Editorial: A bold step for Eagle County | VailDaily.com

Editorial: A bold step for Eagle County

Tamara Miller for the Editorial Board
Vail CO, Colorado

The Eagle County commissioners have led the way for the entire county by adopting more stringent building requirements for affordable housing.

The new county guidelines, unanimously approved Tuesday night, put developers on the hook more now than ever to provide housing for the people who will fill the jobs their developments create.

Residential developers who plan to build more than five homes can pick one of four ways to incorporate workforce housing into their projects. Regardless of which option they choose, developers will be required to dedicate anywhere from 25 to 35 percent of their projects to housing local workers can afford.

Many in the development community warn that the county’s new rules are so onerous that they will bring construction in the unincorporated parts of the county to a halt. Given the impressive track record of our robust housing market, we doubt that’s the case.

The new guidelines are reasonable, even if they are tough. There’s still plenty of room for builders to break even when building affordable housing, and to collect a profit on their projects as a whole.

And while Eagle County will receive plenty of criticism from free-market purists, it’s telling that the county also is being praised for taking a bold step in solving our affordable housing shortage.

Employers like the Vail Valley Medical Center have offered support, no doubt because the lack of affordable housing is a hindrance in recruiting nurses and doctors. Eagle’s town planner said Eagle County’s actions likely will prompt his town to tweak their own rules.

Even the Vail Valley Partnership ” the valley’s largest chamber of commerce ” recognizes that the business community benefits from strong governmental policy that makes it easier for employees to find a place to live.

Eagle County has shown brave leadership on this issue. We hope that their actions will prompt more creative and thoughtful affordable housing solutions from both the public and private sector in the months and years to come.

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