Roger Ashton: Which road will we take?
The public vote on the West Steamboat Neighborhoods annexation squarely plops the residents in the city of Steamboat Springs at an important crossroad.
Looking down the road in one direction, we’ll see a viable option for diverse community housing opportunities — one of the goals of the Steamboat Springs City Council. We’ll see real neighborhoods teeming with local families who have a sense of community and place — families who know their neighbors and are committed to their community.
Looking down the road in the other direction, we’ll see these same families loading their possessions in U-Haul trucks and moving out of our community. We’ll see unrelenting home price and rental rate escalation and a loss of businesses that can’t adequately staff.
So, which road will we, as a community, take?
On June 25, Steamboat Springs residents will be asked to vote on an historic annexation agreement: Should the city annex approximately 191 acres, generally known as the West Steamboat Neighborhoods? Voting “Yes to the West” and heartily supporting this annexation seems an obvious decision if we want to maintain the character of our community while still allowing measured development in an entirely appropriate area. It’s certainly not a misguided annexation agreement as some have suggested.
In December 2016, the Community Housing Steering Committee, which included input from dozens of residents, concluded, “Housing supply is not keeping up with demand, leading to rapidly increasing home prices and rental rates. An environment of prolonged home price and rental rate appreciation will price out many local wage earners from our communities leading to a loss of community character and economic competitiveness. It is the recommendation of the Community Housing Steering Committee that the city of Steamboat Springs, Routt County, the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, businesses and community members in Routt County establish policies and take significant action to stimulate the production of housing supply to meet demand.” This annexation does just that.
And kudos to the Steamboat Springs City Council, our elected representatives, who, over the last three years, spent countless hours researching, studying and negotiating with the developers to achieve what they believe to be the best deal for our community. I haven’t attended all those meetings, but I have attended enough to feel comfortable with the process they took, the discussions they had and the decision they made to approve this annexation.
So I ask: If not now, when? And if not to the west, where?
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