Vail Daily column: Public invited to a housing discussion
February 23, 2017
The failure of ballot issue 1A (workforce housing) doesn't change the fact that people move out of Eagle County when they reach their early 30s and don't stop leaving until their early 60s. It does not change the fact we are losing people in their peak earning years. Many attribute this, in part, to a lack of housing affordable to these employees. We know employee turnover costs local businesses a lot of money and creates other community challenges.
At Vail Valley Partnership, we want to ensure our community can remain competitive to keep locals local and to support our business community. The fact is, providing residential (primary) housing has long been an issue in Eagle County. Addressing our residential housing issue is essential to the continued success and growth of our business community across industry sectors.
We are proud to announce a new housing coalition and invite all interested parties to come together and share thoughts, feedback and solutions to help address this issue. Providing housing remains of paramount importance to the community and we are interested in providing a road map with input from varied partners. This housing coalition is modeled after our economic development effort, and we will bring together public and private partners to identify opportunities and needs. The workforce housing coalition will meet throughout 2017 to help identify regulatory burdens, rental unit vs ownership mix, potential private industry solutions, tiny homes, the role of government, and other topics as identified by coalition participants.
We cordially invite you (everyone!) to attend a county-wide conversation regarding the crisis of workforce housing in Eagle County hosted by Vail Valley Partnership. We feel that a wide variety of voices are important to both identifying the major obstacles that stand in our way, along with the important task of moving this initiative forward.
The first meeting will be an overview of where we stand and will serve as a guide to setting future meeting topics. At VVP, we are committed to working with local businesses, government entities, special districts, school districts, builders, developers and engaged community members to study this issue in depth. Our vision is a series of meetings, each with their own focus on areas and agendas. Our intention at the culmination of this series of meetings is to be able to gather community feedback from a broad sector and provide a road map to the solutions we collectively gather.
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We intentionally use the word "crisis" when speaking about workforce housing in the valley. In the last election polling, data showed us that an overwhelming majority of the community said this was an issue that needed immediate attention.
We borrow this from John Tayor, Boulder Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, who in a blog post titled "Less Talk, More Action" said "Leadership began referring to its housing challenge as a crisis. That is important. When you are confronting a crisis, the time for talk is over and action on solutions becomes paramount."
We share this sentiment and do believe that the tipping point has been reached. We receive calls daily from businesses, current valley residents, as well as those considering relocation, asking if we have insight into this crisis.
"County and town governments and most of the community collective, including Eagle County school personnel, have agreed that housing needs are significant and should be an issue receiving priority action. Comparisons of income and housing costs and availability of housing stock have been independently tabulated and confirmed to be inadequate." From the General Election ballot from Nov. 8 in support of 1A, the sales tax initiative proposed for housing. While that ballot measure failed, the need to address housing remains ever present.
We need your help
We invite all interested parties, whether private, public or government based, to work with us in identifying long term solutions to this crisis. Yours is a voice that we would be honored to have in this initiative moving forward, as it is paramount to the continued success of this place we are privileged to call home. Please consider helping us in moving forward on this most important of issues.
When: March 2 from 3 to 5 p.m. (We are planning a series of meetings to follow up as we create this road map.)
Where: 1055 Edwards Village Blvd, Edwards, CO 81632. Eagle County Ambulance District Community Meeting Room
Please RSVP to Erik Williams, director of community development at the Vail Valley Partnership, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in sharing your voice.
For more information on this topic, please consider visiting our website at http://www.vailvalleypartnership.com/advocacy/workforce-housing/
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.
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