Budd: World-class Vail experience requires pragmatic housing solutions

Mike Budd
Valley Voices
Mike Budd

For six decades, Vail Mountain and ultimately the town of Vail and Vail Resorts have been working to create what is today one of the largest ski resorts in the United States, as well as some of the most recognizable and sought-after brands in the world. Those brands, reputations and delivery of a world-class experience are once again being challenged by the variables of our own success.

The challenges of growth and change within the ski industry and resort ownership, the economy, environment, products and services, housing and so much more have been met head-on and tackled by a combination of public and private sector leaders, community members and many more along this 60-year journey to where we stand today.

As a world-class ski mountain and town, we have attracted world-class residents — full-time, part-time, and everything between — businesses and visionary leaders whose experiences position us all well to understand what it will take to maintain our reputation and find pragmatic solutions to all of our challenges — particularly housing.

So why is the Booth Heights project presenting such a divide in our community and challenging our opportunity to continue to thrive? Following countless rounds of discussion, altered proposals, threats, appeals and lines drawn in the sand, we look up to the latest news in this long-standing battle, the Vail Town Council’s decision/vote to suspend the issuance of permits for the property in question. This result leaves our community with one less solution to the housing problem. It is a scenario that truly limits our ability to raise awareness, be educated, and find viable solutions.

And yet, the solutions and success stories are there with more to be had. From older examples like the Miller Ranch community in nearby Edwards, where multiple entities came together to deliver the affordable housing and related community assets required to help the area thrive, to more recent solutions created at The Sonnenalp to ensure its workforce can be housed safely and affordably and secure its place and service to our community and our reputation.

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Between these entities and their potential differences with others within our community, they have worked through challenges to create successful housing environments that help allow Vail to continue to be world-class.

With each passing day without compromise and solutions, our challenges and our obstacles are magnified by the inability of our business and community leaders to find common ground, to find solutions to our growing housing needs — from our community’s essential workers and service-industry employees to our vacationers, seasonal and full-time residents. None of these individuals have the ability to return to our community and contribute to our collective success the next day without the ability to have a roof over their head the night before.

For more than 100 years, REALTORS· (including the more than 600 professionals in this Vail Valley) have been serving the housing needs and opportunities of all Colorado residents by finding a common ground, a solution with a fair market value, and the opportunity to live in a property and thrive under the protection of personal property rights. We do this by coming to the table with an open mind — a willingness to listen, to give a little, to take a little — all in an effort to find reasonable, rational, long-term solutions and protect the viability of our community.

Our real estate expertise allows us to truly live and work in this magnificent place. Our boots are on the ground, our ears are open to the residents and their diverse housing needs, and our goal is to continue to have a seat at the table with Vail’s thoughtful, open-minded, solution-driven leaders and community members eager to find the path forward and continue to build upon our local, state, national and global reputation. It is critical that we come together quickly, that we put egos and emotions aside, and that we find those viable solutions that will help protect the economic vitality of the Vail Valley for decades to come.

Yes, it’s emotional, it’s politically charged, and it’s challenging. It is also doable. Our community is made up of some of the best and brightest business, civic and community leaders that have come to Vail from diverse backgrounds and experiences — successful experiences that were faced with challenges and opportunities, give and take, mutual respect, open-mindedness and pragmatism to get to solutions.

It is time that we all sit down at the table and find pragmatic solutions that will deliver diverse housing solutions that ultimately benefit our entire world-class community.

Mike Budd is the government affairs committee chair for the Vail Board of REALTORS. Learn more at

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