Jon Wade: Support 700


I never thought I would support Steamboat 700 because it seems like too much at once. The more I think about how things will develop with or without Steamboat 700, I can't get around the fact that this is the only way to plan for the growth that is coming either way. I'd rather take some risk than face the consequences of inaction.

I am an active real estate broker but I see Steamboat's livability as the most important reason that my family is here along with those of my clients. It's that simple.

I believe it is critical to make it possible for all of our friends, especially people like teachers, to become permanent members of the community. It shouldn't be too easy, but it has to be possible. I believe it will reduce my own property values in town by having options close by, so this is not an economic judgment. For me it comes down to just a few things.

Steamboat 700 is as close to the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan as we are likely to get. The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was vetted and approved by previous city councils. We asked for this, and the developers have done a remarkable job delivering it. Yes, it would be wonderful to get more for "free," but these costs fall back on the people who will live there.

Steamboat is extraordinary, a place that is so compelling that we each work much harder to be here. This passion makes Steamboat even better. It's nothing new - we can only imagine how hard it was for Steamboat's founding families to make a life here, especially in the winter. Great people like John Fetcher could have lived anywhere, but they chose Steamboat and worked to make it special.

It couldn't be more worth it, and others will happily make the same choices. My wife and I did and couldn't be happier. We need to protect what is great about Steamboat using plans that actually will be effective and not just a wish. I can't think of a way that not doing this development will actually achieve this goal. The Pilot & Today is right to say ("Council should approve Steamboat 700," Viewpoints editorial, Oct. 7) it will only push people out farther in the county, increase commuting, pollution and get nothing from that growth to help pay for the increased demands on our community's infrastructure. That is not even a question. If demand does not materialize, it will not get built, so approving it does not put us at risk.

The biggest reason is precedent; there is not a lot of question what will happen if you look at Aspen and Vail. They have not planned close in for growth. In Aspen and Vail it is considered normal for people to commute between 30 and 60 minutes to work and play.

Don't we want a community that is together all day, remains a special place and has the resources to pay for the long-term growth that will come either way? Those of us who were not born in Steamboat were lucky to be accepted by this wonderful community. We all should take responsibility for keeping it a special place. Closing the pass only is a fantasy and is truly the fastest path to pushing good people out of town just like what has happened in Aspen and Vail. This is a very tough decision, but it has been studied and negotiated by our fellow citizens and should be by you. I trust them to implement the best possible deal. It will not be perfect - nothing is - but clearly it will be far better than the alternative.

Jon Wade

Steamboat Springs


addlip2U 7 years, 6 months ago

If you live and work in any other part of the country, commute of 30 to 60 minute to work and play is the norm, rather than exception. That is why people built "suburbs" in the 50's!


steamboatsprings 7 years, 6 months ago

30-60 minutes is the norm in many areas but one of the reasons Steamboat is special is because people spend that time together here. If we think it will be expensive to fix the roads west of Steamboat just try putting in extra lanes between Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach to town. If you miss the chance to spend time with your car you may be more comfortable somewhere else like Aspen.


Wayne Eller 7 years, 6 months ago

Jon Wade, Your comment is like another NOBAMA statement. YOU say that you know that it will devalue your property. That means that it will also devalue ours and you are for it!!! I certainly hope that your statement will be remembered by all that seek a realtor to help them sell their " DEVALUED" property when we all have to sell because Steamboat built themselves into disaster. Sounds to me like you are self-serving in wanting more homes on the market so YOU will have a larger inventory to sell from. If that is what you want, why don't you move to Denver where there are already over 32,000 home on the market? A big question for you-- where will these new people work to be able to afford these new houses?? Sure would like for you and Danny to answer this!! For all that do not like our valley the way it is-- LEAVE OUR VALLEY ALONE OR JUST LEAVE OUR VALLEY!!!


steamboatsprings 7 years, 6 months ago

I think the difference in these two views is that we all try to do what we think is best. In this case Justice doesn't seem to understand doing something that may not be in his own financial interest to keep Steamboat a place where the people like teachers, nurses and young families can be a part of our community long term.

There is more to the value of the community than the value of it's real estate. This is one area where Steamboat has always been different and I pray that it continues to stay that way. Maybe, in fact, the value of a community that keeps it's people close to it's heart and recognizes those who provide value that is rewarded in other ways than money could be greater than one in which money is the only measure of a person's worth.

Now that I think about it in that context there is no maybe about which community most people here in Steamboat want to live in. How can I say that? Because one of the most special things about Steamboat is that most people here place the value of their friends and neighbors before a single measure like money. Some other mountain towns are different in this regard but each of us chose to live in Steamboat.

It is easy to think short term about money and the current economic situation but normal times will return as will the pressures that make it impossible for so many good people who have earned a spot in our community by other measures than money. We need to plan for that and in fact the community has kept a remarkably consistent plan in the WSSAP during good times and challenging times. That is a rare accomplishment.

In any event you can take comfort that it is likely values will continue to rise over time just not as fast as they otherwise would and there will continue to be a higher value on existing properties closest to town or on larger lots, there will just be others on the west side of town that are more attainable.

In this case maybe justice is including people of many values that are actually more valuable in ways that count.


Wayne Eller 7 years, 6 months ago

steamboatsprings good article, still my question remains unanswered. where will the people work?


steamboatsprings 7 years, 6 months ago

We are stronger as a community with a good discussion from multiple sides. Your question is valid. It would be very difficult to finance 700 before a solid base of demand so there is some level of a fail safe mechanism. Getting started should be a pretty high hurdle and then smaller sections will be a bit easier. This will still be much harder than before. I can see a few scenarios but various levels of something like this seem plausible.

  • location neural workers will continue to become a larger portion of our workforce and retirees will continue to strive to move here. This was already a strong trend but our changing economy will likely accelerate this. Some will move into town and some will move out west depending on what they are looking for. Options west of town will help keep them from going north, south or further west where new building won't be required to contribute to paying for this growth

  • those going into town will buy and remodel some of the older rental properties which I think will become more common than before when most were torn down due to increasing desires to re-use and more conservative spending.

  • this will create a need for replacement properties.

  • others who live in areas outside of town will move in to 700, make shorter drives and contribute to highway and other improvements we need through various mechanisms set up in the annexation agreement. This will slow the growth of outer areas and create the density to allow for better mass transit / people powered trips for necessities.

  • There will be several other ways but I am tired so will sign off for now. As I said it is a great question what the exact makeup will be but precedent and the number of people that want to live in the mtns will create demand over time. We figured out a way to live here and others want to too. The bigger question is how we can harness the growth that is coming to address current traffic and pay for the impacts of new people.


Scott Ford 7 years, 6 months ago

Justice4all - You ask a great question, "Where will the jobs come from?"
Part I - Routt County Future Job Creation - 101

Your question is at the core of economic development in any community. The labor market can be classified into two very broad categories of jobs - "Primary" and "Secondary." A primary job is associated directly with any industry that brings in "new" dollars into the local economy. These industries are often referenced as economic drivers.

Locally we have 5 economic drivers, agriculture, mining, visitors, health care, residential life/style (RLS). All these drivers bring in "new" dollars into the economy that spin around in very predictable ways before flying out of here. Locally, depending on the industry that brought the new dollar in to the valley, on average a dollar will spin around 1 to 3 times before leaving the valley.

The first three drivers are well understood. The last two are interdependent on the visitor economy. To put it simply, we live in the house that tourism built and we keep doing things such as improvements in technology, transportation, health care, and recreation/culture infrastructure and amenities that make it easier and nicer to live here. The nicer it is the more folks associated with the RLS group come. In turn, they bring in more dollars that are new, i.e., primary dollars.

More primary dollars flowing into the economy means an increased small-business opportunities. New money from primary jobs coming into the local economy and the resulting secondary jobs create markets for goods and services, such as restaurants, automobiles, retail shops, insurance, banking services dry cleaning, and etc., that are produced or sold locally.


Scott Ford 7 years, 6 months ago

Part 2 -

In 2007, the in net migration associated with RLS economy brought $26 million new dollars into the local economy. Assuming about 25% of household earnings is spent locally and a dollar spin factor of 2X, $13 million of direct economic impact occurred. Based on the average wage for all industries sectors in Routt County combined this level of direct economic impact created 338 jobs.

Since all the jobs created are not full-time ones, we need to translate jobs to people to complete the calculation of economic impact. The civilian workforce in Routt County is about 15,000 the number of jobs is 20,000. So the number of people associated with the RLS economic driver impact in 2007 was 250.

The average household in Routt County is 2.3 this would me that 250 people will need 109 dwelling units. Obviously this model is simplistic, however, the number of jobs, people, households and dwelling units is in the ball park. (This "quick-n-dirty" impact model is just "workforce" dwelling units needed and does not include the dwelling units that will be occupied by the fulltime RLS group or those associated with second homes purchases.)

It is highly unlikely that there will be much dramatic growth in "new" dollars from the industries associated with Agriculture and mining and for that matter visitors. Any growth in new dollars from these industries will likely be incremental at best. Locally the growth in new dollars will come from health care and RLS industries. Since the new dollars associated with the RLS industry are cumulative and compounding the number of dwelling units needed in the next 20 years would be in the 2,000 range. (Go figure I have not worked with the folks at SB700 and I hit the their number.)


Scott Wedel 7 years, 6 months ago

Scott, Great info.

Except was 2007 a normal year? Since RLS brings in their own money, the obvious question about your info is whether 2007 was an aberration in which the real estate boom created far more people able to move here because they were now wealthy?

I doubt anything close to 250 RLS people moved here in the past 12 months and occupied 109 dwelling units.

And some RLS people are people whose investments have made money and some of them made bad RE investments and others are over leveraged. I know some RLS people that want to leave, but cannot because they cannot sell their house for what they need.

Do you want to see something scary? Look at the County's tax lien list. Number is up 33% from last year and lots of owners of expensive properties did not pay their property taxes yet. And unlike lower income people in which 11% interest on unpaid property tax may be cheaper debt than their alternatives, if a rich person cannot get money for less than 11% then they are in deep trouble.

And what worries me is that this was supposed to be the time of baby boomers entering the world of RLS. And a place like SB with winter recreation has a smaller window of demographic opportunity because while it is great for someone in their 50s or early 60s, someone older looking for a place to live is unlikely to want to deal with the harsh winters. So by the time local RE recovers then we will have largely missed the baby boomers. And we will have a housing supply from early boomers that moved here in recent years that are now ready to move to lower altitude and less severe winters.

I do not think we are going to wither and go away. But I think RLS and other economic drivers are more likely to stem the losses than provide serious economic growth over the next five years. And we are so insanely overbuilt.

But anyway, wasn't the point of WSSAP to provide a large amount of local workforce housing? According to the plan that was 30%, recently modified to 20% which is somehow to be met by SB 700 giving 2% (not 20%, but 2%) of the land for affordable housing.

SB 700 filled by RLS people along with the eventual reconstruction of base area is going to result in the need for more less than average median income employees whom will have the choice of living between 20 and 50 miles away.


Scott Ford 7 years, 6 months ago

Hi Wade - We are getting to the very core of some of the issues associated with the proposed annexation agreement - creation of affordable aka subsidized housing and "attainable housing."

I have a bunch of stuff to do this afternoon - in order to keep being paid. (At present none- of my customers live here so I better get busy and focus on billable hours this afternoon.) I guess this makes me an RLS. I will respond in more detail this evening. As always, you ask some great questions. If you get the chance stop by the "no fact zone" for coffee early Tuesday AM at the Steaming Bean. We can also chat there.


AGM 7 years, 6 months ago

It is so interesting to see how people can be so excited when things are going great and how pessimistic they can be when things aren't going well. This country has been through so many ebbs and flows and by gosh, somehow we are here typing on a device and magically those words show up on a website that everyone can read - who knew.

In the late 70's and early 80's there was absolutely no chance that Steamboat was ever going to grow - no chance. It was against all logic and the doomsayers knew it would be never be the same as it used to be.

Scott Ford is right on in this conversation. Thank you for that.

Jon Wade also writes a very thoughtful and honest assessment - kudos to you.

This valley will grow - denying that fact is a really short sighted argument. People will continue to move here - somehow most all of us have. Very few of us were born here and had to stay here because of family, economic circumstances or otherwise. We chose to be here. It is a fantastic place and will continue to be.

Scott Ford - can you tell us what the growth rate of Steamboat/Routt has been over the past 20 years or so? I know many people have this impression that we've had crazy rampant growth, but I suspect it is quite a normal figure when one looks at the FACTS and not the FEARS.

Addlip - is that why you moved to Steamboat? So that you could commute 30 to 60 minutes as a normal American? Wow, I can hardly wait to live here - If I buy a place near Meeker I'll live in Steamboat and love every minute of it!!


greenwash 7 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like steamboatsprings is a realtor...hint hint


steamboatsprings 7 years, 6 months ago

Scott, excellent insights as always. Thanks for adding some great data to the mix. You are spot on as always and our community benefits from your efforts. AGM, you are right that this will be a place that continues to attract people. There are more than enough people who will find a way to come even though some here think the world has ended.


housepoor 7 years, 6 months ago

Scott, Don't you think our largest economic driver in the past 5 years has been real estate and the commerce that went with it? I would bet half if not more of the people in town were making a living that was somehow related to the real estate industry. From the agents to contractors, mortgage brokers on down to construction laborers, these people were all making a very good living here, buying entry through mid level housing::trading the American dream. They are gone now or just barely keeping their head above water, how longer will they be able to hang on? I also think that this RLS group was in a much more liquid position to extract their $$ from their existing real estate through sales or loans on equity than they are now, even the ones with free cash are pretty gun shy. I agree the SBS is a very desirable place and in time dmenad will come back some. I just think the number of folks with the financial means has shrunk considerably.


Karen_Dixon 7 years, 6 months ago

Housepoor, The primary economic driver here is tourism. The real estate & construction industries are spin-offs, not drivers. As you have observed, when tourism is down, all other industries suffer - with a rippling effect and chilling impact. It is high time our CC seriously focuses on diversifying our economy, so that we are not at the mercy of one driver - tourism. I am sorry to say to you that in a healthy economy, which is what we want, real estate development will always exist with varying levels of success. But it is not a driver, it is a spin-off.


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