Matt Karzen: Support working families by not signing annexation petition
After years of analysis and negotiation, the West Steamboat Neighborhood project and annexation approved by our elected council is a balanced, thoughtful step forward on our accessible housing crisis. As a working professional with a family, currently in a rental, I followed the WSN annexation process closely.
First, the lack of housing for working families causes tangible harm, now. It hurts our ability to attract and keep qualified, committed professionals working and living here.
Just ask our leaders in police/EMS/fire, education and the Young Professionals Network. Absent independent wealth, no firefighter/medic, nurse or county clerk, police officer, teacher or young business person has a path to success here that includes laying roots in a home and building a family. Without these committed professionals, we face not only a lack of quality essential services and a void of young talent, but an irreversible shift in community identity.
Second, the WSN model from Brynn Grey is a proven success. Their neighborhoods in Summit County are thriving with working families. This project addresses the need for accessible housing for working families in a smart way – hence the awards for Brynn Grey in smart growth, and their success in Summit County.
Third, there are families currently living and working in Routt County who will benefit from this, indeed who are depending on it. We should embrace the working families in the county, not drive them out.
A city ballot on this issue effectively disenfranchises every working person and family that currently lives outside city limits due to housing costs: What about their voices?
Lastly, this developer is providing huge tangible benefits to city residents, negotiated by our council, including donated land to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority for lower-income apartments, donated land to Steamboat Springs School District for a school, and more than $20 million in contributions to city funds.
Working families, those who must work to live, represent the backbone of any healthy, sustainable, municipality. Among other things, they educate our children, protect and save our lives and contribute to vibrant entrepreneurship in our community.
Beyond finding homes for our families, I believe we have a duty, as current residents, to leave this place vibrant and functional for our hard-working younger neighbors and those who come after us. West Steamboat Neighborhood is a big step in that direction, and I hope you will join me in not signing any petition intended to delay or derail this project.
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