By Allen Best
VAIL, Colo. – Vail town officials are now requiring affordable housing of all projects. In new building projects in the town’s more dense and commercial areas, particularly at the base of the ski slopes, 10 per cent must be affordable. Developers of commercial space must provide housing for 20 per cent of the new jobs they create.
These proportions are a compromise. Town officials had first proposed 30 per cent, but met strong opposition from builders and portions of the real-estate sector. But town officials are adamant that the regulations are necessary if the town is to meet its goal of having at least 30 per cent of employees live in the town. The town figures that by 2020, almost every worker will live in some type of deed-restricted affordable housing, unable to afford free-market housing prices.
Unaffected by the new law is a surge of redevelopment with a combined value of more than $1 billion. Those projects, which are already underway, are expected to add 1,500 permanent jobs. In addition, new development down-valley in Avon and Edwards is expected to add another 7,370 jobs in the next few years. Vail is also looking at potentially several other major redevelopment projects.
Vail began its affordable housing program 10 years ago, but lags far behind Aspen and Telluride, according to affordable housing experts. “We’re really a leader in the whole resort industry, except when it comes to housing,” said Steve Lindstrom, who owns a chain of movie theaters in the Eagle Valley.
But a representative of the Vail Board of Realtors, Asher Maslan, said the formula used to determine housing requirements is unfair. It says that real estate offices create more jobs than other kinds of businesses. “We view it as very, very unfair,” he said.
An associated ordinance mandates that employee housing must be a minimum of 250 square feet.
The ranch and villaging of the West
HAILEY, Idaho – Having had his fill of the Civil War, Samuel Clemens in 1861 journeyed across the West to Carson City, Nev., to partake of the mining excitement in the Sierra Nevada. There, he noted the broad use of the word “ranch.”
In the first place, there were no farms, only ranches, said Clemens, later writing as Mark Twain in the book “Roughing It.” But even more, the name ranch was sometimes applied to singular buildings.
Something of the same thing is occurring in the West now, but with the use of the word “village.” From the base of a ski slope, it’s hard to throw a rock without hitting a village of some sort.