for waitresses/ballet dancers and counter clerks/artists and snow shovelers/folk singers, but we don't. We don't need artificial diversity. We don't need pets in human form. We need people who can come in and make it on their own, just like the rest of us have done.

Life is hard in these little resort towns. Increasing the population of people who will have a hard time living here while paying health care insurance premiums and taking care of all the other basics is a bad idea. It doesn't help anyone to let them live on the margin, so that any setback is a disaster.

Some people would do fine in "affordable housing." For others, it's a setup for disaster. Helping people get into a financial jam over an "affordable" house in a ski resort town is not the way to improve our town. It's a way to put pressure on taxpayer-paid services for people who will need a safety net.

There's a story in the Pilot today about falling tax revenues and cutbacks. Why make it worse by bringing in people who will require services at our expense?

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Aich, So much of your input is "I believe". Please back it up?

You are wrong about weak ownership of deed restricted units. Nationally, foreclosure rates on free market housing are highet than on deed restricted housing. I can't recall the market, I think it was Routt County?, described at City Council, but one govt loan agency is reporting zero foreclosures on deed restricted product in 2008. It all stems from the "extra" scrutiny on the buyer's ability.

I offer plenty of economic reason for affordable housing. Here's a few: - 33% of our workforce commutes. Its an economic achilles heel. Energy development will strip us of many Moffat workers eventually. - We send $41 mil in wages to Moffat County each year. Many small and marginal local businesses evaporate with that $$ leakage. - labor pool is fundamental to any business. We are losing economic activity due to our labor supply

You have no proof to say affordable housing adds an unfair burden to other sectors of the community. But to the contrary, Lift-Up has this winter experienced a huge burden of imported ski corp and resort group workers who were underemployed. Many were green card workers. I don't argue against green cards - too many small and large business rely on them for seasonal help. But at least recognize this undermines a "living wage" that would allow stronger local families. The ladder up to attainable housing is broken.

Contrary to your "pets in human form" view. These waitresses and clerks are also contributing time to United Way, mentoring kids, and otherwise giving something back. Our community, with 2/3 of our workers living elsewhere, is paying a social price.

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barkingschedule 5 years, 6 months ago

Aichempty states, "Do something else, or you'll die waiting for it to happen here. It's much easier to go away, make the money elsewhere, and come back than it is to sit here teaching school and hoping for a miracle."

I'll keep hoping for that miracle, because the quality of the education, health and governmental services we provide for the citizens of this community defines us.

In fact, I don't think it will take a miracle at all; I believe there are too many talented, forward-thinking people in this community who want to make a difference.

Mr. Lewis, I was on the original Affordable Housing Commission back in 1993. For those of you who remember, we actually organized an Affordable Housing Fair which took place at the middle school cafeteria. We invited builders and developers, lenders and financial advisors; we even provided free daycare in the teachers' lounge! People were invited to come to "booths" where they recieved information about "affordable" housing opportunities.

We had a much less sophisticated level of knowledge of the issues surrounding affordable housing then. We really believed in the possibility. Maybe we were naive, but our vision was one for all residents, not just those who were wealthy enough. The Commission became RALF, and things seemed to be headed in a postitive direction. Well, you know the rest of the story.

I still believe in the hard work of those individuals who undertake the difficult task of balancing deed-restriction with a free-market economy, balancing a desire for open space and affordability, encouraging diversity of housing opportunities. And I truly appreciate their efforts then and today.

Don't give up the miracle. There's too much at stake.

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barkingschedule 5 years, 6 months ago

Aichempty, " . . .and if you're a good educator, you're probably needed more somewhere else." Thanks to Scott Ford's nomination and hard work, my husband was Teacher of the Year for the State of Colorado for a business model he created and implemented. We owned a small, successful business here and continue help raise over $80,000 through a charitable trust for the Yampa River each year. I don't think you want us to go away--to where we're "needed more."

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a wonderful life in this valley, owning a modest home, running a business, and raising children. I just want to be sure that others who follow have the same chance.

But enough useless rhetoric. I have papers to grade. I logged onto this site (possibly not the best choice I've made this week) to provide the perspective of long term, working professionals in the community.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

i again want to point out that deed restricted lots the way they are now do not help people climb the ladder. it gives them a start but not the boost needed as life changes and things happen the homes on deed restricted lots become a burdon to these people. they can not get the money out of them that they should. so they are stuck staying in the same place or moving out of the area. they can not start with a modest home that has a deed restriction and move to a similar sized home without one. these restrictions need to sunset to allow people to climb the ladder. this is especially evident when intrest rates go up.

i also think the YVHA should take a step back and look at some of the projects that have been done in the past, like west end village. to me a starter home is not a 4-5 bedroom 3 bath 3000 sq foot home, nor does it have a garage let alone a 2 car garage. i know these things are nice and the space is nice but for an afordable housing project this is unrealistic. i am aware that not all the homes in west end are RALF but many in the back are.

i do not think putting an afordable house in an upscale development is a benefit to any one. especially the one who cannot afford to live there on their own. the reason is living in an area where you are surrounded by wealth, people will try to keep up with the jones's an soon will be in finacial trouble.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Barkingone,

You are the notable exception, and you are to be admired.

Notice that part about how you worked hard and made it on your own . . . .

This valley absolutely REQUIRES people who are willing to work hard and make it on their own for the privilege of living here. We cannot keep outsiders away, and unfortunately, as long as there are enough of them with the money to come in and pay high prices for houses that would just be average anywhere else, they'll do so. As a result, those of us who live here and make a living on locally generated dollars have to depend on those outside folks hauling in wheel barrows full of the stuff and spreading it around. The only thing we have to sell is high-priced real estate, and the only way to keep local people working and profiting from real estate is to build more and more housing. We are a bedroom community for a ski mountain. Tourism is a very volatile business (as the latest tax info shows) and the people who work in it don't make a lot of money because the businesses that service tourists also have to be competitive. People are not going to pay $100 for a steak dinner that would cost $25 somewhere else just because the restaurant needs to pay a waiter $50,000 a year to keep employees in our high-priced real estate market.

Most people who work for a paycheck and have to live on a budget will find lower-cost sources for the things they need, or do without. I've been lucky enough to be in the position a few times to know that I would be putting money into my savings account every month. During those times, I could pretty much make small purchases whenever something struck my fancy. At other times, I've had to swallow hard and pay more for a gallon of milk at the Clark Store because the cost of gas to get to town was a lot more than the extra cost for the milk.

I am fortunate to have also obtained an affordable home. In my case, I built it, out of pocket. I was 43 years old when I started it. It would not be possible for me to do it over. If I sell out here, I have to leave, because I can't replace what I've got for what I'll get out of it.

My wife and I are making some lifestyle choices right now. One of them has been the acquisition of a freezer and going over to Hayden weekly or once every three to four weeks to Craig to buy in bulk. It's not because we can't afford to buy in Steamboat. It's because it doesn't make sense to pay more to be seen shopping in Steamboat.

I'd much rather see people working on energy extraction in Craig than cleaning hotel rooms and waiting on tables in Steamboat. If you read the other threads, it seems like Steamboat is raising a generation of pot-smoking losers, and I choose not to help provide them with slopeside housing just because they want it.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Barkingschedule, Thanks for posting. Unfortunately Aich is not going to manage a fair response to your ideas (He thinks it is o.k. to help his list of occupations- others should move to Craig).

Nonsense and verbosity may kill this thread. Thanks for reading while it lasted.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

4 gen, You are right that 3,000 sqft homes don't make sense as affordable housing.

You are also likely correct that the step from a deed restricted home to a free market home in Steamboat will always be hard. But please acknowledge that long term ownership, even deed restricted, creates extremely useful equity. Long term rental does not. In saying x doesn't work well, you have to consider that less than x may not work at all.

I disagree that deed restrictions only amount to a burden. The people I know in deed restricted units are pleased to own their home.

Deed restrictions that sunset means we have temporarily subsidized a worker rather than permanently created a worker's dwelling unit. The effort is to provide affordable workforce housing here. If let go of the price caps, we have to start over with nothing, and start over, and start over. No one has that much money to throw at this problem.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

steve i agree the the people who are in the deed restrictions are pleased to own their home. but i have also noticed that they are less likly to do upgrades, and in some cases required maintance. i have asked my friends why not do these things and the simple reply is i will never get the money back out of it. and they are right. now with this mind set you now have a nice neighborhood with a few "clap board houses" after a twenty year run. and that does not make sense. why go to the effort to do this.

i agree that somthing needs to be done for affordable housing but lets face it workers that live in hayden craig and oak creek spend less time in the car than thoes who commute in a big city.

i also believe once a person has lived in the valley for ten or so years it is likly that they are not going to leave. this would just give them the option to change neighborhoods, go to a larger house or what ever. with this in mind you now have to start over again any way.

now lets fast foreward 30 or so years these people are now at a retirement age. and lets face it most people use the equity in their home to help subsidise their retirement through reverse mortgages, selling and moving to a warmer climate and such. and their home has not built the equity that it shoudl have. again these people are trapped.

by doing a life long deed restriction the largest investment made by the average person has little to no return. how is this helping for the long run?? it isint it is just stomping the imediate fire.

one other thing i would like to point out is the fact that people who are in the affordable houses are not being educated on home ownership. they are told here is cheep land, here is some money for a down payment now go get a loan. they are not taught about the differences in the loans. if we are truly trying to help these people out they should be required to take some financial classes to teach them to live with in their means. lets face it many of the people recieving these houses do not have the money due to choices they have made with their money.

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barkingschedule 5 years, 6 months ago

"lets face it many of the people recieving these houses do not have the money due to choices they have made with their money."

Yes, 4gen, I made the choice to go to college--twice. Neither of my parents went to college, so it was very important to them that I and my siblings recieved an education; however, my parents did not have the means to pay for that education. Both of them came from ranching/farming roots, which I'm sure, you, as a four generation local, can understand. I worked and paid my way through two degrees and arrived in this town in 1983 because I had a job.

I am not suggesting that deed restriction is the only answer to affordable housing, but to suggest that people should make better choices with their money as an answer to affordable housing seems to undermine the hard work we all face every day. As a Colorado native and a parent who would like to see her two children live in this state, if not this town, I think we need to stop pointing fingers and start finding solutions. Deed restriction is one solution; however, not the only one.

By the way, my older son is a senior at DU and works for the government writing enviromental impact studies. My younger son would like to attend CSU and work in agriculture. Are these choices that will prohibit them from affording to live in this town? Possibly. However, I think they can continue the grand tradition that families such as yours have given us. With four generations of wisdom, yours is a respected perspective.

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JLM 5 years, 6 months ago

There is a common wisdom in this debate that we seem to be unable to isolate and focus on. It is really very simple --- you can achieve whatever you put your mind to and work toward. You may have to suffer and sacrifice for the outcome you want but you can achieve it.

We seem to be unable to discriminate between a "hand up" and a "handout" even when we intellectually recognize the huge difference. This forum is filled with folks who made the right decisions (for them, mind you). We actually know what works.

I went to college on the Army's tab and risked my life for 5 years --- a great trade from my perspective. I would do it again in a second. Hell, I loved soldiering so the cost part of the equation was not a huge real cost though I probably stayed in longer than I would have otherwise. I did whatever they told me to do and I went wherever they told me to go. I got my choice of the Infantry or the Combat Engineers and I took both.

I went to grad school (an Ivy league school don't you know?) on the GI Bill.

I studied practical stuff (civil engineering, finance) that I thought could get me a good job and would underpin my aspiratons of a certain type of lifestyle.

We all make choices that ultimately fund our lifestyles and we are accountable for those choices. I am tiring of folks who having made their own choices believe they are "entitled" to have others who made different choices compensate for them.

This affordable housing debate is devolving into a sense of entitlement and the sense that it is OK to send the bill for the "solution" to somebody who happens to have a few bucks simply because they have a few bucks.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Here are some numbers to ponder.

Annual appreciation at First Tracks is capped at 3%.

A 6% mortgage on $200,000 costs $1000 per month in interest. Payments would be around $1500 per month, to cover interest, principal, tax and insurance.

After 10 years, the owner would have shelled out $180,000 in monthly payments. Assuming the original cost was $225,000 3% appreciation adds up to $302,381 after ten years, for a gain in equity of $77,381.19. Savings in income tax from home mortgage and real estate tax deductions would come in around $33,000 for someone in the 25% bracket; less for people in lower brackets.

So, it costs you $147,000 in real money and for that you get a return of $77,381.19. That's a return of 52 cents on every dollar you paid out (after taking the tax deduction).

The same home, appreciating at 5% (lower than our historical market appreciation) would be worth $366,501.00 for a return of 96 cents on the dollar paid out. At 7%, it would be worth $442,609.00, or $1.48 return on every dollar paid out. So, in this example, market rate appreciation of 5.2% brings back every dollar you paid out for ten years. It costs you NOTHING to live in the place. It's just like you put your house payment in a jar in the back yard.

The so-called "affordable" house therefore costs you $789 a month every month for ten years compared to a market rate home gaining only 5.2% appreciation. And, if you go market rate and get 7% appreciation, you get back every cent you paid out PLUS 48 cents on the dollar in interest, meaning you actually made money.

So how is affordable housing a good deal for anyone in this scenario? It's a rip-off of the AH family because they lose ground every month they live in the house, and ten years from now they wouldn't have the equity for a down payment to buy the same house at the appreciated market price without kicking in another $20,000 from savings.

What's another way to look at this? If you go AH with a 3% appreciation cap, you'd have to save enough to bring you the equivalent of $789 per month gain on top of the house payment (meaning, savings plus interest would have to be that much) just to stay even.

The affordable housing cap does not make the same place affordable when you sell it ten years later to someone else. And, since you've been losing money every month you lived in the place, you can't afford to move up unless you've had big changes in your real income compared to inflation and market rate housing appreciation.

Unless a person is on a fixed, steady income (like a pension) and never plans to move again, affordable housing is a bad business decision for the buyer. It nails down a current day price that won't go up much in the years to come (as taxes and insurance go up annually) but provides no advantage for young people starting out. It only puts them further behind every year they live in the place.

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barkingschedule 5 years, 6 months ago

"I went to grad school (an Ivy league school don't you know?) on the GI Bill." So, tell me JLM, what is the status of the GI Bill paying for college debt today? My younger son wants to know.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Aich, Your logic has three flaws: 1) You completely ignore the rent costs these folks would pay if they were not owners. 2) Interest on any loan amounts to a BIG chunk. But you end up with "a jar of money" that is - your money, not your landlord's. 3) Others going through the same calculation find an owner gets ahead of a renter after about 5 years. Is yours an interest only proposition? Because interest will become less of a payment as principle is reduced.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

JLM, You continue to ignore this is not about people asking for a handout. Its about a community saying "this is how we want our community shaped". A community is saying we need these workers, we need these families.

Even our neighboring communities are noting strains that stem from being a bedroom community froim Steamboat's workers. Highway maintence will be a reason our own county gets involved. Its just not as simple as the "social class handouts" question you present.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

barkingschedule, i appreciate the choices you made. i also point out that you are probally not in a house that the rest of the community helped to pay for. you made these choices and still were able to afford a home.

it could be done in 83 and it can still be done today. i am 30 and have owned my house (what the bank doesn't) for 5 years. to get here i worked, others played i worked and saved and found the cheepest place to rent possible. and saved.

i also had common sense on my house. it is a 3 bed 2 bath. no garage, dirt drive and it is a modular. a perfect affordable house. i live on a small lot. surrounded by houses similar to mine. it all comes down to choices. go party or work. save money or spend it on frills.

no matter what buying your first home is hard. it is not a cake walk. it is not a right. it is somthing you work for. nd when you work for it you should be able to gain the full extent of of their work.

i do agree with Aich i have not punched the numbers but he is on to what i am saying. deed restrictions are more of a restriction than a help. you are better off renting in hayden and saving the extra money in an IRA (so you cant touch it) there is an allowance for first time home buyers. that is what i did

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 6 months ago

The biggest reason to currently make an effort to provide AH in Hayden, Stagecoach and so on is that can have a big impact for not that much money.

If there is $47M of wages from Routt County going to people that live in Moffat County then at an average wage of $47K (higher than reality, but makes the math easy) that would mean 1,000 people work in Routt and live in Moffat. On any measure used to justify AH, having at least 1,000 local workers living that far away is a huge problem.

There is about a $200K difference between a modest SB home and a similar home in Hayden. So even figuring in the cost of commuting, it is much more affordable to live in Hayden.

And critically to the present issue, the difference between free market pricing and AH pricing in Hayden is minimal. A subsidy of $50K per house would certainly bridge the gap and so $1M could put at least 20 families into homes. Meanwhile, in SB that $200K difference plus $50K subsidy to bridge means that $1M could put 4 families into homes.

Out of those 1,000 workers from Craig, if the choice was 4 families could live in SB or 20 families could live in Hayden then it is obvious to me to benefit the 20. Even if commuting from Hayden is only half as good as living in SB then 20(half) = 10 while 4(100% in SB) = 4. So 20 families in Hayden is 10/4 or 2.5 times better than them being in Craig.

Also, numbers on owning vs renting are not that simple. Owning has costs of maintenance. There is also a typically 6% real estate commission when selling a house which can easily be two year's of appreciation. The financial benefit of owning vs renting typically requires at least 4 years of living in the house.

Thus, in a place like SB a resort town with a high cost of living and limited higher paying jobs, any realistic workforce housing plan should include a significant rental component because many people are not intending to stay for that long. And not the 2 to a bedroom dorm style of the Iron Horse slum, but nice reasonable apartments or fourplexes and such.

And an obvious advantage for affordable rental housing is that it is much easier to keep that affordable because rents can be set by the housing authority that owns the units.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Scott, From the discussion I've heard, the City is not legally able to give City generated funding to an out-of-City effort. Perhaps if the County made some matching funding via an impact fee the restriction would change.

The latest Community Indicators puts 2006 Moffat to Routt commuting at 1300 workers.

Another intersting CI bar graph shows 2001-2006 new businesses growth was best in Routt (700?). But it looks like about 600 of those new businesses have no employees. I assume that's a single owner working for himself, or as a remote branch of another business.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

Scott,

And how does that housing authority decide who gets to move into the subsidized housing? What if someone qualifies based on employment in Steamboat, and then loses the job; do they have to move out? The simple solution in matters like this always results in complex problems that end up on TV and in court when someone cries out about discrimination.

Steve,

The amount of equity one would get from making house payments for ten years in my scenario is $36,714. I did not include that in the analysis. In the baseline case of 3% appreciation, the resulting equity would be $114,095 and the return is 78 cents on the dollar.

The same increase in equity from principal would also apply to each of the other cases I described, so while the numbers change, the relative gains and losses stay the same.

However, this assumes that the owner is in the 25% tax bracket too. A lower tax bracket makes the mortgage deduction less valuable and increases the real total of dollars paid out in return for the equity obtained.

I also did not include the fact that the infant who lives in a condo in 2009 will be wanting a place to ride a big wheel and a bicycle in 2019. When Mom and Dad start looking around for a bigger place and have $140,000 less equity than if they had paid market price for the same place, will their lot in life be better because of living in AH for ten years? Doesn't losing $14,000 a year sound like a bad idea?

I think your logic is a bit funky too, because you assume that owning AH is better than renting. What if you decide you are tired of living in a condo and working for chump change in a resort town, and want to move away? Now you've got this deed-restricted condo that will be tough to sell. What if your job disappears and you have to leave?

The only urgency in this equation is that there are people who want to live slopeside in a world-class ski resort area but can't afford it. How is that a problem for anybody else? It's not.

Somebody gets stuck paying the bill, and somebody gets something for free. What is the benefit of AH to an individual taxpayer who doesn't live in AH? None, unless the AH resident is an essential public employee and the AH subsidy is a part of their compensation in lieu of cash.

In the real world, people choose where they live because of where they work. They don't live in places they can't afford. There's nothing going on in this town that justifies subsidized housing for anyone except public employees, and if that means some businesses close down for lack of employees, welcome to America. The loss of a t-shirt shop, restaurant or other small business doesn't matter in the long run. If this town owed you a living just because you started a business and employed a few locals, I'd still be doing it today.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Aich, Perhaps you agree that equity of owned AH does start to grow after 5 years.

Of course owning is not for everyone. But for some, such as Keith Giglio's folks on career tracks, owning is likely prerequisite to where they chose to live and work.

It makes sense we will continue to see the workers who come here to play. We also need the more serious and capable segment of workers. Many who are career driven and trying create equity for their families.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

4gen, Equity. Even Aich would give us this one: AH does create equity.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

steve i agree that carrear driven people who work hard may need a hand. i have done work on some of the ah projects. the thing that just killd me is here i am working my butt off 60+ hrs a week nights weekends, built my own home and these people who need a hand are literally sittting there watching me work on their house for hours on end during the day. it just drove me nuts why should they be getting help?? if they can afford to take time off work to watch then they can afford to pay their own way.

i know this is not the case for all of the people in AH. but there is no way to eleminate this.

steve i still dont see how they are creating equity for themselves. the numbers just dont work. not only are they paying about the same as rent but now they need to pay for the up keep

The true answer to ah is to get planning and every one involved in making decisions to realise the evey decision they make that costs the developer, contractor, or subcontractor a dollor costs the potential home buyer after markup and tax a minimum of $1.23 and in most cases more. if side walks are required in a development and it costs the developer $50,000 and this is a 30 lot development they will pass that along to each lot at a price of $2,050 per lot. Now really what good are the side walks unless on a busy street. most kids will play on the street and most people will not shovel the snow from them. it is the things like sidewalks that have made the housing so expensive. look at old town for the most part there are not sidewalks, curb and gutter. just signs that say SLOW children playing. (dont know about you but i took offense to that when i was little, i thought i was fast) but the point is every dollor costs the person in the end about a quarter more.

another example is requiring a park in the developments. there is one in mine and really it does not get used. the kids play in the street on the vacant lot and in their own yards. my son plays at our house and if we take him to a park we go to one of the big ones. the park is nice but i do not think any one would miss it. but lets spend some more of the big developers money he won't notice. trust me he will. it is just the end buyer that will pay.

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JLM 5 years, 6 months ago

Barking ---

The GI Bill was last revised in 2008 and I am not familiar w/ its current provisions. I went to school on the VN era GI Bill circa 1970s. Sorry, I cannot assist further. I am sure it is on the Web.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

windle, so many willing to sell out? the same land has been in my family for over 100 years.

but any way. i never said I wanted it all developed. i just stated the lack of land that can be used is making the price of housing go up. you know the whole supply and demand thing. i do not agree with a small goup of people just looking at a map and saying this is the way we think the city should grow. and then years later other people looking at the same map and saying this is not what they wanted to no you can not develop your land. we have other plans for what you own.

there are many people who come to this valley and try to limit the number of people that can come in after them. and there are many who move here for ten years get a vanity wz plate, and a sticker that says local. and say they know best for everyone.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

4gen, What AH project do you refer to?

Did it occur to you that you were helping someone's dream come true, and they loved to watch it being built? Did you inquire about their work? If they worked night shifts would you have a different opinion?

Others also say "End entitlements and get out of the way of development".

Open space is an entitlement we gave ourselves. Simple question: Do you advocate the city should annex and develop the valley floor between Catamount Lake and Steamboat? In other words, ignore the Urban Growth Boundary?

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

steve i know i was helping to build dreams then and i am proud to have been a part and yes i did talk to them about their jobs and such. but this goes back to why should others pay for the CHOICES other people make. i was raised to believe if you were short money you WORKED you did not stand with your hand out. and you also worked when work was there. it might not be there some day. i know i was excited when my house was being done. it was hard to not take off work. but lets face it i had to pay for it. so i worked. and not all innolved were that way. this was a limited few who made me feel this way. you know one bad apple spoils the basket type thing. there were some deserving people and some not so.

as for annexing between catamount and steamboat. i do not agree with the UGB. just think if my ancestors had tried to close the door on everyone 100 years ago?? main st would still be dirt. there is only so much land out there the more land taken away by regs and papers the more it is going to cost for the useable land. the more the land costs the more the housing costs...

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

AH creates equity? Not as fast as saving money. Not as fast as market rate housing.

AH is still a hole that has to be climbed out of some day, or the owners will never break even.

THere's no answer to it, really. A few owners will benefit and live happily every after. Some will realize it was a mistake. But one thing for sure, we're not going to come up with AH units for 1300 daily commuters in this lifetime unless YVHA buys up foreclosures for pennies on the dollar and places the right people in them. Habitat for Humanity is a better model of what we need, and buying up foreclosures (if they become available) saves the step of building them.

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Roger Good 5 years, 6 months ago

This string of BLOG entries is in the context of an article entitled "Steve Lewis: Rob Douglas is selling out our town"

Mike Rosen, a radio talk show host in Denver often asks a caller to "tell him where they sit before they tell him where they stand" Implied is if you sit in a role that is likely to be affected by the stance you take, it should be taken in that context.

Mr. Douglas sits in the chair of an "opinion columnist", and is therefore has the role of sharing his opinion in a column in our newspaper.(1st amendment) Mr. Lewis, sits in the chair as the mouthpiece for the Community Alliance as evidenced at a work session on affordable housing on Feb 10th .

With this context, Mr. Lewis asserts that quoting someone else Mr. Douglas is somehow giving them his voice. Columnists often quote others as a basis of strengthening a position on an issue. Much like a mouthpiece asserts that their voice represents the position of a larger organization (Community Alliance). Mr. Douglas quoted one person by name. Mr. Lewis asserts a much larger voice of the entire Community Alliance.

The second is a premise that borders on slander when Mr. Lewis asserts that Mr. Douglas has "sold out" to the development community.

Open question to Mr. Lewis, what evidence do you have the Mr. Douglas is receiving compensation in any form from the development community.

Open question to Mr. Douglas, since arriving in Steamboat Springs, what is your direct financial, subsidy via non cash basis, or other means of compensation have you received from the development community?

On Feb 13, Mr. Lewis wrote in a blog post regarding his own article the following "Your posts are always about me. Its getting old. Readers of this thread deserve something better than your opinion of my character."

Question to Mr. Lewis, in the context of your post, is it you, or is it the Community Alliances position to offer an opinion on the character of a specific individual, or is it a question of whose character is being questioned?

To the issue of selling out, the Community Alliance cannot be accused of this, as their mouthpiece consistently asserts positions on how developers and people who may ultimately live n AH should manage their money. (Context being the series of posts in this blog)

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Roger Good 5 years, 6 months ago

One additional observation is that in the Feb 10th meeting Mr. Lewis in fact spoke very articulately on the Community Alliance's positions on affordable housing. The Community Alliance should be proud of Mr. Lewis' performance. The possible exception would be when Mr. Lewis was asked by Councilman Magill "can you tell us who is the Community Alliance, what is their charter, what is their membership, and what are your goals." Mr. Lewis had a lapse in his ability to speak succinctly in answering this question.

      One page on their website lists Mr. Richard Levy as their interim organizer

http://www.wccongress.org/cayv.htm This page also has links to their 2006 accomplishments.

A different page on their website lists Mr. Steve Aigner as their Organizer

http://www.wccongress.org/about_us.htm

Their Parent organization, Western Colorado Congress Lists their ISSUES as Gas Drilling, Water, Mountains to Mesa's in the Grand Mesa area, Renewables, and Wilderness. (most notable in the context is the lack of affordable housing ) http://www.wccongress.org/

The Steamboat Pilot lists Mr. Aigner as their Organizer. http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20...

Councilman Magill, this was a tough question for Mr. Lewis to answer in the context of affordable housing.

Finally, it can be argued as Mr. Aigner does in this blog that Mr. Lewis posts as and individual, and argues his point as an individual. Point well stated Mr. Aigner. Mr. Lewis articulated the same talking points while in the Community Alliances Chair on Feb 10th, as he does in this series of blogs relative to affordable housing. Were they the position of the Community Alliance on Feb 10th or Mr. Lewis' position.

In reviewing a series of articles and web sites apparently the Community Alliance has at least 3 active local members. Mr. Aigner, Mr. Lewis and Mr. Levy.

Open Question to City Council. Why is an organization whose issues are "Gas Drilling, Water, Mountains to Mesa's in the Grand Mesa area, Renewables, and Wilderness" allowed at the table as a lobbyist for affordable housing.

If Mr. Lewis was not representing the Community Alliance on Feb 10th, I withdraw the previous question to City Council and would suggest Councilman Magill was asking an inappropriate comment of Mr. Lewis on Feb 10.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

4gen,

The thing that really limits single-family development in this county is the soil. Because of our yellow clay and poor percolation, we are generally restricted to 30+ acres for each single family residence unless there is a central sewage treatment plant available. You can't have wells for potable water and septic drain fields any closer together over broad areas without contaminating the wells with sewage.

Another factor is that the clay soil is "expansive," which means that it holds water and expands when it freezes, just like ice. For this reason, footings must be 4 four feet or more below ground level to prevent the foundations from heaving (because the soil never freezes down that far) and concrete foundation walls must be reinforced with steel and engineered to prevent them from cracking when the soil surrounding them freezes.

So, combine lack of water and sewer service for high-density development, and increase the cost of the home by $20,000 to $30,000 for an "engineered" foundation, and those problems cannot be solved just by selling off parcels of land for development. The infrastructure which must be put in (run off to the EPA for permits to dump sewage into the Yampa and Elk Rivers! Good Luck! Take water out for treatment and send it to homes? Ever hear of "water rights?" Good Luck!) combined with additional costs caused by expansive soils and snow loads (over 100 pounds per square foot versus 20 to 40 in other parts of the country) and that's why housing costs more here.

There is a reason that Steamboat is not as populous as Denver. This is a very harsh environment, and it's remote from suppliers of goods. Everything costs more, if you can get it up here.

If it was possible to subdivide land, build cheap houses, and rake in money, somebody would be doing it already. The costs which occur before the first stick or log is placed in the structure of a new home are the problem. It doesn't make sense for a developer to spend $200,000 per unit on stuff the average person will never see (water, sewer, utilities, foundation reinforcement, etc.) and then put up a $100,000 house. Most people shop for housing by cost per square foot. The way to bring it down is by building more square feet to compete with other developers' prices.

A 1000 square foot, $300,000 home costs $300/sq. ft. A 5000 square foot, $1,000,000 home costs $200/sq.ft. Get it? The smaller home is outrageously expensive compared to the bigger one, and that's why nobody builds them in an area with challenges like ours.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

dlg, I see I've inspired a new blogger. Welcome.

"Douglas is advocating selling out our town, plain and simple." That sentence does not say Rob himself has sold out. I can hope his next column will advocate something very useful.

The point of my letter: his advice to his readers -suspend the ordinance as a compromise- was not even close to a compromise. Suspension would allow a huge amount of development value to become vested with no AH contribution from their project.

If you want to defend that as even close to a compromise, perhaps you can point to any other person or writer recommending suspension of the ordinance.

When I combine that extreme advice with his prior housing piece (about 750 words, 600 written by Ms. Brown, a developer), yes, "mouthpiece" sums up my opinion pretty well.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

This may help? Community Alliance was on the worksession panels at the request of City Council. Brent Pearson a developer, and the Housing Authority were also on the panel.

I believe Community Alliance sponsored a 2004 forum on Affordable Housing tools, with 4 speakers from around the state. CAYV has tried to stay in touch and educated on this issue. Is that a problem?

Walter's question was fine with me. I would prefer Aigner answered, but he was at another function with his grandkid. I was asked to substitute. Rich Levy would have been there, but he was trying to not jeopardize his upcoming role as a planning commissioner. I'm just a contributing member.

Have a nice day.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Rob, Two posts above, "sums up my opinion pretty well." is wrong. "summed up my opinion" is fair. I don't intend to represent this is a permanent condition. I look forward to our conversation.

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4genlocal 5 years, 6 months ago

aich, all of what you said is true kinda. and i know these things.

first of all developers have been putting the money into the infrastructure that no one sees for a long time. they have done it in all the mentioned developments. silver spur, herritage park, west end. every and every where there is a house in the city. whal the city does the upkeep, a large amount of the origional infrastructure is dedicated to the city upon completion.

second of all water rights are available. though they can be a headach they can be obtained. the true problem is any rights filed on are a junior right there fore you must have some sort of augmentation to be able to use them during times of drought. this can be done and honestly would be a better use of money than some of the AH regs used today. it does not matter if units going in are AH or not, more people mean more water usage.

there are things that you can do for sewer. and permits are available. the thing the state is pushing for now is treatment of the waste water. with the proper treatment you can do a direct return to the river with a simple discharge permit. and i do not believe the current city waste water plant is at max, if it is all development is in trouble.

in truth without anexing more land into the city, development is limited. once you leve the city limits most areas are resticted to a 35 acre building lot unless it was considered a buildable lot back in the 70's or early 80's i am not sure when that passed?? i was just a pup then and did not pay attention.

as far as the soils here you are right for certin areas and not for others. the valley floor for the most part consists of old river bed and therefore is a pitrun material, covered by a couple of feet of topsoil and some clay. pit run has a minimal amount of expantion. i know this is not true everywhere but nor is the highly expansive clay.

i know frost walls are 4 feet deep and have rebar. i also know about the use of void forms to deal with expansive soil and the need for an engineer to design a foundation. i also want to point out there are other options on the foundation. and it all depends on the area. the use of helical piers can be cheeper at times and i have also seen gravel frost walls insulated with blue board and a floating slab. these things work and can be an option.

the one thing we do agree on is no matter what, housing in SB will never compete with denver prices nor should it.

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aichempty 5 years, 6 months ago

4gen,

I built my own foundation on footers four-feet deep. The foundation walls are CMUs reinforced with steel and grouted per engineer's design. This foundation cost me $5,000. I did all the work. Why? Because the engineer's first design, designed to protect him from liability, would have used ice-block forms and poured concrete and accomplished exactly the same thing for about $20,000.

I've also seen the use of concrete columns poured going down to the river gravel with beams on top next door to a place with footers set on gravel poured in a trench, and walls made from pressure treated wood. Which one do you want to spend YOUR life savings on?

All those things you talk about are great, but they cost MONEY and that's the issue. There are places in this country where you can build on a concrete slab and have a septic tank and a well on 1/4 acre. Those places are nowhere near Steamboat Springs.

I built almost 3000 sq ft on an acre+ for $120,000 actual cost out of pocket (including the land). The $200,000 equity shown on the tax record under "actual value" is indeed sweat equity. It's more than 20 miles from Mt. Werner, and that's a big plus in my book. Why move to Colorado and live in a little crampy town with all that traffic and crowding? I prefer the mule deer that come to browse in my yard during the warm months. My view of the Milky Way is fantastic; you can read a newspaper by starlight on a dark night. My neighbors are generally hard-working people who respect and watch out for each other. It costs me about $600 a month on the average to live in the place (tax and utilities), which is just a bit more than the rent alone I paid for a small house in the California desert.

I do not resent the people getting AH price breaks in town, because I wouldn't ever want to live where they live. I'll go back to DC or Baltimore or Atlanta if I want to pay way too much for a small place surrounded by crowded homes, traffic and crime. It's just that the times have changed, and the time to buy low and sell high here has already passed. The same thing happened in all those other places I mentioned too.

Except for proximity to skiing, and possibly the lax community attitude toward recreational drug use, Steamboat offers nothing but high prices compared to our nearby towns which do still provide affordable opportunities.

I learned a few years ago that skiing one hill for the rest of my life was not what I wanted. It's a lot better to take a couple of days of mid-week leave several times during the season and ski other places. That's way more affordable than living on the margin in Steamboat just to be in town.

The buildable land is scarce. All of the good things make people who earned equity elsewhere willing to invest it here. That's what the AH people are competing with, and it's why they won't ever accomplish the larger goal in the long run. A few will benefit. The rest will do without.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

Interesting comments on housing costs.

It seems fair to say Denver has water supply issues that exceed ours. Likely that was part of the impetus for last year's law requiring any new CO development to bring its own water.

The front range also has expansive soil to deal with. I doubt the constraints of water or soil makeup are why our homes cost more. Isn't it much more about the constraint of available land?

Aich it hasn't been my experience that single family home builder's are shopping by cost per square foot and therefore want bigger economies of scale. My clients fall into two "shopping" modes. 1) We can't afford that extra 200 square feet or 2) This is an investment and more square feet wll appreciate into more profit later.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 6 months ago

I'm can imagine Rob might like to see this thread retire, given its title. Most of us are already posting at:

Catch you there. If dlg01 wants to continue here, I'll be back for that conversation..

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