Our View: It’s time to revive housing conversation

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A recent forum and a state report released a few weeks ago have brought two of Routt County’s age-old issues — affordable housing and the cost of child care —back to the forefront of community conversation. Both issues are complex and far from new, but as the economy improves and the housing market begins to rebound, it’s the right time to re-engage the community and its leaders in a healthy discussion about how Steamboat Springs and Routt County plan to respond to both needs.

Steamboat Today editorial board — May to September 2014

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Tyler Goodman, community representative
  • John Merrill, community representative

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The availability of affordable housing — or as we prefer to label it, attainable housing — is pivotal to making sure young professionals, essential workers and those filling service sector jobs can afford to live and work here. The ability to recruit and retain a strong, well-trained and well-educated workforce is crucial to economic growth, and the lack of affordable housing options can limit business expansion.

Based on information presented at a June 13 housing forum held at Citizens Hall in downtown Steamboat, the challenge of providing attainable housing isn’t unique to resort communities like Steamboat but the size of this community and its smaller tax base can make the struggle to solve the issue greater.

Speakers at the forum stressed the importance of public-private partnerships and the need for community members to become educated about housing issues as they pertain to the marketplace and property values. Jim DeFrancia, a principal and co-owner of Lowe Enterprises, offered a great description of how teamwork plays a big role in the successful development of attainable housing projects whereby government provides land and infrastructure and private businesses offer the product and imagination. DeFrancia’s expert input supports our belief that it is important for government to find a way to make it easier and more economically viable for private companies to build affordable housing units.

Child care costs also factor strongly into Steamboat Springs’ livability factor. This month, a new report listed Routt County as the least affordable place in Colorado for couples to raise preschool-aged children. This ranking is not new, but it proves the issue is not going away and still demands the community’s attention.

In response to this persistent problem, Routt County has identified the lack of affordable child care and preschool programs as one of seven priorities the county needs to address. A new working group has been convened by county leaders to begin investigating what specific actions could be launched to address the issue.

According to Routt County Commission chairman Tim Corrigan, the county has two options — it can find ways to spark economic improvement so that family income increases and the cost of child care is less of an issue, or it can provide more resources to early childhood education centers to reduce the overall costs of providing high quality programs.

The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association also is joining the quest for a solution to high child care costs. The Chamber’s board recently tasked the organization with gathering statistics on the availability of child care here. Once information is compiled, Chamber CEO Tom Kern said the group will define the scope of the problem and see if something can be done to make child care more affordable for parents and families.

Solving the affordable housing and child care cost dilemmas will not be easy, and we realize community leaders are faced with a difficult task. In the case of creating affordable housing incentives or directives, history has shown us that attempts, especially at the city government level, have met with varied success, and some of the actions taken to try to fix the problem have failed miserably.

At this juncture, it’s vitally important that government, business and community leaders work together to guide a new conversation about attainable housing and child care costs. The time to create community-wide goals to address these issues is now.

To be successful, this process must involve community education as well as feedback from private business interests along the way. And we think it is wise to include child care costs and transportation needs in any housing affordability discussions moving forward.

It also is important to begin the conversation with a clear picture of actual housing needs and market conditions based on information from employers, employees and industry analysts. This does not need to involve a newly commissioned study but rather a fact-gathering process that defines the current problem in light of today’s marketplace conditions and projections on where the economy is headed. The conversation also needs to include an honest evaluation of what worked in the past and what didn’t so we don’t repeat our past mistakes.

Let’s re-energize the community-wide discussion with an eye toward eliminating processes and policies that hinder construction of affordable housing in Steamboat Springs and Routt County and devising new creative public-private partnerships to provide attainable housing and reasonable child care options for a growing work force. As land and building costs begin to rise and before market pressures intensify to pre-recession levels, now is the right time to develop a realistic housing plan that is sustainable and provides a way for this area’s valuable workforce to stay in the valley.

Comments

Ken Mauldin 2 months, 3 weeks ago

By what logic does a person have a right or expectation to live somewhere they can't afford and how does that impose an obligation on everyone else to figure out a way to make it happen?

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Fred Duckels 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Before we start another stampede to doing good let's address the Iron Horse debt and all the YVHA foolishness. One bite at a time although we could create more jobs for social engineers and do-gooders. We might need a second city council to handle all the ensuing muddy water. Visionaries need to get a day job, let the market work and let's all get a nights sleep..

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mark hartless 2 months, 3 weeks ago

There are 2 major obstacles to realizing this dream.

1. We keep flooding the labor market with illegals who are willing to work for peanuts and live in relative squalor.

2. We have a never ending stream of complaints, largely from the same bleeding hearts, about how we must NOT allow development and how we must have more, more, more open space, conservation easements, parks, trails, wilderness, etc, etc.

All of this forces housing prices higher and conflicts DIRECTLY with their eutopian dream of having cheap labor standing in the "servise elevator" right outside their little Eden.

Funny, one never hears a peep from these economic geniuses about how those two darlings of theirs (open space and open borders) might be standing in DIRECT OPPOSITION to their pipe dream of having cheap housing (which for them means cheap lawn-care and table-service and valet parking).

Finally, the dream itself is hyper-ambiguous and false because the illegals working for peanuts somehow find housing and survive right here among the incessant whining of those who insist that is impossible.

All they can truthfully say is that living here is HARD. So what? That's how living in a "special" place should be.

So long as we keep flooding our labor market and restricting development it will continue to get even harder. Every attempt to the contrary that ignores the afforementioned realities will exacerbate the condition.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 3 weeks ago

And where are housing costs and childcare costs "solved"?

Our childcare costs are higher because we are shown as having a higher percentage of kids in relatively expensive dedicated childcare centers which are also considered higher quality. The only way to lower average childcare costs is to get more kids into lower cost home based childcare centers.

And there is plentiful affordable/attainable housing if a 30 minute commute is considered tolerable. It is tolerable for a large portion of the current workforce.

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john bailey 2 months, 3 weeks ago

bingo , Scott , ya'll don't HAVE to live in the big xitty , oh wait yes , yes you do ...~;0)

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Jeff Kibler 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep, lower cost home based childcare. Yet you adamantly oppose home schooling, vouchers, and lack of educational choices and competition. Which is it?

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Jeff,

I was pointing out the difficulties of a "solution" to childcare. That on one hand we congratulate ourselves for having more kids in professional and more expensive childcare facilities and then we say we have a cost issue.

As far as I know, there isn't a government program to pay for childcare only in expensive dedicated childcare centers, but not licensed home based centers. So I don't see how vouchers are relevant to childcare.

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cindy constantine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Agree with all the above comments and would further add it is NOT the responsibility of City Council to even address this issue at all!! If businesses are having a hard time finding the work force they need to conduct business it is THEIR responsibility to deal directly with the employees they have, ie: providing child care or transportation allowances if the employee is valuable to the operation. I find it odd that no specific examples of businesses affected are even cited in this editorial.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, if SB has regulations that make a home based childcare facility particularly difficult to open then there is a responsibility for City Council to reduce and simplify regulations.

Previous article had Kern of the Chamber mention a losing a "valuable" employee to childcare. Though, obvious employee wasn't valuable enough for the Chamber to arrange or pay for childcare.

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cindy constantine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We are on the same page, Scott. Less govt interference in our lives vis a vis home childcare regulations. However, membership in the Chamber is a choice, paying taxes is not (if you want to maintain your home, business, lifestyle, etc). If the members of the Chamber vote to allocate part of the yearly budget to affordable housing more power to them. BUT the tax paying public wants safe water, sewer pipes that don't leak, roads without pot holes and sidewalks so one can walk on Oak Street from 10th to 3rd without fear of being hit by cars or bikes, etc. We are all better served by having to pay less sales tax than the Council figuring out how to spend all the money they receive.

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Fred Duckels 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The do-gooders must sense that other people must be doing better financially and it is time to revisit the harvest. All the social engineers are firing up new offenses looking to revive bankrupt flops from the past. It kind of goes along with Obama Care in that it makes them feel good.

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Josie Peterson 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Yes! it is time we revisited the housing cost in The Boat! I think what would help this sad situation is for employers to start paying better wages. The pay rate in this very expensive town is lopsided. I am a 60 year old college educated woman making the least amount of money I have made in years. (Under 25k). My rent increased by 200.00 a month this year, but my salary did not increase. Finding a full time, normal paying job here is tough. I can't afford to ski at our mountain; can't afford any of the clothing sold on Lincoln Ave. The idea of owning a home here is a pipe dream. As a transplant from the East Coast, I am amazed at the low wages paid by the majority of employers here. And it seems you have to know someone on the inside in order to score one of the better paying positions with the City or County or utility companies. Steamboat caters to the wealthy and to the poor, but not to the middle class. One point that puzzels me is State property taxes. Million dollar homes have less property taxes than I did for my modest home in New England. We moved here for my partners job, but we are having a difficult time making ends meet. Fortunately, my children are grown and living elsewhere. I can not imagine how stressful it must be financially to raise kids in the Boat. Higher wages for the working class!

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john bailey 2 months, 3 weeks ago

welcome to the zoo Josie , spot on with the city and county positions and an east -coaster to boot.......but remember now you chose to move here warts and all........I wish you the best........

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Jeff Kibler 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's see ... Rent too high, property taxes too low. Well then, let's just raise property taxes and see how that affects your rent.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Perhaps a look at other areas of Colorado and their successful efforts to provide affordable housing and public transportation to bring a workforce into their resort communities might be considered by everyone on this thread and the YVHA. The tenor of this valley is everyone seems to support and want to provide a way for more people to realize the American dream here in Steamboat but when it comes to putting money where their mouths are the buck, literally, stops there. No one really wants to hear the words more government or more taxes but without a sustainable source of funding to make an affordable housing program take off all there ever will be is what you see above. It will just be a lot of talk. Take a look at history and what the Roaring Fork River Valley has accomplished. Perhaps there was more public sentiment and yes, money, behind their efforts but it helps to have a consistent source of income to make it happen. Transfer tax on property sales is one way programs such as this get started and succeed. Public sentiment and good old fashion greed likely will keep this vision from ever being realized.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Peter,

Unlike most other resort cities, SB has nearby towns with flat land that can grow. So this area can support a large amount of attainable worker housing.

The fact that there are nearby reasonable alternatives has long been a problem for affordable housing because there is regional affordable housing that is commonly used by local workers. So when the affordable housing people say the programs must focus on SB then they are saying everyone in Hayden and Stagecoach have made a wrong choice.

A politically brave analysis would say work with Hayden, Stagecoach and Oak Creek to build more attainable units comparable to existing housing in those areas. Where a little bit of money from SB's housing fund could provide incentives for builders or SB affordable housing could help locate buyers.

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John St Pierre 2 months, 3 weeks ago

There was once another major newspaper in Colorado.... the Rocky Mtn News... on its front page was the motto... "tis a privilidge to live in Colorado"..... I think it say sit all....

Its not a right... its a decision made to reside..with that decision comes the responsibilty of how to..... ASpen and Vail were featured in the article about how they work on the affordable housing.... what they did not diclose was how they do it by shifting down valley.... here that would be Hayden.. or Oakcreek/Phippsburg and Yampa.....

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Dan Kuechenmeister 2 months, 3 weeks ago

We bought in Stagecoach because it was more "affordable" than Steamboat. Driving on 14 is a pain in the rear in the winter but Oh well it's what we signed on for. If people want "affordable" housing come on out to Stagecoach, live in Oak Creek, Milner, Hayden. It's beautiful country.

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Jeff Kibler 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Josie and Peter: paragraphs are your friends.

How purportedly educated people employ run-on sentences is beyond my compression of the English Language.

Yes, I did it! Guilty as charged! Above is a classic example of a run-on sentence.

We should have some fun. Post the worst run-on sentence that you've ever read.

Let's vie and crown the new Grammar Queen.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Jeff-Ridiculing people is not nice. Contribute something or stow your keyboard bud.

Scott-SB's housing fund? Where is this fund? Please help me to see the light as I see no sustainable source of funds coming from anywhere that can do what you suggest. If we focus on the areas you mention as well as Steamboat you must be able to provide affordable transportation to get people into town for work. If there was affordable and more frequent public transportation I would consider both of these places to live. The trade off for me is convenience and time so I bite the bullet and try to engage in a productive discussion of solving this problem. It is a blessing to live where we do. Trying to make it more attainable for more people is a good thing. Developing a plan of action is key.

Here's a thought. If there was say a 1% tax on all property sales in this area that would have totaled about $574,000 from last quarter's transactions. Please correct me if I am off on my numbers. Extrapolate that out to a year and your are talking about $2M which nearly covers FCMHP debt and its infrastructure upgrade needs. Now we are making some progress. Continuing down this train of thought, why not use this 'new' source of sustainable funding to pay down the Iron Horse debt. With a thoughtful plan that is fiscally sound and spelled out to the public, maybe it could work. Using some of this 'potential' funding to subsidize transportation to the neighboring communities will support your vision Scott and include Oak Creek, Hayden and while your at it Yampa and Craig.

I would go on but don't want to run on too much here and offend anyone else's sensibilities and have my grammatical efforts at productive discourse questioned any further. Love your neighbor.

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Jeff Kibler 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Peter, mea maxima culpa. I do notice that you're employing some paragraphs.

Perhaps I should've been less snarky, but your long posts are tedious to read. If you want to get your message out, be more concise.

Please feel free to ridicule and disparage me anytime, anywhere. If you were my neighbor I'd invite you over for BBQ and beer.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Brevity is more powerful. Thanks. I'll get to the point quicker in the future.

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Michael Bird 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Starting in the 1970, I traveled from Denver throughout western Colorado as part of my job before moving to SB in 1977. From 1970 until now, the above discourse has taken place in all resort communities with no real solution. Same problems -housing, wages,etc. Same suggestions. The public does not want to pay for someone else's home. No one paid for theirs. Four people rented a condo. Then two. Then some bought a condo. Some bought a house , some continue to rent, and others moved and new people arrived and entered this housing/low wage circle.

We set up an expensive housing department instead of using that tax money to assist buyers with down payments. or rent. We have a housing dept - called realtors -whose job it is to find housing but housing within SB is not and won't be cheap, or attainable, and certainly not affordable for most employees. We will achieve this goal on the same day we achieve world peace.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

SB city has a housing fund with money left over from the boom days when SB charged impact or whatever fees to developers. Not sure if those fees are on hold or were repealed in order to stop discouraging construction jobs during the recession.

If we lived under a dome and could count up the number of people and allocate housing then a government program could work.

Trouble is that people move here and leave here and one of the factors is their economic situation and their housing situation. A resort area is going to attract new residents and so the competition for housing and jobs determines whom is able to stay.

Affordable housing is, by definition, trying to distort the local housing market. The housing market is too big with too much money to be distorted and instead evolves ways to work around the distortions. Have a program like Aspen that provides some well below market price units then you find those residents have too good of a deal to ever move. And thus, there is almost never an affordable unit available.

I repeat the challenge to find any place that has a working affordable housing program.

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jerry carlton 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I worked for 40 years before I could afford to move to Steamboat. I lived here for 2 years and had to go back to work for 10 years before I could permanently retire. Why should I help pay for someone's housing that has that has probably worked less than 5 years?

Michael Bird Excellent comment.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And so it begins. Why should I pay for that? I worked harder than all of you! Not on my dime! These are the kind of subjects not many have the nerve to get behind because of the chorus I hear revving up. It's all about me is what I hear most from older generations about the young people. Now entering middle age I still hear the same thing. In this country the spirit of helping your neighbor seemingly goes out the window when it comes to chipping in and bettering your own community. The efforts of the past affordable housing pushes have had mixed results. Some helped and some have left a mess. The problem still exists and there are debts to pay. Solving the existing financial mistakes and directing money to subsidized transportation to and from the outlying communities may be a start to making an impact. It's about community and making this valley a better place to live. All I seem to hear from this topic is, "Get your hand outta my pocket!"

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

It is not about helping your neighbor. You are free to persuade your neighbor and friends that you are a good person and have them loan you money to buy a house. It is about government becoming your neighbor and partner, and then trying to do that effectively while being far.

But a government program can be completely ineffective, a complete waste of money and even be counterproductive by discouraging the public from doing it the right way. If a lack of savings is needed to qualify for a down payment program then it would discourage saving for a down payment. Do anything is not always better than doing nothing.

There is public transportation mainly paid by SB to Hayden and Craig. Ridership does not support more buses. County has tried a rider sharing van to Oak Creek and Stagecoach. I am not sure if it is still active or failed again from a lack of riders. Transit system has general public support as long as the cost per rider is under control.

All you seem to be saying is "Give me what I want!".

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Fred Duckels 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Peter, This is about the fact they have already had their hand in my pocket and now they want a revisit after they have proven their incompetence..

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And YVHA has hardly fixed itself. No sane business would consider a lease purchase plan based upon an amortization schedule more than twice current value. And like all important YVHA decisions, it was discussed in executive session so the public cannot know why YVHA thought it was a good decision.

If YVHA reformed itself to make good decisions and wouldn't use executive session except when required by employee privacy requirements then they could start to gain some public trust. But even their most recent meeting had an executive session to acquire unnamed housing assets. Only they know what that was about.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Mr. Arnold uses the same false narrative that so many others do when arguing in favor of communism.

He dumps guilt on those wishing only to retain the fruits of their own labor while implying those who wish to redistribute the fruits of other people's labor are the benevolent among us.

An insult and absolute LIE in the same breath.

If "...not many have the nerve to get behind..." this crap then GOOD. It takes a heck of a lot of nerve to expect to live off the labor of others in the first place!

Many whom he paints as "selfish" give their time, talent AND treasure to all sorts of charities every day. What business is it of his or government which direction those gifts are focused???

Having the government put a gun to your neighbors head and take his money and give it to another does not make one benevolent; it makes one a communist.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Mark,

I appreciate the passion with which you state your opinion. I don't believe in dumping guilt on anyone. Your tax dollars are spent in multitudes of ways to keep city streets paved and run government. Channeling a small percentage of the pie to promote home ownership in a fiscally responsible and conservative manner is good in my opinion.

The YVHA has proven it can not do that in open public view. The YVHA has gone through more leaders in the last few years than I can count. Perhaps the people commenting on this thread should apply for membership to its board and initiate change from within rather than armchair quarterback the debate. If you wish to call my position communist go right ahead but you are sadly mistaken about who I am and what I am in favor of.

Scott,

I don't want you to give me what I want. I am participating in an open forum to educate myself about the public sentiment and propose ideas. Your feedback is informative and useful in facilitating the discussion. Quite often I find I am scanning through what you have to contribute because you are consistently the angry cynic with an opinion on all matters. Perhaps I am too and why I am joining the party.

Fred,

I'd like to meet and talk personally about your position some time rather than call you a selfish capitalist or tell you to use some paragraphs...it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood and time to go watch the rodeo.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

It's not "pie".

The fact that you refer to the hard-earned and ofttimes desperately needed and scarce possesions of others as "pie" tells me all I need to know.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"Here's a thought. If there was say a 1% tax on all property sales in this area that would have totaled about $574,000 from last quarter's transactions. Please correct me if I am off on my numbers."

OK... You're off on your numbers.

Had there actually been another 1% tax on real estate transactions there would have been LESS of them; so your numbers are off automatically.

Communists always argue as if they're in a vacuum; refusing to acknowledge that free people will re-arange their lives to avoid being SCREWED by "pie-in-the-sky" dreamers and their "just another 1%" taxes.

If "just another 1%" had ZERO effect one could load a dump-truck to an infinite amount of weight, so long as one loaded it slowly and quietly.

If "just another 1%" had no effect then one could set the minumum wage at $100/hr and we'd all be rich.

This is pipe-dream theology; nothing more.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for your clarification Mark. $54.7M in real estate transactions last quarter, 1% is 547K. Your position is noted and I appreciate the opportunity to engage you in productive debate. The market will do what it wants. Regardless of whether a 1% tax is in place, there will still be real estate transactions of some amount. Would you call FDR and all of his social programs pipe dream theology? Can you explain how the fed works to me and why my dollar is worth less and less every year? You don't like my idea or too many others having read some of your commentary elsewhere so thanks for calling me a communist but you have me wrong. A dreamer, maybe, but a communist I am not. Join the debate rather than going off like a loose cannon. This can be a productive forum rather than a name calling session in a bar. Then again maybe some of us have had one too many when we sit down to type out our rants.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

And had there been 1 less home sold last quarter then someone's family would be living in the street without that home and someone else would have declared bankruptcy because that 1% tax kept their home from selling in the knick of time; or they would have sold for a loss that they would be making up by working overtime instead of raising their kids.

Does any of that ever get poured into the vacuum??

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Government should continuously analyze how their regulations and fees are affecting the housing market and whether they should make changes.

If water and sewer tap fees are fixed then that discourages smaller apts and houses as those fees can be 10%-20% of costs for smaller units while being less than 1% of a mansion. Or they can be on a sliding scale that put a premium on large homes.

Likewise, minimum lot size requirements push up costs. Even things like mandatory snow storage push up costs and makes the assumption that the property owner won't figure something out such as hauling it away when running out of parking.

I note how often a town sings the praise of it's cute downtown and yet has passed laws to prohibit those sort of small houses on small lots. Almost no cities have zoning to keep the small homes on small lots that make their old towns notable.

As for YVHA, unless there is a slate of new board members with the purpose of changing the agency then there is no point of applying. To do what? Participate in executive sessions that I am obligated to not publicly discuss? As a board member then a critic would be silenced.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Join to change the status quo rather than sit on the sideline and rant.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Why don't you serve on a board since you know what you want and you know how it should be given to you?

That YVHA is broken doesn't really affect me because I am not seeking they provide me with affordable housing.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, there will be real estate transactions "of some amount". That was true even after the Great Depression of 1929, but the amount will be LESS than it would have been without the tax. It is an economic fact that the more something is taxed the LESS of it you get, and that was my point.

Explain the Federal Reserve? Hardly, but I'll give it a try: The Federal Reserve is not "federal" and it has questionable "reserves". It is a cartel of bankers who have been given an exclusive banking monopoly and the to power to "print" (i.e.: create) money ("pie" as you call it) out of thin air. This "printing" of money is actually a theft of money from American people because it dilutes the value and reduces the purchasing power of all previously existing currency (or "pie"). This is why something that could be purchased for $1 in 1913, now costs more than $50.

THAT is why your dollar is, as you say, "worth less and less every year".

To put it another way: Government borrows the money ("pie" as you call it) and puts it into circulation, making the home you wish your fellow man could afford more and more unobtainable every year.

If you really wanted to help your fellow man in Steamboat Springs own a home without encouraging the government to put a gun to your other fellow citizens head and extract that "pie" then here's what you could do:

1. Work for some of the suggestions Scott mentions above. These reduce the cost of homes.

2. Stop advocating for more open space, parks, bike trails, etc. These compete directly with housing and drive housing costs up.

3. Volunteer your time building homes for needy families.

4. Donate to charities that provide housing OUTSIDE the brute force of government.

5. Be a proponent of developments like Steamboat 700, rather than an opponent.

6. Advocate for stopping the flow of slave labor from the border. It drives down wages and makes it harder for those already here to find "sustainable" wages.

My gues is that, in your heart you already know all this, but you'd rather just have government stick a gun to other peoples head, extract the "pie" from them, and use it to create the eutopia you believe is possible despite all evidence to the contrary.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Sorry, I have to correct you. It is spelled utopia.

I have worked in the banking industry and as a trucker. I have an engineering degree from a major university, have built many houses working for many contractors in this valley, and do support 1 through 6.

The fiat currency system has its faults but it is what we are stuck with. We will have to hope the occupy folks make another run at things. Judging by the guy sitting outside on the corner of Central Park and Pine Grove asking for help with a cardboard sign today, we are well on our way to making some radical changes again in this country.

Steamboat 700 was a start but just came at the wrong time. Sub-prime and the forces of public sentiment ended their run. I think we are cut from the same cloth Mark. I just am trying to facilitate conversation and get a temperature reading on the overall sentiment.

The slave labor you call it has built this country one immigrant at a time but you are right and our borders are porous and the results have gotten worse and worse. A path to citizenship that is affordable would be something to consider. I recently married a European and the process to legal status is costly and time consuming. It is no wonder there is an entire populace living among us. They clean our hotels and build our homes all the while trying to attain the one thing that is so unattainable, a place to live they can call their own.

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rhys jones 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I have a housing crisis approaching, will soon be seeking affordable lodging, saving toward that effort, hoping for the best... not crying on anybody's shoulder, I got myself into this situation, will get myself out, probably don't rate being in this town, that's not my point, but if anybody knows of anything, preferably downtown...

I'm writing to comment on the poor sign guys. Whenever I'm down in Phoenix, I see an abundance of them, at freeway on-ramps and long stop-light lines. "Homeless vet -- will work for food -- please help -- God Bless" and you're tempted to feel sorry for these poor folks society left behind...

Then one of the TV stations did a special on those guys, followed 'em around, talked to them... and in a couple of hours, these guys could easily clear $60-$80 or more, they'd put their sign back in their car and drive off.

The guy I saw with his sign, by Chrisite Sports, catching the traffic exiting Central Park -- waving real nice at each car -- collected cash from at least three cars, just in the five minutes I waited to catch my bus. That's actually a pretty good gig.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

BTW, a new real estate transaction tax would be illegal in Colorado.

The guy with a cardboard sign suggests to me the Rainbow Gathering is not so far away in Utah this year. Not that all are like that, but a few of them travel as beggars.

SB 700 after paying that much for the land and agreeing to every expensive condition proposed by the city of SB was not going to be affordable and probably would never have been built. It would have just set the stage to come back to the city asking for releases of various conditions. We are seeing a similar thing with affordable housing deed restrictions being released by the city of SB as now being unfair to the owners.

The whole West SB Area Plan between the city and county has been a fiasco since they agreed upon where SB was going to grow without first verifying the property owners were seeking to develop their land. So the property owners held off for over a decade until housing prices spiked and then it was not proposed as a series of annexations but as one massive annexation.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Rhys is right that most of the pan-handlers are not in desperate need of anything, except some basic morals. They are liars, appearing and flourishing more with each passing generation; America's "self esteem" chickens comming home to roost. The honesty, work ethic and sense of shame that used to be a part of what made this country so great is being replaced with the sense of entitlement and shamelessness.

Going hungry is all but impossible in America today, but honorable people would go hungry rather than take a dime from another.

However, for those who give to these pan-handlers I would say 2 things that might seem contradictory:

1. This is true charity; true benevolence. You are giving without being forced. For this you are to be commended.

2. P.T. Barnum was right when he said "There's a sucker born every minute". Your money would do far greater good elsewhere in the hands of trustworthy charitable organizations.

Peter,

I would agree that "we are well on our way to making some radical changes again in this country". Worse than that, we have destroyed it.

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jerry carlton 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Peter Welcome to the fray! Since your first post came immediately after my last I am assuming some or most of it was directed at me. You are right, I object to any level of government putting their hand in my pocket and redistributing the wealth to other people. Before you were born, LBJ began his "War on Poverty" and we have all seen how that has worked out. The government taking from me and my helping my fellow man are two different subjects. I am issuing a personal challenge to you.You name the time and place and we will bring our 2013 tax returns and we will see who has contributed a greater percentage of our income to charitable causes. I am pretty much available any time as I have been retired 5 years but I would appreciate somewhere quiet as even with hearing aids, I do not hear too well.

Mark On the occasions I have given to people on the street corners, I either give them food out of my car or I go to the nearest fast food place and buy them a meal. I never give cash. If they do not want the food , at least their dog gets a meal.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Jerry,

Once again we agree.

Charity is not force and force is not charity.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"Going hungry is all but impossible in America today, but honorable people would go hungry rather than take a dime from another."

Well, that presumes no one cares about you enough to prefer that you have food instead of going hungry.

And the USA has nearly 20 million people whom lacked money at some time of the year for food. The reason that many people are not going hungry is because of friends and food banks.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Only in America... leftists simultaneously opine about people being fat AND hungry. Which is it, Scott???

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Michael Bird 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Peter, You have your opinions,which are valued as an expression of our rights of free speech. I think you are wrong that "it's all about me". It is all about you. You meaning those seeking housing. Those who minimize expenditures-buy, 4 yr old cars ( 1 instead of 2), lift up clothes mainly, rare happy hours, a second job, borrow from family,rent a small condo in town or rent in Hayden/Oak Creek ($ spent on travel is much less that rent difference-thus more saving-take bus-even more savings) will allow some, maybe many, to buy their first housing if that is their goal. Yes it might have to be a condo. The point is this is how many have accomplished their goal. This is the you. Does the populace want their tax dollars to go to those that are unwilling to do this? I don't think so.

Attainable housing is available in OC,Hayden & SB.One must simply be willing to do that which is necessary to obtain it. I do have to raise the question, though, as to whether it is better to rent or own ? Many financial experts now recommend renting over buying. Food for thought.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Michael, I rent, own 2 cars that are 14 and 15 years old, work multiple jobs, and am still wearing the same Carharts I bought four years ago. I'm newly married and a kid on the way and really grateful for this conversation and where I live. Will I ever buy a home in Steamboat? We may but not for a long time. I consider this place my home now and it has been for over a decade. Like many others I went broke in the downturn, left and returned last summer. I was encouraged where some of the efforts to promote affordable housing were going until the market forces changed many many lives including mine. I started over in the Midwest as a banker. After a year of pushing credit cards and refinances I got my CDL and hit the road, got engaged, moved back, and got married. Along the way I learned a few things and renting is a great option right now. Thanks

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Peter,

If your plan was to buy in Stagecoach or Hayden and hope to later buy in SB then I'd say that is the sort of plan that could reasonably hope for some assistance to help you and others.

But by expecting to live in SB then you are asking for help to cut in line ahead of all those in Hayden and Stagecoach that are trying to build equity and savings to move to SB.

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Peter Arnold 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Scott, you again just have no clue where I am coming from or where I am trying to go. Informative you are at times but in this case you are dead wrong. Anyone who qualifies can get very low interest and very low money down loans right here in Routt County. The affordable housing efforts required people to be in a certain income bracket to be in the pool. This conversation started out as a suggestion to revive the conversation on affordable housing. I am all for it if makes sense. What has been done and what has failed just goes to show you it needs to change. Elk River parcel, FCMHP, and others show the track record that needs to be righted. Perhaps an entirely new County Commission and private/public partnership to change a few zoning rules and get some housing built that has a little more density to it might be a topic you would expound on for me. Please enlighten me as well to the Elk River parcel. I don't have time to google the story as I believe I was out of the valley recovering from the Wall Street debacle we all had to eat. I appreciate your insight Scott but you need to stop pretending you know anything about me or my goals.

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mark hartless 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Michael is, of course, exactly right. Affordable/attainable housing is available for people who live and/or work in Steamboat.

"Affordable housing" isn't what people want. What they want is "affordable housing near the bus-stop downtown across from the river next to Howlesen Hill with privacy, views and a 3-car garage; with time at the end of their 30 hr week for skiing, biking, hiking, designer beer, concerts, fireworks, etc, etc, etc.

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Scott Wedel 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Michael,

"Does the populace want their tax dollars to go to those that are unwilling to do this? I don't think so."

I think there would be popular support for a housing program that didn't demand such sacrifice from the public, but the program would have to recognize the regional attainable housing, be available to many and be cost effective.

I am not sure if such a program could be created. I think the challenges for a popular and effective housing program are large because there generally is regional affordable housing. That makes it very hard to have a program that is better than people using the free marker to find the housing they can afford. Otherwise, they are picking a few lucky winners that are being subsidized by everyone including other people struggling with housing.

BTW, I've been told the County Commissioners are not going to fund YVHA next year. I am not sure which straw broke their back, but I see no shortage of reasons. Though, I think worse YVHA mistake is paying on Elk River parcel as if it was worth what they paid during the boom and not just letting the property go. That error in judgment is costing YVHA more each year than they are getting from the county. So county contributions arguably have just been going to the bank so that YVHA can keep a failed development opportunity.

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