Oliver Dickhausen: City of Steamboat should switch its view, codes on small housing projects
While two separate camps on the further growth and development of Steamboat Springs seem to be emerging, I can not help to think that a crucial middle path that seems to be left out of discussion.
If every solution to our community’s tight and unaffordable housing market comes in the form of large, costly real estate developments (both privately and publicly), or government-funded affordable housing, and yet the demand is still not being met. I think the city should focus on a new avenue in housing development. I’m not here to argue that the types of projects noted above don’t have a place, but I believe the much simpler option is being ignored.
The current development model of allowing large scale projects is certainly worrying to many who fear development as a threat to our high quality of life, and many people really just don’t receive a large financial increase due to further development.
We are fortunate to live in a community of very well educated and enterprising individuals, either owning their own homes and lots within Steamboat or trying to reach the high threshold to become one themselves. We should be focusing on allowing those within our community to capitalize on the current housing market by adjusting city codes and zoning and proactively encouraging property owners to partake in their own small scale housing projects. House-to-apartment conversions, granny homes, small homes, studios above garages, etc. — these projects can be done without the need for intensive, and somewhat speculatory, infrastructure investment and won’t require the need for outside investors or real estate firms.
This new housing shift can allow a proliferation of organic real estate development that will add to the public wealth of the community with little need for extra infrastructure or development but also adding to the tax base. It will allow our citizens to use capital and their own ingenuity to create financial gains for themselves and their families, either by renting or selling projects. The young family that needs extra income or the near retiree who is concerned about retirement can have the freedom to tap into the extremely strapped local housing market.
We can bypass the need for intensive community debates and meetings, and the city should switch its view of small scale housing development from bureaucratic to proactive, because the citizens of this town deserve to be able to invest in the public gains of their communities and allowing growth to be seen more as an opportunity than a burden on our public resources and quality of life.
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