John Spezia: City should keep inclusionary zoning ordinance in place |

John Spezia: City should keep inclusionary zoning ordinance in place

Repeal and replace is the topic for the Steamboat Springs City Council meeting to replace the once productive inclusionary zoning ordinance with another approach that will be the equivalent in the development of for-sale, affordable housing projects.

The city planning staff pointed out that the two major barriers to affordable housing was cost of land and cost of building — labor and materials — which translates into the need for land or large amounts of money to fund these projects.

The past affordable housing incentive concessions for developers have failed. The inclusionary zoning ordinance included an affordable housing matrix of incentive concessions since 2006 for different levels of affordable housing. When the local developers had the choice between using the housing concession matrix and the five alternatives they choose the pay-in-lieu option.  

The city planning director has gone out to local and Colorado developers with these incentives, and the developers have told us that the incentives are not enough to surmount the costs to build affordable housing.

The original inclusionary zoning generated about $1 million over its short life. If it had stayed in place and all projects proposed had been completed, it would have generated $3.4 million by 2013. 

If the inclusionary zoning had remained in place since its inception, recession or no recession, it would have generated double digit millions of dollars through 2016 based on multi-unit building permits given out by the Routt County Building Department.

Many other communities, developers and elected officials in western Colorado have used inclusionary zoning and linkage successfully to provide affordable housing for their employees and have a successful and thriving local economy. They originally tried to use bedroom communities to solve the affordable housing problem but they created affordable housing problems in those bedroom communities as well.  That is where inclusionary zoning, linkage and impact fees became one of the tools to solve those problems.

So when you think of solutions on Tuesday, money and land costs have to be a big part of that tool box as the concession incentives are just nibbling at the edges of the problem. The community would not be happy with a replacement that falls short of the real need for our professional, public servants who serve the vital needs of our community.

If you too have concerns you can attend the City Council session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct 9 or send your comments to the City Council at

John Spezia 

Steamboat Springs         

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