Steve Lewis: Lock in standards

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The Let’s Vote group deserves our respect for standing up personally for what they believe. The principle exercised in the successful petition for a public vote on the Steamboat 700 annexation is a cornerstone of our basic rights. The forthcoming debate should be respectful and civil.

Those of you who scold opponents of Steamboat 700 for unwittingly jeopardizing attainable housing in Steamboat Springs need to pay closer attention. I agree with you that such attainable (free-market) housing would be the main point of annexing, but there may be little or no attainability in Steamboat 700. By your own standard, it could be that you, too, might choose to vote against Steamboat 700. The Oct. 13 draft of the annexation agreement gave you fair warning.

Steamboat 700 has promised many times that part of their free-market product will bear prices that match up with our workers’ financial capabilities. They’ve said this is a completely natural market for their product. Yet when pressed to put that in writing (for the least expensive 30 percent of their 1,600 free-market units) in the Oct. 13 draft, the Steamboat 700 promise evaporated and became instead: We will offer attainable prices on those homes for only 120 days.

How can Steamboat 700 say our work force is their natural market and at the same time limit our workers’ buying opportunity to 120 days? Consider those words from Steamboat 700 as fair warning. Down the road, we could be shocked by how few of our workers are able to afford free-market homes within this annexation.

On Oct. 13, City Council correctly rejected that 120-day time frame as it adopted the annexation agreement. But the actual “attainability program” that will deliver the annexation’s attainability promise is yet to be written. This is one unfortunate result of annexing with a deadline, as we did. Some time limit on attainable prices, or other obstacles, may return in the writing of the program, making work force attainability just an illusion. If it is your hope that our local work force will find homes in this annexation, you will have a pressing interest in that program’s promise.

It follows that the city’s work on this annexation is incomplete. I urge City Council to have that attainability program written before the Steamboat 700 ballot occurs. Otherwise, voters cannot know whether Steamboat 700 will deliver what many of us hope for — homes for our workers.

Comments

aichempty 4 years, 9 months ago

Steve,

Thanks for bringing this up, even though you are dancing around the issue just a little bit (probably because you don't totally understand how to get to the bottom line cost versus dwelling unit issue).

It's important that you noticed the time limit and are making it an issue.

The SB700 annexation agreement and its provisions for the Community Housing Plan (CHP) are a little bit like telling your kid that you'll pay for 1/2 the cost of a new car if he saves the other half from his job delivering newspapers. Sounds good until you get into the details, and then the truth comes out.

I have convinced myself that SB700 will be good for people who already own market-rate housing, because simple inflation means that the new "comparables" constructed in SB700 will increase the appraisal values on other existing homes in the county.

It's unlikely, as you point out, that SB700 is going to result in many working families owning homes in the development. It's an empty promise, but on the other hand, maybe the working family sector is an empty market. They'd like to own homes, but don't have the means (even at so-called "affordable" prices which can be derived from the details of the Annexation Agreement). We can't expect the SB700 developers to wave a magic wand and create people and jobs who can buy expensive homes (even condos) in a resort town. The whole idea is about as practical as counting on Santa Claus to solve the foreclosure crisis.

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Russell Orms 4 years, 9 months ago

i am undecided about 700. The infrastructure contribution is needed to address many future problems whether it's 2000 homes or just 35 acre lots. i don't think many of our "workers" will be able to purchase a home there anyway, but 2000 is a lot of homes. does this increase in supply mean the demand for existing homes diminishes? if so, self interest would say vote no. still thinking

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steamboatbusiness 4 years, 8 months ago

Just fyi, over a 20-30 year period, Steamboat 700 proposes building the equivalent of only 9% of what we have currently as residential units (14,000 current residential units). So over 20-30 years we can manage the growth in one area rather than prevent sprawl? Sign me up. Remember the City has control of approx. 400 of the 2000 units as affordable housing. I found good info at the City website in The Steamboat 700 Annexation Summary, check it out: http://steamboatsprings.net/sites/default/files/page/3121/Steamboat%20700%20Annexation%20Summary091609rev.pdf

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