Steamboat Springs City Council appears ready to move forward with housing recommendations
January 24, 2017
Steamboat Springs — A work session focused on addressing community housing shortfalls was marked by new commitments from elected officials and a back and forth between a city council member and the head of one of the city's largest lodging properties about how much of a role local employers will play in helping to solve the problem.
The Steamboat Springs City Council appears ready to start moving ahead with some of the recommendations presented by a steering committee that spent months studying regional housing woes.
During the two-and-a-half hour work session Tuesday, the council committed to directing some city resources to a committee that is exploring a potential new funding source for community housing efforts.
The council also agreed with a suggestion that the city should consider revising its planning codes to make the process more timely and predictable for developers.
In addition, some council members are open to providing incentives to developers of community housing.
The council also made it clear it doesn't currently have the appetite to reprioritize its capital improvement budget to make big investments in infrastructure that might promote new, large housing developments within the urban growth boundary.
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And some council members think employers might be more appropriate partners and investors in community housing efforts than the city.
Councilwoman Heather Sloop said she doesn't think the city should be the second leg of a stool to support community housing efforts. She suggested local employers who have an interest in finding housing for their employees should come to the table instead and partner with developers.
Dan Pirrallo, who chaired the housing steering committee and also serves as general manager of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, appeared skeptical that local employers would be able to make significant enough investments to play a bigger role than the city in promoting the development of housing inventory.
Pirrallo noted he himself is housing some of his employees at his own home, and his resort has invested in employee housing at the Iron Horse Inn.
He said if the city forces developers to bear all of the infrastructure costs associated with developments, the city will not be able to solve its community housing shortfalls.
Councilman Jason Lacy shared that assessment.
Because Tuesday's discussion was a work session, the council did not take any formal votes on the recommendations.
During the course of the discussion, the council made it clear it wants to spend the coming months exploring potential action items that might help facilitate the development of more housing for local workers.
Councilwoman Kathi Meyer said there is not one solution but rather a "Swiss cheese approach."
"It's one nibble at a time," Meyer said.