Vail Town Council candidate Brian Rodine focused on community, sustainability
Brian Rodine is one of 10 candidates — including three incumbents — running for Vail Town Council. The polling-place election is Nov. 7. The other candidates are:
• Rodney Johnson
Editor’s note: There are 10 candidates this year for four seats on the Vail Town Council. For the next three days, the Vail Daily is publishing a profile of each candidate. Profiles are being published in no particular order, and previously published profiles can be found at http://www.vaildaily.com.
VAIL — Like most candidates for office in a small town, Brian Rodine wants to improve the community in which he lives. In Rodine’s mind, a greater focus on sustainability could improve Vail as both a resort and a community.
Rodine works for Vail Resorts as the company’s environmental sustainability and compliance manager in the area. He and his wife have lived in a few different places in East Vail over the past seven years. As a renter, Rodine said he’s seen firsthand the rapid changes in the town’s rental market.
Rising real estate prices, increased demand and internet-based rent-by-owner services have created a severe shortage of long-term rentals.
“Since 2010, prices per room have spiked by hundreds (of dollars) per month,” Rodine said. “There’s just no way local businesses can keep up (with wages).
“I’ve been kicked out of several places in the last eight years that have converted to short-term (rentals),” he added. “We’ve been in our current place three years now … but we’re one place away from being in Eagle.”
While the need is acute, Rodine said the current council and the Vail Local Housing Authority “have done an amazing job addressing not just one type of housing. … They’ve done a good job of keeping their eyes wide open.”
Incentives over regulations
While Rodine has fallen prey to the rent-by-owner syndrome, he said he’s not a big fan of over-regulating that market.
“We need to find a way to economically incentivize long-term (rentals),” Rodine said.
Still, he said, current prices encourage rent-by-owner use. Long-term rentals can’t cover costs on many mortgages.
Increasing Vail’s workforce housing stock can help ease pressure on the town’s parking inventory, Rodine said. It also creates community, he said.
“I live next to an entirely empty condo complex, and there are only a few neighbors around,” he said. “We need to work on that.”
Answering the big question of housing, even partially, creates demand for other town services. Vail has a “decent” system of transit and bike lanes. But, Rodine said, there’s work to be done on connecting neighborhoods in town.
And, he added, future developments need to be designed around pedestrian access and transit.
That work needs to be done valleywide, Rodine said, adding there’s an existing transportation task force at the county level.
Working on better transit and trails is part of Rodine’s vision about community building.
“Community isn’t just about housing,” he said. “It’s about what people want when they move here.”
Community in Rodine’s thinking also includes better town efforts on sustainability. Rodine said the town has done “amazing work” on sustainability and has included the Vail Recreation District and U.S. Forest Service on some projects. Rodine’s own efforts, aside from his participation as Vail Resorts’ representative, include volunteering for trail maintenance and other community-service projects.
Visitors are increasingly looking at sustainability efforts in the destinations they visit, Rodine said.
“We need to make sure we’re top of mind when it comes to (sustainability issues),” Rodine said.
While there’s a recycling ordinance in town, Rodine said Vail still has “a long way to go” on waste diversion. Other projects could include setting renewable-energy goals and decreasing demand for resources.
In all those efforts, the town needs to listen as closely as possible to residents, Rodine said.
“We need to be super proactive with communications,” he said. “We need to look at how people get their information and how to engage with them.” Pointing to the town’s Twitter feed, Rodine said live updates from council meetings seemed unconventional at the beginning.
“Now it’s expected,” he said
Rodine acknowledged that his job with the resort company could create some conflicts, adding that he’s already had conversations with Vail Town Attorney Matt Mire about what council business might require him to recuse himself.
Rodine wouldn’t be the first resort company employee to serve on council. He cited Rod Slifer and Ludwig Kurz — both of whom have served as both council members and mayors — as people who have been able to serve the town well while still working for, or with, the resort company.
“I don’t see a problem,” he said. “The (conflict) process is super clear.”
If he’s elected, then Rodine said he’d like to look back on his time on council as a period in which employers had an easier time finding employees and those people could more easily find housing.
“I’d also love to have feedback that people are up to date on issues and could name five things the town is working on,” he said. “Increasing the level of civic involvement is a huge disconnect for us.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.