Vail Valley Partnership column: Healthy community through workforce housing
People move out of Eagle County when they reach their early 30s and don’t stop leaving until their early 60s. We are losing people in their peak earning years. Many attribute this, in part, to a lack of housing affordable to these employees. Employee turnover costs local businesses a lot of money and creates other community challenges.
You’ve likely heard the term NIMBY (an acronym for Not In My Back Yard). NIMBY is a pejorative characterization of opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development because it is close to them, often with the connotation that such residents believe that the developments are needed in society but should be further away.
NIMBIES are, in many cases, the problem, as they continually rally against “those people” living in their neighborhoods. This is despite the fact that we are all “those” people. We need to continue to work together to not just oppose things but instead to be proactive to create a healthy community. The purpose of the NIMBY Jamboree is just that: to create a healthy community through workforce housing.
NIMBYs are often joined by their partners, CAVE people and BANANAs. CAVE (an acronym for Citizens Against Virtually Everything) people is a pejorative term for residents who regularly oppose any changes in their community, organization or workplace. While the NIMBY phenomenon is typically related to development issues, CAVE people, as the name implies, oppose virtually everything.
BANANA (an acronym for Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything) is most often used to criticize the ongoing opposition of certain advocacy groups to land development. The apparent opposition of some activists to every instance of proposed development suggests that they seek a complete absence of new growth.
NIMBYs, CAVE people and BANANAs all want to restrict growth. But here’s the thing: We need to find a way to say yes on future development proposals that include workforce housing, because even in a robust economy, wages do not always keep up with the cost of housing.
Public policy should control direct development according to the entire community’s wishes — not just the wishes of the vocal minority.
At the Vail Valley Partnership, we want to ensure our community can remain competitive to support our business community. Workforce and affordable housing has long been an issue in Eagle County. Addressing our affordable-housing issue is essential to the continued success and growth of our community.
The upcoming NIMBY Jamboree, on Wednesday and Thursday at The Antlers at Vail, is designed to address this exact issue. This two-day event is a collaboration among the Vail Symposium, Vail Valley Partnership, Vail Board of Realtors and concerned residents. The Jamboree is a day and a half interactive program and has been designed to bring together a diverse cross-section of the public and private members of the development community to engage participants to explore the problems, possibilities and solutions to achieving sustainable workforce housing. Join us for panel sessions, topical breakout sessions, site visits and a town hall.
Learn more and RSVP at vailvalleypartnership.com or vailsymposium.org. We look forward to seeing you there, and appreciate you being part of the solution.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com.
Paul Cuthbertson, a lifelong local of Eagle and Summit counties, died while skiing up to the Polar Star Inn to meet some friends for a celebration of his 21st birthday on Friday night.