Richard Levy: Trickle-down housing
Steamboat Springs City Council is closing in on final agreements with Brynn Grey for their annexation of the West Steamboat Neighborhoods. One of the key components for the community to accept an annexation proposal is the quality and quantity of affordable housing. On Aug. 22, council seemed satisfied with the outline of a pre-annexation agreement with Brynn Grey.
The West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was created to outline the requirements for annexation. Those requirements include a mix of housing types to accommodate residents making 80 percent or less of annual median income. The current Brynn Grey annexation proposal of 438 units would need 87 affordable units or its “equivalent.”
The Brynn Grey proposal is so far out of compliance, it’s led the city’s attorney, Dan Foote, to say, “If council wants to proceed and approve this application and this project, we should consider revising the existing code revisions that require the project is consistent with the affordability requirements in the West of Steamboat Area Plan.”
The idea is that we create a vision and ask a developer to meet that vision. Instead City Council is saying that it’s OK for a developer to come in with any application and council is going to change our rules to fit their proposal.
The following are some of Brynn Grey’s ideas that don’t match The West of Steamboat Area Plan:
• The for-purchase units being offered have “target prices” as high as $446,000. Some units are priced reasonably. There is no guarantee that these units will even sell at the “target price.”
• There are “deed restrictions,” though nothing prevents more affluent locals from buying and outbidding those people the units are intended to benefit.
• An appreciation cap is proposed but if the initial selling price is too high, they will never be affordable.
City Council’s rationale for approving this proposal is that whoever buys these units, they will be vacating a unit for the residents intended by the plan. That assumes that the vacated units are sold or rented at an affordable rate. Since there are no restrictions on owning additional assets, what if they become nightly rentals? What if they just stay vacant until family visits?
On Tuesday, Sept. 18 council is scheduled to finalize this agreement. Please let City Council hear your opinion.
Show up at the council meeting on Sept. 18, comment via the city website at http://steamboatsprings.net/FormCenter/City-Council-19/City-Council-Contact-Form-103 or share your opinion with the community in a letter to the editor.
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