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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

Leave it alone

In reference to the impending decision regarding housing regulations, I would like to point out the dangers of the county government mandating that “low” and “moderate” income housing be included in every development of four or more residential units, and requiring new businesses to create housing for 10 percent of its workforce.

First of all, any experienced builder/developer will attest to the fact that with current development costs, a requirement to sell 10 percent of a project for below market value will often make a project too risky. Therefore, the project will never go forward, no “affordable” housing would be built, the developer would go build elsewhere, and dozens of local employees and subcontractors would lose work.

Great idea, isn’t it?

Second, if the county commissioners step in and make these new rules, the value of developable land is altered. Land values are based on what the owner can do with it. If it is ranch land, how much water is there for livestock? If it is a neighborhood lot, what size house can be built? If it is a large parcel located in town, how can it be subdivided and developed? If it is zoned multi-family, how many units can be built?

If these new regulations are put in place, land values will be reduced. For instance, if you own a lot zoned for four units, and you build four townhomes, one must be “affordable” housing. The fourth unit will sell below market value and the other three units’ values will be negatively impacted by the neighboring deed restricted unit.

The income from developing the entire project is lowered, and therefore so is the value of the land. By mandating changes in “development rights,” the county government is messing with land values. People like us invested in every piece of vacant land out there, but these proposed regulations will reduce the value of what was purchased years ago.

Additionally, if a property owner has a piece of land zoned for four or more units, he/she may choose to avoid the new requirements altogether by building two massive single-family homes instead.

Explain how that helps the local home buyer? Also, if land values are changed, will the commissioners please make sure the property taxes go down?

The requirement for new businesses to create housing is almost worse. It’s hard enough to attract businesses to the Vail area without adding to the business owner’s expenses.

This proposition sounds good when you are talking about Wal-Mart or Pier 1, but how is the local who finally socked away enough tip money to open his own restaurant going to buy a triplex to house his kitchen crew? This is ridiculous, really ridiculous.

Webster’s definition of socialism reads: “A theory or system of social reform which contemplates a complete reconstruction of society, with a more just and equitable distribution of property and labor.”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as: “Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.”

I believe there are certain goverment officials who, intentionally or not, would prefer if our government operated this way. I’d like to believe their intentions are good. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, and, more importantly, it is not the American way. Does our local government really have to mess with housing, property values, and the construction industry (which, directly and indirectly, accounts for the majority of jobs in the county)?

By raising taxes to create “affordable” housing and buy open space, and by introducing changes in development requirements that negatively impact property owners and potential business owners, the county government is attempting to “plan and control the economy.”

It has to stop. The resulting impact will be frightening. Twenty years from now, visualize our beautiful valley full of deed-restricted housing projects where no one renovated or updated because there was no value in it; lots of isolated land parcels now owned by the county government instead of private taxpayers, which of course means that the county collects no tax revenue from the land, but must maintain it; a bunch of commercial and retail properties sitting vacant because no one can afford to start a business and provide employee housing.

It’ll be great, won’t it?

My advice is to leave it all alone! We were doing fine before all of these recent proposed changes! If all our county commissioners are going to do is pass new regulations and raise taxes, maybe they should take a year off.

Every one could work their jobs, go skiing, and relax. Instead we have to fight every day to avoid new regulations that will take away jobs, housing, and property rights. It’s truly tiring.

Steve Michonski

Vail


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