More expensive affordable homes wanted
EAGLE ” It’s not his job to ensure developers make a profit, County Commissioner Peter Runyon said.
Developers should have to build homes for the employees they create ” even if that means development is stifled, Runyon said.
“Am I lessening their profit? Yeah,” Runyon said. “But I don’t see these builders going to the poorhouse.”
For too long, development has been approved with little or no consideration of where workers will live, Runyon said.
The county is drafting new guidelines ” which wouldn’t have the force of law ” for developers that are supposed to create more deed-restricted homes.
But the new affordable housing would, on average, target more wealthier people ” a household of three people that makes $78,815 a year. The county needs to target the “spectrum” of housing needs, Runyon said.
The county needs to target the “spectrum” of housing needs, Runyon said.
“(The Vail Valley Medical Center) can’t get young doctors to come and practice,” Runyon said.
The old rules didn’t cut it, said Commissioner Sara Fisher.
“They weren’t demanding enough of the developers, and, not to say it all needs to be their burden, but we’re running out of ground, and we have to be more sincere about where we really want to address the problem,” Fisher said.
Under the current proposal, 30 percent of square footage of homes in projects in unincorporated Eagle County would have to be affordable. That would require more homes than the current guidelines, which call for 20 percent of homes to be affordable.
The new proposal would also increase “commercial linkage” requirements from 20 percent to 30 percent. The proposal ” which is still being written by county lawyers ” could soon come before the Board of Commissioners for approval.
The new guidelines are designed to not place a higher burden on developers, said Assistant County Attorney Alex Potente, who helped draft the rules.
The new guidelines target a higher “area median income.” The old “inclusionary zoning” guidelines, on average, targeted people with 80 percent of area median income.
The new guidelines target an average of 110 percent of area median income. For a household of three people, that means an income of $78,815 a year.
In the past, the county has targeted people making under the median income. Now, Runyon said, the county is finding that households that make more than that ” up to 180 percent of area median income, or $128,970 for a family of three ” can’t “make it.”
“We need to address the full economic spectrum of our workers,” he said.
A recent report from the Urban Land Institute said Eagle County is headed for “difficult times” if it does not build more employee housing. The county needs 500 to 600 new units per year for the next 20 years.
County officials have been shopping around an outline of new guidelines to developers, planners and town officials.
Dominic Mauriello, a planner who has worked for prominent developers in the valley, said he saw the outline several months ago but it doesn’t include enough detail for him to comment on it.
“We just think that the process they’re going through is a little shady and a little suspect because they are not willing to fully bring it out,” he said.
County officials say the full proposal hasn’t been completed yet.
Bob Warner, a local developer who built worker housing at Vail Commons in Vail and Homestead in Edwards, said the new rules seem good to him ” though he needs more information to say for sure.
“I think that looks good, and I need to spend more time with the details and how the various linkages work,” he said.
In “core” areas such as the middle of Edwards, the affordable housing is likely to come in dense developments, Fisher said.
“As much as it is perhaps unwelcome to the people who already live in the area, it is the most sensible place to have high-density concentration,” Fisher said.
The town of Vail recently passed changes to its employee-housing requirements for developers. Developers objected to the proposed rules, and the requirements were lessened before they were passed in the spring.
Unlike the county’s proposal, Vail’s housing rules are law.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.