Vail council weighs in on draft housing plan | VailDaily.com

Vail council weighs in on draft housing plan

VAIL — With one project not quite ready for groundbreaking, town officials are talking about ways to increase housing options for both seasonal and long-term residents.

Vail Housing Coordinator Alan Nazzaro for the past year or so has been working on a comprehensive plan to tackle the town's chronic shortage of housing. That shortage may be as bad as it's ever been right now, prompting many to say it's time for less talk and more action.

To get to the action, though, the Vail Town Council will have to approve a plan that lays out a framework for making more rental and for-sale homes available.

On Tuesday, Nazzaro brought council members a report on his findings over the past several months. The council will vote on a plan in the next several weeks, and has scheduled for July 19 what Mayor Dave Chapin called a "robust discussion" of how to move forward.

In Tuesday's preview, Nazzaro talked about several options, including ways to preserve existing housing and possible town code changes that would allow owners of older duplexes, condos or townhomes to build more units on a piece of property.

Nazzaro said preserving existing housing is "low hanging fruit," and, ultimately far less expensive than building from scratch.

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On-Mountain Housing?

To build anything new requires land, and there simply isn't much available property in Vail.

Council member Greg Moffet said the town, along with Vail Resorts and the U.S. Forest Service, should investigate the possibility of building seasonal worker housing somewhere on Vail Mountain. That idea was originally proposed a few weeks ago by longtime resident Michael Cacioppo, and Moffet duly credited Cacioppo with the idea.

"We shouldn't be building any more seasonal housing — that's not our job," council member Dick Cleveland said. "We should be focused on long-term residents."

'Look further ahead'

With that in mind, Cleveland said it's also time for the town to create the final plan for a proposed neighborhood in West Vail adjacent to Chamonix Lane, roughly behind the fire station there. The town has owned that 3.6-acre parcel for a number of years, and has always envisioned building housing there. That plan has evolved to an idea for roughly 50 for-sale units, all to be appreciation-capped to keep prices down.

But, while Nazzaro believes pre-sales could start by the end of this year, the town still has only a vague idea of the ultimate plan.

"We need to start discussing the rules (for Chamonix)," Cleveland said. "Can (Vail Valley Medical Center) buy a unit and rent it? We need to talk about people retiring and not moving … We need to discuss all of this so people in the community understand what we're doing."

Council member Kim Langmaid said work on the current plan — which looks about five years into the future — is "critically important." But, she added, she'd like the town to look even farther ahead.

"We need to look 30 or 50 years ahead," Langmaid said. "Some of these things will take a lot longer (than five years)."

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

Five comments

There have been plenty of open-house sessions to talk about Vail’s housing crunch and ways to solve, or ease, it. Here’s a selection of comments from those meetings:

• Everyone needs to be on the same page Get county and incorporated towns together.

• Vail Resorts has now become dependent on the taxpayers to provide “affordable housing.”

• Baby Boomers retirement tsunami has not yet hit. How will it impact employee housing?

• How many homes will (the plan) build in the next one, three or five years? What will you do if you don’t get there?