Election ’22, Pitkin BOCC candidates: Kelly McNicholas Kury, Day 2
This week The Aspen Times is publishing a series of questions and answers from the two candidates vying for the District 2 seat on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners — incumbent Kelly McNicholas Kury and challenger Erin Smiddy. The District 1 seat for the BOCC is also on the ballot with incumbent Commissioner Patti Clapper running opposed. Election Day is Nov. 8, and ballots were mailed out last week.
Today’s question: Where is the best place in unincorporated Pitkin County to build worker housing, and what would you do to make that happen?
Kelly McNicholas Kury: The county has not done enough to address housing and I have been the strongest voice on this BOCC to make progress into doing more and doing it smarter. I believe there are still meaningful opportunities to build housing in unincorporated Pitkin County, but it must be part of a smarter strategy to prevent the worst impacts of growth, align with climate change and transportation goals, and as a part of a larger strategy to better maintain and create efficiencies in our current housing stock.
I believe that housing should be focused within the urban growth boundaries, which wrap around the municipalities of Aspen and Basalt and may be considered near transit nodes when outside the urban growth boundary. For example, I support investigating the viability of housing at our public works campus, on the Owl Creek side of the airport, and at the Old Snowmass Conoco if that current employee housing is ever renovated. For large ranch-like parcels in unincorporated county that propose multiple dwelling units and outbuildings, I believe onsite housing is appropriate.
I successfully advocated for our first dedicated housing staff in the county because you need people to advance priorities. I additionally encouraged the creation of the new regional housing coalition who has developed a no-build strategy to deliver and convert housing. I championed our update to the county housing mitigation fee so we are making sure developers are paying 100% of the impact of their monster homes. And I persuaded my fellow commissioners to explore partnerships with the Forest Service for the 8th street corner, Eagle County at Crown Mountain Park, and to incorporate housing into our planning at the Public Works facility.
I also believe that because of the county’s work in human services and with seniors, we should focus on an efficient spectrum of housing from homelessness solutions to senior housing. We should end veteran homelessness, support transitional housing for those subject to eviction or domestic violence, and we can take pressure off workforce housing by providing senior housing options that are well designed for that stage of life.
Finally, I believe we need to better maintain our current housing stock, use it more efficiently, and generate programs to keep workers in their homes. Our housing program is 40 years old and we need to give a stronger focus to maintaining it, not just adding to it. I serve on the reformed APCHA board, which makes it directly accountable to the voters, and we’ve strengthened our compliance efforts and penalties for violations. I’ve been a strong advocate for right-sizing to get empty bedrooms filled and for creation of an emergency maintenance program. Additional strategies that are meaningful include rental and eviction assistance and using down payment and shared equity programs to convert existing units into workforce housing. All of these solutions require money and I continue to implore the BOCC to consider a more stable revenue source for housing so we can match state grant opportunities and leverage successful partnerships.
Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert won reelection in Colorado’s GOP-leaning 3rd Congressional District on Friday, barely overcoming voters’ forceful rebuke of her highly controversial tenure in Washington over the past two years to help her party expand its slim majority in the U.S. House.