Vail Daily column: Vail parking and housing update report, Part 4
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a report by the Vail Homeowners Association board of directors. The association keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the Vail community. The electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vail homeowners.com.
• Trucks on the street: Lost in the discussion of parking is the congestion and noise that is caused by delivery truck on street parking in Vail. At times, Vail’s streets look like a commercial loading operation. This does not need to be the case. More than ample off-street truck-docking facilities have been provided in recent years at the cost of several millions of dollars. But, without enforcement, Vail’s streets are going to continue to be the preferred option. It is time to revisit delivery truck parking in the town core and clean up Vail’s streets.
• Affordable housing: Vail has recently approved 130 new deed-restricted units (32 at Chamonix and 96 as part of the Roost Lodge redevelopment). This will bring the total number of such units in Vail to almost 900 units. But Vail’s major initiative — its 10-year, $50 million middle-class housing program to “deed restrict” 1,000 housing units in Vail — is stalled.
Adopted last September, this super-sized plan was seen as the only alternative to affordable housing because, without invading open space land, there are no other available building sites within the town of Vail, and use of open space is off the table. The plan was budgeted for $500,000 for 2017, and a single sale cap of $200,000 was imposed. There were supposed to be twice-annual reports to the council on the project.
So far, there have been no takers, and there have been no reports to the council. To make matters worse, the major funding for the plan — a massive tax increase — appears dead with the overwhelming defeat of a similar Eagle County tax increase last year.
At the time the 2017 Housing Plan was adopted, one of the many questions raised by the Vail Homeowners Association was whether anyone would be willing to restrict their resale profits for an average sum of just $50,000. Bigger questions are whether this level of social engineering to change the basic composition of the town of Vail population is prudent or warranted and whether Vail will ever realize that the housing issue requires a valleywide solution.
Housing shortages are not confined to Vail. A number of downvalley communities are realizing that housing is a valleywide problem that can’t be solved by any single community. It shouldn’t take much thought to realize that there are a number of available downvalley sites and that a valleywide housing authority could comprehensively tackle this problem.
• Is affordable housing going to trump master planning and zoning? In light of the Roost Lodge success, the developer for the Mountain View condominiums withdrew a request for a master plan amendment and resubmitted the plans as a special development district proposal. Following the same playbook, the Mountain View proposal contains affordable housing. Other developers are rumored to be preparing similar requests.
Special development districts have long been criticized as a pay-to-play system in which developers can buy a way around zoning restrictions. In the case of the proposed Mountain View project, it has no additional gross residential floor area available; it exceeds zoning height limits and is out of scale with the neighborhood.
It remains to be seen whether town leaders will hold to Vail’s master plan and zoning limits or whether the lure of affordable housing trumps agreed limits on the scale of development in Vail. Vail Homeowners Association urges that special development districts should be limited to rare instances and that the default rule should be that proposed developments must meet zoning requirements or justify variances through the zoning process.
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.