YVHA Board of Directors: We want a say


— On Dec. 18, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board of Directors held a special meeting to discuss the general concept of an alternative compliance method for the Community Housing Guidelines. City Council members Scott Myller and Loui Antonucci were at this meeting, and we appreciated their participation in our discussion.

The alternative compliance method that was presented involved a perpetual voluntary real estate transfer fee of as much as 1 percent that would be designated for affordable housing through a City Housing Trust Fund. This concept was discussed by YVHA's New Projects Committee and some local developers prior to bringing it to the full YVHA Board.

Although there are many details and possible legal issues to resolve related to this mechanism, the YVHA Board of Directors feels that this is a proposal that should be considered seriously by City Council.

When the city was developing the Inclusionary Zoning and Linkage ordinances, YVHA sent a letter strongly encouraging City Council to allow developers as much flexibility as possible in meeting their affordable housing requirements. Our position regarding this issue has not changed, and we feel that any mechanism that creates a pool of money for the construction of affordable housing will be a benefit to the community. YVHA successfully has built and sold deed-restricted housing units in the past, and we can do that in the future if there is a dedicated funding source to assist with the development of affordable housing.

As City Council begins its discussion of possible changes to the Inclusionary Zoning and Linkage ordinances, YVHA respectfully requests that our organization be included as a partner in those discussions. We have several board members who would be very interested in reviewing any and all options that will further affordable housing opportunities for our citizens. It is important for us to work together to create innovative solutions that work for our community, and the Developer Task Force has expressed a strong desire for YVHA to be the lead contact and primary public agency for affordable housing issues and programs.

Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board of Directors


Steve Lewis 8 years, 2 months ago

A Real Estate Transfer Fee is a big loss for affordable housing built. It's not even close.

Even at the top end of 1% and swallowing the unrealisticly high turnover (sale) rate of the properties, it's a loser.

It amounts to relinquishing 10 units built today by the developer. In trade you receive a trickle of $$ over time - in 30 years you'll have enough to build 9 units . Oh, then you go find and buy the land, and build the units yourself.

YVHA thinks this is a good idea?


Steve Lewis 8 years, 2 months ago

I sympathize that YVHA is in dire need of this money, as this economy has turned their latest project upside down, but the "cash instead" avenue they seek here is a big step backward for workforce housing for many years to come.

Another problem with "cash instead"? Instead of a integrating AH units (built near the new projects, such as those at the mountain), "cash instead" units will be built in a few neighborhoods out west. Rich end, poor end.

Less workforce living near the mountain means more traffic through downtown's bottleneck. Less workforce housing built in Steamboat means more workforce commuting on county highways.

Real Estate Transfer fees are an obvious bargain for the proposing developers, and a significant loss for housing workforce in this community.


Tubes 8 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, that "workforce living near the mountain" idea is working so well. Look at that long line of people waiting to live in Trappuers's basement and pay rediculous HOA dues for amentities that don't need or want and be surrounded by tourists 8 months a year. And First Trax, who wouldn't want a view of that lovey tennis structure just off your balcony--and again, all these joyful tourists running around!


Steve Lewis 8 years, 2 months ago

Tubes, I've heard the HOA fees at Trappeurs are $600/month. Some have attempted to buy there I believe, but you are right. That HOA $/m won't work well, unless there is a corresponding reduction in the mortgage.

You make another good point about the tennis bubble. I believe are some trees yet to be added. That would help.

You may want more view than the price warrants, but somehow, I doubt you would be intersted in the side of First Tracks with a better view?


Steve Lewis 8 years, 2 months ago

Tele, Of course, with IZ ( multi family units of 4 or more, in the city) we're talking a fraction of your number. And I wonder when we will see 2007 numbers again.

The city program of IZ actually means the developer builds the units. Better than the city or YVHA building them, you would agree?

You may disagree with providing affordable housing at all, and maybe that's why you haven't addressed the RTF proposed?

I would like to see the city work with the developers of AH units being built today, the economy has pinched a good effort. I doubt they are selling much free market either. Everything looks bad now.

Re-writing the ordinance also makes sense, because it has some flaws, but doing anything significant to our AH program before we understand economic realities (now turned upside down) will prove to be a shortsighted move.


JLM 8 years, 2 months ago

It makes no sense to try to force feed affordable housing onto land which has a higher and better use --- higher price tag also --- and which carries with it a cost structure (HOA dues, etc) which is in and of itself not affordable.

The problem is really one of making housing affordable by creating targeted zoning classifications which provide for greater density (thereby reducing the cost component of dirt) and providing not fees but INCENTIVES to build.

If the housing is provided at the right price point, then the folks who can afford it will buy it. A small tax subsidy (either for the original developer/builder and/or occupant) is a public policy initiative which does not cost real money in the short term.

The smart thing is to think creatively rather than just adding another tax to a system which is already over taxed. The City can also purchase land and provide utilities (how about some of the land adjoining Haymaker?) thereby nudging development onto land which the city finds to be attractive.

The most successful affordable housing initiatives in the country rely upon creative policy rather than just extracting money from the marketplace. This also prevents the boom and bust cycle when real estate is contracting (hey, that would be right NOW, wouldn't it?).

Be smart.


Tubes 8 years, 2 months ago

Relative to tele's mention of the city's "wasted staff positions," did anyone notice the city has a Historic Preservation Coordinator, Historic Preservation Planner, AND a Historic Preservation Staff Assistant...


Tubes 8 years, 2 months ago

Don't get me wrong, the last thing I want to see is someone lose their job, that's not what I'm suggesting. But how does this happen in the first place? Even in "good times" does the historic preservation issue warrant such heavy staffing around here? I'm thinking a Resource Preservationist would be more like it "in times like these." I'm getting too far away from the point of this commentary. I'll stop there.

Steve: Nope, no affordable housing for me. I make too much money, but just barely though. I'm talking just a skosh--and I could barely afford one. Just another problem with this affordable housiing thing, it's NOT really affordable. But that's another blog for another day.


Steve Lewis 8 years, 2 months ago

Its hard to see the city subsidizing or incentivising very much housing. New development creates long term jobs for maintenance, etc. IZ is a way for the developer to help house the new workerforce he has created.

I would love to see zoning that eases the affordable gap. I supported higher density as a commisioner (and tried to give back for AH units by allowing more height and other variances the developer sought.) You can only make the lots so small. So it seems only multifamily product will ever be affordable in this town.

There is demand for AH units. Some 50 units have owners today. As I understand it, we have 18 or so new AH units under contract but unable to close because of the same financing challenges facing new free market units. Some of these new deveploments have a higher % of their AH product under contract than their free market product.

The lower income AH units have more demand than the higher income AH units(makes sense). First Tracks could price down some AH units where the demand is greater. They would get to take deed restrictions off other of their units, for a neutral total package. Beats me why they haven't done this.


Scott Wedel 8 years, 2 months ago

The fundamental problem of the affordable housing programs is that they keep saying it is about workforce housing and yet their actions and priorities have very little to do with workforce housing.

.A major goal is to create AH within SB despite the fact that an unimproved buildable lot by itself is worth more than the top of the range for "affordable" housing. Yet lots and completed houses in nearby towns are affordable and many people commute 20 to 30 miles. So the affordable housing programs are less about workforce housing (which is in Hayden, Stagecoach and South Routt) and more about picking lucky winners that get to live in Steamboat.

Likewise, the main goal of affordable housing is providing ownership and yet this is a service job resort economy with few high paying career jobs so most people do not stay for more than a few years. Thus, workforce oriented housing is not so much ownership, but rental housing.

And then the city is counterproductive with it's zoning by allowing some areas to have single family housing with secondary apartments, but the caretaker apts have to be very small one bedroom apts that is not friendly to a couple. The city should relax the size restriction to like 700 sq ft and limit the occupancy to two adults and children. The zoning allows for secondary apts, but because of the current restrictions almost none were built. And if you do build one then they hit you with more tap fees and a bigger water/sewer bill.

And the City zoning still says more adults are allowed to live in a condo than a much larger single family house. Which is all about maintaining exclusive single family neighborhoods and stuffing four workers into a one or two bedroom condo.

The unfortunate smoke caused death in that secondary unit had nothing to do with it being an unlicensed secondary unit. It had everything to do with no smoke detector which can be a problem in all types of housing. Yet the City is using the deadly accident as an excuse to get all interested in secondary units because that is a new revenue source.

Until the stated goals match the expected results of it's actions then affordable housing will remain a political game that benefits a lucky few. And a game in which the cynical developer scams and results in no public good.


JLM 8 years, 2 months ago

It is clear that there is a great and wide gulf as to what exactly "affordable housing", in fact, is.

I suggest that affordable housing is first "shelter" and it is not necessary that it be owned fee simple.

Multi-family housing (eeeek, the guy is talking about freakin' apartments?) has the opportunity to create huge improvments in the quality of the constructed environment by simple economies of scale and to pack large amenities into the project to provide a great improvement in the qualiity of the living experience.

The price of the dirt, the zoning density and the fees related to getting the project started are all areas in which clever and creative public policy can have a real cost impact thereby lowering the total cost and making it well..........affordable.

Unfortunately, the problem is a "regional" problem and not really a SBS problem because the affordable housing for SBS may really be adjacent to the Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

Ahhh, a lovely, lovely stone 3-story multi-family project in close proximity to the airport with nice units grouped around a cheery clubhouse with a lovely pool with a fountain and a playground and an exercise room and carports surrounded by earthen berms and low, low rents.

Some "dorm" style rooms with four bedrooms with 2 huge shared baths surrounding a lovely greatroom with a huge fireplace. The seasonal workers would love it and better yet they could........................afford it.

The possibilities are endless if only we were a bit more creative.


Steve Lewis 8 years, 2 months ago

Fellas, The concept you offer is "drive until you can afford it". Looks good up front, but there is a lot of hidden cost, both social and economic.

Statistics show greater commuting distance has correlated to higher foreclosure rates nationwide over the past few years. With the gas spike this summer, make that MUCH higher foreclosure rates.

The future of commuting by auto looks dim. You just can't deny that. We need a sustainable workforce that won't be stranded with the next gas spike. A workforce that commutes by rail might work, but transit is already a big $$ loser too.

The existing policy of housing here makes more sense than you'll admit, particularly if you are planning for a viable Steamboat Springs 20 or 30 years from now.

I agree rental is needed. This current policy was never intended to be the whole deal.

I don't know why, but the "bottom line" no longer fosters much long term thinking in this country, or anywhere. Its all about the next qtr profit or loss.

Which goes a long way in explaining why community planners and developers disagree on so much. If this RTF goes thru, Steamboat's future will have been replaced by the $$ needs of the next qtr.


Fred Duckels 8 years, 2 months ago

This is a problem that will provide endless discussion and never reach a consensus. If we let the market provide the leadership, with public input, a lot of resources could be vented elsewhere. We have an insecurity that compels us to follow the leader. we need to think outside the box. If we withdraw from government intervention there would be a period to think anew. The future, in the short run at least, would change. Our growth rate may slow, businesses may find worker shortages, it may not be as attractive to invest here, workers may atract higher wages, but in the end we will approach equilibrium. I believe that the result will be less gnashing and grinding of teeth. If we all attend church Sunday, and look to faith, I think life will be much simpler.


ybul 8 years, 2 months ago

Tele... You mention that the boomers are just getting started. Do you really believe that is the case today. Many Boomers are talking of never retiring.

I think that given a two year supply of housing inventory. Maybe, the market is going to come down in price and many that were priced out, will be able to afford something.

Why not impose a small tax on real estate, and use that to give all full time employees (plus family members) a small stipend to help with the cost of housing). Then if that individual wants to live with 4 people in order to save up a down payment they can, commute to craig or if the want to live large and have a place of their own they have a little extra to do so.

I believe the City charter is written such that the founders wanted those who worked in the city, were able to afford to live in it.

There needs to be a simple mechanism, that facilitates that to occur. Maybe, the KISS principle should be applied as opposed to government. Let the people decide what works for them.


ybul 8 years, 2 months ago

The question for you is, why waste money on Iron Horse Inn, a housing authority, etc.. The community wants affordability appears to want affordability. I was throwing an outside of the box solution, that requires little govt intervention, guessing as to what people want is not working.

The Boomers are the wealthiest generations ever, yep (lost a lot this year). However, you ever considered how much debt they are bestowing upon future generations of Americans, to have their wealth? Chew on that.


canudigit 8 years, 2 months ago

I have heard that the HOA fees are high at the places near the mountain. Since there are affordable units that haven't sold, what about the companies selling them as market rate units after a certain period of time- say 6 months to a year on the market. Then, any excess over the original "affordable" asking price goes to the YVHA- granted, that may not seem like a great deal to the developer but, they wouldn't have to carry that unit indefinitly and maybe some additional money would go to YVHA and, the locals who don't want to live in condo land wouldn't have to. If it is supposed to be affordable who has 600.00/month for HOAs? That's just ridiculous.


ybul 8 years, 2 months ago

" Just more of the same; let's take some money from the people that have worked hard to get it and give it to someone else."

Why subsidize corn? In my scenario, the only real person to be effected is someone who rents out their dwelling on a short term basis, or is a part time resident. Those that live and work in the community would essentially be a wash as they pay in and get back. Business' might even like it as it could help keep labor costs down.

Personally, I would prefer to let the market fall back down to affordable, which I give a high probability.

The point was the debt that funded their accumulation of wealth, has to be repaid at some point (The US has close to $30 trillion in real debt, consumer, business and government maybe that is not sustainable).

I could go into a long economic debate about why the stock market has peaked based upon the demographic peak that you just pointed out and with it the subsequent decline in home prices as they lag the stock market in general by 2 years. But I wont, I would offer a word of caution to not put to much optimism that record prices are just around the corner.


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