It’s a community, not just housing projects | AspenTimes.com

It’s a community, not just housing projects

Dear Editor:

Our community needs affordable housing (whether it is purchased or rented) so that the next generation of current Eagle County residents can continue to call Eagle County their home.

Solutions must build community and must be diverse to achieve balance in the continuum of housing. A true affordable housing program for Eagle County requires creative thinking and action. We must actively engage our local, willing, bright and creative developers to help us solve this issue. We have to work cooperatively with private enterprise, not against or in competition with it, to create common-sense solutions.

Once in office, I will immediately initiate the following plan to restore trust in the county by being fair to all members of our community.

1. End government subsidies to private developers like Stratton Flats and decrease property taxes so the middle class and retirees are not forced to subsidize housing for others, while they struggle to pay their own mortgage and property taxes. Most people understand the need for a modest increase in tax revenues, but 43 percent is unreasonable and is hurting the middle class

2. Stop wasting tax dollars on any more studies that tell us we need affordable housing.

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3. Finalize and codify our county-wide master plan that grants developers, as a use by right, the ability to build workforce housing.

4. Enact true incentives that encourage developers to build workforce housing. These incentives will include, but not be limited to, expedited permits, reduced fees, fee waivers and zoning variances.

5. Simplify the pre-application process for affordable housing. I compliment the town of Gypsum and its pre-application discussion process. Before a potential developer starts out on the wrong path, they meet with the town staff to identify potential problem areas. There are no guarantees or promises made, however, and Gypsum has gained a reputation of being a community you can trust.

6. Partner with developers in building community infrastructure that complements any increased density. Traffic mitigation, parks and other community infrastructure will benefit all of our community. Traffic is big issue in Edwards and Eagle. They have outgrown their infrastructure, and the addition of more affordable housing in those areas without traffic mitigation will negatively effect the quality of life of the current residents of those communities.

7. Reduce the inclusionary zoning requirements which are in effect a tax on housing. The inclusionary housing tax unfairly burdens the cost of market-rate homes and drives up the cost of housing for the middle class. The recent ULI study cites 20 percent as the upper limit for inclusionary zoning, and the county should follow that recommendation.

8. Preserve our assets and not sell them off for a temporary gain. Voters would not approve of the sale of Lake Creek Village. It’s easy to understand that with even a modest appreciation rate of 7 percent that Lake Creek Village will double in value in 10 short years.

9. Equally important is the need for more affordable rentals. The majority of service industry jobs in our community pay less than $15 an hour. The county should provide incentives, not roadblocks in the form of new regulations, to encourage creation of affordable rentals. Incentives could include fee waivers, use by right zoning, and equally applied rules.

10. Initiate a discussion with the Edwards CMC campus regarding a residential campus. This will build community in several ways.

a. We would be training full-time, degree-seeking students in areas where they would benefit our community. It would be wonderful for our children to be born here, go to school here through college and finally live here.

b. These students would already have housing and so would not be a burden on our housing market.

c. The students would be here during our peak seasons, during which they could work part time in our resort industry.

d. CMC actually gets more money from the state for full-time, degree- seeking students.

e. Less of our tax dollars would be diverted to fund campuses in other counties. Right now we pay more in taxes to CMC than are spent in Eagle County.

f. Public transportation is already running in that area.

If you missed previous points of my 10-point plan for restoring trust and building community, you can find them on my website at http://www.electdebbiebuckley.com.

Debbie Buckley

Avon

candidate for Eagle County commissioner

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