Opinion: Vote ‘no’ on annexation of West Steamboat Neighborhoods | SteamboatToday.com

Opinion: Vote ‘no’ on annexation of West Steamboat Neighborhoods

Let’s Vote agrees that we need more housing that is financially attainable for our work force.

It was recently reported that more than half of the people who work here don’t live here, and 47% of owners or renters are paying more than 30% of their income for housing.

Annexation is a big deal for the community. It is like the adoption of a child because it puts many of the responsibilities on the “parent” — in this case the city.

Our community development code sets this criteria for approving an annexation: “The advantages of the proposed annexation substantially outweigh the disadvantages  to the community or neighborhood.”.

Advantages:   

• 400 additional housing units on the market, not counting secondary units.

Disadvantages of the annexation agreement:

  1. Noncompliance:
  • City Council did not require West Steamboat Neighborhoods to comply with the affordable housing stipulations in the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan.
  • This annexation shifts the $10 million cost of building low-income units on the 2 acres of land from the developer to the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
  • The 2 acres “donated” to the Housing Authority has no building schedule for completion any time soon. 

2. Deed-restricted “affordable housing”

  • The deed-restricted units consist of 23 single family homes and 85 deed-restricted, multi-family units that have no guaranteed prices — only targets.
  • The developer can focus on building all the market-rate homes within the first 10 years once one deed-restricted unit is built and build most of the deed-restricted units in the last part of the 10-year period.

3. Lax deed restrictions

  • Deed restrictions should be designed to price a home so it is affordable to a targeted family income, where the mortgage payment is no more than 30% of income. These are not.
  • West Steamboat Neighborhoods places no income or asset limits on deed-restricted units — this will make it more difficult for those with less resources to buy a deed-restricted unit.
  • Those who already own a house, have rental property, have a substantial income will be competing with families who have never owned a home.

4. Economic risk

  • West Steamboat Neighborhoods will only pay $584,000 up front for water and transportation “firming funds.”
  • Roughly $8 million in revenues from firming funds paid by the home buyers would depend on the sale of market rate homes over 20 years. The amount and timing of revenues are uncertain. 
  • If the real estate transfer assessment for city services proves invalid how does West Steamboat Neighborhoods plan to pay $2,209,481?
  • There is no guarantee of Colorado Department of Transportation grants for the $30 million in highway upgrades because CDOT is underfunded — the result: the community pays or traffic congestion gets even worse.
  • The inadequacy of water supply in worst-case scenarios will impact the city financially.

5. Growth and planning

The Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan was updated in 2006. A review of our community plan is long overdue. We need to assess if the plans are guiding the decisions of our elected officials as the citizens envisioned. Do these community plans need to play a bigger part in the city’s decisions in the future rather than being used as guiding documents?

Let’s demand an annexation agreement that benefits the community.

This op-ed was submitted by the Let’s Vote Steamboat Committee.


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