Support for proposed housing requirements strong
“This set of regulations is one of the strategies to provide affordable housing in the county,” says Commissioner Arn Menconi.
According to the survey, 60 percent of those polled approve of the requirements.
Results of the survey giving Eagle County commissioners reason to consider the new requirements include:
– Sixty-three percent of renters and 57 percent of homeowners in Eagle County spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing and are therefore “cost-burdened.”
– The number of jobs in Eagle County nearly doubled in the 1990s, from 21,000 in 1991 to 38,000 in 2000.
– Home prices have more than doubled, from $130,000 to $350,000 during that time.
– The average wage is 19 percent below the state average of $37,000.
Chris Cares of RRC Associates, the Boulder consulting firm that conducted the study, says the study clearly shows the county needs more rental housing and more affordable, for-sale housing for locals.
“Many Colorado communities experience housing problems and have adopted these kind of programs,” Cares says. “About 1,800 renters in Eagle County are interested and could afford to purchase a home if provided at prices substantially below market values.”
The Eagle County Planning Commissioners have unanimously recommended approval of the proposed requirements, which would require new developers of project in the unincorporated areas of Eagle County to provide affordable housing to local residents.
The requirements would dictate what percentage of affordable housing developers.
– They also would set minimum sizes and maximum prices for those units:
For low-income housing, for example, the maximum price for a two-bedroom apartment would be $126,000.
– For medium-income housing, the limit for the same would be $154,000.
If the inclusionary housing requirements are adopted, all new residential development in the county’s unincorporated areas consisting of five or more residential lots would have to include a percentage of the total units proposed as local residential housing units.
Developers who did not want to satisfy the requirement could pay the county a fee, however.
If the commercial employee housing linkage is passed, new commercial development in the county’s unincorporated areas would have to provide housing for a portion of all new employees generated by that development.
“Aspen and Boulder have been aggressive implementing these programs and that has resulted on hundreds of affordable units,” Cares says. “In California, 50 communities use these programs.”
In Colorado, Pitkin County and the towns of Aspen and Telluride have linkage and inclusionary programs, Cares says. Garfield County and Boulder have inclusionary requirements only, and Keystone and Copper Mountain have linkage requirements.
Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone says space is an issue yet to be resolved.
“Eagle County has a restricted amount of land available,” he says. “If the county is going to encourage such programs, it needs to find a place to build these units.”
According to the 2000 Census, there are 22,000 housing units in the county, of which 335 are deed-restricted, meaning their re-sale price is restricted.
And estimated 16,000 unbuilt housing units remain, of which more than 1,200 are deed-restricted, Cares said.
The county also is trying to address the special needs of a growing Spanish-speaking population, working with employers to provide housing and implement a “keep up” program, Cares says.
The number of out-of-county commuters has increased 600 percent in the past 10 years, adds Rebecca Leonard, senior planner with Eagle County.
Jack Lewis, director of public affairs for Vail Resorts Development Company, says the requirements, if adopted, would make things more costly to developers.
“There needs to be further studies,” Lewis says.
Commissioners are scheduled to further review – and possibly adopt – the requirements Aug. 13.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at email@example.com.