Vail housing plan being revised by town council, housing authority board
By the numbers
Here’s a look at some of the town of Vail’s recent workforce housing accomplishments:
32: New townhomes at the Chamonix Vail neighborhood.
112: New units at the Lion’s Ridge Apartments.
65: Deed-restricted apartments to be built on the Solar Vail site.
10: Deed restrictions purchased under the new Vail InDeed program.
Source: Town of Vail
VAIL — Over the past few years, town officials here have leapt into trying to solve — or at least try to help — a workforce housing shortage as old as the resort itself. Now, town officials are trying to find new tools for an old job.
In an effort to expand the pool of eligible applicants, the Vail Town Council is poised to alter the rules for its long-running housing lottery. The current lottery system, in place since the 1990s, gives so much preference to long-term residents that few people even apply these days.
The new system has a number of new rules, but the most important is this: The system will be open, at least somewhat, to people who don’t already live in town.
The new lottery will be held whenever a unit comes up for sale in the town-controlled pool of deed-restricted homes. The current system has just one drawing per year.
People who qualify can get as many as five chances to win the opportunity to buy a home. People who get five “tickets” are those who have lived and worked in town for a number of years. Still, someone who lives in Edwards can qualify for at least one ticket to buy a home in Vail. It’s not a great chance, but it is a chance that doesn’t exist at the moment.
In addition to changing the lottery — which doesn’t represent many units — the council and the council-appointed Vail Local Housing Authority are working on a broader plan for housing. That plan will be both in the town limits and, perhaps, beyond.
The council and the authority board held a joint meeting the afternoon of Tuesday, June 5, to talk about both strategy and tactics.
Mayor Dave Chapin said the goal of the joint meeting was to talk about what’s working and what can be done better. The idea, he added, is to shape policies that will make it easier for the council, the authority board and the town’s housing department to act decisively.
Money is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to future action. The town spent roughly $4.2 million to buy 65 deed restrictions at the Solar Vail apartments. That project is under construction now. Purchasing those restrictions means the apartments can never be used for anything but workforce housing.
In the spring, the council refilled the deed restriction purchase fund with about $500,000. Still, officials say a steady funding source is needed.
Council member Greg Moffet is an advocate of asking voters for a small property tax increase for the job. Fellow council member Kevin Foley wants to shift some event-support funding to the Vail Local Marketing District. That, he said, will free up general fund cash for other uses.
Moffet also said the town could redirect money from the town’s real estate transfer tax — now dedicated to open space and parks.
Wherever the money comes from, it needs to come, housing authority board chairman Steve Lindstrom said.
“Funding is policy,” he said.
There’s also the fact there’s very little open, buildable land in Vail’s town limits.
Council member Travis Coggin suggested asking developers for property, not cash, when meeting the town’s employee housing requirements.
The lack of land also makes working with partners outside of town essential. But, council member Kim Langmaid said, it’s essential that anything outside of Vail aimed at people who work in town needs to be close, for both ease of access and to help people become involved in the community
Whatever form the town’s new plan takes, officials say they want to keep moving forward.
While the town and authority haven’t always had the current urgency, “it’s getting better,” authority board member James Wilkins said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com and 970-748-2930.