Vail Daily editorial: Vail housing should be ‘family-friendly’
July 16, 2014
Vail has spent a lot of time and effort to create, and maintain, an image as a “family-friendly” place for guests.
The effort may have started several years ago when it imposed youth curfews during events including New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July. Those curfews, in case you’ve forgotten, were largely successful in getting underage partiers off the streets during times the town was already packed.
While the curfews are gone these days, we can see “family-friendly” efforts today with the deliberate approach the town has taken toward the retail sale of recreational marijuana. This editorial was written before the Vail Town Council voted Tuesday, but it was expected to give final approval to another one-year moratorium on approvals of any retail sale licenses. Don’t be surprised if the town eventually swims upstream from other resort towns that quickly approved retail sales.
That delay was imposed, at least in part, over the notion that allowing retail marijuana sales might in some way damage Vail’s reputation as a place families can bring their kids.
While Vail has carefully cultivated a family-friendly image for guests, it’s now time to just as vigorously pursue a policy that encourages families to live in town. That discussion is especially important as the town has evolved into one with so much of its existing homes — 70 percent — owned by people who aren’t year-round residents.
The discussion is sure to gain momentum as the town considers what kind of “deed-restricted” housing to build on the Chamonix parcel in West Vail. A 2009 plan envisioned as many as 58 for-sale units on the property. But some council members now believe the town’s civic health would be better served by building fewer, somewhat larger homes on the property. That could help the town a couple of ways.
First, there would be “move-up” units available to people already in town who need more space for growing families. The town could also be more attractive to doctors and other professionals who move to the valley with their families.
People who value space over the convenience of living in the valley’s economic and social hub will always be able to find more for their money on the west side of Dowd Junction. But those who value quick access to the slopes or concerts, or who would rather return to home and hearth more quickly after a day on the job might be willing to live with a bit less space for a yard.
At least some of those people would also become involved in the town’s civic life. A quick look at the Vail Town Council shows the youngest member — Jenn Bruno — is in her 40s. The town needs more people from that demographic in the years to come.
We’re usually of the “more is better” school when it comes to housing. In this case, though, we agree with the Town Council members who believe the town should put as much effort into building a family-friendly community as it does in maintaining a family-friendly resort.