Monthly Archives: April 2007

Glenwood Meadows affordable housing project fizzles

Despite two and a half years of planning and support from both the City of Glenwood Springs (deferred payment of $800,000 in development fees and construction of a park on the property) and Garfield County ($1.5 million in cash), a proposed 120-unit lower-income apartment project at Glenwood Meadows is dead.

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority turned down a request from the Aspen-based Dunrene Group for $8.9 million in tax credits.

Arny Porath, the project’s developer, is hoping to build the project on another property, but finding that property could be a challenge.

CHFA previously had awarded the project the tax credits, but developers couldn’t meet the deadline to use them. They reapplied once they had put together a package that included the city and county assistance, but CHFA worried about continuing increases in construction expenses for the project.

While the developers can reapply for the tax credits later this year, but Dunrene Group’s Robert MacGregor said he couldn’t afford to losing another construction season and the prospoect of even higher construction costs.

Macgregor said he expects he will look to partner with a developer of more traditional middle-class housing on his property. Such a project would have to comply with Glenwood Springs requirement to provide 15 percent affordable housing, or contribute an equivalent amount to an affordable housing fund.

Read Dennis Webb’s full article . . .

Steamboat debates new affordable housing policies

After a long meeting and extensive public comment, the Steamboat Springs City Council approved two resolutions that support eventual adoption of a controversial linkage policy. Linkage would require residential and commercial developers to compensate the city, either by a fee or by construction of affordable homes, for a percentage of the market-rate housing units or employees created by their new development. The Council tabled proposed revisions to the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance until May 1.

Read the full article . . .

RTD looks to private partners to complete FasTracks

Rising construction costs and lower-than-projected sales-tax revenues have the The Regional Transportation District (RTD) in Denver seeking federal support for a plan to contract with private firms to finance, design, build, operate and maintain as many as four commuter rail lines. The north metro, northwest, Gold and DIA rail lines will cost more than $2 billion.

RTD applied late last month to join the Federal Transit Administration’s public-private partnership pilot program, which promotes more extensive links between public transit agencies and private businesses.

Read the full article . . .

Text version of FTA Public-Private Partnership Program

Lack of housing for middle income workers growing concern

The Grand River Medical Center, based in Rifle, recently told the Garfield County commissioners that employees are leaving because they can’t find a place to live or rent, and that could affect the organization’s ability to provide quality care.

The district, which employs 300 people in the Grand River Medical Center and E. Dene Moore Nursing Home, has between a 5 and 15 percent vacancy rate at a given time, Human Resources Director Michael Weerts said.

“I have to hire temporary employees who travel 100 miles each way each day,” because of the housing problems, he said.

He called on the commissioners “to look at borderline outrageous solutions” to the housing problem in the valley, “because we have an outrageous housing problem.”

Read the full article . . .

Eagel County voters head to decide on charter proposal – again

Eagle County residents are considering their second proposed home rule charter in six months. Voters rejected the last charter proposal in November 2006. The ballots are due back to the County Clerk’s Office by May 1.

The biggest changes proposed in the new charter would be the addition of two county commissioners, the re-districting of the county for elections, the ability for citizens to put their own proposed laws on election ballots and the removal of the county surveyors position.

Article Seven of the proposed charter calls for the ability of citizens of Eagle County to have the right to petition initiatives and referendums onto the election ballots. Citizens would be able to create or repeal laws through this process on everything except land use and budget issues. To start a citizen-led initiative in an election, 15 percent of the total number of registered voters in the county would have to sign a petition in order to introduce the question on to the ballot.

More info is available at www.homerulefacts.com

The confusing directives of CO school financing

Mark Counch’s article “Poorest pay more school taxes,” in the April 9th Denver Post is a facsinating analysis of the impacts of competing constitutional ammendents on school financing in Colorado.

The article discusses how state goals of equilizing per student funding across the state combined with the constitutional amendments such as TABOR, Gallagher, and Amendment 23 have created an odd financing equation that ironically eases school spending demands on wealthier communities more than poorer ones.

As the article illustrates, since at least1993, “Colorado taxpayers have picked up an increasing share of the cost of educating children in some of the state’s wealthiest school districts. Although the state’s share of school bills in poorer districts has also grown, homeowners in those districts are paying higher property-tax bills than they used to pay.”

Although the amendments all seemed like good ideas at the time, their combination and location in the state constitution will continue to create headaches for legislators, the Governor, and taxpayers for the forseeable future.

Read the full article . . .

Read Ten Years of Tabor by The Bell Policy Center (PDF)

School Finance
Click for larger image

TOD can save the planet

San Bruno’s Shops at TanforanTransit oriented development is gaining traction around the U.S. (it’s already popular in many other countries) because it can address many community issues — provide affordable housing, increase transit service, prevent loss of open space, create public places — at the same time.

And now, in case you needed another reason to support TOD, it can also save the planet. As San Mateo County Supervisior Adrienne Tissier writes,

The solutions to global warming are found in modern urban planning and zoning and three little words: Transit Oriented Development. Build well-designed, affordable housing within walking distance of efficient mass transit, and the air-fouling traffic jams will unclog themselves. Better yet, build well-designed, affordable housing within walking distance of jobs, schools and retail, and car use will plummet.

It is nice to know that something good for a community has a global benefit as well.