In the 1990s the area west of Steamboat Springs was seen as the place for potential growth in the future of the City and the County.  A plan was developed so such expansion was well planned, fiscally responsible, preserved the character of the valley and met the needs of the community as we grew.

As a result of these concerns the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) was developed through a cooperative endeavor between the City of Steamboat Springs and Routt County. The plan was overseen by the Area Plan Coordinating Committee, the Planning staffs of both the City and County, with multiple public sessions and extensive reviews by the residents who attended the numerous neighborhood meetings that preceded its 1999 adoption by the County and the City.  Below are quotes from the WSSAP that are relevant to the current annexation discussion.

“One of the fundamental objectives of the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan (WSSAP) is the provision of attainable and affordable housing.  Affordable housing is housing that is accessible over the long-term to the working people of Steamboat Springs and Routt County….  Housing is defined as “affordable” by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) if a household pays no more than 35% of its gross income for rent and utilities or mortgage payment and utilities.”

 “To fulfill this affordable housing outcome, the City must be willing to annex new residential development, despite the negative fiscal impact (police, fire, plowing etc.), in order to maintain a healthy and diverse community that provides housing opportunities for its workers. It is incumbent on the City to ensure that new affordable housing which is required under this plan remains affordable in the future using deed restrictions. Otherwise, the existing supply will have to be continually replaced in order to meet the increased needs of the future.”

 “As part of any annexation submittal, each new development within the West Steamboat area shall provide a detailed affordable housing plan. The plan must provide a minimum of 20% permanent affordable housing for ownership and occupancy by eligible households with an average of the Community Housing Units being permanently deed restricted to rental or ownership and occupancy by eligible households with incomes at eighty percent (80%) of AMI. In addition to income ranges, affordable housing needs cover a broad spectrum of home types, sizes, and prices. The implementation of these requirements should be modeled on the City of Steamboat Springs Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) Ordinance.”

In the original WSSAP, one-third of the units to be built were to be for affordable housing.  

For the Brynn Grey annexation proposal of 438 units this would be the equivalent of 144 units. Regardless of the percentage, at 80% of Annual Median Income ($69,360), a family would be able to purchase a unit costing $237,012 not including any home owner association fees and other costs.  At this point there are no deed restricted for-purchase houses in that price range in the Brynn Grey proposal.

“For those developments that propose to achieve more than 20% (originally one-third) permanently affordable dwelling units, the City will consider providing incentives and assistance, in the form of grants, low or zero interest financing, cost sharing of installation of public utilities, additional density or increased building height, etc.”

“The 20% (originally one-third) is based upon the prevailing affordable housing needs as articulated in the 2003 Routt County Housing Needs Assessment. The governing bodies may need to re-evaluate the minimum requirement as economic conditions change or based upon similar studies that provide such findings in the future.

“Furthermore, if a developer wants to do more or provide assets that do not necessarily fit within the prescribed incentives the developer could present a number of assets or valuable resources to the City/County that fulfill the objective of affordable housing provisions. These could include but are not limited to:

1. Contribution of land for purposes of affordable housing, either on or off site, to the City or County, YVHA or similar agency. (Land must be acceptable to the City/County.) Such property may be used by other developers for the provision of their respective inclusionary housing requirement.

2. Construction of affordable housing for rental or homeownership that serves the <50% AMI.

3. Establishment of a long-term funding source to the City/County for specific purpose of affordable housing construction and/or services.

4. Inclusion of more municipal services, inclusion of amenities in City’s capital improvements plan.”

As the City Council considers this annexation agreement, they should be aware of the Community’s affordable housing requirements and goals as stated in the WSSAP. Once the Council understands the intent of the WSSAP, it is incumbent on them to implement the plan to fullest extent in order to maximize the affordable housing return on their investment in the newly annexed area.

The City Council agreement with Brynn Grey is a bad deal and we should ask for a better deal to preserve the quality of life for our community.