Our View: The path from here

Advertisement

Editorial Board, October 2009 through February 2010

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Blythe Terrell, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Michelle Garner, community representative
  • Paula Cooper Black, community representative

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Steamboat voters spoke loud and clear Tuesday, when 61 percent of them said they didn’t want the proposed Steamboat 700 annexation. But what’s unclear is exactly why the majority didn’t want it, and the answer to that question will be key to the city and its residents moving forward and preparing for future growth and development.

We’ve said this was the most important city vote in a generation, as it involved a development that would have affected Routt County for generations to come and forever changed the face of our valley. It was good to see city residents embrace the importance of the issue and turn out in force for the mail-only election. There were 4,253 votes cast on Referendum A, a turnout of 64 percent of the city’s 6,640 registered, active voters. By comparison, 3,337 Steamboat Springs voters cast a ballot in November’s City Council election, which included a majority — four out of seven — of the council seats.

It’s now incumbent upon city leaders, including the council, to get to the heart of last week’s “no” vote. And the sooner they tap into the energy and passion of residents about Steamboat 700, the clearer the answer might be.

Of course, there were myriad reasons given by the most vocal opponents of Steamboat 700, ranging from the sheer size of the development to concerns about existing residents’ potential liability if the development faltered. And there were many other reasons in between.

Did the Steamboat 700 annexation agreement fail because most residents didn’t think the plan itself was good enough, or was it doomed by the state of the economy and our own fears about what the impacts might be to the value of our homes? We realize the answer is likely a combination of these and other factors, but understanding the mindset of voters will help the city restart its efforts to manage future growth in a way the community will support.

If you think Steamboat and Routt County will grow in the future — and we do — then it’s in all of our best interests to have the tools and mechanisms in place to manage and prepare for that growth. Many of us thought the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was that tool, but perhaps Tuesday’s vote reveals otherwise.

Tom Leeson, the city’s outgoing director of planning and community development, previously said that a “no” vote on Steamboat 700 likely would necessitate a complete re-examination of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan. We’re not sure that’s necessary, but knowing specifically why residents said “no” to Steamboat 700 could provide an answer. Many in our community know what a lengthy and complex process the development and subsequent revisions to the West of Steamboat Springs Area plan was. It’s still premature to assume that process must begin anew.

First, let’s tap into the passion our community had about Steamboat 700. The determined residents who led the effort to defeat the annexation, as well as those who fervently supported it, were motivated about their cause. We hope they show the same energy for participating in the next step of the process. But perhaps more important will be engaging the majority of residents who cast a ballot on Referendum A but weren’t part of the vocal opposition and support. It was their votes that determined the outcome, and knowing what they think will be key to encouraging future development proposals that the community will ultimately support.

There’s precedent in the city for such post-election reflection. The failed high school bond issue of the early 1990s and the 10+2 Committee that emerged from it comes immediately to mind. That process ultimately led to a successful public vote on a bond issue to expand Steamboat Springs High School. Who knows, a similar process led by city officials today could have the same effect.

Comments

justice4all 4 years, 1 month ago

The smart people have spoken! Those that care about our valley and the people that live here all year do not want to see it turned into a major city of industrialization. The time we spend here is precious and somewhat limited, but the reason that we come here is because of what it is and not because of what some want to change it into. We have seen many times and heard many people, while obviously visiting, say "We would move here if only you had -----". That is the problem. People come here because they like what they see, move here, and then almost immediately try to change our county to be like where they moved FROM. I feel the majority spoke their heart by voting no to 700! They said and I agree, LEAVE OUR VALLEY ALONE!! Join us, but leave your ideas where you came from.

0

Dan Hill 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm sure that some people voted "No" for the reasons stated, but I'm equally certain that a significant number are opposed to growth of any sort.

Defeating SB700 is not going to stop people wanting to move here, but with constrained land supplies there's only one direction housing prices can go.

You can't vote to prevent the city from expanding and then complain about the lack of affordable housing, or want to load every possible city infrastructure cost on to the developer and then complain that his affordable housing plan is not affordable enough (or worse, that he's offering affordable housing but the lots aren't big enough) - well you can, but you're shouting at the wind. No matter how many votes you get, you can't repeal the laws of economics.

In anticipation of the ad hominim attacks - I have no connection to the real estate industry. From a selfish perspective it suits me to stop growth. My house is worth more and yes like everyone else who lives here I like it the way it is.

0

Karen_Dixon 4 years, 1 month ago

Yes Justice, people have spoken. The flaw in your reasoning is that people will not leave "our" valley alone. People will continue to love Steamboat & move to Steamboat. What you voted for was the choice of who those people can be. Your defacto choice: 2nd Homeowners, come on in; Trustfunders, come on in. Hardworking middle class families, you can come to visit, but you cannot move here because you just can't afford it & therefore don't deserve it. You are welcome to move to Hayden & Craig & Oak Creek & by all means, please work here & spend your money here. But don't expect to live here & be a part of this community. Oh, and please don't drive here because you clog up our roads and you take up all our parking.

I agree with the Pilot that we do not know the real reasons 61% voted the way they did. There are a variety of reasons we have heard from the vocal minority. Justice here seems to have voted his way in an attempt to shut the door on future locals - future hardworking productive members of our community - future talented could-be Olympians with limited resources. I choose not to believe this is true for everyone. Steamboat leaders, we need to get a grip on this soon.

We do not know what this property owner will choose to do with this parcel of land. But it is possible, I will say even probable, that it will not be available to the city again. We will likely have no choice but to scrap the WSSAP entirely as this parcel was the 800 lb. gorilla in the room & without it, there really is no urban growth possible on the West side of town. This parcel will become a sprawling 800 lb. parasite, sucking the life out of this city with no contribution to it whatsoever; sucking the life out of county maintenance dollars - our property taxes - for just a few people. The cost per capita to support the type of development it will likely become is exponential for current residents. You wanted growth that was revenue neutral? You voted for just the opposite. Steamboat residents will pay dearly for the type of growth we will likely get now. Low density sprawling county growth; growth in the outlying cities which will cause more traffic congestion traveling into Steamboat with no financial contribution from those commuters, by-right infill in the existing city limits with rights to our "already over-burdened & under-maintained" infrastructure. It's time to combine property tax discussions with any new growth plan discussions.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

Brent - I do not think a process akin to the 10+2 committee is going to work in this situation. In the case of the failed school bond issue there was very little question that a new high school was needed. What the school district proposed in the first bond issue was not the way the community wanted to meet the need. Essentially, it was too big and too expensive and that plan was rejected. The 10+2 group rallied the community to explore alternative ways to address the core need, i.e., a new high school. This process worked because the need was always clearly identified. This is not the case with the SB700 annexation vote. Does the need for "affordable/attainable" housing really exist?

In Charlie MacArthur's letter to the editor, he stated it very clearly. "Mulcahy made the terrible mistake of giving the public exactly what it had been asking for." What lessons can be learned from this? At a minimum, we need to reexamine the topic of "affordable/attainable" housing Steamboat Springs' style. Unlike the need for a new high school, there is not broad agreement that "affordable/attainable" housing is really needed. For those that think the need exist there is very little agreement as to why it is needed.

To some the need is a social issue. To others it is a civic need. For some it is all about the environment and for others "affordable/attainable" housing is viewed as an economic infrastructure need. The product of trying to give each of these priorities equal weighting is the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

I do not think the WASSP should be scrapped and we start all over. However, we run the risk of not taking the time to do the hard work to determine how to rank order these priorities. Which one of these priorities is most important and why? Following that and most importantly, how is the success of anything being proposed going to be measured, i.e., specific outcome measurements. This is the starting point. Failure to do this simply means that we are not going to do anything meaningful about "affordable/attainable" housing other than to talk about it endlessly, make plans and drive ourselves and developers crazy.

0

canyonwind 4 years, 1 month ago

justice4all, You are sooo right about people moving into a town like ours and the first thing they want to do is remake into where they came from. I have alot of friends in the Pacific Northwest and most don't mind newcommers unless they bring their silly IDEAS AND POLITICS from states like California, I have herd stories about them moving into a town and wanting to close the local saw mill that may employ 100's of local workers because they don't like the nose or smell??? and build a GD Macy's so they won't have to go to Seattle or Boise to shop. If people want to live here they should leave their Idea's and Politics back in Vermont and California and learn to enjoy not just Steamboat but all of Routt County. I see no need for housing projects and strip malls in this part of the state. If that is what you came to Colorado for you would be alot happier in Denver.

0

John Fielding 4 years, 1 month ago

When did the resistance to change take on such a vigor? It was not here in the time of our illustrious predecessors, (I will not list their names yet again as it seems a little disrespectful, but they are the leaders of our community in each previous generation.)

There is a growing mindset, especially among this generations immigrants, that "I like it the way it is, don't change it it won't get better. And especially "lets not let many more people live here".

In my opinion this has has an exact correlation with the decline in the friendliness factor that has been the most attractive asset of this community, this region

If this trend continues it may become the factor that discourages people from wanting to live here. Then the "no growthers" would have mostly just their un-amiable counterparts to share the natural beauty with.

I would surely not be wish to among them.

0

Paul Hughes 4 years, 1 month ago

The major argument in favor of the 700 annexation was, I believe, that it would be the valley's last and best chance to create housing that real working people could afford. But, sad to say, the idea of creating and/or subsidizing affordable housing is not dear to the hearts of many who live here, especially to the old guard that led the fight against annexation. Sure, we talk about affordable housing and we say that it's a good idea, but we haven't matched words with money or initiatives. Witness the struggles of our local Habitat for Humanity and the Housing Authority. I don't know what it will take to convince people that without places for workers to live, we won't be able to keep and grow the businesses that drive our economy. Perhaps we should start our post-election de-briefing with an honest discussion of our feelings about affordable/attainable housing: do we believe in it, and, if so, what do we think we ought to do about it? Only in that context can we discuss the other aspects of Steamboat 700 and the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

0

cindy constantine 4 years, 1 month ago

Paul,

"we won't be able to keep and grow the business that drive our economy." Other than the construction economy and those retailers/restaurants that depend on the ski/tourism business, what are these businesses? Who is providing the year around jobs at a living wage to see Steamboat through the current recession into the next decade? Remind me what new businesses have moved to Steamboat and are adding to staff? Where are the current economic incentives from our community to attract businesses that are looking to make a move to our valley? Lots of questions and no answers unless I have missed something. Please enlighten me.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

Justice4all - There is no need to villainize new comers to our community (Steamboat Springs and Routt County). Once they move here whatever their reason(s) for better or worse "they" become a part of "us." I will be the first to admit that this is a two way street. We need to welcome our new neighbors graciously and encourage them to become involved in some aspect of their new community. For their part these new neighbors need to want to become involved and patiently recognize what the community collectively values. (More often than not it is these community values are the things that motivated them to move here.)

It has been my experience that if both parties commit to and embrace this two ways street the community as a whole benefits greatly. As an example I point to Yampa Valley SCORE.

I helped form Yampa Valley SCORE in 2003. This is a group of volunteers that provide free and confidential business counseling to folks considering opening a business and or improving their existing business. Our SCORE group kicks ass. Of the nine SCORE volunteers, eight have been here less than 5 year. They came to the Yampa Valley with wealth of business experience and professional contacts. After learning how to adjust for scale and scope - the entire Yampa Valley small business community is better for their involvement. SCORE continue to be successful because it is leveraging these relative new comers' intellectual capital and their willingness to become involved and learn. I am very proud to be associated with this group.

I am confident that every non-profit organization and volunteer committee whatever the focus (social, civic, environmental, and economic) will admit that their efforts have benefited from the involvement of these relative new comers.

Newcomers are not the bad people. In reality, they are a valuable community asset. To be sure, there are always a few bozos that come over the pass. Just like there are folks that have lived here all their life that remain bozos. It does not matter how long one has lived here it only matters if one approaches this place with a sense of stewardship and service. That is what makes for a good neighbor.

0

John Fielding 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott, Well said. And welcome to all who wish to live here and make it a better place, even if that means trying to keep it the way it is.

0

boatgirl 4 years, 1 month ago

Dear Mr. Hughes;

I voted NO and I was against SB 700 because it did nothing to address affordable or employee housing. SB 700 was a huge grab bag for an out of town developer that was far too big and loaded with future liabilities. If there is a true need for employee housing, and the curent recession makes that questionable, then the City planners should address the issue in a sincere way. There are far more people who voted against SB 700 than 'the Old Guard" that Mr. Hughes claims. Remember that the vote was 61% to 39%.

0

cindy constantine 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott,

I was so pleased when you were appointed Economic Development Director for our community. Can you tell me exactly what that means? I had my own understanding, but I might be mistaken. Do you have a budget to visit other communities to try and attract new industry to the valley? Does the position have an economic incentive package available to offer potential new businesses? Just was curious as to what the position entails. Thank you.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

Hi Cindy - Thanks for your kind words. I am enjoying my new position because even though the position is part-time I think I have something valuable to offer. I am a blessed man because I am doing what I love to do and I think it makes a difference.

I appreciate your question, "What do economic developers do?" It is a great question. The question behind this question is best answered first by understanding what economic development is. Economies are healthily, vibrant and sustainable long-term when four things are happening in concert with each other: A.New dollars are flowing into the economy from every increasing diverse sources B.Sources of employment opportunities are expanding and are diversifying by industry sector C.Sources of personal labor source income are diversifying by industry sector D.Per Capita personal Income is increasing

(Part I) The challenge of economic development regardless where it occurs is determining a strategy that moves one or more of the four items listed above in a positive direction. Many towns/cities/states focus on doing what is necessary to attract new business that diversifies sources of income and employment to their area. I call this strategy - "Economic Hunting," i.e. get a major business to relocate to the area. For some places, this is an excellent strategy. For example, Ft Collins has been successful in attracting a major brewery and wind turbine manufacturing plants to their area that employ hundreds of people.

These places were attractive to these companies because of proximity to markets and a significant transportation infrastructure already in place - major rail facilities at their doorstep and three major interstate highways within 50 miles or less. To sweeten the deal Ft. Collins and Larimer County provided incentivizes such as waving building, water/sewer fees, exempting property from taxation for 20 years, waving sales tax on the purchase of equipment, etc. These incentives sweeten the deal enough that Ft. Collins won over competing communities with similar core infrastructure to attract these companies.

For a host of reasons - primarily due to our remote location "economic hunting" has been a failed strategy. The owners from Scotts Fly Rods to Obermeyer considered moving operations to our area. The owners really like the area, but in the end the owner could not make a long-term business case why it made sense. Routt County is too far from major distribution channels. Obermeyer is HQ in Denver just off I-70 and close to I-25 and Scott Fly Rods is in Montrose with easy access to I-70. It is my understanding the Klaus Obermeyer continues to live in Aspen and the owner of Scotts Fly Rods lives in Telluride.

OK, recognizing the reality of the situation where does that leave us? (See Part II)

0

Steve Lewis 4 years, 1 month ago

The most useful conversation re: this ballot would be about existing Steamboat and what steps to take to accommodate more infill. I doubt Karen is right about the empty future of that WSSAP land, but either way we should chart a more sustainable course with what we have today. Emphasis on sustainable.

Giving out zoning density increases for 100's of future units, such as we gave the ski base area, and as Scott may advise, are not sustainable options when months after that act we find our sewer system is already maxed.

In this case, SB700 was simply asked to deliver its share of infrastructure. Too many on City Council, and this newspaper, said that was asking too much. Possibly a fatal mistake to the deal that was voted down.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

Part II (Economic Development Routt County Style) Cindy - I have hit my word limit size of my response. (Image that!) I will drop you a note personally via the blog to continue this discussion regarding economic development Routt County style. Any one that would like to follow along - drop me a note via the blog and I will be sure to send you parts II & III.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

Hi Steve - There are a lot of Scotts running around. Our respective mothers must have read the same article about great boy names that year. I think you mean Scott Myller currently on City Council. Please clarify. Life is confusing enough without getting all the Scotts who live in the area mixed up.

0

ybul 4 years, 1 month ago

Personally, it was the contract (annexation agreement) that caused the issue to fail.

The idea that if the city was given land to develop affordable housing on and could not do so in a time frame, they would not be given more.

The City Water rep stated that water from the Elk had no rights, but could be bought/leased/etc. If leased, what happens when the lease rates get too high and make water cost prohibitive. Yes we live in one of the few regions with ample water. That is not to say it will always be so. People eye our water with envy and at some point the Yampa's water will be called on by outsiders for something, potentially raising rates for users.

Loose ends, once the agreement is signed those loose ends will be exploited by the developer.

The traffic issue at 13th, they will pay for 25% of the fix whatever it is. Does that include the entire stretch from 13th to 3rd or if we could fix the bottle neck at 13th with a right turn only onto lincoln would that work and be the only thing 700 pays for as that might not cost much at all.

Then the issue of other new developments not being held to the same levels of contributions. Maybe higher tap/lot fees should be imposed on all new building projects to cover these foreseen expenses. This way one developer can not say well you did not charge them the same so we do not think this is fair and then the whole community has a problem.

Too many questions in my head for a project this large.

0

pitpoodle 4 years, 1 month ago

It is not such a mystery that SB 700 was voted down. We have an intelligent population many of whom have lived elsewhere and have seen how their prior city councils or mayors or selectmen have misused their trust. SB 700 over-promised, our city council bought into their promises because city staff said it would all be fine because, after all they did the research and revenue neutrality was the end all, &be all no matter how these figures were obtained. People were suspicious that SB 700 paid staff to do the research. Top council leaders are (and were at time) real estate brokers who do not have the respect of residents. No one believes or believed at the time that we were getting the truth about who would be responsible for water and wastewater expansion costs. It seemed too fantastic that current residents would bear no responsibility. Promises were made that people did not believe. Residents did not support the effort campaign financially(a big deal). Lastly, affordable and attainable housing, while not the top priority for this community, though we are constantly being told otherwise) did not prove itself. The newspaper, itself, made us wonder who on the editorial board was invested. Trust broke down. No mystery.

0

Steve Lewis 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott Ford, :)

I was responding to your words above: " To sweeten the deal Ft. Collins and Larimer County provided incentivizes such as waving building, water/sewer fees, exempting property from taxation for 20 years, waving sales tax on the purchase of equipment,..."

That seems very similar to the recent density increases in both philosophy and effect. You end up taxing existing residents to promote growth. We already to do that to some degree as a matter of prudence. But we've obviously overdone it when we're presented with "I don't want to sugar coat it" articles about the burdens of growth that were never paid, with the bill now due. http://www.steamboatpilot.com/news/20...

I would be interested in your parts II and III, and I agree another thread on economic diversity is a good idea. In my opinion, our past acts of planning our community have paid us more personal and economic dividend than anything else we've done.

0

Fred Duckels 4 years, 1 month ago

Change.right or wrong, is almost always met with opposition. Annexing the mountain was less popular among folks, but it proved to be right in my opinion. Some take the challenge in order to improve their visibility and go on to bigger and better. When I was young we all lined up for the polio vaccine, no opposition there. It is seldom this clearcut and in the polio case we all found it to be in our best interests. We will have growth, and in this case the developer was taking the risk, having a plan with little exposure to the city seems a no brainer.

0

sparkle 4 years, 1 month ago

Nice comments, pit poodle; you get it. Could someone please inform me, and other interested parties, what the status of the road to nowhere, "the new victory highway" is at this time?

0

1999 4 years, 1 month ago

if people really want affordable houseing ...there are hundreds of listings in the paper.

NO NEED TO BUILD MORE!!!!

the comment about "familys not being able to afford anything" is a big fat lie

LOOK IN THE PAPER!!!

plus...nothing in 700 would have been below 700K

can someone please tell me when house ownership became mandatory regardless of your income?

whats wrong with renting?

0

1999 4 years, 1 month ago

apparently Paul you missed MY point.

700 was NEVER about affordable housing. those houses would have been far too expensive.

i certainly do care about affordable housing but THAT was not tthe answer.

there were no gaurantees with the flimsy "oh, we'll do it later...promise"

there are TONS of house/condos/townhomess for sale in the paper.

BUY THOSE!!!

0

Doug Matthews 4 years, 1 month ago

This issue failed because it was a blank check to the developers, where they issued nebulous projections and promises without clear definitions. They didn't have the traffic issues figured out, but it "would be handled." The water issues were not figured out, but "it would be handled." The sewer issues were the most clearly defined as far as infrastructure ramifications. They didn't give any concrete plans as to commercial space, no firm definitions of housing densities, no committments for "affordable housing," other than the suggestion and implications that that would be a part of the whole, in the end. Why can you say it is "unclear" about why the people who live here and are invested in this community voted this proposal down? As you stated in your editorial, " it involved a development that would have affected Routt County for generations to come and forever changed the face of our valley." Hmmmm..... Maybe the people who live here wish to have some say in that future? Not just issue blanket permission for a bunch of outsiders to permanently change Steamboat Springs into their image. You mention the first High School Bond issue. That is a very apt comparison. The school board said "We cannot remodel the High School. We need $45m to build a new one." This was without a plan or budget. What fools do they take the citizens of Steamboat to be? It was sent back to them, and ",Hey! I guess we CAN remodel the old school for just half that money after all!" Let the Steamboat 700 people do their homework, give us concrete plans, accurate projections as to the ramifications for the rest of the community on water, traffic, commerce, housing density, include an affordable housing high-density component that is realistic and meaningful, make it binding, and perhaps they will see their new, realistic dreams be alowed to come to fruition.

0

Scott Wedel 4 years, 1 month ago

Paul Hughes, There are some 20 posts on the topic and you claim that one post from one critic proves your point?

It was that sort of demonizing SB 700's opponents while not answering the serious questions posed by those with sincere doubts that prevented SB 700 from being trusted. And if SB 700 supporters couldn't even run a sincere campaign then they could not be trusted with a massive annexation over 20+ years with an annexation agreement that did not appear to truly enforce the sort of promises being made in the campaign.

A brutal comment I heard after the election was "Construction guy is going to buy $500K house while collecting unemployment?".

The whole scheme of how 15 acres was going to provide 400 affordable units was a joke to the detractors and was never credibly explained by the supporters. Well, taking 2007 numbers then it could be explained, but Toto, I don't think we are in 2007 any more.

Thus, the issue was not all of the promises made by SB 700, but whether they were believable. By doing it all at once instead of phased, they demanded that we trust them and the annexation agreement with 20+ years of our future. Since no development there was going to happen for a few years until the market greatly improved then it was really easy to say no and get a better agreement. No better terms, but far better enforcement of the promises. Such as measuring how many local teachers, police, nurses, etc, moved into SB 700 housing, that locals, not large outside construction firms are hired for construction and so on. I think a phased development where only a little of development is allowed before they are held accountable for their promises would be accepted.

0

Scott Wedel 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott Ford, Where is the Scott Ford blog discussing local economic issues?

0

John Fielding 4 years, 1 month ago

When we are ready to be realistic about this we can scrap the term "affordable housing" and substitute an accurate description. It is subsidized housing, so lets just say what percentage of the price the purchaser needs to provide and have someone else (developers?) pay the rest.

Then they don't have to build special units, they can buy what's out there, and when they sell the house, the subsidized percentage (including plus or minus value change) is returned to the housing authority.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

Hi Scott W - I reached the word/character limit. I will be posting this on the Routt County EDC section of Yampa Valley Info by the end of the day. I will post a link.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

HI Steve - Like most things, there are two schools of thought amongst economic developers. Those that are aggressive "hunters" use significant incentivize to attract new businesses to their area. (Success for them is what I call the "golden shovel" pictures - newspaper photo of a bunch of community leaders all smiling standing in an open field turning a shovel of dirt.) The other approach uses some form of Economic Gardening - I subscribe to this school of thought.

It is tough for even big cities to play the "hunting" game. The reality is that very very few companies actually move. The vast majority that indicates that they may be moving are nothing more than "tire-kickers." Those fraction that do eventually move, typically have several geographical locations that would work equally well for them.

The business case to move is usually made based on access to transportation centers, broadband capacity, and low labor cost. The company begins "incentive" shopping playing the communities off each other. What community will make the best deal?

Often the company itself has very little loyalty to the community beyond the strength of the incentives offered. In retrospect - the community often regrets the scope of the incentives that were offered. The economic benefit promises/expectations made during the attraction phase do not live up to reality. Incentives can be a loser proposition. They often cost the community more than the benefit received - this is your point and I would agree.

0

1999 4 years, 1 month ago

we need to look at what we consider affordable housing.

clearly the term means something VASTLY different to everyone you ask.

some think it's a mobile home others think it's a 500k home paid for with housing authority money with a price cap that goes away after 2 years leaving it in the free market and no longer affordable.

or to me.... rental units. inexpensive rental units that stay affordable. I think we have some of these in town!!!

0

Karen_Dixon 4 years, 1 month ago

It seems clear to me that many of you thought you were voting on a development & a project vs. an annexation. An annexation is simply an inclusion of land into the city limits. Once a parcel is in the city limits it is zoned & the rights to develop it at a particular intensity are attached to that zoning. At that point, the city has control over what happens to the land. An applicant must apply to the city through the development process in order to develop. Phased. One project at a time. The city must approve all development proposals & it has the right to deny based on any number of reasons that exist in the Community Development Code AND in the Annexation Agreement.

Routt county's current philosophy is that it will not allow anything other than rural densities to develop unless the development parcel is within municipal boundaries. Steamboat II, Heritage Park & Silver Spur would not be allowed under today's county zoning regs. This is why an annexation is & was necessary in order to see the WSSAP through to fruition. Lewi I hope you are right about it not being dead, but knowing the time & costs associated with going through the annexation process, I stand by my prediction. Additionally, the county is about to reverse their philosophy with the TDR program. If I held the financial cards with this parcel, you can bet that I would go the TDR route vs. the annexation route. You should play out that scenario & see if the goals of the WSSAP can be met.

0

Scott Wedel 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott F: I agree that it would be hard to attract a corporation to SB because of transportation issues, lack of a skilled lower cost workforce and cost issues.

I think it would be worthwhile to for the Chamber and maybe the EDC to spend some time at companies like Google, Oracle, MS and so on which are used to having employees working across the globe. One benefit would be to learn what SB needs to do to have skilled high income employees and jobs as part of the global economy. That is important in order to have a future for our children that can include having a good job and living here. Another benefit might be to learn why the ski industry and SB in particular has had so little success attracting high income minorities. Which I think is a huge issue because SB's demographic is static and headed towards decline while minorities are growing in number. Thus, resort areas that cannot attract high income minorities are going to have a hard time economically.

I note the advantage of trying to attract people as compared to corporations is what attracts people can also improve quality of life for existing residents.

0

Scott Wedel 4 years, 1 month ago

Karen Dixon, The essential point that you neglected to mention in your post is that while the developer still must get approvals that unless the developer asks for a variance then any submitted development plan could have only be judged on whether it meets the legal requirements of the annexation agreement and zoning. City could not have rejected construction of a phase under the SB 700 annexation agreement by saying "your promises of nurses and police living there have not come true" unless developer asked for variances.

Remember that ASC built the Grand based upon an old approved agreement and all the City could do is consider whether that the building plan met that agreement because ASC was careful to not ask for any variances.

0

aichempty 4 years, 1 month ago

John,

I appreciate your thoughtful comments.

The idea of a "subsidy" paid by "someone else" is not realistic. All of the money that goes into building a home has to come from somewhere, and it goes to someone. The speculative money around Routt County for median value single-family homes has gone into land, not overpriced luxury features.

Let's make sure everybody realizes I'm talking about median-priced and under homes, not luxury homes and condos where "if you have to ask, you cannot afford it."

I built what would have been an "attainable" home a few years ago, priced at the going rate for what was selling quickly. I invested my own money, took the risk, did my share of the labor on the job, and when it was all done and sold, made $18,000 for six months work. That was about what it cost me to live here that year (house payment, food, medical insurance, etc.). As you probably know, the building season around here is about six months. It's hard enough without having to clear snow before you can go to work every morning. ( I've done that too, before the crew arrived, and worked outside when it was 10 F at 9 AM.) Admittedly, this was a custom home, not a plywood cube, but it didn't sit on the market waiting for someone to buy it because it was overpriced, either.

Would you expect an entrepreneur risking his own money to build a quality product to then turn around and subsidize a home for someone who did not take the same risks, did not work for 20 years to be in a position to own a home and run a business (meaning having saved the money to invest in a home and a business), and still needs to make a living, save for retirement and support a family? Is the guy living in that house ten years from now going to subsidize the college expenses and retirement savings of the guy who built it and sold it at a discount or subsidized it from the proceeds of other market-rate sales?

Then there's the problem of deciding who should get the subsidized housing. How do you select from among the married couples with children, the same-sex roommates (intimate partners or not, notwithstanding), the people in their 50s who want to work a few years and then retire here, or the 20-somethings that want a place to live that they can afford on service sector jobs in order to enjoy skiing and mountain biking? How long do you have to live and/or work in Steamboat before you're eligible? If you get the home, quit your job in Steamboat and take a job in Hayden, do you have to move out?

The Fair Housing Act is the law of the land. You cannot discriminate against people on any basis except -- wait for it -- ABILITY TO PAY!

If employers furnish housing for employees, that's a different story. It's not the same for an incorporated City receiving any type of federal funding whatsoever, through any means (law enforcement grants, etc.), to sell a home to someone for a price based on anything except fair market value. (cont.)

0

pitpoodle 4 years, 1 month ago

Karen, This was a vote on the particular annexation agreement that was hugely flawed. It would have been outrageously expensive for current residents who spoke up to defend themselves from out of town developers, city council and of course our esteemed Pilot editorial board. Fortunately.

0

Steve Lewis 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott Ford, Thanks. I look forward to the economic insights.

Perhaps, in the long term, affordable housing will be again seen as infrastructure necessary for Steamboat to compete and thrive. The energy wages to our west and the cost of the commute here will be much larger factors in twenty years.

Meanwhile, housing supply has completely reversed from scarce to plenty. Prices are way down. And a few in our workforce have saved their way into a solution that will now work, or at least work much sooner.

The AH discussion makes less sense in near terms than in long terms. SB700 was both a near term and a long term discussion. The next threads here and around town should be interesting. I have used up my expertise. I knew a lot about ordinances now gutted and an annexation now denied.

I do want growth to pay its fair dues, such as larger sewer pipe costs. Beyond that squeaky noise you hear, I'm all ears. :)

0

homegrown 4 years, 1 month ago

Pitpoodle, I'm just curious how it would have been outrageously expensive for current residents.

0

freerider 4 years, 1 month ago

ANY developer that comes in here with the plan of affordable housing is selling meadow muffins...there is no such thing anymore. Zero credibilty with that approach

I'm amazed Manny Dullhazey got as far as he did with this

Why would anybody want to let developers from of all places Las Vegas ruin Steamboat

They were going to rape our water supply [ just like Vegas ]

Ruin property values [ just like Vegas ]

Add nothing but congestion and no where to park [ just like Vegas ]

If I wanted all that I would move to Vegas

This was a no brainer vote...the only locals that wanted this saw $$$$$ from the hoards of people moving here....hey relocate to Denver if you want traffic congestion , cheap housing , gangs , crappy air and water , smog , drive by shootings that's why we pay the price to live here....it's worth it .....duh

How do you make a small fortune in Steamboat ????? Bring a large one with you

0

Scott Wedel 4 years, 1 month ago

Steve Lewis, Affordable here is a complete mess because AH is used interchangeably to describe seasonal workers staying 4 to a condo and year round workers in good jobs being priced out by wealthier newcomers. No one can figure out exactly whom is supposed to be getting what sort of AH from what program.

Affordable housing here lost credibility when slope area condos that were obviously going to have mostly nightly rentals were required to include affordable housing in the project. That sort of stuff made no sense because those places have no community, virtually no year round occupants and high association dues.

Affordable housing lost credibility here with $350K "affordable" Stagecoach homes that no one wanted to buy during the boom.

Affordable housing here lost credibility with the purchase and subsequent city mismanagement of the Iron Horse.

Affordable housing here lost credibility when YVHA hired high priced staff.

Affordable housing is still popular. What it needs is a clearly defined program that is meeting clearly defined goals. Look at all of the discussion even in the ads pro and con SB 700 about affordable housing. AH is still on people's minds. What is needed is a program that is efficient and effective. So I think AH expertise is desperately needed, but not expertise in figuring out how to add another cost to developers that is largely a waste, but expertise in how to do it efficiently and effectively.

It will not take much for affordable housing to become an issue again. SB lost at least a couple hundred workforce units due to demolitions and remodels in the past few years. So it will not take much for seasonal workforce housing to get tight again. Also, supply of modest homes suitable for essential community jobs did not improve during the boom.

So Steve, if you are discouraged then look at Jerry Brown whom messed up being governor, but came back by showing that he learned and will probably be governor again. The issue is not going away. There will be a second act.

0

aichempty 4 years, 1 month ago

(cont.)

So, there is nobody in Steamboat who wants to keep other people out, or who can keep other people out. Prices prevent some people from buying, and they are a result of economic realities at play which everybody has got to understand.

You cannot build a home in this town anymore for less than $150 per square foot sales price. Anyone who takes the time to analyze the process as if they were going to actually build their own home (meaning go through all the steps a builder goes through before getting the permit) will quickly discover that they can save about 1/3 if they do all the work except plumbing, electrical, mechanical, etc., and about 1/2 to 2/3 if they do everything. Problem is, it's going to take a year or two, and what do you live on, and who will lend you the money, etc. It's a tough proposition.

There are only two or three alternatives for housing prices cheaper than what can be built now. Either build it yourself (which 99% cannot do), or find a foreclosure that's selling for less than what's owed on it, or go live in a place where the prices of existing, older housing are affordable. It is impossible for a for-profit business to build cheaper housing in Routt County because the costs of materials, labor and the need for the entrepreneur to make a living prevent it. When you want someone to build cheap housing, do you expect him to do it for free? That's the only place where a builder has any control over the problem, because labor and materials cost what they cost.

In order for a builder/developer to afford to sell something for less than it cost to build, the extra money has to come from somewhere. High-end luxury homes are the places where the most money is to be made. You cannot have affordable, subsidized housing at a developer's expense unless you are prepared for them to charge $450 or more per square foot for their market-rate projects. Those homes will never be "affordable" for people making local wages. So, it's got to either be a mix of high end and low end projects, or nothing at all if you want the developers to subsidize affordable units, and then they have to decide it's worth it.

A developer always has the option to not develop anything. If we make it expensive enough for them, they will go away.

In our current economy, there is no incentive whatsoever to embark on speculative building of small, market rate homes that local wage earners can afford. It's not that anyone wants to exclude anyone, but that nobody can afford to sell homes for what people can actually afford.

SB700 would not have solved ANY of the fundamental problems regarding affordable housing. Free land would be cool, but even then, building costs are still too high to make it feasible to build any sort of housing, owned or rented. When building material costs drop by 50% and carpenters will work for $10-$15 per hour again, then the free land will make a difference.

0

John Fielding 4 years, 1 month ago

Aich

Thanks for the complement.

I was being only half serious in my subsidized housing comment. I do think that all of the efforts we have made so far amount to subsidies, and it is developers who are seen as revenue sources.

The less serious part is the changing to a direct subsidy. While it's a more straightforward way of doing the same thing, (giving someone elses' money to the recipient), the politics are going to get in the way. The very points you enumerated.

Thank you for your thoughtful and well founded comments.

0

Karen_Dixon 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott Wedel, You are mistaken. The Grand was a development agreement. The 700 parcel was an annexation agreement. The 2 agreements have very different rights. Vesting for a particular project runs with the development agreement and is granted project by project.

A parcel within the city limits (whenever in time that it became part of the city - your parcel for instance) - has the right to EXPECT that it can be developed within the limits of it's legal zoning designation & it has the right to expect city services to be available (for a fee) when it is granted a development approval. (Critical point: Zoning can & does change over time as deemed necessary or desirable by the municipality.) Steamboat has rezoned parcels many times at it's own discretion, it has granted rezones for applicants requesting it, and it has denied rezones. Let's say you want to develop or redevelop your parcel into a multifamily condominium complex and the zoning allows it. You do not have the right to do that simply because you are in the city limits. You must first apply and be granted a development agreement through the city process. [Theoretically] you cannot be denied if you comply with the legally binding zoning standards - but you still must go through the process to ensure you comply. It is not until your application is approved that you have the right to develop it per that particular agreement as long as you start your project within a particular period of time. It is no different for your neighbor. And it would have been no different for any project on the 700 parcel.

0

ybul 4 years, 1 month ago

So Karen, in the annexation agreement if the city did not build affordable housing in the specified time frame then the developer did not have to provide further affordable housing plots. This is a red flag for me as if the property is sold and for whatever reason the city does not meet their obligations then there may be no additional land given for this purpose. Wether you agree with affordable housing or not.

Then on to the 13th intersection, what happens if the developer and the city disagree on the costs of the fix, attorneys get involved and the costs for the city rise.

Then how do you justify to 700 residents that the other developments that come to the table do not have to pay higher taxes to pay for this future growth. This causes a potential lawsuit on the part of 700 residents to undo the agreement that was created to pay for all this new infrastructure, that is not paid for by the developer but the new homeowners.

In addition, the new point of diversion on the Elk has little or no water rights. Yep danny is paying to help shore up rights in the fish creek basin, however, maybe he should just come up with senior rights in the elk basin so that there is more storage for times of drought or a summer fire cause by drought conditions when the residents of the city will be at the whims of whomever has senior rights to lease.

Many questions for me that still remain and could be major problems for the city in the future. The city official I heard from on the water did nothing to quell my concerns about water and actually raised more red flags.

0

cindy constantine 4 years, 1 month ago

Hey Scott F.,

Thank you for part I, very informative and can't wait for the additional parts. Do you hold community forums to discuss ideas, round table discussions or the like? I am sure others have the same interest that I do in an economic development forum. Let us know.

0

Scott Ford 4 years, 1 month ago

Hi Cindy, Steve & Scott W -

Sorry for not getting this posted a sooner. Work stuff has had me on the run. The link to my perspective of economic development Routt County style is below. I ask your forbearance. I did this rather quickly - it is a brain dump. I know it could use some polishing later. I value your all of your thoughts and would enjoy chatting about this more.

http://yampavalley.info/sites/default/files/Economic%20Development%20Routt%20County%20Style.pdf

Scott

0

Scott Wedel 4 years, 1 month ago

Scott, That was a pdf? Why no just text on a webpage?

The unasked question in your note is "Does the community want to attract these high income location neutral people and on what terms?". These people can chose among all of the various resort options, some will come regardless, but we do not have to do the stuff (like creating private golf course resorts and so on) that it would take to get more.

I think that was one of the dishonest aspects of the SB 700 campaign in that SB 700 is not really needed for growth due to other local economic activity, but was going to be marketed elsewhere to the location neutral people and was going to bring growth here. I am not saying that source of growth is good or bad. I am saying it is different that what was described in the campaign.

I think the effect of these location neutral people needs to be discussed in terms of local government policy and we need to try to reach a community consensus on what is done to attract them and on what terms. There is a wide income range in location neutral people since, for instance, most retirees have location neutral income. So do we try to attract $80K-$150K annual incomes or go after the $1+M and so on.

0

Scott Ford 4 years ago

Hi Scott W - You have some excellent points. although I talk about it a lot, I am not too sure I understand the residential/lifestyle economy very well. I know that the state demographer refers to this group as the retiree economy. I do not use that term because I think it defines this group too narrowly. Sure some are fully retired but many are not. The primary thing that distinguishes this group (residential/lifestyle economy) is that a majority of their income is not dependent on the economic activity occurring within the confines of the Yampa Valley.

For the retirees and semi retirees that are subset of this residential/lifestyle community, I would not advocate for putting a campaign to recruit them. It is likely that they Yampa Valley will get its share of this group. I do not think we need to do anything specifically special to attract this group. I believe if we focus on doing what is necessary to be a great town to live in that likely is all that is necessary.

On the other hand, I would like to see some energy focused toward location neutral businesses. This may be nothing more than promoting that this area as having a lot of entrepreneurial energy. A place where neutral businesses can find folks of kindred spirit regardless of what they actually do for a living. Although our technology and transportation infrastructure is currently adequate for our needs, we need to always be looking for ways to strengthen it.

What I like about the LNBs is that they typically are a younger demographic that often have families.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.