Resort execs push for housing funds |

Resort execs push for housing funds

Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY – A countywide push to establish a dedicated funding stream for affordable housing may get a last-minute boost with endorsements from a pair of big economic players, as well as from the nonprofit Summit Foundation. All local towns and other key economic stakeholders, including the Summit Association of Realtors and the Summit County Builders Association, support the proposed ballot initiative that would create a countywide combined housing authority. Top executives with Vail Resorts and Intrawest said Friday they also support ballot measure 5A, which could raise about $32 million during the next 10 years with a sales tax increase and a graduated development impact fee. Support from the resort companies hinged on making sure that they don’t take a double hit; first by having to provide affordable housing under their Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), then by paying impact fees on new developments.”We’ve already voted with our checkbook,” said Roger McCarthy, top executive for both Keystone and Breckenridge, explaining that the two resorts have already anted up in a big way for affordable housing, including the $21 million Breckenridge Terrace housing development.Keystone and Copper are required to provide housing for 40 percent of their full-time workforce, said Bonnie Osborn, heading the pro-5A campaign. The requirement in Breckenridge is based on a separate agreement with the town, she said.”That’s a lot of housing. We’re excited that the resorts are supporting this,” Osborn said. “We’re hopeful they’ll work with their employee base and explain how important this issue is.” McCarthy said it’s absolutely critical to maintain the vitality of the resorts by ensuring a supply of affordable housing. The migration of workers to bedroom communities can be a death knell for a resort town, McCarthy said. “Look at the drastic measures Vail is taking … if you lose the permanent population, you become a ghost town,” McCarthy said. At Copper Mountain Resort, general manager Gary Rodgers said the resort has long been an active participant in the affordable housing dialogue.”We share this commitment to the future and therefore have taken the unusual step of endorsing Measure 5A,” Rodgers said. McCarthy said demand for housing can ebb and wane with ups and downs in the local construction industry, and pointed out that single-family and second-home developments around the county are also contributing to the demand for more affordable housing.New construction means more plumbers, electricians and landscapers are needed. Some studies suggest that a new single-family home generates another two or three jobs locally, McCarthy said. The Summit Foundation board of trustees adopted a resolution explaining that “Increasing the inventory of affordable homes in Summit County will enable more of the local workforce to reside in the community it serves. This in turn will improve the quality of life in Summit County and make it a better place for everyone to live.”Wallace said he hopes support from the resort companies will help push the ballot measure over the top, never an easy job in a fiscal climate that doesn’t favor new taxes.”It’s become like a motherhood and apple pie thing,” Osborn said. “Nobody will say anything against it, but people will go into the ballot booth and vote their wallets. I’m worried.”Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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