Matt Karzen: Annexation opposers hold Yampa Valley’s middle class hostage
March 11, 2019
If you signed the recent petition regarding the West Steamboat Neighborhoods housing annexation, did you believe you were supporting progress in accessible housing for working families? If so, you were deceived. The Lets Vote Committee has one goal: kill the project. Not that you would know that from the sales pitch of the committee spokesperson.
Introducing the topic to would-be signers, the committee spokesperson began this way, "Are you in favor of affordable housing in Steamboat? Would you sign a petition to get affordable housing on the ballot?" This last sentence was followed by their salesman pointing to the words "West Steamboat Annexation" on a document, as if the petition supported the annexation.
Did they volunteer that Steamboat Springs City Council already approved the annexation? Provide opportunity, as required by law, to read the 140 page annexation before signing the petition? Tell you it includes 2 acres of land donated to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority for approximately 50 low-income apartments? That it provides another 108 deed-restricted homes to locally employed residents, across a variety of income levels, equitably available through a lottery system? That Brynn Grey will donate land for a new public school and over $20 million to taxpayers for infrastructure?
No. Their idea of informing people what they were signing was to bury that information. What their petition did was undo City Council’s approval of all that progress, delaying it for an election closed to everyone financially unable to live inside city limits. What their petition did was delay progress that, by any objective measure, addresses critical needs of the valley's modern working middle class.
Some of these opposers have been pushing their “all or nothing” housing agenda for a decade. Realities change, but they don't — to them it's a game. But, it's no game to the actual working professionals currently in the valley struggling to make a home in 2019. These West Steamboat Neighborhoods opposers hold the valley's entire middle class hostage to enforce their omnipotent wisdom. Their motto: "My progress or no progress."
An important, accessible housing plan with very favorable community terms was approved, ready for execution. But, the opposers got their signatures, tentatively, and now, area affordable housing may face city-only ballot. Council decided this on modern facts, not half-truths and expired abstract ideas. If you signed the petition and now feel you were mislead, I invite you to consider contacting the City Clerk office at 970-871-8248 to withdraw your signature.
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