A challenger emerges in race for Steamboat Springs City Council seat
August 29, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A local carpenter who has felt the impacts of this city's affordable housing woes is running for a seat on the Steamboat Springs City Council.
Peter Arnold filed for the at-large seat before Monday's application deadline.
He will face incumbent Scott Ford in the only contested council race in the November election.
"I'm just trying to be more involved and bring a different perspective to the council," Arnold said. "There's a lot of discussion about certain issues (on council), but I don't see a lot of action."
Arnold predicted it would be a challenge to unseat councilman Ford, an economic analyst who is finishing his first four-year term on council.
"Scott has been at this a long time, and numbers are his game. He's a formidable opponent," Arnold said. "I have a lot of respect for Scott."
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Arnold, a carpenter who also has a photography business, first moved to Steamboat in 2002.
He has officiated hockey games for many years while also holding a range of jobs, including working as a commercial truck driver.
Arnold left the city for some time during the economic recession but moved back in August 2013.
More recently, he has participated in Steamboat's City 101 program and served on the city's board of adjustment.
Arnold said housing is one of the issues he wants to address on the council.
One area of the housing discussion he's specifically interested in bringing up is the possibility of curtailing the number of short-term rental properties that are removing some long-term rental inventory for the city's workers and residents.
"I'd like to explore the possibility of shutting down Airbnbs and VRBOs in residential neighborhoods and try to get long-term rental inventory back on the market," Arnold said.
Arnold said promoting the idea might cost him the election. But he said the rise of vacation rentals from the outside companies such as Airbnb is taking away from this community.
The current council entertained the idea of imposing an additional tax on Airbnb and other short-term vacation rentals but passed over the idea in part because of legal hurdles that would be associated with taking the action.
Arnold said he himself experienced housing woes in Steamboat when he was living in Steamboat II in 2007.
When homeowners found it harder to pay for their mortgages, Arnold said many raised their rents.
"For the carpenters and other blue collar workforce members like myself, it was very difficult to find affordable housing," he said.
The race between Arnold and Ford will be the only contested council election this fall because all of the other races garnered only one candidate per seat.
Assuming their petitions to get on the ballot were turned in with enough valid signatures, incumbents Kathi Meyer and Lisel Petis will stay on the council.
And in District 3, former councilwoman Sonja Macys will return to the dais and replace outgoing councilman Walter Magill, who is term limited.
When Magill steps down in November, he will have served on the council for a decade.