On Feb 5, 2019 the CC (City Council) passed ordinance 2681 by a 4 to 3 vote to allow the WSN development to be annexed into the City.  After 2 years of discussion between the developer and the CC we are presented with a project that does not meet the needs of our citizens and further more does not support the family values and character of our community. We believe that if the voters are smart enough to elect our representatives, they are also smart enough to have the final say in the future of our community.  We can achieve this end by having a City-wide discussion and voting on the merits of CC annexation decision. Since 1970, almost 48 years ago, we have been talking about AFH (Affordable Housing) and we are told that this annexation, while imperfect, is a good step. What have we been doing to promote AFH all these years while the rest of western Colorado has been diligently attempting to solve this problem? We are not looking for perfection, we are looking for an annexation that is balanced and serves not just the low income and moderately high end citizens but the heart of our community, the middle class families.

The community came together to produce the WSSAP (West Steamboat Springs Area Plan) after many months and multiple meetings to envision the future of what we wanted to be.  This is not a growth or no growth question. Rather, we need to examine how we wish to grow and how we retain a mix of citizens that make up our community, the very essence that attracted so many of us to live here. The community wanted to expand at a reasonable rate and make sure there were affordable homes for those middles class nurses, teachers, policemen, firemen and public employees who keep us safe, healthy and teach our children. The City Council bypassed the WSSAP and ignored the CDC (Community Development Codes) which required the implementation of WSSAP’s major goal of AFH.

The Deed Restrictions for these houses, which are not affordable to our middle class, are available to those who work and live here even if they have a home, have rental property, large personal assets and they earn a substantial income. This puts the middle class at a disadvantage in competing with those who have such assets.

If we are going to grow and provide housing for present and new families in our community, we need to evaluate if the impacts of this growth we incur will be beneficial to our community.  Is increased traffic congestion, crowded facilities, loss of community character and a negative impact to our environment worth the annexation? If it is, then we want an annexation that meets our needs and not just a development to make some wealthier at the expense of the rest of our community.

We hope by rethinking this misguided annexation agreement the community will come together.  This will allow the citizens to have a voice in finding lasting solutions to maintain our community character rather than treating us as a commodity.

One reason to vote NO: The West Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) clearly states “affordable housing must be 20% of overall units.” For 450 units, that requires 90 permanently affordable units. City Council accepted just 2 acres of bare land, saying that met the spirit of the WSSAP.

            What are deed restrictions (DR)? In general, they are qualifications and requirements for a home buyer or seller of a for-sale house. They target a specific population of local citizens in need of affordable housing in a community. Since we live in popular tourist/skier destination market economy, the costs of land, housing, products and services along with our speculative real estate market are very expensive.  Add the high rate of appreciation of houses and low wages that can’t keep up with this housing market and it’s very difficult for local professionals like nurses, fire, police, social workers and emergency personnel to purchase affordable housing in the community they serve daily.

            DR vary for each community depending on the target population a community is attempting to serve.  Usually, the qualifications for a purchaser are: live locally, work locally, income requirements (targeting an income group that can’t afford market rate housing prices) and limited assets (can’t own a home or rental property and have less than a specific dollar amount of investments).  An appreciation cap is put on the house which keeps the house affordable for the next buyer who qualifies for the targeted income group.

            In the newest Brynn/Grey pre-annexation agreement with the City, the DR requirements are live locally, work locally and an appreciation cap of 3%.  For each $100,000 of a home’s price, this would result in an increase of about $34,000 over 10 years. The only problem with this scenario is: anybody who lives and works in Steamboat Springs can purchase these “affordable” DR houses! You can own your home, have rental property, have a wad of money invested and so on and qualify for these DR housing units! This misses the target income population in need and allows an investor-purchaser to rent their own house out and use the rent money to pay the mortgage on their new DR house!  For sale affordable housing problem solved?

          The West Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) in conjunction with CDC annexation code requires that 20% (originally one-third) of the units built must be affordable for locals who earn 80% of Routt County AMI. To meet the WSSAP affordable housing requirements, the Brynn/Grey annexation proposal of 438 units would need the equivalent of 87 affordable units.  A family of four at 80% of the Annual Median Income ($69,360) could only purchase a unit costing $$237,012. If they had a down payment of $105,000, they could afford a 900 square-foot apartment at $342, 012. At this point there are no deed restricted units in that price range in the Brynn/Grey proposal.  The City is also considering revising the CDC annexation code so it can avoid the WSSAP’s affordable housing requirements!

            According to the City’s own financial analysis, the City will be contributing about $48,447,000 over the next 16 years to the annexation property and Brynn/Grey will be investing $28,000,000 over the next 16 years while making a 10% profit (B/G’s promise)  The difference is $20,000,000. B/G gives itself $7,160,000 credit for the affordable housing component which does not target the entry level population in need and which are not affordable anyway! Also, the City is facing a potential $1.8 M budget shortfall this budget cycle based on their own estimates

            In the Brynn Grey annexation proposal City Council needs to reconsider all the aspects of good governance, community needs and fiscal responsibility because this is a bad deal…there is a better way.

            Solutions?  Follow the existing WSSAP requirements, develop a source of funding for for-purchase affordable housing, develop an alternative property/sales tax financial base, hire an affordable housing specialist for the planning department to provide up-to-date information on AFH and for-purchase affordable housing to the Council so they can make informed decisions.

In addition, voters recently approved a dedicated property tax to help fund the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, which currently has plans to develop at least 96 rental units near Walgreens for low- and middle-income persons by 2020, thereby alleviating the affordable housing problem. None of the units will be for sale.

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