Let's Vote committee: Housing for locals is wishful thinking

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We are voting on the city’s contract with Steam­boat 700. This annexation is forever. To think that Steamboat Springs can, in the future, negotiate to guarantee affordable or attainable housing if this annexation agreement is approved March 9 is wishful thinking. Here’s the real story.

Deal alters WSSAP

Formulated with hundreds of hours of citizen input, the original West Steamboat Springs Area Plan required developers within the boundaries to build 30 percent of the residential units as affordable. Later in 2006, with minimal community input, the WSSAP was amended to reduce affordable homes to 20 percent of the total. Next, with input only from City Council, city staff and Steamboat 700, this annexation agreement substantively changes the primary goal of WSSAP by allowing Steamboat 700 to convey 15 undeveloped acres to the city.

Affordable housing not guaranteed

According to this agreement, if the city doesn’t develop housing within five years on a previously conveyed parcel, Steamboat 700’s obligation to convey additional parcels shall be suspended. If the city decides to sell the conveyed acreage in the future, the developer can buy it back or share in any profit from the sale. The city is not required to use the sale proceeds for affordable housing. The WSSAP cites affordable housing more than 50 times as a goal. Yet, nothing is written in this annexation agreement that requires anyone to actually build affordable housing.

This annexation agreement proposes to use the voluntary real estate transfer fee in the creation of affordable housing. However, the WSSAP states “… cost reduction for affordable housing needs to be shared by each participant, from the very first stage in the process.” Additionally, “it will be important that the development of the affordable component of any project not be deferred until after the market-rate portion is developed. This could result in neighborhood opposition, inaccurate estimates (and therefore unfeasible projects), or transfers of ownership without clear commitment for the affordable component.” The city’s deal with Steamboat 700 relies on the RETF to finance affordable housing, potentially delaying for years or prohibiting its deliverance, directly contradicting the WSSAP.

If the city pursues affordable housing on 2- and 3-acre parcels totaling 15 acres, 400 affordable housing units must be built to meet 20 percent of the total residential units. This works out to 26.67 homes an acre, a higher density than anywhere in the city. Homes will be 900 square feet — certainly not what the market wants according to two studies by the city and the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. It is our opinion that the community won’t find either builders or lenders willing to become involved in this high-density format. It won’t find 400 buyers — singles and couples, many with children. Who would want to live in a mid-rise apartment building with such limited space, even with subsidies and down payment assistance?

This deal will disappoint

Working families with annual incomes of less than $95,000 who look to Steamboat 700 for attainable housing may be disappointed. Only the selling price of the attainable homes is restricted to an agreed upon range of targeted income levels. They will sell on the open market. For example, a buyer with an annual income of $212,000 can purchase a home priced to a targeted household income of $100,000. To compound the inequity, there is no owner occupancy requirement, and the anti-speculation fee extends a mere three years, hardly a deterrent to speculation. And sadly, if your family makes $80,000 a year, you may not be able to purchase a detached, single-family home, anyway.

Does the public benefit?

Creating adequate affordable housing to address the community’s needs is the overarching goal of the WSSAP, and the one clear benefit to the community that “substantially outweighs the cost of the annexation.” In our opinion, 400 units on 15 acres, a funding mechanism that 1.) prevents the simultaneous building of affordable housing and market-rate housing and 2.) does not guarantee affordable housing will be built, and a projected average sale price of a single family home of $617,000 make achieving this goal impossible.

Furthermore, the affordable housing component is intended to add housing for our service work force. At face value, this sounds good. In fact, the 400 units, if ever built, will only keep up with the demand that Steamboat 700 will create. There is no public benefit beyond what is required to receive a development permit. In our opinion there is less. Vote no on Referendum A.

Comments

greenwash 4 years, 10 months ago

GEEZ .....A hand out for this a handout for that.....Whats next on your agenda?Free housing.

Vote Yes on 700.....Lets at least KNOW where we are going to grow the next 20 years.

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jk 4 years, 10 months ago

Greenie, That was an interesting assessment of this article?? You leave me baffled by this comment. Unlike your comment above, I am hopeful people are thinking before they vote on this.

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John Fielding 4 years, 9 months ago

Fifteen acres of undeveloped land? I had heard it was going to be 15 acres of platted lots with roads and utilities all installed and paid for. That would be substantially developed. If the lots were 1/4 acre each (about 100 x 100, the size of 2 standard old town lots, value $400,000 each in old town) that would provide space for a two story 8-plex, footprint 50 x 80, each unit about 1000 sf, on each lot at 40% lot coverage. It would take 50 of these to provide 400 units, or 12 1/2 acres, leaving 10 lots for potential sale for funding construction.

This is similar to the new construction near the mountain where my daughter pays 1200 rent in an unplanned mix of development and has less open space and no shopping within walking distance. I'm sure she would move just to save on rent.

Each generation has seen change in Steamboat, some have found it to their liking, others preferred the way it was before. Each makes plans for the future as best they can, but it is up to those in the present to modify the plans of their predecessors as they believe best serves the community. When our elected representatives do not follow our wishes they are quickly voted out, sometimes en mass as we saw a few years ago. A special vote such as we face now is another opportunity to endorse or reject the plans we inherited and our administrators implementation of them. The system is working, and we will soon see the next results.

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danny 4 years, 9 months ago

George- Annexation Agreement. IV. Affordable Housing and Community Housing Plan. The affordable housing and Community Housing requirements of the City shall apply to and be deemed satisfied with respect to the Development as follows: A. Community Housing. The Developer, at the time of and as a condition of approval of each final plat (but not any LTS plat) for any portion of the Property, shall dedicate and convey to the City that amount of real property in the form of Buildable Lots for development for affordable housing purposes pursuant to the Community Housing Plan, attached as Exhibit G. EXHIBIT G ...(f) The CHP Lots shall be conveyed to the City, or its designee, by special warranty deed without charge, free of liens and encumbrances, except the Project Encumbrances.

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jaded 4 years, 9 months ago

Again:

Affordable housing does not equal affordable HOUSES!!!!

"And sadly, if your family makes $80,000 a year, you may not be able to purchase a detached, single-family home, anyway. " - yep, that's right! You may have to move into a new affordable apartment or condo, with a park and bus stop out front of your home - the horror!

I understand, most people aspire to own their own home, I did, but it's not an inherent right. I have lived in this town in condos, trailers, houses, and apartments, and as many of you have as well, out in Stagecoach, and guess what, I worked hard, saved $, and after 6 years, purchased a home here . I am all for affordable HOUSING, and this plan has options. Get over the idea that every family has to or even wants to own a HOUSE. Apartments and condos work well for many of the people in this community and others, they are cheaper to build, with more density than houses. It makes sense when you stop for a moment and think about it.

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kathy foos 4 years, 9 months ago

Buying a home is not just an emotional experience ,its supposed to be a sound investment,when you rent you dont ever get anything back .Homes should be built in affordable ways also.The only real estate sales I am noticing are very high end,it seems like financing needs to be available for modest homes .If professionals,construction, and blue collar working families dont have some where to invest ,they will go somewhere where they are able to do so eventually,it is only smart.Then this will look like Vail,with condos and high dollar homes only(trailer parks).What is the problem with more people buying if they are able and can swing the financing?

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ybul 4 years, 9 months ago

The only major issue is annexing this land without any chance of development beginning for many years. Affordable housing is right around the corner as housing prices continue to decline. The recent development made plenty of supply and the coming to reality in lending has extremely limited demand.

The fundamentals of supply and demand will take hold and correct, probably seeing prices dip below what we would hope for in terms of affordability. Just look at the homes on the market for under 500 on the mountain. Unfortunately the potential buyers of said property probably can not get financing, rightly so, as the homes are priced too high for the individual who is going to buy them. More will come on the market and it will correct. The bankers who overheated the market can only do so for a time and then the fundamentals rear their ugly heads and force a correction.

Oh yeah that migration of retirees into the area, that probably is not going to happen as it has in the past as their pensions will most likely need to be renegotiated. Unfortunately what goes up must inevitably come down. It is doing so and will continue to do so. Unfortunately for some, while others will fair well.

Danny is not going to put the land into 35 acre lots that would be foolish, given all the 35 acre ranch properties on the market and more importantly the lots on the market.

There is plenty of fear being spouted by both sides. Too bad 700 does not bring forth water as did the barn village. The annexation agreement has many loose ends for the residents of Steamboat Springs.

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