Steve Lewis: Lock in standards
November 15, 2009
The Let's Vote group deserves our respect for standing up personally for what they believe. The principle exercised in the successful petition for a public vote on the Steamboat 700 annexation is a cornerstone of our basic rights. The forthcoming debate should be respectful and civil.
Those of you who scold opponents of Steamboat 700 for unwittingly jeopardizing attainable housing in Steamboat Springs need to pay closer attention. I agree with you that such attainable (free-market) housing would be the main point of annexing, but there may be little or no attainability in Steamboat 700. By your own standard, it could be that you, too, might choose to vote against Steamboat 700. The Oct. 13 draft of the annexation agreement gave you fair warning.
Steamboat 700 has promised many times that part of their free-market product will bear prices that match up with our workers' financial capabilities. They've said this is a completely natural market for their product. Yet when pressed to put that in writing (for the least expensive 30 percent of their 1,600 free-market units) in the Oct. 13 draft, the Steamboat 700 promise evaporated and became instead: We will offer attainable prices on those homes for only 120 days.
How can Steamboat 700 say our work force is their natural market and at the same time limit our workers' buying opportunity to 120 days? Consider those words from Steamboat 700 as fair warning. Down the road, we could be shocked by how few of our workers are able to afford free-market homes within this annexation.
On Oct. 13, City Council correctly rejected that 120-day time frame as it adopted the annexation agreement. But the actual "attainability program" that will deliver the annexation's attainability promise is yet to be written. This is one unfortunate result of annexing with a deadline, as we did. Some time limit on attainable prices, or other obstacles, may return in the writing of the program, making work force attainability just an illusion. If it is your hope that our local work force will find homes in this annexation, you will have a pressing interest in that program's promise.
It follows that the city's work on this annexation is incomplete. I urge City Council to have that attainability program written before the Steamboat 700 ballot occurs. Otherwise, voters cannot know whether Steamboat 700 will deliver what many of us hope for — homes for our workers.