Letter to the Editor: Our opportunity


For many years we have talked about how to manage growth in this extraordinary valley. We have talked about how to "pace" growth and where we want to "place" it. It is our community's responsibility to seize this opportunity to annex Steamboat 700, and put our plans and visions into place.

This community has worked hard for so many years preparing studies and reports too numerous to count, in an effort to identify our community's problems. While we have studied, many of those problems have intensified, and some will certainly become more severe unless we move forward with solutions.

We support the annexation because Steamboat 700 is an approach that puts locals first. We can do something in Steamboat Springs that no mountain community in Colorado has been able to do: keep our local community and character intact by giving our work force and middle-class families choices to live closer to their jobs.

Also, we feel there will be high costs and serious consequences if the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan is not implemented and Steamboat 700 is not annexed. Steamboat Springs will obviously survive without Steamboat 700, but we can expect haphazard, unplanned growth throughout Routt County far from the region's economic engine, more pollution, longer commutes, higher housing costs, more traffic congestion, diminished quality of life for everyone and a loss of character.

The City Council has been diligent to make sure the existing residents are protected, would benefit from this annexation, and not be burdened today or in the future by approving this annexation.

More than $100 million in benefits to Steamboat Springs are at stake - with no additional taxes on current residents. Steamboat 700 is a project that pays its own way and can be the community's financial partner to help address the existing challenges associated with U.S. Highway 40, affordable housing, expanded transit, schools, parks, fire station and much more. These challenges have been documented and discussed for years - and annexing Steamboat 700 helps us solve them.

- Opportunity for the next generation

- Opportunity for the work force

- Opportunity for the middle class

- Opportunity to retain our teachers, nurses, managers, etc.

- Opportunity for needed community infrastructure

- Opportunity to fulfill Community Plans

- Opportunity to pace growth

- Opportunity to place growth

- Opportunity to be prepared for the future

We believe that once you have all the information, you will agree that Steamboat 700 is the right path for our community's future. Steamboat 700 will strengthen our economy, create jobs and opportunity for our local businesses, protect our region's natural beauty and secure a strong, healthy and vibrant future for the next generations.

We come from different backgrounds, we have a range of experience in local government and civics, and we have different points of view on many issues. But one thing we all agree on is that Steamboat Springs' best opportunities for the future will come by annexing Steamboat 700.

- Karl Gills, Kevin Kaminski, Adonna Allen, David Pepin, Derrick Duckels, Fred Duckels, Kathy Stokes, Curtis Church, Mark Fischer, John Tomasini, Mike and Colleen Miller, Stan Urban, Paul and Sue Brunken, Scott Lewer, Pete Boniface, Bruce Carta, Marsha Daughenbaugh,

Geneva Taylor


beentheredonethat 7 years, 7 months ago



Wayne Eller 7 years, 7 months ago

Again I say: Leave our valley alone or leave our valley. Homeowners must have jobs. The next issue will be "where do we build the massive industrial complex to furnish these jobs?" Our valley is quickly loosing its' idenity by all the changes that have taken place. The reason that people like it here is because of the way it IS, and not the way it will be after the ruins are built.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 7 months ago

beenthere, Your best shot is at the ballot box, why aren't you counting on the council that has taken the time to weigh the pros and cons? Mayabe you prefer essentially voting on a bill that hasn't been read, that seems to be in vogue recently. Are uninformed voters your best chance? This is a long complicated process and I'm willing to bet you and justice haven't the foggiest idea of the details.


aichempty 7 years, 7 months ago

Or, it's possible that the tourist economy is done with, it's gotten too expensive for mainline Americans to come here to ski, and we'll be lucky if the whole place doesn't turn into a ghost town within 10 years.

The junk mortgage crisis is far from over. Half the equity in town is gone, whether anybody knows it yet or not. You can't sell something that people cannot buy.

We're in for a long period of adjustment. Life is different than it's been since the Clinton years. The free lunch is gone, and socialism is on the way.

People will want to ski, but they won't have money to do it. Then what? Who pays the bills left by SB700 development if it doesn't materialize as planned?

The city, that's who. If there's a city left.


cindy constantine 7 years, 7 months ago

Has anyone else been following the foreclosure trends in Routt County this year? Every Sunday more and more notices are posted and 2010 will see additional rate adjustments. We have not hit the bottom yet folks, and the banks will be the biggest players for at least the next 12 months to set prices. Banks DO NOT want real estate owned on their books. Anyone talked with Jeanne Whiddon lately?


housepoor 7 years, 7 months ago

Pass this annexation and you can knock another 20% + off the value of Smbt II, Heritage Park and Silver Spur.


Fred Duckels 7 years, 7 months ago

I am old enough to have been around this block before. The houses in the valley were valued far in excess of their true value, by speculation and the social engineers forcing lenders to finance every sale. Homeowners suddenly discovered that they were wealthy beyond their dreams. They want this windfall to come back, but speculation is dead and banks are no longer willing to loan on anything but solid deals. Killing 700 will not revive the housing price structure, but added inventory will make housing affordable and maybe the government will have enough wisdom to stop meddling in this affordable housing feel good price structure. It was this mindless meddling that caused the markets to go out of whack in the first place. We are in for some tough times but when the real estate market reaches the point where a profit looks feasible, get out of the way. Danny hopes to be ready when the time comes, and with his risk he hopes things will go his way. He is the big gambler and he will deserve more than those who did not dare to risk.


localboy17 7 years, 7 months ago

Cindy, What does talking with Jeanne Whiddon have to do with the foreclosure rate? Aichempy brings up a good point in who will cover the cost when the 700 doesn't materialize. Everyone knows that construction always takes longer than planned, costs more than initially planned, and sometimes runs out of funding. In a town that is taking money away from its employees already and can't even pay for paper coffee cups at the police department, where is the money going to come from when the inevitable happens. FRED, when you ask why we don't count on city council to take of something that shouldn't be instead of waiting for the ballot, WHAT BLOCK HAVE YOU BEEN AROUND? Because this block has been torn apart, had severe plastic surgery, and given a new and unwanted identity by this ALL KNOWING city council that has done nothing but approved ideas that change this community. Look at a picture of steamboat back in the day, from when you came to this block, and tell me if you think where we are going is a great place. We bank on people coming to Steamboat to ski yet charge $100 dollars a day to ski, and $300 dollars a night to stay here. No one is going to come to a town like that, especially when the locals are bitter. Change needs to come, and that change needs to be back to the old days.


cindy constantine 7 years, 7 months ago

As our Public Trustee, Jeanne Whiddon handles the foreclosures for Routt County. Foreclosures have been trending upward continuing to put downward pressure on home values. Banks would rather take a loss on the loan rather than take it on their books as Real Estate Owned. This is happening not just in the surrounding towns but in Steamboat as well--both primary owners and second homeowners are in that foreclosure pool. Within the next year I would predict a number of homes/condos to be in price ranges less than what is projected in Steamboat 700. Can we see who is out there to buy these existing homes within the current city limits prior to making a commitment for a new subdivision to be annexed? I agree with aichempty that the adjustment period is a long haul and we may never experience the trends we did from 2004-2007.


JLM 7 years, 7 months ago

Everybody seems to forget that pricing, in particular for real estate, is simply a function of supply and demand. When demand is suppressed and supply increases --- prices are going to come down. That is market forces, simple economics at work.

We have already seen this movie and last time it was called the "S & L Crisis" and it was rectified by market forces --- just as this recession will also be righted by the force of the market.

There are a limited number of real forces at work here ---

First, folks bought a bit too much real estate at prices which were clearly on the higher end of the market. Call it what you will --- excessive liquidity, overly optimistic expectations, living beyond their means --- that real estate cannot attract new buyers at anything other than dramatically lower prices.

Second, new construction has virtually died thereby dampening the supply of competitive product. This gets the "cost to construct" out of the financial equation and speeds up the recovery. Simply put --- the recovery will be complete when values rise to replacement cost and new construction begins again.

Third, folks have learned to live a bit more modestly whether it is driving the same vehicle, doing without and the emotional demand for real estate has almost dried up completely. Lots of folks can live without granite counters for a bit longer and then maybe even longer than that.

Fourth, banks and buyers are a bit more conservative in structuring a deal and liquidity has dried up both in the form of of precious equity but also debt.

All of these things taken together have dampened demand at a time when supply is increasing thereby forcing prices down to a level at which transactions --- even predatory transactions --- will happen. This is simple economic physics --- prices will drop to a level at which they become attractive enough to free up capital and spur optimism.

One thing I can assure you of --- it will take a lot shorter time period to recover than anybody thinks right now and the marketplace will do this again about every 20 years.

It's a "normal correction".


Scott Wedel 7 years, 7 months ago

JLM, I hope you are right that this will recover sooner than expected.

I am far more pessimistic.

Unlike the rest of the country, SB did not experience the real estate slowdown starting in 2007 and barely felt it in 2008 until the Sept 2008 financial crisis. I believe that the euphoria resulting of Intrawest's purchase caused our market to continue upwards evens as the fundamentals were weakening.

Thus, unlike possibly anywhere else, SB's RE market was still okay until Sept 2008 when the local real estate market just stopped and went to nearly 0 sales. It is a year later and we are still searching for price discovery. There is still no clear idea of what various properties are worth. We have yet to discover what is a reasonable price to offer or buy properties. Volume is still way (down 75%) from any year since the start of online county records in 1998. Our volume is so low that people that have left the area have not been able to sell their homes.

Other markets are now seeing people with excellent credit scores default on their mortgages. They have the means to pay, but are making the financial decision to stop paying their negative equity mortgage.

I think we are going to experience a perfect storm of unable to pay and choosing not to pay foreclosures and 2010 will be dominated by bank sales priced 40% below 2007 peak prices.

We have no less than 4 years of sales (2005-2008) now with large negative equity. We also have a huge number of vacation homes and speculative investments which the owners will allow to go into foreclosure.

I think 2010 and 2011 will each have more than 300 foreclosures (or quit claimed back to the bank) and see prices 40% below 2007 peak levels.


Chad James 7 years, 7 months ago

The new amenities ranging from a school, transit service, 30 acres of parks, 12 miles of trails, 120 acres of open space, grocery store, daycare, restaurants, and more without the taxes will likely do more to add or hold their values then anything else.

Did the construction of Silver Spur bring Steamboat II values down? The answer is simply, no.

The first homes in SB700 will not be on the market until 2012 at best and long after the market has corrected the exuberance of 2005-2007.

If values are continuing to soften then new construction will not start because that would mean there is not any demand. There is not one circumstance where it would make sense to build in a soft market.

Steamboat 700 is an opportunity to prepare for the future.


cindy constantine 7 years, 7 months ago

What is the big hurry? Can the decision just be postponed? Let us see if Chris Diamond is right about the ski season. Let us see if the existing inventory of homes starts to be absorbed. Let us see if we can find a bottom to sales tax declines. Even the developers admit it may be an extended time before the first house is built. I don't like empty threats about just dividing the property into 35 acre parcels--we know there is no market for that. No one wins or loses by postponing for 6 mos to a year. Lets put an end to this divisive issue and slow down this runaway train. We must also give due to the developer, planning and council for the hundreds of hours spent trying to look out for all our best interests. We would not be having this discussion if it were not for an unprecedented recession.


Tubes 7 years, 7 months ago

i'm with Fred, how many of the people who seem so vehemently against this project have any idea of the details? i bet it's next to none. putting this on a ballot to uniformed voters makes absolutely no sense.

"let us see if Chris Diamond is right about next ski season...postponing for six months to a year..." this is a 20 year project and your gonna have to see past next spring to understand this thing.


housepoor 7 years, 7 months ago

How about some investment in job creation outside of the constructionreal estate industry before we add 2000 units? Silver Spur added 125 or so units not 2000. Our growth was built on speculation and speculation is gone. The big baby boomer wave has changed it's course and the second home market is done.


Karen_Dixon 7 years, 7 months ago

Cindy (Hi Neighbor!) "Can the decision just be postponed?" To expand on Jim Engelken's analogy from an Aug. 21st Pilot & Today article: If we wait until we have a fire to create defensible space, we will lose our town to the fire. The current economic crisis has dumped significant suppressant on the fire, but rest assured, the embers still glow. The slightest economic breeze will stoke the fire once again and if we have not taken the opportunity to prepare ourselves, we will be engulfed in flames.


cindy constantine 7 years, 7 months ago

Thanks Karen! Appreciate all your hard work but frankly Steamboat needs to"get over itself". I love living here as do most of the people that are already here. However I say most because I have several friends who are trying to sell their house or have left the area for work and rented their house because there is no market in which to sell. They are tired of the winters. Believe or not there are plenty of people who would rather not live in an expensive place with 300 inches of snow each winter. Until I see modular homes in the $125,000 range and trailer parks with units in the $40,00 range proposed, do not think Steamboat 700 is the answer to our housing needs. I don't see any "economic breeze" anywhere in this valley. No one is talking jobs and that must be part of the discussion. Your right Tubes we may need to see past next spring to understand this thing. Perhaps we need to table the project indefinitely. If Council votes for this thing there is a grass roots movement of volunteers willing to go door to door to get a petition signed to get it on the ballot. By postponing the issue it will put an end to the divisiveness even if just temporarily.


JLM 7 years, 7 months ago

@Scott ---

I agree with everything you write. I think the dip will be right at 40% across the board and perhaps a bit more on specific property types --- in particular very large properties for which the issue is simply the size of the individual rooms.

In the midst of the last real estate crisis there were macro observations which were made which seemed to doom entire parts of the country. My favorite was Austin TX which had a "30 year supply of single family lots" and the prices reflected that fact.

Less than 18 months later, a production builder could not find a single family lot and values more than doubled off the bottom within another 12 months. Go figure!

Lots are a pure commodity differentiated solely by location given that services are already provided in order for it to be a "lot" in the first place. Commodity prices reflect sentiment and the purest sense of supply v demand. They are a true barometer of economic sentiment.

SBS is a great place but it is a tiny, tiny, tiny place in the real estate market. Just a few sales will spur a recovery and favorably impact pricing given that demand has a bit of strength. This is not the predators but the users.

Right now there is wholesale uncertainty in the entire country which I frankly think is primarily political --- health care, taxes, bailouts, etc. This uncertainty is as much a determinant of real consumer confidence as anything else.

The challenge in SBS is compounded by the rising cost of skiing and the diminishing size of the rainbow trout (just kidding about the trout). It is a one horse town in many ways. Damn nice horse, mind you, but one horse just the same.

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems because nothing is ever as good as it seems.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 7 months ago

JLM, SB is not going away because this is a nice place to live. Tourism could be down 20-40% from 2007, but it is not going to zero. And it is more and more possible for some to work at a place of their choice and some of those people will chose SB.

I do not think that a "few sales will spur a recovery". The abysmal volume does not just reflect an end to speculation. it has caused a major backlog of vacant homes with the homeowners having moved on to a different area. There is far too much inventory to be corrected by a few sales. I note that the rest of the country did not experience a collapse in volume like we have locally. They had slightly less volume and decreasing prices. So they always had a reasonable idea of what was fair value. We currently do not know fair value and so we do not have reasonable sales volume.

What I think will happen is a massive wave of foreclosures which the banks will dump on the market and when a few hundred of those sell then we will reestablish pricing and volume will return. That lower price point will cause another round of foreclosures when people realize how much negative equity they have.

This is and will be pretty bad for many people because we had a lot of people that leveraged themselves on the hope that 2005 to 2007 was going to continue. We have people in homes with massive negative equity. We have contractors with more equipment than they will ever use.

What we have yet to see are the notable local foreclosures and bankruptcies.


JLM 7 years, 7 months ago

@ Scott ---

Perhaps we are saying the same thing --- a few sales will mark the price for the market. This market price discovery will determine the pace of sales activity. The toughest assessment is what is something worth when nothing is selling?

The first few sales will also set the direction from whence buyers will come to SBS --- oil money, VC money, Middle Eastern money, Internet money? Who knows but it will likely be a new source of wealth. The innovators will be first and then the others will pile on. The Internet today plays a huge role in disseminating information and providing direction to money looking for a good deal.

I suspect that the ownership of real estate and the conduct of the banks will be tempered quite a bit by governmental policy and the continually changing perception of the economy.

I do not think that folks of means simply cut and run when they have "negative equity" because they are users of the property as well having the practical reality of personal guaranties and credit ratings.

The banks can take their medicine in two ways --- somehow working out the loan and then writing the assets down which they have no choice about or repossessing the property and taking a market, holding period, management and expense (taxes, insurance, maintenance) risk.

I think it will take a bit of time but I think when it happens, it will happen quickly. The very best properties in each category will be the market and price leaders. The market will be very efficient once the change comes.


Scott Wedel 7 years, 7 months ago

JLM, People with good credit ratings have not historically defaulted on mortgages just because of negative equity. According to an article I read a few days ago, people with top credit ratings are now allowing properties to be foreclosed. I wish I could remember where I read it so I could provide a link as reference.

These people do not tell the bank of their plan so this is by observation. What the banks are seeing are people with top credit scores that suddenly stop paying their mortgage, but pay their credit cards and other bills. And these people unlike income limited people, do not try to make occasional payments to try to delay the foreclosure process.

What is also being kept quiet is that in a few years there are going to be many good credit risks with foreclosures on their credit history. So there will be money to be made loaning to people with foreclosures and thus the banks will figure out how to do it. So having a foreclosure from this real estate collapse on a credit record is not going to matter that much in a few years.


freerider 7 years, 7 months ago

You forgot about the opportunity to have complete gridlock on HWY 40 . And the opportunity to employ illegal aliens , and the opportunity to have to park in Hayden to go shopping in Steamboat , and The opportunity to make the developers wealthy , and the opportunity to completley annex the 700 farce when nobody wants it except for a handful of locals that think they might make a few bucks off it and then leave town along with the developers. And the opportunity to let the next city council fix it , let the next guy fix it , let the next guy fix it , let the next guy fix it . let the next guy fix it. How about the opportunity to put this on the ballot , put it on the ballot , put it on the ballot, put it on the ballot


Tubes 7 years, 6 months ago

so if 700 and the associated highway improvements don't occur, and people continue to move to hayden in search of an affordable HOUSE, how is your "gridlock" any different?


freerider 7 years, 6 months ago

2000 houses mean 4000 to 6000 more cars .......geeez my ten year old can figure that one out ....get real


addlip2U 7 years, 6 months ago

I don't see a line of 2000 people waiting at the top of the pass to storm Steamboat because there are jobs in Steamboat.
What will draw the people to come here? Section 8 - government subsidized housing for low / unemployed people like those that are now moving to Steamboat from Denver?


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