Letter: Incentivizing affordable housing development
There was recently an excellent article in The Colorado Sun concerning the challenges faced by our mountain communities to provide access to affordable housing to our local workforce. One essential concept was the availability of “free” land for the developers to build on, since current land values make development prohibitively expensive. Vail, for example, owned property on the other side of Interstate 70 and made that available for workforce housing development.
Steamboat Springs has a large tract of land right in the middle of Old Town, the previous high school. Now before you respond that the school district owns the building and land, and has historically resisted any repurposing, I would suggest the school district owns nothing; the Colorado taxpayers own it all.
As a taxpayer, I would recommend the city and school board reach an agreement for the purchase of the property, eventually to be used for affordable housing development. Since I believe the school district may currently be financially benefiting from the use of the building, compensation would include this future financial benefit, to be determined. What it would not include is the speculative value of the property, which is by far the biggest impediment to development.
I’d instruct our elected employees, i.e., the school board and Steamboat Springs City Council, to reach an agreement to better utilize this resource for the betterment of the community. I understand there may be some legal and/or regulatory hurdles to accomplish this, but hopefully, those may be overcome via legislation, referendum, etc.
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