Housing ordinance returns to Steamboat City Council | SteamboatToday.com

Housing ordinance returns to Steamboat City Council

Steamboat City Council again to consider revised version

— City Council will take another crack tonight at a final vote on a revised community housing ordinance that already has been simmering on the stove for nine months.

Council President Cari Hermacinski thinks the discussion can be boiled down to one significant change in the ordinance. She also thinks it's time for a vote.

"How many times have we tabled this?" Hermacinski asked Monday. "It's been postponed so many times since Aug. 15. I don't want to force people into a vote, but one of (city Planning and Community Development Director) Tom Leeson's concerns has been that it's been postponed so long without a substantive discussion you lose the momentum. You lose your place."

Hermacinski said she thinks the single substantive change in the ordinance is a provision that would allow developers to achieve a 50/50 blend of paying a cash fee in lieu and imposing a real estate transfer fee on all market-rate transactions within their projects.

The intent is to balance immediate needs with long-term revenue proposals, and Hermacinski said she hopes to focus tonight's discussion on that provision. If other council members feel strongly about other details of the plan, she said she intends to build a list and tackle those individually.

However, Councilman Kenny Reisman said he'll be more interested tonight in a scheduled meeting with members of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and an opportunity to step back and take a philosophical look at the next step in the community's housing needs.

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"I have broader questions about affordable housing," Reisman said. "I'm pretty eager to hear from the Housing Authority. I'd like to see us engage in a discussion on affordable housing in general."

Reisman is one of the newer members on City Council who took his seat in November.

The city's original inclusionary zoning ordinance required developers to provide affordable housing based on the size of their development, and demanded they create more deed-restricted affordable housing units if built off-site. Revisions were discussed by the previous City Council on May 12, 2009, and city staff was directed to present a draft ordinance for first reading and a preliminary vote.

Council, which had been preoccupied all summer with the Steamboat 700 annexation ordinance, asked for more revisions on July 21 and again Nov. 17 (after a newly elected council had been seated).

Perhaps not coincidentally, Councilman Jon Quinn said Monday he may look differently upon the changes to the ordinance next month after he knows the outcome of a public vote on the annexation of Steamboat 700. The development of Steamboat 700 could someday result in the creation of 2,000 new homes on the city's west side.

"It seems 700 is the lynch pin," Quinn said. "Without some resolution to annexation, it's hard to think of making housing policy decisions."

Quinn added that he thinks it is important to have the discussion about the latest draft of the community housing ordinance, but with City Council attorney Tony Lettunich and staff attorney Dan Foote unavailable to answer specific questions, the matter could be headed to another tabling motion. Hermacinski said Lettunich thoroughly briefed City Manager Jon Roberts on the documents and Roberts feels prepared to address specific questions from council.

The ordinance being considered for a final vote tonight calls on developers of all projects that create three or more new homes to also contribute toward the creation of deed-restricted community housing for sale or rent to income-eligible households. The amount of housing that would be required would be based on a sliding scale adjusting with the gross floor area of the new market-rate homes.

Under the new ordinance, developers could comply in a variety of ways, including developing units on the site of their project, developing community housing at a separate site, dedicating lots on their project or at another site, dedicating land to the city, or paying a fee in lieu of providing housing or land.

The new ordinance rewrites previous requirements that developers who choose to meet their community housing obligation off site be required to create more housing than they would have on their project site.

The option of paying a combined fee in lieu and also committing to a voluntary real estate transfer fee specifies when the fee in lieu would be collected. The transfer fee would amount to 0.2 percent of the gross sales price on each and every sale in the development beginning with the first sale by the developer.

The payment of the fees in lieu, whether the 100 percent or 50 percent option, would be due upon the sale of the first 15 percent of the units in the development.

The ordinance also provides for an exit strategy for developers who have provided community housing that does not sell within a year after it is made available for contract and a certificate of occupancy is issued.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 5:45 p.m. today in Centennial Hall, 124 10th St. Council members will first convene at 5 p.m. as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority and at 5:40 p.m. as the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Agenda: Includes a conversation with the Yampa Valley Housing Authority about its annual budget and down payment assistance program; and a discussion and possible final vote on a revised Community Housing Ordinance.

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