Housing panel makes sense | VailDaily.com

Housing panel makes sense

Eagle County political leaders were smart earlier this month to propose a valleywide advisory housing council.

Such a group can champion our biggest challenge ” a lack of homes that people who work here can stretch to afford. It can foster a tender, budding spirit of cooperation among a remarkable patchwork of governmental entities in a valley of only 40,000 or so residents. It can focus properly on the fact that housing is a regional issue that does not respect individual municipal borders.

The leaders who have participated in this discussion also were wise to hold back from trying to start a full-fledged housing authority with a new tax ” any tax ” to fund it. The voters wouldn’t stand for that, at least not right now.

It’s enough for the moment to educate, lay out a toolbox of tactics that would work here, and perhaps most importantly, provide that long-missing forum in which leaders can truly work together.

By leaders, count those in private enterprise as much and actually more so than the government types. We’re not simply going to regulate our way to that better balance for the community’s sake, although politicians assuredly will need strong backbones for the job. The free market has not proved equal to the task by itself, either.

The plan is not perfect. As some critics pointed out, the council needs firmer connection to developers and major employers. That means active participation and funding from the private sector. Both would show that all-important buy-in.

It’s true that the time has come to understand housing for working people as much a part of the community infrastructure as roads and sewer pipes. That’s not to imply a free ride for anyone, but to acknowledge a community cannot thrive without those of us who keep the place running. The consequences of our disappearance would be dire.

The second-home owners who drive the prices up, the developers who profit most with luxury offerings, the employers, and the rest of us all have a stake in easing this challenge.

Leaders working together is a sensible start.

” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board

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