Sunday, September 14, 2008

Steamboat Springs Housing Market Study - City Council Meeting

Housing market study reveals unmet needs
By Brandon Gee (Contact)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Housing demand by the numbers

Singles Couples Empty nesters Families

One bedroom

4% 1% 0% 0%

Two bedrooms

38% 19% 25% 10%

Three bedrooms

48% 55% 61% 38%

Four or more bedrooms

10% 26% 14% 53%

Source: Yampa Valley Workforce Housing Demand Analysis,

September 2008
Steamboat Springs may need to change its strategies for providing affordable housing, a recently released housing demand analysis reveals.

The analysis, which will be presented at a joint meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council and Routt County Board of Commissioners tonight, shows the Yampa Valley’s largest demand is for affordable rental housing and affordable purchase opportunities that are larger than what exists in the current housing stock.

Even among singles surveyed in the region, 86 percent expressed a preference for two- or three-bedroom homes, with only 4 percent preferring a one-bedroom unit.

“The disconnect with the current deed-restricted program is that the majority of … workers … will not accept a small, attached, deed-restricted unit,” states the study, performed by Robert Charles Lesser & Company. “The overwhelming preference is for a minimum of two bedrooms. … Buyers are more likely to invest … time, energy and money in the deed-restricted process for a larger unit as it alleviates fears of becoming ‘trapped,’ particularly as their space/family needs evolve over time.”

The $150,000 study was commissioned by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and paid for by the city, the county, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, major developers, and major public and private employers such as the Steamboat Springs School District, Yampa Valley Medical Center, Sheraton Steamboat Resort and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. The full study and its executive summary are available at

“People really do want to grow a family here,” said Noreen Moore, business resource director for the Routt County Economic Development Cooperative and a member of the study’s working group. “The study really validated where we are at risk. We need to make some adjustments.”

Moore said the study reveals why developers are having trouble selling the smaller units in their affordable housing stock. City Council President Loui Antonucci said that although the city’s current affordable housing policies don’t encourage smaller units, “I don’t think it’s encouraging anything. That’s the problem. We’re shooting in the dark. In order to ensure success of the whole program, we need to find out what people need and build accordingly.”

Councilwoman Cari Herm­acinski said the city will begin pushing developers to do just that.

“I think that when people come in with their community housing plan, it should reflect the market demand analysis,” she said.

Moore and Housing Au­­thority Executive Director Donna Howell cited the analysis’s findings related to seasonal employees as particularly enlightening. According to the study, full-time employment in Routt County has grown at an annual rate of 4 percent since 2004, while seasonal employment has remained flat, meaning there is a proportionally greater need for ownership and year-round rental opportunities than in years past.

Nancy Engelken, community housing coordinator for the city of Steamboat Springs, said the city will use the analysis to better employ its affordable housing policies and possibly revise them. But implementing all of the study’s recommendations could prove challenging. For example, Engelken said land cost and scarcity in and around Steamboat make it challenging to implement a recommendation to build more small-lot and single-family homes.

“When there isn’t a lot of land to build within the existing urban growth boundary, it makes it very challenging,” Engelken said.

The urban growth boundary, or UGB, also will be a topic of discussion tonight when council members and commissioners consider an application by the developers of the proposed 360 Village project to extend the UGB by 240 acres.

The UGB is a provision of the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan that delineates land appropriate and not appropriate for urban development. It is a precursor to annexation. The 350-acre west of Steamboat development proposal includes 240 acres outside the UGB. UGB amendments must receive joint approval from the city and county, which three other proposals this year have failed to do.

Also today, the council will consider the first reading of a “social host” ordinance that would institute penalties for parents and other adults who allow teens to drink in their homes. As originally proposed, the ordinance being presented by Grand Futures Prevention Coalition included mandatory jail sentences. That provision has been removed because of the financial impact it would have on the city’s municipal court system. That impact would include increased involvement of legal counsel, a sure increase in the number of jury trials, and the need to provide legal representation for indigent defendants.

— To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail

To obtain information on any property in Steamboat Springs or the surrounding areas with Buyer Representation, contact
Michelle Diehl, GRI Broker Associate at Prudential Steamboat Realty.
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