Steve Lewis

Steve Lewis 1 week, 5 days ago on Steamboat Springs City Manager: Community engagement top priority through 2017

Scott, I don't see much use in criticizing developers. With good city decisions bad development doesn't happen. Maximizing return on investment is understandable. Developers typically push for more. Its understandable. I might do the same. Bad development requires the blessing of the city.

The city manager wants city staff to be more accommodating to development. He obviously has no interest in citizens' recent complaints about the variance goodies these developers are getting from the city. This new "community engagement" falls short even in the article announcing it.

River View is removed a bit from the downtown character. Not on Lincoln and also a good bit lower than Lincoln. In my view the approvals on Lincoln and the west end of Yampa have more impact on downtown character.


Steve Lewis 1 week, 6 days ago on Steamboat Springs City Manager: Community engagement top priority through 2017

Perhaps. If the past has shown us anything, it is the purchasing power of second home buyers in our market. So yes, 1125 Lincoln as "workforce housing" is eventually a myth. We will see its units merging into luxury second homes.

But I doubt "affordable" or "workforce housing" will matter much going forward. In this part of the cycle, square foot value is all that matters. Just watch the next approvals.

I'll be curious to see the size of River View. They vacated their streets years ago, so those FAR calcs may be inflated on larger parcel areas.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks ago on Steamboat Springs City Manager: Community engagement top priority through 2017

That is the correct analogy. What is it about this town, no boom is big enough? Lowering standards to squeeze more construction into an already heated economy is the dumbest kind of growth. Reading Suiter's comments, I sympathize with a city planner who agrees with the unanimous public commentary that we should adhere to our codes.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 1 day ago on Steamboat Springs City Manager: Community engagement top priority through 2017

"... there are people on the city staff who are anti-development.”

I disagree with the city manager. Can anyone recall when this city has said no to a development application?

His concern is that multiple high level people have complained to him about planning obstacles? I am only able to see a lawsuit and regular letters published with complaints that planning is allowing too many excessive size and other variances to our city code. Might these high level people come forward and make their case to the public? That would be the true meaning of "community engagement".


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 4 days ago on Steamboat Springs Parks & Rec group would forgive tax on food for 12.5 mills of property tax, $3 million in new taxes

There is another problem with switching to property taxes:

The original Tax Policy Advisory Board, 2004, compared city sales tax revenues over time with the alternative revenues the city might have seen with property taxes. Sales tax revenues grew more than property tax revenues would have over the same timeframe. This committee should review that comparison anew, they may see their proposal to switch back to property taxes may actually diminish future city revenue.


Steve Lewis 2 weeks, 4 days ago on Steamboat Springs Parks & Rec group would forgive tax on food for 12.5 mills of property tax, $3 million in new taxes

The Gallagher Amendment is the constitutional amendment referred to above. This old article explains the Gallagher problem:

"Colorado – Unintended Consequences of the Gallagher Amendment

When colorado voters approved the gallagher amendment in 1982, the goal Was to protect homeowners from skyrocketing property taxes. However... there have also been some unintended consequences. Gallagher has increased the tax burden on commercial and industrial property owners and officials fear the situation may get worse...

The Gallagher Amendment divides the state’s total property tax burden between residential and nonresidential property. It requires that 45% of the total amount of state property tax come from residential property and 55% come from commercial/ industrial property. Further, the Amendment mandates that the assessment ratio for commercial/ industrial property be fixed at 29%. The residential ratio, on the other hand, is adjusted annually to hold the 45/55 split constant.

In 1982, the first year of Gallagher, the residential property assessment ratio was 21% and the nonresidential property assessment ratio was 29%. The rapid escalation in residential property values, combined with the growth boom of the 1990’s, led to the 45% share of property tax collected from residential properties being dispersed across more and more residences that were worth more and more money. In order to maintain the 45/55 split, the residential property assessment ratio has dropped to the current level of 7.96%. As a result, a million dollars worth of commercial property has a 2010 assessed value of $290,000 while a million dollars worth of residential property has an assessed value of $79,600.

The Everitt Real Estate Center at CSU released a discussion paper ... that explores the ramifications of the Gallagher Amendment on the state’s economy. The report entitled, Gallagher Amendment Revisited: What’s Changed for Residential and Commercial Real Estate and Why It’s Important, says Colorado’s commercial property taxes are generally higher than other states nearby based on several benchmarks. The results include:

•Colorado offce property owners pay more tax per square foot to asking rent ratio distributions than owners in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico

•Office owners in Colorado also pay higher property taxes as a percent of total income than their counterparts in Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Washington and California

The findings suggest that as property taxes continue to shift more heavily onto office and other commercial and industrial property, it’s creating a negative impact on Colorado’s competitiveness with other Western states.

In addition, expected residential devaluations for many heavily populated or second- home market counties impacted by the housing crisis may place an even higher tax burden on Colorado business properties in the years to come."


Steve Lewis 1 month ago on In light of the ongoing lawsuit, do you think City Council should reconsider its approval of several controversial variances relating to the proposed apartment complex development planned at 1125 Lincoln Ave.?

Yes, its a stupid proposition. City approval of a permit to develop is a binding contract that cannot be rescinded without cause. The Pilot is crafty, good ethics make you look like a project supporter.

"Do you think the City was wrong to approve the building with all of its variances in the first place?"

That poll would be a resounding YES!


Steve Lewis 1 month, 1 week ago on Our view: The numbers don't lie

I agree. The city should be commended for the sidewalk and lighting projects throughout the downtown. For my dollar, the smartest project the city has done in many years. The choice to use 75% owner assessments over a TIF was important and fair. Our block on Oak St with lighted sidewalks will be a significant improvement for our customers.

Thank you Steamboat. Well done.