Housing ordinance returns to Steamboat City Council

Steamboat City Council again to consider revised version

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What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 5:45 p.m. today in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St. Council members will first convene at 5 p.m. as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority and at 5:40 p.m. as the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Agenda: Includes a conversation with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority about its annual budget and down payment assistance program; and a discussion and possible final vote on a revised Community Housing Ordinance.

— City Council will take another crack tonight at a final vote on a revised community housing ordinance that already has been simmering on the stove for nine months.

Council President Cari Hermacinski thinks the discussion can be boiled down to one significant change in the ordinance. She also thinks it’s time for a vote.

“How many times have we tabled this?” Hermacinski asked Monday. “It’s been postponed so many times since Aug. 15. I don’t want to force people into a vote, but one of (city Planning and Community Development Director) Tom Leeson’s concerns has been that it’s been postponed so long without a substantive discussion you lose the momentum. You lose your place.”

Hermacinski said she thinks the single substantive change in the ordinance is a provision that would allow developers to achieve a 50/50 blend of paying a cash fee in lieu and imposing a real estate transfer fee on all market-rate transactions within their projects.

The intent is to balance immediate needs with long-term revenue proposals, and Hermacinski said she hopes to focus tonight’s discussion on that provision. If other council members feel strongly about other details of the plan, she said she intends to build a list and tackle those individually.

However, Councilman Kenny Reisman said he’ll be more interested tonight in a scheduled meeting with members of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and an opportunity to step back and take a philosophical look at the next step in the community’s housing needs.

“I have broader questions about affordable housing,” Reisman said. “I’m pretty eager to hear from the Housing Authority. I’d like to see us engage in a discussion on affordable housing in general.”

Reisman is one of the newer members on City Council who took his seat in November.

The city’s original inclusionary zoning ordinance required developers to provide affordable housing based on the size of their development, and demanded they create more deed-restricted affordable housing units if built off-site. Revisions were discussed by the previous City Council on May 12, 2009, and city staff was directed to present a draft ordinance for first reading and a preliminary vote.

Council, which had been preoccupied all summer with the Steamboat 700 annexation ordinance, asked for more revisions on July 21 and again Nov. 17 (after a newly elected council had been seated).

Perhaps not coincidentally, Councilman Jon Quinn said Monday he may look differently upon the changes to the ordinance next month after he knows the outcome of a public vote on the annexation of Steamboat 700. The development of Steamboat 700 could someday result in the creation of 2,000 new homes on the city’s west side.

“It seems 700 is the lynch pin,” Quinn said. “Without some resolution to annexation, it’s hard to think of making housing policy decisions.”

Quinn added that he thinks it is important to have the discussion about the latest draft of the community housing ordinance, but with City Council attorney Tony Lettunich and staff attorney Dan Foote unavailable to answer specific questions, the matter could be headed to another tabling motion. Hermacinski said Lettunich thoroughly briefed City Manager Jon Roberts on the documents and Roberts feels prepared to address specific questions from council.

The ordinance being considered for a final vote tonight calls on developers of all projects that create three or more new homes to also contribute toward the creation of deed-restricted community housing for sale or rent to income-eligible households. The amount of housing that would be required would be based on a sliding scale adjusting with the gross floor area of the new market-rate homes.

Under the new ordinance, developers could comply in a variety of ways, including developing units on the site of their project, developing community housing at a separate site, dedicating lots on their project or at another site, dedicating land to the city, or paying a fee in lieu of providing housing or land.

The new ordinance rewrites previous requirements that developers who choose to meet their community housing obligation off site be required to create more housing than they would have on their project site.

The option of paying a combined fee in lieu and also committing to a voluntary real estate transfer fee specifies when the fee in lieu would be collected. The transfer fee would amount to 0.2 percent of the gross sales price on each and every sale in the development beginning with the first sale by the developer.

The payment of the fees in lieu, whether the 100 percent or 50 percent option, would be due upon the sale of the first 15 percent of the units in the development.

The ordinance also provides for an exit strategy for developers who have provided community housing that does not sell within a year after it is made available for contract and a certificate of occupancy is issued.

Comments

greenwash 4 years, 5 months ago

Affordable is here now whats the big deal?The market has changed/corrected however you want to say it.Realtors/Developers are no longer in charge or a factor.Drop the issue already.

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Fred Duckels 4 years, 5 months ago

The days of being awash in money are over. In the past AH has often been a political tool to make development more expensive. If we still find the need for a subsidy from developers, let's use it for items like infrastructure where the whole community shares in the benefit. We can find solutions to inexpensive housing by incentives and letting the market work. If the 700 referendum fails it will be a clear signal that most have no interest in lower housing costs.The days of rampant social engineering are soon to be a thing of the past, if we are to live within our means.

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 5 months ago

Green, I might agree with you, if this were all about today. It is not.

This ordinance is entirely coupled to growth. During a recession, the ordinance has little or no impact. During a boom, the ordinance goes to work. This ordinance is more about foresight, than about today.

I encourage Kenny Reisman, in his overview of this effort, to measure the revenue applied to it. There is no better indicator of our will to deal with a long term issue.

That will to improve our community, measured to date, is embarrassing.

2007 - larger developments actually built the units required, which meant roughly 4% of their cost to build (for Inclusionary Zoning both nationallly and in Steamboat) was applied to affordable housing.

2008 - Council stopped requiring units be built and took Payment-In-Lieu (PIL) instead. At that time the calculation of PIL amounted to $160K per AH unit not built.

2009 - Council revised the PIL calculation with a result of $40K per AH unit not built.

2010 - Council is close to accepting half the PIL as a real estate transfer fee of .2%. The .2% amount was chosen because its "present value" would be half of the PIL. In other words a developer's cost is now .4% of sales.

So when you measure will to improve our community, this council appears ready to apply 1/10 of the effort chosen by an earlier council.

That's a big difference in philosophy. Let's do 90% less? Who are we kidding?

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Steve Lewis 4 years, 5 months ago

Fred, Development has failed to pay for its own costs. If growth was paying its own way, we would not be scrambling to pay for the larger pipes now needed through town.

Clear signal in 700 vote? There are traffic, water, infrastructure, housing and fiscal reasons, among others, to vote yes or no on 700. Its about far more than housing and you know it.

AH is written into every plan we have. Interesting that you view it as a conspiracy. Fred, the rampant social engineering was written by your neighbors! Surely you can grasp that?

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aichempty 4 years, 5 months ago

My neighbors have a long history of being wrong about a bunch of things. Why would SB700 and affordable housing be any different?

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