Diane Brower: Vote ‘no’ on this annexation

Last February, Let’s Vote Steamboat had collected hundreds of signatures to bring the annexation to a vote. Brynn Grey Partners, the annexation developers, contacted us that they’d donate 2 additional acres for affordable housing if we’d stop collecting signatures. 

It was clear to us that 2 more acres for affordable housing was not a good exchange for giving up a community vote on annexation. We countered with a proposal that Brynn Grey donate 10 acres for affordable housing, specifying that this land be used for for-purchase, entry level ($64k-86k)  affordable homes, duplexes not multi-family.

This negotiation created a crisis in our group. Many felt it would be a breach of trust to those who had signed the petition if we stopped collecting signatures. Those in the group who have been trying for over 15 years to promote policies for more affordable housing in our city were doing some soul-searching — a lot of affordable homes could be built on 10 acres. 

Over the next few weeks, we continued to collect signatures, waiting to see if this “deal” was sincere. If we stopped the petition effort, the developer could still withdraw the offer, and we’d have neither 10 acres for affordable housing nor an annexation vote.

As we continued collecting signatures, Brynn Grey stopped negotiating with us and left the deal up the the Yampa Valley Housing Authority. The YVHA discontinued the negotiation. We’ve been told it was because they thought it would be hard to annex 10 acres or because they have no funding to build that kind of affordable homes. 

“No funding” is because our City Councils, for the last 20 years, have refused to do what other ski towns on the Western Slope have been doing, some for decades — set up funding mechanisms to support healthy affordable housing programs.

With more research, it became clear that affordable housing is not the only problem with the annexation. The fiscal risk it may present to the city and to its citizens is a concern, and there is no guarantee of funds from the underfunded Colorado Department of Transportation for traffic issues.

The potential “deal” with Brynn Grey left me wondering: If there was really 10 acres available for actual affordable for-purchase homes, why couldn’t that land have been part of the developer’s original West Steamboat proposal? That might have made a big difference in people’s perception of this development. 

Vote “no” on this annexation.

Diane Brower
Steamboat Springs

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