Vail Symposium’s ‘NIMBY Jamboree’ hopes to spark action on workforce housing
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What: The NIMBY Jamboree, sponsored by the Vail Symposium, Vail Valley Partnership and Vail Board of Realtors.
When: Session 1 is 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Aug. 2; Session 2 is 1:30 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2; and Session 3 is 8 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3.
Where: The Antlers Lodge, 680 Lionshead Place, Vail.
Cost: $25 per session, or all three sessions for $50; continuing education packages also available.
More information: Visit www.vailsymposium.org for session descriptions, or call 970-476-0954.
Nimby (Not In My Back Yard)
Definition: a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or potentially dangerous in their own neighborhood, such as a landfill or hazardous waste facility, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.
Source: Vail Symposium
EAGLE COUNTY — Bobby Lipnick hopes the Vail Symposium’s NIMBY Jamboree sessions do more than generate notes. NIMBY — which stands for “not in my back yard” — organizers Lipnick and others hope the events are the start of something that might actually encourage workforce housing development.
The jamboree, helpfully subtitled “Creating a Healthy Community through Affordable Workforce Housing,” runs over about a day and a half, and activities include brainstorming, expert presentations and field trips. The event culminates Aug. 3 with a morning-long “town hall” discussion about possible solutions to the valley’s seemingly endless housing shortage.
One of the expert speakers is Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther.
Ruther said he intends to talk a bit about the new housing plan the town adopted in 2016. But, he added, he’d like to talk about finding different strategies and tactics to help spur development of workforce housing.
Ruther said most mountain towns take similar regulatory approaches to encourage housing, from deed restrictions to zoning to charging development fees. And, from Park City, Utah, to Aspen to Jackson, Wyoming, all of those resort towns have housing shortages.
“It’s time we take a much different approach to how we respond to employee housing applications,” Ruther said.
While housing always draws interest, it doesn’t always draw audiences.
Lipnick, a Vail Symposium board member, said he hopes there’s a good turnout for all of the jamboree’s sessions, but he’d particularly enjoy a full house for the town-hall meeting.
“I want your staff and employees,” Lipnick said he’s told business and government representatives. “This is about having a voice for them so they get heard. What are their thoughts? They’re the people who are going to stay or leave.”
Before agreeing to help put together next week’s sessions, Lipnick said he wanted to ensure the jamboree results in more than a pile of notes and some interesting video. To that end, a task force is being put together under the Vail Valley Partnership’s administrative umbrella.
Lipnick said the task force now has 10 or 12 members, with members coming from one end of the valley to the other, and with a mix of people from local government, business and the development industry.
Lipnick said the group will meet regularly and will be a resource for anyone, from local government to outside developers, who wants to help create more housing.
“If someone comes from, say, Chicago, he or she could come to the task force and ask about history or deed restrictions or land swaps. … It’s important to keep the energy moving forward.”
Ruther said that energy can come if a development is approved.
The Vail Town Council earlier this year approved an application for a Marriott Residence Inn in West Vail. That project includes nearly 100 new apartments that are deed-restricted to only people who work full time in the valley.
“My phone started ringing off the hook” after that approval, Ruther said. “People were saying, ‘Maybe Vail is serious. … I’m willing to participate in that process.’”
That’s where Lipnick believes an independent housing task force can help. Ultimately, though, he said it comes down to the people participating.
“Success is about the people,” he said. “If we can get the right people, this can be meaningful moving forward.” But, Lipnick added, “The most important thing is to get participation.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com or @scottnmiller.
The graduates of Vail Mountain School’s class of 2019 will be off to far-flung destinations next fall, set to enter college in one of 16 different states or explore the world on a gap year. One grad is even attending college in Canada.