Limiting jobs new angle for Pitco growth control
Pitkin County commissioners threw another iron in the fire of growth control yesterday when they started looking seriously at limiting job growth.
Armed with a study that ties many of the valley’s growing pains to jobs generated by the recent burst of residential construction, commissioners said they would like to see the growth management regulations expanded, perhaps by imposing limits on both the size and number of new homes that can be built each year.
“It seems to me that we’ve been trying for years to control things with mitigation. It hasn’t worked. We need to move on and try something else,” said Commissioner Dorothea Farris.
Farris and her colleagues are particularly interested in new rules that would limit not only the number of new construction jobs, which are a major source of job creation, but also the number of jobs that are generated by the very existence of a new house.
That could mean limits on size. Once a home reaches a certain size, it tends to become a job generator in its own right, because it requires gardeners, maids and other maintenance workers, according to the study, conducted by the county’s Community Development Department. Although it’s not always the case, people who live in larger homes also tend to require more maintenance in the form of personal chefs, massage therapists and personal trainers.
The study indicates 10 new, large second homes will generate an average of slightly more than 13 new jobs, while an equal number of smaller homes occupied by working residents will add just 1.5 jobs to the local economy.
Fewer personal trainers also means less demand on the limited supply of moderately priced housing.
The new rules could also come in the form of limits on building permits. Fewer permits mean reductions in growth of both construction jobs and post-construction jobs. But the idea did not sit well with Commissioner Patti Clapper, who noted that many of her neighbors in an east end mobile home park are construction workers.
The commissioners also directed staff to consider adding remodels to the overall formula for measuring growth. Currently, the addition of a new wing or bedroom to a home is not factored into the overall growth formula. Thus, remodelers are able to skirt the mitigation requirements, such as paying into the housing fund, that are imposed on developers.
Again, Clapper expressed reservations about an idea that would adversely affect some working locals. She pointed out that the county would rather see an employee add a bedroom than sell out because their home is too small. “If you let me build a bedroom for my child, I’m not going to put her to work right away,” she said. “I promise.”
The commissioners also said they would like staffers to look into expanding the reach of existing and new regulations over more properties. Many older subdivisions and affordable housing developments have been granted exemptions that allow things to happen that aren’t permitted elsewhere.
“Maybe, we won’t need all these limitations, limitations, limitations if we were more fair about enforcing the growth management quota system,” Clapper said.
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Just in time for Halloween, the Pitkin County Board of Health voted 4-2 to reduce the size of informal gatherings from 10 to five for at least the next two weeks starting Friday. According to the public health director, officials are currently investigating 11 outbreaks in Pitkin County.