Letter: Is City Council trying to doom Steamboat?
I appreciate state Sen. Dylan Roberts’ thoughtful commentary on the benefits of public-private partnerships. This approach is consistent with the city’s last strategic plan. Unfortunately, the majority of Steamboat Springs City Council appears to have arrived in office with an unwavering determination that they have the answers for Steamboat and don’t want to be distracted by facts or outside opinions.
In zealous pursuit of their agenda, council has systematically excluded any serious discussions of alternative approaches or the negative and unintended consequences of their plans. Steamboat’s economy and culture risk total destruction with this uninformed approach.
Alterra’s investment is expanding rapidly, yet City Council wants to contain visitors to Steamboat’s existing, limited, antiquated, insufficient and expensive short-term housing. At the same time, council would have those visitors provide a perpetual subsidy to a government-planned and government created housing project implemented by their housing enforcement policy and proposed tax on short-term rentals.
Exclusion of all perspectives raises serious real and potential problems which include:
- Reliance on a “nanny state” approach. Government’s role is to set the right policy environment to encourage private investment.
- Yampa Valley’s underlying problem is inconsistent land use and housing policies.
- Viable examples of public-private rural housing partnerships across the U.S. were not considered, nor were the high failure rate and operating costs of public housing projects.
- Alternative policies and approaches to deal with short-term housing issues (signage, etc.) were ignored.
- The proposed perpetual funding tax does not address who pays in bad times — and this “kick-the-man-while-he’s-down” tax could destroy an already deteriorating economy.
- The increase in costs of Steamboat as a destination is driving families away and encouraging more affluent, obnoxious young groups and the damage to Steamboat’s image.
- The existing short-term rentals stock (2,869 legal and 19 illegal) is insufficient to meet expanded demand and is inferior because of its age (leaking pipes, leaking roofs, broken appliances, etc.) and related financial drain on owners.
- Failure to expand short-term housing will undermine Alterra’s investment in Steamboat and risk potential closure.
- Failure to address increase in rush hour traffic.
Steamboat deserves a more serious discussion related to tourism than this council is willing to undertake. A much more robust, honest discussion is desperately needed to counterbalance council’s systematically biased approach.
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