Vail Town Council candidate profile: Kim Langmaid an advocate for ‘smart’ growth
- Barry Davis
- Kevin Foley (incumbent)
- Kim Langmaid (incumbent)
- Jen Mason (incumbent)
- Karen Perez
- Pete Seibert
- Brian Stockmar
VAIL — Kim Langmaid had to put in a lot of thought before deciding to seek a second term on the Vail Town Council. She keeps pretty busy.
Langmaid ultimately decided to seek a second term, hoping she can help guide the town through the next few years.
Langmaid has been an outspoken critic of the Booth Heights housing proposal, and has been since Vail Resorts, the property owner, in 2017 brought in a rezoning request for the land.
Langmaid, who founded Walking Mountains Science Center and still works there, was among the first to criticize potential development on the property because of the potential impact on a herd of bighorn sheep that uses the area as part of its winter range.
And, while she agrees that workforce housing is a significant problem in town, Langmaid said there are other, better places for housing.
“I’m a proponent of smart growth,” Langmaid said. “We don’t do enough to make the most of what we’ve already got in terms of development.”
Langmaid in 2018 got enough council support to initiate a study of a site just west of the Middle Creek apartments.
While the town would have to rezone that parcel — it’s currently in the “Natural Area Preservation” zone district — Langmaid believes that site could provide more units, at a lower cost.
But one of the things Langmaid said she’s learned is that virtually any town initiative will require partnerships between the local government and private entities.
Langmaid since childhood has spent most of her life in Vail and has been involved in the town’s civic life. But her 2017 run for office was her first attempt at seeking elective office.
One of the things she said she’s learned is that most people don’t understand the complexity of town government processes.
“None of us get training in how to be a citizen in a local government situation,” she said. “Our role as elected officials is to help (citizens) understand the process.”
Langmaid is a fan of the Vail InDeed program, which purchases deed restrictions on homes, ensuring those units will be kept in the hands of local residents.
“A lot of people don’t understand it,” Langmaid said, but it’s one of the best solutions we have.”
Langmaid said she “feels the pain” of small business owners struggling to find employees.
“My dad (who owned a Vail business) had to buy housing; we’ve had to provide housing at Walking Mountains.”
Part of addressing the town’s chronic housing shortage is also taking another look at how the town manages short-term rentals. The growth of that business has been blamed by some for taking units from the long-term rental pool.
“We can’t let that continue to grow out of control,” Langmaid said.
Vail’s future also depends on a supply of full-time jobs and careers for those who want to stay.
Transportation is another part of keeping a healthy workforce in town, Langmaid said, adding that “we need to keep up the momentum” on building an effective, affordable transportation system for the valley.
“We’re at a critical point in time when we really need to find solutions,” she said. “People want to ride the bus, but it’s so difficult to navigate the schedule.”
The county’s ECO Transit system also needs to ensure that people waiting to ride can do so protected from the elements.
“People are on the side of the road, with no cover, no shelter,” she said. “It’s super important we take care of that.”
While the town faces down challenges on the housing, environmental and economic fronts, Langmaid said the town has a good foundation in place to overcome those hurdles.
But, she said, the town is still an attractive place to be.
“When I was a kid, I never thought I could be an adult and make a career here,” she said. “There are great possibilities for young people who want to be in Vail.”
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at email@example.com or 970-748-2930.
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