Affordable Housing Changes

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Steamboat Springs City Council met last night to discuss the fate of the current affordable housing ordinance.  Passed in 2007, the current ordinance states that developers must include affordable units in any new developments at a rate of 15% of the project.

Members of a group called Concerned Citizens for Affordable Housing, made up of mostly developers and local business owners, urged City Council to reform the current ordinance to give developers more options when it comes to supplying affordable housing units.

In a vote that passed 4-3, City Council granted approval to hear proposed plans that would give new developments three options for affordable housing compliance.

  • An affordable housing impact fee set as a percentage of sales or market value of new developments
  • A real estate transfer tax
  • An allowance for developers to make an alternative suggestion that would need City County approval (this being a “catch-all” option)

The crux of the debate hinged on balancing the need for affordable housing in Steamboat versus helping build new developments that would create more jobs.  There is an obvious need to have affordable places for employees to live; meanwhile developers claim that their projects will help create jobs.  Creating more jobs in Steamboat is a terrific goal however, without a place to live, these employees will be non-existent.

Though this was a close decision, plans are now moving forward on an amendment to the existing affordable housing ordinance.  Any new ordinance will be subject to two readings before any official change will be made.  The fact that City Council has voted to allow these readings is a positive step in bridging the gap between the need for affordable housing units with the needs of new development.

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