Vail Daily column: Housing plan needs vetting
The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors.
Some will say that Vail’s housing plans amount to social engineering. According to the new plan, it is the town’s mission to ensure “the availability of homes for Vail residents.” It is necessary for the town to intervene in the marketplace because, according to the plan, second-home ownership is rapidly rising, squeezing out permanent residents. According to the data cited in the plan brochure, 60 percent of town residences are now second homes, and 90 percent of the home sales since 2010 were sold to second-home owners. But is that a false premise?
Purchases of homes are only part of the picture. By all indicators, permanent residents are poised to rise, not fall. The responses to the 2016 town survey shows that about 38 percent of second-home owners plan to retire and/or move to Vail in the next 10 years. Applying that data to the projected number of second-home owners means an additional 3,800 permanent residents by 2027. When those residents are added to the natural anticipated growth in Vail, they will bring Vail’s permanent population which stands today at 5,500 to near 10,000. When the tourist population is factored in throughout the next 10 years there will be need to address a host of infrastructure issues in addition to workforce or middle-class housing, such as transportation, roads and other support facilities, along with the increased government staff to service the needs of the expanded population. These costs of an increasing population should be taken into account any time there is a proposal to invest millions in a single program. It doesn’t appear that was discussed before the town committed to spend at least $50 million on its new housing plan.
Of course, the housing plan is social engineering. The only thing that is not clear is whether it is engineering to gain additional permanent residents or engineering to gain only a certain mix of permanent residents; i.e., younger residents. If it is the latter, trying to control the composition of the community’s residential population would be the worst kind of discriminatory social engineering.
Social engineering does not have a very good track record. It is not necessarily bad, but history is littered with good intentions and bad results in the wake of many other social engineering gambits. That has been, especially, the case in which a small group of insider elites has devised a scheme that has not been subjected to public vetting. It is only through that process that the perils and pitfalls can be realized and corrected.
The Vail Homeowners Association board is Gail Ellis, president; Judith Berkowitz, secretary; Rob Ford, treasurer; and directors Jamie Duke, John Gorsuch, John Lohre, Andres Nevares, Trygve Myhren, Larry Stewart and Doug Tansill.