Housing focus is on feasible projects
Steamboat Springs — Key players in the renewed effort to move forward on creating more housing supply in the Yampa Valley agreed with the Routt County Board of Commissioners Aug. 30 that it will be important for the Community Housing Steering Committee to be able to propose concrete, achievable projects when they make their recommendations sometime in December.
“Should we just do one thing next year — pick one thing and do it really well?” Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Cari Hermacinski asked. “Sometimes, I think our big efforts in the community end up (not accomplishing anything). Maybe we need to choose one small thing and get it across the finish line.”
Yampa Valley Housing Authority Executive Jason Peasley, presenting in in the absence of steering committee chairman Dan Pirrallo, affirmed Hermacinski’s suggestion.
“Yes, that’s what we are doing between now and when we present our recommendation,” Peasley said. “It will be the steering committee’s job to evaluate all of these opportunities. The idea of creating achievable goals is very near and dear to the steering committee.”
City Councilwoman Kathi Meyer, who also sits on the board of the housing authority, said it’s important that the process lead to actions that result in measurable progress rather than just concluding, “we need more affordable housing.”
“We’re having interesting discussion about what is achievable,” Meyer said. “We don’t want a plan that just sits on the shelf.”
Steering committee member Karen Goedert, who is leading the working group focusing on the increasing supply of housing for seasonal workers, is uncovering many challenges that are particular to that segment of the housing market.
At the same time, she said it may turn out that the broader community won’t be able to stimulate creation of new housing supply every year.
“Maybe it’s three years,” Meyer said. “We need short-term, medium-term and long-term solutions.”
Commissioner Tim Corrigan ventured that if the broader community needs 300 new housing units annually, that translates to 3,000 in a decade, and he wondered out loud if it might not be helpful to envision how those units might be spread among neighborhoods and towns in the county.
Peasley assured him that the working groups are looking beyond Steamboat.
“We’ve done our best to engage outlying communities and county staff,” he said. “It’s not all infill in Steamboat, Hayden or Oak Creek.”
Hermacinski observed that one of Routt County’s biggest strengths is its supply of buildable land on the valley floor.
“We’re not in a box canyon (like Telluride),” she said. “We have a lot of land on transportation corridors going west and north. It feels like the city needs to take one more stab at annexation.”
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