Election 2017: Q & A with Lisel Petis, Steamboat Springs City Council candidate, District 1
October 14, 2017
Do you think the city's codes regulating downtown development need to be changed in the wake of a lawsuit that stopped the 1125 Lincoln Avenue project? Please explain.
Yes, but only to make the codes more clear. We need to better define what "special circumstance" means and decide whether council should be able to consider providing affordable housing as a reason for a variance? The city has also granted variances for multiple developments downtown and during the downtown master plan. We will need to decide if the height and density codes should remain as they are or should be changed. If variances are being granted over and over again, then something needs to changed. Variances should be the exception, not the rule.
Airbnb, VRBO and other vacation rental companies are seeing increased usage in resort communities. Do you think the city should do anything to curb the potential growth of this type of short-term housing? Why or why not?
Unfortunately, I'm not sure how we can curb the growth of this short-term housing. Durango implemented a cap on how many short-term rentals could be in certain blocks, and when it was implemented, there was a rush of community members that bought up these rights "just in case" they wanted to use them. What I think we could do a better job of is providing better enforcement of short-term rentals in neighborhoods that have covenants restricting such use.
How are you feeling about Brynn Grey's annexation proposal? What are the next steps, in your opinion, for the city and for the developer?
It is too soon to tell. We are still trying to work out the final numbers with the developers. If the developer is able to meet our requests for water, roads and attainable housing, then I think we should move forward. Right now, the developer has agreed to the funding plan for water (although with deferred payments until the homes are built) and has agreed to do appreciation cap restrictions or "locals-only" restrictions on 80 percent of the phase I homes as well as place a voluntary transfer fee for affordable housing on all market rate homes, but we are still working out the details of developer's contribution to roads. If council decides it would be best to move forward, then we will need to community input from either community forums or a formal vote.
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Do you think the city and the council are as transparent as they can be? If not, what ideas do you have to make the government more open and accessible?
I think the city and council are trying to be as transparent and as accessible as we can be, but there is always room for improvement. I would love to find a way to get the community more involved in what is going. I have set up a facebook page (@liselforsteamboat) to try and get feedback on upcoming issues and inform people of the decisions made. Councilman Scott Ford set up a booth at the Farmers Market this summer and also heads up Coffee with Council on the second Friday of every month to create accessibility of council members to the public. We want to hear the community's voice. If people have other suggestions on how council can be more accessible or further engage the public, I'd be happy to hear them.
Is child care/preschool programming a service the city government should be providing?
It is clear that many families are struggling with day care, especially for kids from 0 to 2. If our community is struggling with something, then I think it is the duty of council to try and address the issue. However, I believe public-private partnerships are going to be more effective in the long run.
The city has been grappling with how to come up with a vision for Howelsen Hill and how to make the hill more financially sustainable. Do you think this can be accomplished? What should the city's commitment to Howelsen Hill be in the future?
I do think this can be accomplished. Howelsen is an icon of Steamboat, and I think we could do a better job supporting Howelsen and promoting Howelsen. Councilman Walter Magill recently brought up the idea of free ski days for locals and the consultant brought up some great ideas of a "big deck" and other amenities at the base of Howelsen. I think these are the type of innovative ideas that we need. Ultimately, the city is the keeper of Howelsen, and we need to protect it, but we certainly can't do it without the support of the community. We will need to find out how much the community is actually willing to support it.
What are the top three challenges facing the city in 2018?
- Howelsen: Both the future of Howelsen and funding sources for Howelsen.
- West-end annexation: The details of the annexation, whether the city should go forward with the annexation, and the communities support for the annexation
- Challenges of a sales-tax based economy: Our economy is currently based on sales tax, which requires us to be aggressive to bring in tourists and puts pressure on our budget. We will need to deal with the impacts of an abundance of tourists (over-flowing trash, lack of parking, wear and tear on our roads) and the risk of depending on one revenue source for our city.
Open-ended question: Why are you running for re-election to the City Council?
I am running for City Council so that I can make a positive impact on our community. Because I grew up in Steamboat, I know its history, and I know its people. Steamboat is my hometown, and I am passionate about preserving the community character. Whether that is through affordable housing, preserving the downtown charm or finding a financially responsible way to save Howelsen, I also want to make myself as accessible as possible and engage all sectors of our community to make sure that their voices are heard. Lastly, I think it is important to collaborate with both public and private partners to move our community forward. We can do so much more together than we can do alone.