Chatting with Councilman Towny Anderson
Towny Anderson is a member of the Steamboat Springs City Council who was elected in November 2005. He sat down Friday for a chat with readers on steamboatpilot.com
Below are some of the questions and answers from that chat:
Q: You have expressed your concerns about the fairness of the current policy of automatic liquor license suspensions for first time offenders – even vendors who are trying very hard to avoid non-compliance. Is making the punishment for violators more fair, whether though safe harbor or another change in policy, an issue you feel strongly enough about to stand up for, in support of our service community? What would you like to see happen with this issue?
Anderson: Yes, I have advocated for a safe harbor for responsible business owners, and I have offered a standard for certification based on your input as well as others. We do not have jurisdiction over the violators – the persons who sold to a minor. That is a matter for the police and courts. We only have jurisdiction over the business owner per state statutes. I will certainly continue to advocate for the safe harbor – to stand up for it – because I believe that with the proper certification, it will actually enhance and improve our efforts to eliminate sales to minors.
Q: How is the city progressing with its recreation center survey? What are the chances that a proposal will go to the ballot?
Anderson: The survey was conducted this past week, and we are supposed to see the results before our Tuesday Council meeting. Based on what I have heard, I will be quite surprised if the survey indicates that it would be wise to go to a ballot this fall.
Q: Kevin Kaminski said before finalizing his decision to resign, he “reached an agreement” with other council members that his replacement will be someone who shares his pro-business points of view. Can you talk about that agreement, and how it will factor into the selection of a new council member?
Anderson: Kevin spoke with all of his fellow council members and it was clear that his concern in resigning was his replacement. There is a process for soliciting interested citizens, which is conducted through our City Clerk’s office. I am confident that a candidate will step forward who is balanced, fair, and representative of Kevin’s interests. What distinguished Kevin was his business voice with a deep, even personal understanding of the importance of affordable workforce housing to his business success.
Q: The Airport Steering Committee got off to a cantankerous start and some question if the committee is even needed. After all, the FAA basically has said the city can’t afford to close the Steamboat Airport. Do you think we should continue with the committee and $100,000 alternative uses study? Why or why not?
Anderson: This deserves a thoughtful answer, and I will do my best in the limited time. Yes, it is worth continuing. Why? Because the committee has self-organized into a productive group of folks with views that run the full spectrum from passionate advocates for the airport and passionate advocates against the airport. The common ground is a quest for and interest in good, credible data. The measure of the committee’s success will be their trust in the data that comes forth and the findings and conclusions that come from that data. Given the amount of misinformation that is out there and the continuing controversy over the role that the airport plays (or doesn’t play) in our community’s economy, this money will be well spent if we can achieve the outcome described above. I think all the committee members would agree with this view.
Q: Some would describe you as the swing vote on the council between Strong, Antonucci and Kaminski on one side and Brenner, Dellinger and Ivancie on the other. Is that a fair description?
Anderson: It’s a fair description, I suppose, given the recent history of our Councils. I like to think that I come well prepared, I deliberate thoughtfully and my decision-making is driven by doing what is right and fair for the greatest number of people. There is no question that my interests are rooted in the community and that investments in our community will bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people. As you have seen, I am not the only Council member who has swung decisions one way or another.
Q: Talk about the affordable housing requirement and the payment in lieu option. It seems like the payment in lieu formula isn’t fair – there isn’t enough money to cover the cost to create the housing. How is this supposed to work? It’s too easy for the developer, don’t you think?
Anderson: Payment in lieu is widely misunderstood and maligned as a result. Payment in lieu is the difference between what a qualified purchaser of affordable housing can pay for a housing unit and what the market value of that unit is – what it would sell for in the open marketplace. There is a formula that is used to calculate this amount and it is adjusted yearly to reflect changes in land and construction costs – and market appreciation.
This number is controversial because it seems to be too low, particularly when applied to projects that will sell at the top of the market. The value of payment in lieu is its application to the purchase of land – especially if we are able to purchase the land at net present value. In this case, payment in lieu could leverage land that could support more units of affordable housing (high density zoning) than what the developer owed according to the inclusionary zoning ordinance. The obstacle in this community is the availability of land, particularly south of downtown. Thus, we have our present conundrum – a loud cry for affordable housing on site, and a distrust of payment in lieu.
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In an effort to make Steamboat Springs Transit buses safer and more accessible, solar-powered lighting in bus shelters and a GPS-triggered automatic voice system that will announce stops in English and Spanish are being implemented.