Joella West: Moving forward with smart approaches
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
This election will determine how it feels to live here for decades to come. Will your favorite restaurant be open at half capacity or open at all? Will you be able to go to your job, or will you need to stay home to take care of your toddler? Will you be commuting to work from Hayden or Craig because your Steamboat Springs apartment has become a short-term rental?
We live today with the good and the maybe not-so-good decisions made by past city councils. Will this election enable our community to move forward with smart approaches to the issues, or it will leave us revisiting how it used to be and trying to apply yesterday’s solutions to today’s problems?
I’m worried about people who don’t vote. If you think that council is controlled by special interests or doesn’t address your concerns, find candidates who you think will be better and vote! Your vote for what will be a new majority on council sends a clear message. The absence of a vote sends no message at all. Choose four candidates — one from each district and one at-large — who you think not only have the best ideas but also can work together with one another and with Robin Crossan, Heather Sloop and Michael Buccino to make this council the best that it can be.
Third time must be a charm for the Brown Ranch. Council cannot be cavalier about this. “Free land” doesn’t solve our housing crisis. And we can’t just pick up where we left off in 2010 (annexation defeated by voters) or in 2020 (land purchase contract did not close). It offers us the opportunity for an intelligent solution to affordable and accessible housing and, therefore, the ability to grow our diverse community. But we can’t do this alone. We need to actively support Yampa Valley Housing Authority and partner with Routt County.
The short-term rentals problem has been building while we’ve been sleeping. Eventually, the noise woke us up (intentional humor), and now we are playing catch-up. Council has begun the process, and I support fact-finding before making decisions. Once the data is available, council must act promptly with the best possible combination of licensing, taxing and intelligent overlay zones.
Child care: I know, I’ve been there. Our local problem is a manifestation of our country’s longstanding lack of will to devote assets on a national level to a problem that affects primarily women. And now it’s a political issue (sigh). Write to your state and national representatives. I will. And I will join with other council members to partner with Routt County in supporting First Impressions in every way possible so that we can put the most effective patches on this at the local level. If we can at least improve the current situation, perhaps we will see the return to work of some of our missing workers.
On Day 1, I would propose formation of a council subcommittee on Regional Transit Authority, with a directive to initiate a working relationship with Routt County, so that we can broaden availability of access from Oak Creek to Craig. What issues would an RTA address? Affordable housing? Check. Worker shortage? Check. Traffic reduction? Check. Climate change? Check. Not the solution to all these issues but one action that addresses multiple priorities while a city and county partnership can take advantage of federal and state funding.
There’s much more to do. To find out where I stand on other concerns, go to my website, JoellaWestForCouncil.com.
Joella West is a candidate for Steamboat Springs City Council District 2.
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