Dennis Howard: Vote ‘no’ on 700
March 3, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Can we please all stop abusing and overusing the phrases "affordable housing" and "attainable housing"? First of all, the definitions are way out of whack with what is really affordable for most people in this town. How many people do you know making $20 an hour on a year-round basis? How many young couples do you know who are making $80,000 a year or more? If you are, then consider yourself blessed, because if you look around town, a majority of the jobs are in the retail, restaurant and lodging sectors. Store clerks, housekeepers, front desk agents, maintenance people, waiters and waitresses, shuttle drivers, cooks and others who work in this town are not making $40,000 a year. A lot of these are unfortunately only seasonal jobs. These are the people on the front lines who give Steamboat Springs our great reputation for being a friendly town.
It was recently said that "Steamboat 700's draft attainability program would require 30 percent of about 1,600 homes in the annexation to be marketed for one year to buyers or households earning between 120 percent and 200 percent of the area median income." This translates to about $96,000 to $160,000 a year in income. By the way, this in no way guarantees that locals will buy these houses. These are houses on the open market. What does this mean? It means that second-home owners will be getting a great deal on houses for the next 20 years. These are homes in the half-million-dollar range. How many locals are going to be buying these homes? Steamboat 700 will possibly benefit a handful of people in the future, while burdening the rest of us with an increasingly overcrowded small town.
What is going to happen to the supply of houses over the next 20 to 30 years as the baby boomers pass away and leave their homes to their children? They will either be sold or put on the rental market, causing a glut in the real estate industry. Where will all the growth be then?
We can only hope there are enough people left in Steamboat Springs who care more about their town than about money. Money is not what makes Steamboat a great place. We have a treasured jewel of a valley with great people here. More, more, more does not make something better, it only dilutes it. Don't be fooled by advertising, think about what makes Steamboat special. Vote "no" on Steamboat 700.