For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

For 20 years, Steamboat resident Rob Douglas was a Washington, D.C. private detective specializing in homicide, political corruption and terrorism. Since 1998, Douglas has been a commentator on local, state and national politics in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Colorado. To reach Rob Douglas, email rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Rob Douglas: Affordable housing ordinance unjust

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Rob Douglas

Rob Douglas' column appears Fridays in the Steamboat Today. He can be reached at rdouglas@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Douglas here.

— This week, the Steamboat Springs City Council finally began to rethink the city's ill-conceived affordable housing ordinance.

While absorbing the arguments and contemplating how to convey my belief that the ordinance places an inequitable, immoral and unjust burden upon builders and businesses to provide so-called affordable housing, I suddenly realized someone was articulating my inner thoughts.

Mary Brown - past council president and former co-owner of a 540-acre property sold to Steamboat 700 - was at the Centennial Hall podium, expressing the thoughts that were roiling in my noggin.

While I will have much to say about affordable housing in my own clumsy way in future weeks, this week, I will let Brown's remarks do the talking. Brown offers a worthy challenge to each of us. Do we truly believe in a "community" solution for affordable housing, or are we falsely using that word to mask unjust burden shifting?

Following is a transcript of Brown's comments to the council:

"Since we started doing community surveys in the late 1980s, there have been two items that have been one and two universally: Preservation of open space and affordable housing. If you try to compare the efforts that have been applied to those two primary community goals, I think you'll find a rather significant difference.

"The city and the county have both worked diligently at the preservation of open space. We passed a property tax to support the acquisition of open space and passed incentives through county land preservation subdivision ordinances to give incentives to people to protect open space.

"And yet, when affordable housing comes up, we look for somebody else to solve the problem.

"Every one of you this evening - both on the panel (Yampa Valley Housing Authority Board President Mary Alice Page-Allen; Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley organizer Steve Aigner; and Brent Pearson, of Resort West, representing developers and businesses troubled by the existing affordable housing ordinance) and on the council - suggested that this is a community problem. And yet, it is your expectation that the entire burden of addressing the problem should be born by people who started to build houses after 2006.

"That is not a community approach to solving the problem. That is trying to lay the problem off on someone else.

"I don't know what the solution is. But I don't believe that every time y'all make a decision it comes into your head: What'll this do for affordable housing?

"When you raise the building permit fee, what did that do for affordable housing? When you require all this stuff that you require when someone comes to do a development, what are you doing for affordable housing?

"This is a problem that has not been universally embraced by the community and by the council in using it as a kind of an overlay to all the decisions that you make.

"I can't tell you what should happen to the inclusionary zoning and linkage ordinances. I have significant questions about both of them, and frankly, I don't think they are doing a whole lot to further the solution to this problem. But, I think that it is important that as a No. 1 priority of the community - according to surveys, anyway - that there be a little more universal approach to solving the problem.

"We have a Yampa Valley Land Trust. We have a PDR committee. We have incentive-based zoning ordinances to meet our other No. 1 issue (preservation of open space). And yet, I don't recall - and perhaps I'm simply not informed - significant efforts at applying for grants to address affordable housing, at establishing a community housing committee, at passing ordinances that, in fact, incentivize people to build affordable housing.

"And so, while you wrestle with options (contained in a document drafted by the city's affordable housing staff), I think you're just barely scratching the surface.

"And frankly, if there is not a community commitment to solving this problem - if the community's only desire is to make it someone else's problem - then I don't believe it's a high-priority community problem.

"I would suggest that while you look at the options (drafted by staff), you broaden the scope of your purview, and you look at the community addressing this highly-touted problem and the community getting on board with their pocketbooks and their efforts to address it, because one segment of the community - that got saddled with the burden in 2006 - is never going to make it really a community solution.

"If it's a community problem, it needs a community solution."

To reach Rob Douglas, e-mail Rob.Douglas@Comcast.net

Comments

flotilla 5 years, 8 months ago

Ahhh Mary Brown. Lets see what her true colors. Rob, I dare you to do some investigating into her REAL role for Steamboat 540. These developers are greedy. end of story. These Realtors and Developers "insider trade" property, lots and homes all day long, and have for years. Who owns the lots in Wildhorse Meadows. Who will buy up the lots in 540? When a condo or home comes on the market for a reasonable price- who buys it? Who turns it around for a profit? Maybe if they allowed the good deals to actually go to the people that can't afford to purchase the flipped home, we wouldn't need affordable housing. Lets start restricting what these people can do and maybe you'll see that we could forego affordable housing. But that will never happen. Ask the people currently in affordable housing how they feel and where they would live without it. Sure, some people must rent. But your teachers, chefs, nurses, police, firefighters, fellow realtors, mechanics, sandwich makers, baristas... whatever would you do without them. And eventually they'll want families and homes. Just not here.
There is a larger problem here, Community. And it is self-serving greed. I know this will spring socialism conversation and sentences like "affordable housing is abundant, if you can afford it". But, the movement of the middle class to Oak Creek, Stagecoach, N routt and Hayden puts stress on County roads and services, forcing traffic heavy commutes and no money or solutions to cure it.
Lets do talk about Steamboat 540. I want someone to tell me who the can afford it and the Homeowner's association fees that accompany it. 2nd homeowners? Don't want to live in the middle of nowhere. Young families? Won't qualify. Single professionals? Leaving... realtors.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 8 months ago

Rob Thanks for sharing Mary Brown's comments in full.

Housing has been recognized for years as a problem. When it comes to addressing the "affordable housing" problem, fixing it and let alone how to pay for a even a partial solution we all play a great childhood game of, "NOT IT!"

I am looking forward to what you have to say about this topic in future columns. However, I think in the end unfortunately it will come down to a game of, "NOT IT!" We have been playing this game pretty successfully for 30 years. I think we will likely go on playing "NO IT!" for 30 more years. That is how I see it!

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steamboatsprings 5 years, 8 months ago

Excellent article Rob! I think the key here is that the only practical way to solve a community problem is to put together a broad based solution across the community instead of the last buildings in. Scott your comments are also insightful as always, "NOT IT" is a great description of what has been going on instead of the conspiracy theories outlined by flotilla that place the blame and burden on other people in ways that don't make for a productive path to affordable housing.

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Scott Ford 5 years, 8 months ago

As a kid I can remember when my mother would ask for someone to take out the trash, my two sisters and myself would rush to say, "NOT IT!" The last one to say phrase got to take out the trash. That is what we are doing as a community. Since we seem to want to solve a big community problem through childhood games I suggest "Paper-Rock-Scissors".

The players would be City Council and the developer du jour. We could keep the current affordable housing regulations in place. The developer and a chosen member of City Council would square off in front of a packed audience in Citizens Hall. It is a winner takes all game. Council wins developer must comply with the affordable housing regulations with no whining. If the developer wins they are given the OK to ignore the regulations.

Rob and I could stand at the door and sell tickets to such an event the proceeds would be used to help fund the community support budget. If only we could do this; we would at least be making some progress.

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gary rohrbaugh 5 years, 8 months ago

I have to be honest. after living around here for 5 years I can truely say THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AFFORDABLE HOUSING, so wake up and tell it the way it is !!!!!

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

I think the crux of the difficulties of reasonably dealing with affordable housing is that there is not even a clear definition of it.

Open Space has been much more of a success because it is pretty well defined. It means open space such as ranches and hay fields. There is an oddity that apparently allows gravel pits, but open space is overall easy to understand.

Affordable housing has no clear definition and, in fact, the definition is still being debated. Is it workforce housing (aka rooms at the Iron Horse for seasonal workers) or apts for year round workers? Is it 120% of average income which sounds more like upper middle class.

How can the public support something when the thing still is not defined?

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Richard Levy 5 years, 8 months ago

Wow lots of rhetoric, not much content....just what we expect from our hometown "newspaper"

Mr. Douglas calls Inclusionary Zoning "ill concieved". Are you kidding me? As both Scott Ford and Mary Brown point out the Affordable Housing issue has been ignored for 20 years. For all that time city council and the community said "not it". Opportunities have escaped us as our situation has gotten worse. Young families and professionals were documented as leaving the community they loved because they could not afford to live here. Finally with the help of affordable housing professionals and community support IZ was created by copying ordinances that already were in place throughout Colorado

The Development Community and Rob Douglas now say that the burden is so great as to be unfair. Why is it that One Steamboat Place, Wildhorse Meadows, Edgemont (and now the new Thunderhead Lodge) did not find our Affordable Housing policies too burdensome? Why is it that Affordable Housing policies did not stop Steamboat 700 LLC from purchasing 540 acres from Mary Brown for $25 MILLION?

Because all of these building developers knew that they could still make a ton of money regardless of the price tag.

What has changed? Of course we are now in a major national recession. Financing and buyers are hard to find. Do you think that we can fix this?

Because times are tough for development should we reduce our standards? Should we allow 6 story buildings on Lincoln Avenue? Should we eliminate building code requirements for quality electrical systems, sewer upgrades, architectural standards?

Do we want to create more of a commuting working class (like Aspen)? Affordable Housing is an infrastructure needed to maintain our sense of community and a key factor that makes Steamboat Springs an attraction to many of our visitors.

Until you come up with a better idea Inclusionary Zoning should stand!

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Scott Ford 5 years, 8 months ago

Hi Steve The rhetoric we see on the Steamboat Pilot/Today's site is nothing compared to the level seen on sites such as the Washington Post or New York Times. The big difference with our rhetoric is that we often use our real names and people know who we are. Occasionally an informative discussion does occur and this may be one of those times.

Affordable housing is first and foremost an economic issue. It has social-civic and environmental components but economics is at the heart of the issue. Although I do not believe there is one solution what solutions that may eventually be found will be economic ones. So one must understand the local economy if we have any hope devising a portfolio of affordable housing solutions that will work.

What do you think (open for anyone to jump in) are the current and likely future drivers of our local economy? An economic driver is anything that brings new money into the local economy. Without new money flowing in any economy eventually will dry up and blow away and become a ghost town. This is why most economic development efforts focus on what brings new money in to the local economy (the Yampa Valley) and how to keep that money in the local economy as long as possible before it leaks out.

From your perspective what are the current economic drivers for this area?

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Scott Ford 5 years, 8 months ago

Note to Gary You are right honesty about this issue is needed. My guess is that you are between the ages of 20 and 45. If you do not find a reasonably permanent fixed cost long term solution to your housing, the meat grinder of this housing issue will eventually pulverize you and spit you out. You will leave even if you desperately want to stay. Although you will be missed by some of your friends, you will be replaced by another 20-45 year old who just loves this place and thinks in the beginning that they will do whatever is necessary to stay. They too will eventually be ground down.

Very very few new comers to the Yampa Valley, unless they have access to significant financial resources, will escape the housing meat grinder. This is a lousy way to treat folks who often have a lot to offer this community but we been doing it for 20+ years and it is now viewed as the normal course of events.

As long as there is a seemingly endless supply of 20-45 year olds to take your place when you leave, it is going to be hard to make anyone care about the housing challenges you and hundreds like you face daily. Sad but true. How is that for honest?

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Tele, Its true the higher income units are too close to free market, and have few buyers. It also true the lower income units sell much better, as reported at First Tracks. You know this.

"Someone else paying for your house to live in".

Rather than embarrassing the poorer among us, at least have the class to acknowledge those actually calling for affordable housing are your neighbors of all incomes. They put it throughout your codes. And put it throughout your area plans. Have the class to acknowledge your city council, and county commissioners ratified the principle of helping people who work in our town to live in our town.

Rich deserves no insult for owning a deed restricted unit. But what a classic example of Tele's dogma prempting fair treatment of the facts. Rich is our Local Sierra Club president. Serves on City planning Commission. And served on the URA advisory board, which benefits base area investors. 100's of hours invested in his community. Rich is a gold mine, as are all our workers trying to plant roots here.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Unfair to ask this of building industry? On the contrary this industry is the most logical contributor: 1) Its our biggest industry. Has the most employees to house. 2) "growth pays its way" 3) Look at some huge things we've done for them: -the URA, stimulated development -the LMD, tax dollars for tourists planes, but Chris Diamond signed on to sue us if we choose our area plan's IZ over his bottom line? Please reconsider, Chris. -re-write of WSSAP was much friendlier to Mary Brown's bottom line, and brought her a sale .....these are the public sector helping developers.

Are our community goals not as important as their goals? We help them get theirs, but they'd rather sue than return the favor?

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

History is a good tool for viewing actions vs. words, and Rob should do a little studying. Mary well knows the code offers variances for affordable housing in its PUD. Jim Cook has several time bartered affordable units for things he wanted.

The reason Steamboat is so far behind in housing implementation is Mary's community fought it tooth and nail for decades.

Where is Mary's criticism of the council that turned down the real estate transfer fee before TABOR? Where is her criticsm of the realtors who stifled the same tax she's ready to sue to use today?

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

This discussion has begun to drift from "affordable" housing into "subsidized" housing. Those are two very different ideas.

It is very difficult to see how in a community as small as SBS one is going to be able to offer housing at the current market level (which is decidely not affordable) and a stone's throw away at a level which is "affordable", if in fact the definition of "affordable" also encompasses new, modern housing. The land prices, costs of construction, risk adjusted return expectations are simply against it.

Existing landowners who currently offer affordable housing (e.g. mobile home park owners) will feel the pressure to maximize the value of their land by finding a higher and better use for it. No surprises there, right? The existing supply of affordable units is declining and will continue to decline.

On the other hand, it is the height of folly to discourage the expansion and creation of new property tax base. Density becomes an obvious issue.

Sure, there should be 6 story buildings in the "right" places. Why? Because they create dense pods of property tax base while not requiring extensive expansions of utility and public safety services. The city can leverage its existing infrastructure to create more tax base and then use that tax base to create a stable source of funding. A 6 story building requires no more police and fire coverage than a 4 story building but urban sprawl does. Put the density where the services are already adequate.

Is everybody going to like it? Of course not. No pain, no gain.

The truth that nobody wants to really address is that affordable housing is going to require entire neighborhoods which fit the bill not just a few units here and a few units there.

Affordable housing is initially going to take the form of multifamily housing. The City need to get a tract of land adjacent to Haymaker and get a developer to develop 500 units of 2-3 BR units with covered car ports and very nice amenities. Throw in some 4-BR central living room dorm style units for seasonal workers and rent them to employers.

Let the cost of the development (lower taxes, no fees, free land) drive the rental rates to an affordable level rather than doing it by Soviet style fiat. It will work.

We have to do SOMETHING and stop talking and start doing.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve: When I grew up in Steamboat our economy was almost non existant in comparison to todays situation. We had almost nothing by todays standards, but at the same time government controls over our lives were negligible. It was possible to survive, but it took a lot of personal responsibility. Starting several decades ago government starting imposing greater controls and oversight on items such as planning and controlling growth. This process has attracted a class, that presents themselves as intermediaries of the better good of the community. Steve, you and many of your pals have sought to participate, in this quest to do good, you are essentially steering us to your predetermined Utopiah. Public participation in your eyes includes surveys that tell you what you want to hear, public meetings salted by friendly citizens to your cause. They always attend, while working people that you claim to represent, are tired or too busy to show. Your pals have defeated the Catamount Ski area, a place where the less affluent could find jobs. It may have been the last ski area approved by the govearnment. Fifty years from now, we may rue the day that our predecessors chose to take away our options, to satisfy their predetermined Utopiah. But we do have a gated community for your pals. Your friends managed to defeat the La Farge gravel pit, this really has helped our traffic situation and has been instrumental in putting more nails into the AH coffin. But again it is just another step t o Utopiah. This south valley holds, maybe, our gravel reserves for a thousand years. It is good to know that we have people in our midst with the wisdom to make decisions for the future. Nostrodamus, eat your heart out. Steve, is this making you as sick as it makes me? Over the decades our government has made decisions with no regard to our cost of living. This is yours and our governments problem and you need to come up with some answers, other than to blame the private sector. I think that questioning others patriotism and motives because your master plan is lacking, calls for an apology. How dare they question the legality of those who mean well? Many risk takers are hanging out there with bad decisions. Are you the self appointed impartial judge to have sympathy, or teach the fat cats a lesson on greed?

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Two big problems with the current affordable housing programs.

1) It has resulted in too many fatally flawed units. Such as the ones that have big monthly association fees or are too expensive.

2) Too many of the affordable units are going to people that appear to be already doing much better than average. When affordable housing is being filled by business owners and other local leaders then it is not going to help any of the typical people working here.

3) There is free market housing in the area that is more affordable than what is being created by affordable housing programs. If money was spent on transit and maybe subsidizing some of those homeowners (zero interest down payment loan?) then the program could be making a real difference for a reasonable number of people. (which is nothing like saying it has to be regional and have the power of eminent domain which sounds a lot like SB money and power being able to go take whatever it wants from property owners).

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Fred, Yes, I'll stand up to support affordable housing ordinances that took a decade too long to establish. Mary Brown labels it "not a community approach to solving the problem." Given the ordinance is specifically called for in our area plans, Mary is flat wrong.

And as I said, when Mary equates the ordinance's late arrival as the reason for its unfairness, she ought to scold herself before she scolds this valley - she fought the ordinance at every turn. Its simple history.

History should similarly judge the council that turned down real estate transfer fees (RFT) while they were legal. Surely Concerned Citizens, now seeking an RTF, would think that 1992? council acted against the interests of their valley when it denied us the only legal opportunity to have one? I couldn't get there with Google, so I hope the Pilot will do some research.

Fred, respect for our area plan is not utopian lunacy. You are sure I (and "my friends") have some ego delusion that I'm smarter than anyone. In my opinion Fred, its these plans (that among many other goals include Inclusionary Zoning) that are smarter than both of us combined. You dislike these plans, but you do acknowledge significant citizen work and good intent to create them, I hope.

And you are sure "my friends" opposed the gravel pit? Fred, I had friends on each side equally, as did you. I was aware of the wealth of needed gravel there, and I was aware it lies center frame in one of Colorados' best views. I took no side, made no comment, and let my community choose a path.

Please raise your estimation of those you disagree with. Months ago I emailed a BARC member to say I was wrong about the URA. I opposed the URA. Then the URA did achieve a lot of good for Steamboat (now in jeopordy unfortunately). I've put hundreds of hours into citizen committee work. The overwhelming majority of that time was spent listening, not preaching.

One item here I cannot attribute to the wishes of these area plans. And there Fred, based on those hours listening and education, I do write my personal judgment. I think Chris Diamond should take his signature off this document that offers to sue Steamboat Springs. We have done a LOT toward his bottom line: he pays no sales tax to speak of, we gave him a URA and we gave him the LMD.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

P.S. I thought Catamont was pulled by its owners stating differences within their partnership. They had a green light from government. But yes, I've never seen so many angry locals as when the forest service unveiled its favorable EIS.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott, 1) I've already agreed the HOA's are a problem. They are looking at allowing "cash instead" where a front desk and time shares pressure higher HOA's. 2) This was never meant to be the whole enchilada that reached every need. The lower incomes and their rentals still need a hand. This one was aimed at ownership able income levels. If you see abuse by rich folks, have you let the City know? 3) Down payment assistance is good, though I think that subsidy should make the unit permanently affordable. I doubt we can afford to hand out repeated owner help on the same units. Based on earlier posts, I think you refer to the affordability of commuting? Its not.

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aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

A single paragraph in the article sums up the problem. The community wants (1) open space and (2) affordable housing.

The problem is that restricting development on open land drives up the cost of buildable land. Anybody should be able to see that.

As for "greedy developers," that's an unfair assessment of people who are in business to make a living. There's plenty of cheap land and housing around in Colorado and Wyoming; it's just not in the city and county limits. If you want open space, move out there where it's wide open and cheap.

As for the "build rental units" argument, it's not practical. It costs just as much to build a rental unit as a spec house, and the money you can get from "fair market rent" won't service the debt on the investment you have to put into the rental property. Why? Because land costs way too much around here. Artificially high land costs, combined with reasonable construction costs, put the development of rental properties into the non-profitable category. Actually, it's even worse than that; it's a money-losing category. I considered building a rental complex to run as my "job" around here, but the numbers just didn't add up. I can make more by investing in tax-free municipal bonds than I could running an apartment complex in Routt County. It's land and construction costs (because of high snow loading and foundation design issues) that make the idea unprofitable.

The best use we can get from the money being poured into YVHA is to stop doing it and use the funds for something else. School lunches, maybe?

People who "need a hand" with rent can live in places like Denver, SLC, etc., and live in HUD housing. That's what it's there for. The reason we don't have it here is that the people who would qualify for it don't live here; it costs too much to live here.

The answer is for the working-class folks who want to homestead here to become middle-class folks in a place they can afford and then move here when they've got the money to support the desire. That's what all the rest of us who moved here in our 40s and 50s did. We bought up all those "affordable" houses in Steamboat II that now are in the $350k to $500k asking price range.

Waiting for somebody else to come along and provide affordable housing is not going to work, so get over it, and move on to plan B. Or maybe, make a plan B.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Forgive me for my above word count. I try to answer the points against my view. I believe, over time I've offered this blog some of its most rational "back and forth" on ideas. Fred should recognize me for that, but instead puts words in my mouth (greed?) and places me on some army of fanatics.

I have yet to hear anyone rebut the dismal future of a commuting workforce.

Some of you say "raise wages unitil they reach the level to buy in this marketplace ". Please address how marginal and new businesses will fare when we take your advice.

I regret my earlier rant, but it stems from a frustration that I am so much more "real" than my opponents in this blog.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

In other words, address the long-term (10, 20 years) as well as the short term. Have you ever read the Area Plan? Its about planning ahead. Instead of dissing its "fanatic sponsers", please read it and tell me where you disagree.

Cari says Linkage employee housing penalizes a new commercial development for creating jobs (by the fee for employee housing). Its a short term view. Take away Linkage for 5, 10 years and consider how a shortage of employees will affect new and marginal businesses.

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aichempty 5 years, 8 months ago

The community plan is just B. S. It always was. It's a collection of pie-in-the-sky dreams laid out by people who never had the means or the desire to pay for it.

I'm going to suggest a realistic alternative. Let the "richers" who live in Steamboat commute to Craig or Hayden to do their shopping. Let them pay extra for people to come from Craig and Hayden to perform services in the homes. That puts the burden squarely where it belongs; on the shoulders of people who have the money and the time to sacrifice in return for living in the shadow of Mt. Werner.

Oh, yeah, it cuts into the ease whereby working folks can hit the mountain during their lunch breaks and all that, but what's wrong with a less-crowded mountain? Could Ski Corp reduce lift prices if there were fewer people on the mountain? It might work out that way.

How about a new community motto? "Steamboat Springs; the Smaller, the Better!"

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve, How can you say that commuting is not affordable? That is the exact sort of pie in the sky statement that convinces people that this all about some liberal utopian dream.

The simple fact is that there are quite a number of people that are commuting and many of them will say that it is working for them.

Also, if commuting is a dead end trap then SB would need an affordable housing and workforce housing plans that removes the need for anyone to commute.

You cannot have it both ways. Either accept that commuting is how many are doing it and so transit help become part of the program, or say commuting is not an option and make plans to have all those people live in SB.

If it were put to a vote that commuting is part of the solution then I think that would easily pass because it so obviously is working for some.

By your own statements, you are now saying the current plan is unworkable.

I am not saying there is abuse in current people buying affordable housing. I am saying that the current definitions allow those that are more successful than probably 90% of locally employed workers to qualify for affordable housing. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but look at the difference between "median income" and "median local wage". I recall that would imply that the average household is working 3 full time jobs. My point is that outside income of wealthy people that chose to have a residence here is used to calculate median income, but the local workforce does not have that income. So having among the best local jobs is what is needed to have enough income to qualify for a loan for some of the affordable housing units.

And so we have all this sound and fury over affordable housing that the typical SB worker is never going to even have a chance at getting.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Fred your post amounts to - the wrong special interest is in charge.

Outside interests vs oldtimers? You must be in an echo chamber, because my experience has been opposite - the old timers want growth slowed, and the outside interests have names like Intrawest, Atira, and Resort Ventures West.

All of which is useless compared to sincere debate. Deabte where ideas are met with a reason why "yes" or why "no" on that idea.

Democracy is not a conspiracy.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott, I don't follow your point, so maybe you didn't follow mine:

Before the gas spike, commuting distance was correlated to higher foreclosure rates. The cost of commuting can simply sink people's budgets. High gas prices will increase that problem in the future. Cheap transit would be a great solution, except there is no cheap transit. In any event, 10 years from now commuting will cost a lot more than it does today. Prohibitive commuting cost is likely a spike or two away for many. Local affordable housing is key to our future economy. 100% ? No. But critical to have resort level services.

I keep saying this ordinance was not intended to do it all. I've been advocating lower income service by this ordinance but developers wanted higher. Another program entirely should work on reduced rate rentals, but that is a tougher nut to crack, and why you saw none of it in an ordinance.

3 years ago, Diane Mitsch Bush put out a spreadsheet saying exactly what you are saying - our wages are even lower than this AMI we use. No argument there. I've argued for serving lower incomes than this 100% AMI.

Do we forget about ownership opportunities and just do rentals? You might say yes. I want to do both, but the rentals are harder. Open to your ideas.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

Aich: You describe my vision accurately. Lets stop the micromanaging, and let the market work. Your vision predicts a new community that would be in harmony with reality. Our leaders assume the mandate to run this empire as they see fit. Those who enter government service, need to realize that wisdom, and feel good accomplishments, are not always compatible.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Fred, Reality? Or your own beliefs.

I present (right above your post) a sound economic challenge to the future viability of a commuting workforce.

You ignore it completely.

Yes there is a HUGE difference between "wisdom and feel good".

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Another very separate sudy recieved by city council supports the same conclusion for us. This would be the one about the effect of west slope energy development.

It specifically notes the west slope's energy boom will bring greatly increased competition for those employees who now commute eastward to Routt County. We may get a new visitor group from this boom, that's good. The rest of the news is bad. At least if you are typical employer.

Let's separate "wisdom" from "paying attention". For today, I simply hope our county and city are paying attention.

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

The Steamboat, that I grew up in, was laid back, essentially a handshake atmosphere, and very tolerant of our neighbors. This all changed when outside interests came over the pass and decided that such a beautiful area needed more sophisticated, visionary leadership. This hokey Catamount ski area, that would have helped further a local economy that had been non existant for decades needed to go. Too much growth! Looking back it did not slow growth but did help the Trophy home crowd. This was the start of our brave new leadership. The movement that started this, has continued to micromanage the valley to this day. I feel foolish to have taken this long to see the pattern. The days of the handshake are long gone, the new order is 20 years ahead of us, in their quest to shape the community by social engineering. The same crowd has planned ahead and put its followers on as many decision making venues as possible. Public meetings are salted with "concerned citizens" swaying votes. Meanwhile we have been working, are too tired or too busy to keep up with the myriad of decisions to be made. This ability to go online, and keep abreast, and give input, is a godsend to the average citizen. It is the last best hope to address problems like the affordable housing. It sure beats spending valuable hours against a stacked deck trying to be heard. It is time to take our community back.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve, Please be better than pulling out that distance and foreclosure data. That is far more about new subdivisions so far out that they are aimed at lower income workers that were allowed to buy a home with 0% down.

There are tens of millions of people that commute more than 30 minutes every day. In most big cities, 30 minutes is well less than average.

Carpooling and transit can reduce the cost of gas per person greatly. Instead of it being a gallon or more per person per one way trip, It can be two gallons (bus get worse gas mileage than car) for 10 or more. And so it become 1/5th a gallon or less per person. So even a gas spike will not make commuting too expensive.

Do you know how many people ride the van pools to Twenty mile coal mine? Looks ot me like it is close to 30 people a shift. SB has more workers than the mine and no good reason that SB employers couldn't also run an effective employee shuttle system. Some effort by employers to create standardized service worker shifts so that shuttles could pick up and deliver workers at the desired times might be needed.

As for the future, I note the dynamic carpooling solutions at like the SF Bay Bridge in which there are agreed upon pick up locations for a driver to go to get passengers in order to ride the toll free car pool lanes (faster and cheaper) and then drop off. I say "dynamic" because drivers and passengers are matched on the fly at the pickup location.

Thus, it seems to me that GPS cell phones and car navigation systems could be used to create a real time system where passengers state their location and destination and drivers determine which is most convenient and then pick which passengers to make an instant carpool. So instant good information is used to create a collective transit system. And so I think the days of a solo driver making a trip is going to become a luxury of an earlier time. Instead you'll look at the list of rides and the list of passengers and decide which way makes the most sense today.

The point about AMI and so on is that it goes to show the current affordable housing plan should be expected to be ineffective and have no impact on the resort service industry.

It is insanity and thus results in weak public support to have an affordable housing plan justified by a need to have local resort workers living in town that is too expensive for local resort workers.

Pick a plan that will meet specified objectives. And then it can be determined what parts of the plan are working. Right now it appears that far more is broken then working. Was Iron Horse supposed to providing temp housing for senior city staff (finance director)? Who is supposed to buying units developers were forced to build in their developments so close to the ski area? Workers at the nearby hotels and such? Business owners and local professionals?

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve, As for the energy boom, World Wildlife Fund had some chemical engineer study transportation system and the energy efficiency and resulting greenhouse gases of different solutions. I think it was in the news just a little right around Thanksgiving.

Anyway, future should be plug in hybrids. Much easier and more efficient to get electricity than other fuels for cars.

Coal gasification, tar sands and oil shale are all very bad. They take too much water and energy (often natural gas) and emit too much carbon. Would be much better off taking the energy required to extract the oil and use it to power plug in hybrids.

Natural gas and pipelines is good. Not as good as a renewable, but lots of energy for much less carbon than coal or oil.

Liquefied natural gas is not that good. Takes a third of the gas's energy to compress and cool into a liquid. Thus, need pipelines to get it from well to consumer.

Hydrogen is a joke. Too much energy to produce and compress. Best it could be is as one of the battery types for a hybrid. Complete disaster as a burnable fuel.

Hmm, how about a commuting affordable housing plan that includes a subsidized plug in hybrid? That'd solve the gas spike issue.

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bubba 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve- as a local employee your last comment struck me as odd- stating that 'the rest is bad news. At least if you are a typical employer.' seems to me to indicate that the affordable housing ordinance is designed to artificially suppress local wages, to the benefit of employers? I thought it was designed to benefit employees. As an employee, I can't really see how having some new employers competing for employees with wages in the region would hurt things for the workforce. Sure, some employers would struggle, and maybe fail, but they would be replaced by better businesses, the kind that can attract and retain workers. (I believe that is the basis of capitalism, better businesses survive, worse ones fail, people get better jobs at better businesses...)

Is affordable housing supposed to support employees or employers? I always thought it was the former, but if it's the latter, I need to re-think my stance on it (and possibly my status as an employee)

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Richard Levy 5 years, 8 months ago

Commuting as a solution to our housing dilemma?

This was discussed when the IZ was being considered......

Surveys of those commuting to Steamboat have shown that many of them want to live here, not commute here.

Do you think the time spent on commuting is a positive situation? Do you want your teachers, police and fireman closer to town or further away?

Wouldn't it be great if a teacher could spend some time after school to work with your child and their educational needs? Or should they be bolting out the door to beat the traffic and getting home before the roads get any worse?

Do you want fire trucks to leave the station down a firefighter because they are stuck in traffic (or snow) outside of town?

Do you want these people part of our community or someone else's?

Yes, let's praise the mine for promoting carpooling. Are there other large employers with that many working the same shifts? Who else is paying $50 an hour so that their employers can afford to live where they wish?

As I stated earlier, many of our visitors (and tourists I have talked with) say that they love Steamboat because it is a real town. A real town has dishwashers, teachers and truck drivers participating in our civic and commercial activities. Our level of service is dependent on employees that are happy. Without these we are just another Disney World.

Where do all the commuter blogger proponents live and work?

Instead of shooting down our efforts, how about providing some real solutions ?

"Let the market supply it" - While some market rate attainable housing has been provided (and should be commended) , it has been far below the growing need of our community. 20 years of need and we are further behind than ever.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott, Thanks for a thoughtful response.

The data (that longer commutes correlates to higher forecloser rates) is evidence that commuting is a growing burden to a worker's budget. It was not specific to your narrowed example, but rather a nationwide study of commuting. I do not consider this a weak argument. The presenter said that loan applications will soon look at a borrower's distance from his place of work.

Your example does mirror the PBS "Now" documentary about new subdivisions that attracted lower income workers. The story addressed that the long commute of these subdivisions were a crushing burden to many during the gas spike. These subdivisions were becoming ghost towns. "0% down" of your example was not a given , as I recall the story, though it would be a factor.

I agree that people will adjust. They will carpool, maybe even use GPS. But this will not keep the cost from growing.

And these new steps, while great, can be very inconvenient and time consuming. Rich makes another good point that commuting will be weighed against quality of life and time with family and community.

Placing too much of our economic future on a commuting workforce is, in my opinion, the wrong bet.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Bubba, Again a thoughtful response, thanks. I don't think you need to rethink much.

But I am trying to address the economic aspects of housing. Yes higher wages would be a plus result of "no affordable housing". And a larger hurdle for marginal or new business.

If you are confident that, say for 10 years, commuting is a stable cost, and environmentally neutral, I lose the argument. The marginal and new businesses' will eventually find a way.

I'm arguing these costs will rise a lot in the next 10 years, and often in speculative spikes. Communities with more workforce commuting will suffer in direct proportion. Every business balance sheet will increasingly carry these commuting costs.

Businesses will move to the workers - that's good - for Hayden and Oak Creek.

How will it work when you are Steamboat, a service oriented tourist economy? I guess that depends on the price of a family meal at your competition resort towns - all of whom are moving further with affordable housing, not backwards.

It easy to argue energy will get more expensive in spikes. A recent "60 minutes" gave a convincing account of how the oil costs of the summer were all speculative, and "Merrill Lynch made".

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

It would obviously be better if SB had enough inexpensive housing for everyone. The current plans come no where closing to promising or expecting that.

Bolting the door to beat the traffic? In what alternate reality do you exist? SB has traffic issues and so beating the traffic would apply just as much for someone leaving their SB job and getting to their SB housing as it does to someone living outside of town.

So when your utopia is not part of the plans then what do you do next?

Do you say that the affordable housing plan is worthwhile if it builds a few dozen residences for those making a whole lot more than local service workers? That it is worthwhile even if does nothing for the vast majority of the local services workers?

Or do you say that our local firefighters, teachers and so on should own their home instead of renting? And many of them are already renting and commuting. I say if the goals of affordable housing is to also be the expected result of the affordable housing plan then these people into homes/condos even if it is 30 minutes away and it would not take that much money to help a significant number of people. Affordable units in SB would be better, but also please take off the blinders and accept that programs outside of SB city limits could help many more people.

One of the sad facts of SB's affordable housing plans is that they have always been just ineffective enough to make virtually no difference. When subdivisions are being added in city limits then the affordable housing requirement is for the west steamboat plan. When there are over 200 jobs listed in the newspaper of which less than 20 paid more than $20 an hour and 8 apts listed for rent, then projects in City limits are required to build some $250K condos. It is insanity. There is no connection between reality and the City's affordable housing plans.

Here is a simple test question: Describe how things will look in 10 years based upon the current affordable housing plans. You may also describe what you think the plans should be and how things would look then. Please note you will be judged by the economics of your plans.

One of the reasons that open space has worked is that it has been entirely practical. No effort to stop mansions on 35 acres with big barns, golf courses and so on. Open space has not destroyed or even hurt the property values of the affected properties.

But affordable housing plans say it is all or nothing, if it cannot be in SB then don't do it.

The dynamic carpooling does not yet exist. There are seeds of it in places like the SF Bay Area. Like Craig's List, the technical challenges are not that hard, it just has to be worked until it is easy.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve, The economic reality is that the businesses that can move to Hayden or OC are likely to also be able to move to Utah or Ohio. TIC or Smart Wool are not going to move to a nearby town, they are going to leave.

The costs of commuting 30 minutes at highway speed are not going to be that bad. A friend's Prius averages 50 mpg to and from OC. One gallon for a round trip. And a 30 minute trip is well within a plug in's battery range especially if you can plug in at work.

If the affordable housing programs had common sense then right now they would be taking money from SB developers for the too expensive units they were recently forced to build and take that money to buy lots in Hayden. And also announce a program of putting up a 10% down that is interest free, but when the house is sold then is paid back with 20% of the appreciation. Thus, homeowners gets a good deal and the housing authority has a self sustaining down payment program.

And maybe figure out a legal way to allow the secondary units allowed in parts of SB to become condos instead of purely rentals. That would probably inspire far more to be built.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott, Traffic is irrelevant to the point I made. Cost to commute is what I said, right?

You spend a lot of time above putting your words in my mouth. Every "you say" you used takes a position I have not. My quotes "..." are much easier to defend, as they accurately describe my position.

I don't see the point of the many absolutes you use. Do you feel that since the current ordinance doesn't get it ALL done, it should be tossed?

Rental vs. ownership: please see my earlier post to you about ownership being the 1st of several steps, and rental being another, harder, step.

I've already described my 10 year view, right? What's yours?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve: I agree completely with all the "old timers" that I know, there is way too much growth. The law does not prevent anyone from coming here to make a buck, this is reality, and it has always been that way here. The corporations that you mentioned have every right to do what they do. They will be judged by the marketplace, they all have skin in the game. It is the micromanagers like you, with no skin in the game that want to practice leadership. By this affordable housing, you are satisfying special interest needs for some, at the expense of the development group. When things don't go well, you can point fingers or attack others patriotism, sounds a lot like the subprime mess. My point is, that this online participation allows old timers and working people to participate. I find it discomforting when people with little or no skin in the game, can hip shoot a situation, like affordable housing, and create problems, and then get a second chance. In the marketplace you often only get one shot before you are eliminated. With online participation we can get a wider range of input and not tied to the agenda in power. Steve it seems that you seldom acknowledge some very valid blogs that disagree with your opinion. That makes me think that you are agenda driven.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

And the blinders... Certainly comes down to one's belief in the sustainability of commuting., doesn't it.

TIC has already begun shedding headquarter duties to elsewhere. Yep, with you there.

I support affordable housing in OC and elsewhere, but in their own behalf. Our commuting workers are bidding up housing there. As an OC town board member told me last year, Stbt's housing problem had created OC's housing problem. Their efforts will likely insist on OC employment.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Fred, You keep taking shots at my character, without a rebuttal of a single idea I post.

So be it... Please point me to where I've attacked anyone's patriotism?

Please describe to me how the other posters have "skin in the game".

Developers stay seated? Mary-just-moved-here will you please leave until you have some skin in the game?

Fred, you know about the hundreds of hours I invested in an educated conversation with developers while on planning commission. Doesn't count as "skin in the game"?

Micro-managing? Please show me where my ideas diverge from the community plan. And no, the plan is not a conspiracy.

It would have been smarter to ignore you Fred.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Bubba, A county wide 1% real estate transfer fee, sales and re-sales would be a solution, or at least a big step. Apply the proceeds in the district or town of origin, and let folks buy deed restricted where they please.

Problem? Its now illegal. Pre-TABOR we looked at doing this in 1990 - realtors and developers killed it. Make your own judgment of that City Council.

But yes. Itt makes a lot of sense. Ironic the folks who killed it now advise it - now that its legally indefensible.

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bubba 5 years, 8 months ago

I recognize, Steve, that an entire workforce commuting is not great for their quality of life, their bottom line, the environment, our air quality & traffic and any number of other things. I am not sure I agree that it is completely unsustainable, but i will give you undesirable at least.

I wonder, though, what the workforce wants, rather than what the community planners want them to have - the affordable housing study that was recently publicized showed that people clearly want a single family home with garage more than a condo (no surprise there), but what it also showed was that they were more willing to accept a deed restriction on such a property than they were on something else, which is relevant because there aren't too many lots in SS to develop as deed restricted single family homes. I wonder what the answer would be if the question was 'would you rather live in single family home with garage and commute to Steamboat, or live in a deed restricted condo in town.' Personally, I would rather commute, all things being equal, but my wife and I made a lot of sacrifices (and work a lot) to live in town instead. I am not sure it makes sense to base policy on theories on future costs of commuting unless we have some evidence that the people these policies are designed to help would rather not commute, as I would bet a lot of people will take the nice house and commute over a small unit in town, regardless of concerns over future commuting costs.

How about this for a solution - put a tax to a vote; how about a 1% transfer tax on all new properties and a .5% on resales. The people who build and/or flip properties will pay the most into the AH coffer, it creates a permanent funding source for AH, and will appeal not only to people who want Affordable Housing, but to those who like to think the second homeowners should pay for everything around here. If it passes, problem solved, if it doesn't, then the community doesn't care that much about affordable housing.

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Russell Orms 5 years, 8 months ago

What's the problem just increase taxes on all businesses, on all people who have an income above $1, increase property taxes on all homes over 200 sq. ft. and then we can subsidize housing for everyone, provide free healthcare (including dental), a nice car, coupons at City Market and a new back pack every summer. That's what made America great. It certainly was NOT individual effort and responsibility. It was just handed to our fathers and mothers and we should get the same.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve, I pointed out that fuel efficient cars or plug in hybrids would minimize the cost of commuting. And suggested that if cost of commuting is so critical then help with buying efficient cars and work to promote carpooling.

I am curious what housing problem the OC Town Board thinks exists in OC. The idea of OC affordable housing with an OC employment restriction is a joke and is a nonstarter in OC. It would basically limit ownership to a town government employee. And no one with a brain would move into it because then quitting that job and taking another job means losing your house. Don't believe much of what some of these Town Board members will say.

OC's housing issue was 0% down, no income verification, interest only mortgages and construction workers consistently able to work overtime. OC now has the other type of housing problem.

My solution: 1) Define affordable housing as that which teachers and firefighters that are 3 years into their careers can afford. 2) Give some credit for affordable units that can be built in SB, but allow it to be in Hayden, Stagecoach, OC, Pburg and Yampa. Not North Routt because I don't think that is supposed to be a growth area. 3) Take advantage of current situation and buy cheap small lots in Hayden and Stagecoach in struggling subdivisions. Instruct developers to build 1200 sq ft houses with deed restrictions that houses are to stay that size. 4) Help buyers get into reasonable priced existing houses by providing down payment assistance. Down would be interest free with no payments until house is sold. Then it is paid back along with 20% of the property's appreciation. So then if market goes up then the repaid down should be large enough to help some other buyer. 5) Funding - make developers pay for creating expensive condos and large homes (those that create a need for more workers).. I don't like real estate transfer tax because it is free for the well off that can and stay and hurts growing families or those that have to sell due to crisis such as health or divorce. Most logical means would be via a county property tax. If it served more people and more of the middle income people then it might get popular support.

Current plan is broken ands needs to be replaced ASAP. If choice is current plan or nothing then nothing would be better than having something that pretends to exist, but upon closer examination is not affordable for those it is supposed to be serving.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Scott, 1) Affordable Housing has a definition that works - it costs 30% or less of your income. I don't agree that we only need to help only one segment of the workforce. 2), 3) We will always disagree here - commuting 15 miles or more x twice a day is not sustainable, on a large scale, 10 to 20 years from now. Urbanization is today's trend for the same reason. 4) Yep, likely we all can support down payment assistance. I think your capture of appreciation is too small, the fund would shrink. It has to maintain or grow itself, right? Also this requires a lot of seed money. 5) A property tax replacing IZ means we are mitigating the developer's impacts for him. Leave IZ, and do property tax to reach the lower income rental needs, and yes we have something fair. It roughly gets "keep up" and "catch up". But is this the right time to pass a tax?

How would you see "growth paying its way"?

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

Bubba, I called an attorney before that "illegal to tax real estate transfers" comment. We would have to change the state constitution before we could have one.

Fred, No offense taken. I look at this situation with this view: the government stepped forward in 2006 pecisely because the private sector over 15 years of $$ success was not doing anything beyond its bottom line, and we were getting dangerously behind on workforce housing.

Until we created these ordinances, developers had "no skin" invested in the housing problem. The exception would be Jim Cook's projects. Riverwalk gave Jim extra incentive to go there, but credit him - he did.

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bubba 5 years, 8 months ago

I didn't think it was illegal, I thought it just required a vote. That was why I said to put it to a vote. TABOR just says that taxes cannot be levied without a vote from the people being taxed, right? If the people of the city (or county) feel strongly about affordable housing, that would be an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is. If not, the why spend time trying to figure out how to make someone else pay for it?

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Fred Duckels 5 years, 8 months ago

Steve: I don't mean to personally attack you, I am commenting on a system, that I feel is reacting to our every problem. Just because everyone does it, does not require us to follow. I appreciate your participation and willingness to spar. We need more of this, if we are to be a healthy commu nity. If we step out of this affordable thing, won't the private sector have to step up? If I decide to invest here, I am taking a risk, if I don't where my employees are coming from. Sure there will be a period of disorganization but the problem will correct itself down the road. Initially investors will dismiss the problem, but it will bite them in the long run. If they make mistakes, they have skin involved, and the lessons will be harsh. This bad habit will be short lived. Government involvement tends to blame others, and views it's mistakes as minor, in relation to the public good. Government also has a tendency to perpetuate itself. It seems necessary to constantly prune the tree, and additional ventures needed to be scrutinized. The trafic will be easier to deal with than any of the affordable scenarios. The last time I complained about traffic on Lincoln, they asked me, what traffic? I do know about traffic ,and this will take resources, but it can be solved.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

JLM, Elk River Estates may be a 15 minute commute, but its easily 35 minutes to Hayden, our closest neighbor town. Community Indicators will soon let us know how many drive in from Moffat County, an hour away.

These are radically different size cities you speak of with surrounding edge cities. But the pattern may be the same. Their long term future involves light rail investment, less cars commuting to the core city, with jobs migrating to the edge cities. Lower income workers will be hoping for mass transit when gas is $10/gal in 5 years.

In the case of Craig and Hayden, I believe the jobs will migrate toward those gas and shale oil fields which will be closer and pay more.

Municipalities aren't supposed to roll the dice of personal belief. They are supposed to accomodate the reasonable scenarios presented by their professionals. They should do a lot better than choose Steve or JLM's advice. This is a science for some, and the future trend is not entirely a matter of guesswork.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

Most of the country would kill for the prospect of a 15 minute commute.

As cities mature and grow, they develop "edge cities" --- centers of commerce with surrounding housing. That is the first step in complex cell mitosis type urban development.

Look at any small city that became larger and you will find a core and other urban areas orbiting that core.

Each edge city has specific characteristics and housing types.

SBS is developing that same type of relationship with Oak Creek and Hayden. These two communities will ultimately be edge cities to SBS and will offer different types of commercial and residential opportunities and infrastructure. SBS has the other obvious challenge of the mountains --- you can't go in every direction because there are mountains in the way.

This natural development evolution has worked to provide great opportunities across the board. Look at Richmond, Austin, Columbia --- growth driven by being a capital, a river city, a university town and being pleasant places to live. They all offer affordable housing but it is not adjacent to downtown. You would love to commute 15 minutes in those cities.

SBS is struggling with the obvious --- the affordable housing is not going to be IN SBS, it is going to be in Hayden or Oak Creek or in a location which can be manufactured for that purpose. My personal fav would be adjacent to the Haymaker Golf Course.

Right now SBS is all talk and no action but the market is moving the development in the only direction it can.

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JLM 5 years, 8 months ago

Gas will not be $10 per barrel in 5 years or 15 years. Within that time period, the impact of alternative energy (including alternative methods of accessing hydrocarbons) will drive prices down or don't you believe the Obamaman?

The SBS needs to ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING cause right now they have a bad case of analysis paralysis. All talk and no, no, no action.

A 35 minute commute is perfectly reasonable if it allows one to own a house. If that is what one desires.

We all need to start living in the real world and not a world designed by folks who never really accomplish anything. Reality, it's a good thang!

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flotilla 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe the question of affordable housing then, should return to the question of transportation. Using the train, or implementing a bus service would be attractions to people researching their options of living in Hayden, OC, stagecoach, nroutt, milner. Actually assisting these towns with the coal clean up, vocational schools, etc, etc. And using some of the money the commuters make IN Steamboat to better (just a little, not a ton) these "edge towns". More attractive amenities might make the affordable housing within Steamboat limits go away. But no, Mary's mignon's just want it all to go away, right? Well if you do that, they/we will leave. Especially when EVERY OTHER ski town IS doing it. AND YOU will miss out on good teachers, nurses, etc. etc. And I know, because I am that part of that group, and regardless of what Scott Ford says... I don't think we will see people like this again. Those people will know to stay away. Sure, we'll see more CMC kids... but that isn't who I am talking about. I know the people that make the $15-$30/ hour incomes (or cummulative multiple job)... the people that are sitting right there on the fence of what to do.

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Scott Wedel 5 years, 8 months ago

"Hayden, our closest neighbor town."

Wrong. OC is 21 miles from downtown SB and 25 minutes from the mountain.

Doesn't matter if gas is $10 per gallon in 10 years - if it is then people won't be buying it to put in their cars for commuting. Plug-in hybrids would dominate if gas is that expensive. And that would make single occupancy trips too expensive so you'd have extensive carpooling.

With how much demand reduced when gas was at $4 this part summer, I think it is going to be awfully hard for gas to climb to $10. Demand dropped 5% in a matter of a few months. Change the situation to one where there are years of buying hybrids and more fuel efficient cars, we have reached peak oil, but we probably have also reached peak demand.

I wouldn't bet too heavily on oil shale development. Any sort of carbon or greenhouse gas emissions tax/tariff is going to hit them hard. And in our area the natural gas needed to process the oil shale can also be sold via a pipeline to the rest of the country. I think there will be some, but it won't be a big boom.

As it is often noted - the end of the Stone Age did not happen because they ran out of rocks. It was technologically replaced by Bronze and stones still have their uses. People, especially in the US, are quick to adapt to new economic realities. So once gas is too expensive and the affordable choice is a hybrid then they'll be driving a hybrid for commuting.

In 10 years I expect gas to be around $6 a gallon and not purchased by many people except for taking long trips such as to Denver.

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Steve Lewis 5 years, 8 months ago

The study council looked at has oil shale as a second energy surge in 20? years. As I recall it showed employment and population doubling in the western energy counies in 10 to 15 years. Meeker will boom.

We'll never agree on the commute. If gas is below $6/gal in 5 years I'll buy you a tankfull Scott, happily. But tired of arguing about it, have a good weekend.

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