Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis 59 minutes ago on City Council discusses potential impact of large housing proposal in west Steamboat Springs

The city could consider another approach to the west area - insist on smaller applications. In my view this proposal's 30 years of growth in one bite is a mistake.

When SB700 came forward in 2007, some city planning commissioners would have preferred a smaller annexation. City staff said they had requested SB700 pair down their application to something smaller and were turned down.

For my part, I thought smaller pieces would allow course changes to meet the realities of our future. That seemed a better approach than swallowing 2200 units and a 40 year growth plan in one bite. We later saw the public had a problem with the size of SB700. That debate seemed about confidence in the significant and distant obligations of water and other infrastructure being contracted for.

Economic confidence at that time was epic. But turned with the recession to become a major factor in the rejection of SB700. Economic confidence today suggests we limit our obligations to a shorter term.

Steamboat Springs once had a clear view of where it was headed. The first area plan gave us that. Today we seem to lack a rudder. Would we know a good annexation proposal if we saw it?


Steve Lewis 5 days ago on City planners reviewing several new development projects

Dimensional standards define the future character of a city. Given these no longer apply in Steamboat, the town's future character is anyone's guess. Fortunately Riverview seems to understand character better than our planners, proposing to voluntarily cap their site's densities near current standards.


Steve Lewis 6 days, 1 hour ago on City planners reviewing several new development projects

“Everybody is recalibrating in response to the changed market,” Gibbs said. More true, everyone is recalibrating after the city approval of the huge building variances at 1125 Lincoln.

As 1125 Lincoln went through last Spring, I complained in writing to the city planning director and city council that the 8 variances being supported by staff indicated our codes were obsolete and should be cured a.s.a.p. That they should fix our codes rather than ignore them. The planning director's email response was that the rewrite was due in 2017 and there was no reason to rush, the one or two like 1225 Lincoln "would inform the revisions". Councilor Jason Lacy echoed this attitude in another email.

There are no rules? This is very disappointing and unprofessional city management.


Steve Lewis 1 week, 5 days ago on Letter to the editor: Wrong project, wrong location

Do these signors realize council couldn't reverse this approval even if it wanted to? The owner has been granted the rights to all those variances at this point, and he isn't likely to let go of such a windfall. The extra density itself was an 80% increase in square feet allowed, making his property far more valuable than it was when he bought it. Each of the other variances also added to his land's value.

Something is probably wrong when city planners and council can significantly increase the value of a downtown property. This becomes a definite wrong when they do so by ignoring rules citizens believe should be followed. Unfortunately there will be more of these for this council to approve. Developers know this is the council and this is the planning department to get their variance windfalls vested. The window will close the day one of these is built. Huge on paper in the planning department is one thing. Huge standing in front of everyone on Lincoln is another.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 2 days ago on Our view: Un-Convention-al

I believe this is good for Steamboat. The shift into timeshares is a significant market change and we should expect other properties to consider that. So this is not entirely about losing large conventions. Either event means changes for the Steamboat economy.

Higher occupancy rates help every business trying to run a year round operation. Converting seasonal employees into full time employees will always be a good thing for a community. And who wants to run a restaurant 9 months out of 12? Housing strains are reduced when our seasonal peaks and lulls are smoothed.

I agree with Scott, this is a step toward the free market. It makes us stronger in the long run. Rather than Scott's comparison to communism, I see one business model beating another business model. But it is accurate to say the new model is a step away from "central planning". Time shares involve many more independent buyers in the Sheraton equation than convention packages did.

Packaging conventions usually means packaging travel as well. Time share users solving more diverse travel needs on their own will foster alternative travel strategies beside an airline program destined for future cost challenges. No one knows more about those challenges than the Sheraton, with their longstanding seat in airline negotiations.

City and County tax revenues may take a hit. The LMD airline guarantee program revenues may take a bigger hit. But this is a step toward a more diverse and year round economy in Steamboat.


Steve Lewis 4 weeks, 1 day ago on Our view: Housing demand outpacing supply

Boom cycles cause our most severe housing problems. Some years construction is 20-30% of our economy. Other years it is 5-10% of our economy. That's a huge ebb and flow of workers and housing demand. Wages won't change that cycle.


Steve Lewis 4 weeks, 1 day ago on Our view: Housing demand outpacing supply

The free market would create a sufficient housing solution? Not when we need it. The local boom in construction from 2003-2007 created none and showed no signs of doing so as we looked forward. The housing need grew larger and larger. Sure, in a nearly balanced supply/demand situation it does make sense that rent control affects new investment. A marginal factor though, when you are creating so few controlled units.

Some of the above argument holds government responsible for regulation sought by the people. The Urban Growth Boundary is the single most detrimental regulation when it comes to creating affordable housing for Steamboat Springs. That is not government anymore than its citizens.

The 35 acre minimum for a home in unincorporated rural Colorado is also counterproductive. Reverse these two regulations and Steamboat as we know it would not exist. Is that what you want?


Steve Lewis 1 month ago on Routt County revisits housing crunch, this time with the matrix on its side

Telluride. Aspen. Breckenridge. Crested Butte.

And Steamboat Springs. The deed restricted homes at Fox Creek have served the community well.

In the long term these programs eventually return the investment made. What you don't seem willing to recognize is the added benefit in human capital these programs deliver. These people we help to live in Steamboat are more valuable to us than the mortgage they pay.


Steve Lewis 1 month ago on Routt County revisits housing crunch, this time with the matrix on its side

Scott, consider that all of us aren't after employees. I just like more young families living in our town. Your Oak Creek investment does better if workers have to commute. My Steamboat investment does better when housing is tight here. But I won't argue against this effort because its success means a Steamboat with more young folks. Can't slow the old folks bidding up our housing, but we can try to help the young ones. I hope they come up with some good ideas.

I'll agree with John. We were the last resort to begin this effort. We move slowly, miss the cycles, pay more and get less. Many units, such as those in Howelson Place, lost their deed restrictions during the recession because few were buying at that point and financing from banks was next to impossible. Today those units would be part of the solution. This next effort would be wise to have a few banks ready to support the product further into in a downtown.

Perhaps economic cycles trigger different pieces of effort, such as some growth or permit amount activates the suspended IZ ordinance. I'm not saying IZ is the best method. Just saying economic triggers are a way to help align the effort with the economy and avoid the need for lengthy debate at each step. When the economy dips to slow, have $$ to spend in the downturn. It will provide jobs at the best time. The conversation itself is good but always throws us behind the curve. It took 3 councils talking about the need before we took our first steps in 2006.


Steve Lewis 2 months, 1 week ago on City councilman says decision to call dibs on concert tickets, VIP passes was 'boneheaded'

From the first article on this council decision, this storyline troubles me. The council choice was wrong, and ripe fruit for the ensuing criticism. But I cannot recall Pilot journalism like this. Two council members getting a series of critical articles is new. The first article was more critical than most. Now with public sentiment heavily against the privileges taken, the Pilot is continues to single out two on council for particular blame?