Our view: Steamboat millennials rethink housing, go mobile | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Steamboat millennials rethink housing, go mobile

At issue: Millennials rethink housing

Our view: If mobile young adults desire a different category of housing on wheels, government officials, and resort operators would do well to try to meet their needs

Editorial Board • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher • Lisa Schlichtman, editor • Tom Ross, reporter • Hannah Hoffman, community representative • Bob Schneider, community representative Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

Our reporting, in November, on the Yampa Valley’s housing issues suggests to us that our current systems for delivering transitional housing to a new generation of young American adults don’t necessarily align with their lifestyles.

More and more young adults coming of age late in the second decade of the 21st century aspire to a mobile lifestyle. But their elders’ notions of a home are confined to traditional buildings on concrete foundations, and have less to do with wheels.

At a Nov. 15 tiny homes event hosted by Yampa Valley Sustainability Council, we learned that the Routt County Regional Building Department, which serves the city of Steamboat Springs, Oak Creek and Yampa as well as the rural county, is prepared with a new section of its building code, to consider permit applications for tiny homes of no more than 400 square feet. That presumes the granting of development permits for new subdivisions either in municipalities or growth centers in Routt County.

The news that there is now a mechanism for developing tiny homes to help mitigate the cost of building new single-family homes here is significant.  And we look forward to seeing the story unfold.

However, more than one person attending the Sustainability Council event expressed their interest in building or acquiring a tiny home on wheels. It would be a home that would allow them to pull up stakes and relocate without having to leave their residence behind, and let them avoid the need to search for a new home possibly in another mountain resort community.

Routt County Building official Todd Carr responded that the new “Appendix Q” set of tiny home regulations, which his department has adopted, and many other jurisdictions across the country are considering, does not enable homes on wheels to obtain building permits.

“If it’s on wheels, it’s a camper,” Carr said.

We understand that reality: New regulations essentially enabling tiny homes on permanent foundations have strict requirements both to protect both consumers’ personal safety and their investments. But we don’t think that means that resort communities in the Mountain West couldn’t facilitate tiny homes on wheels and recognize them as an important form of housing for seasonal workers.

If a tiny home on wheels is a camper, why wouldn’t ski town public and private sector officials, along with developers, pursue the development of rural campgrounds designed for longer stays? That implies water and wastewater treatment, shower facilities and community buildings with communal cooking facilities.

In another article in the Sunday Pilot and Today this month, Van Life, we explored a lifestyle being adopted by many young adults who have formed a virtual community with the hashtag #vanlife, and a real community, through festivals such as Carbondale’s Van Life Rally.

If we open our minds to the lifestyle goals of a new generation of American adults, we can diversify housing in pricey mountain resort communities.

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