COMMENTARY
Affordable Housing Is Good Business
by Martinique Davis
Feb 10, 2011 | 2305 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
February 28, 2004, was the day I became a homeowner in Mountain Village.

Craig (now my husband, then my boyfriend) and I slept on the just-laid carpet that evening, breathing in the probably toxic new-house smells and loving every moment of it. Because that was the first day I had felt, truly and fully, like I had done it: I was going to make it in Telluride.

Four cats, one dog, a few roommates, a marriage, two kids, and seven years later, we still live in our deed-restricted house in the Meadows’ Coyote Court neighborhood. Even today, when I round the corner of Adams Ranch Road and dip down into the Meadows and see our little neighborhood, and my own little townhouse, I still feel a flicker of gratitude, mixed with twinges of pride and relief. Because without affordable housing, my family and I would not be here.

Those feelings of indebtedness are largely what drove me to volunteer for the Mountain Village’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force board, nearly three years ago. At the end of what at times felt like an arduous process, which included more than 35 meetings, dozens of presentations from resort planning and economic consultants, and ongoing public outreach events, we put the finishing touches on the Mountain Village Draft Comprehensive Plan last December. I was proud of it, because I truly and honestly believe that it helps pave the way for a vibrant and viable future for the businesses and residents in Mountain Village. I am still proud of it.

Throughout the process, I was heartened to discover that affordable housing was not just an issue that was important to me, and my neighbors in the Meadows. We heard that affordable housing was important to the majority of residents – both full-time and second-homeowners – who shared their thoughts throughout the lengthy Comp Plan creation process. What I was most encouraged to discover was that not only is it providing inroads for affordable housing considered good social policy; it is, perhaps more compellingly, good economic policy.

As it stands today, our businesses in the core are making just over $300 per square foot in sales (by resort industry standards, that’s extremely low, and if you talk to business owners in the Core, that number is barely enough to make ends meet). The economic models developed for the Draft Comprehensive Plan see those business making closer to $700 per square foot – which is more in-line with what retailers in Vail, Aspen, and Whistler are making. Mountain Village’s economy can reach that threshold by bringing in more visitors (thanks to more hot beds, through the development of more hotels,) but also by supporting more full-time residents.

Full-time residents infuse our local economy year-round. In addition to more visitors spending their time, and their money, in Mountain Village, the economic models consultants developed for the Comprehensive Plan indicated that more full-time residents (brought in through the development of more affordable housing) were a vital part of Mountain Village’s future economic viability equation.

The Draft Comprehensive Plan increases the number of affordable housing units from 640 (which is build-out today) to 962 – and increase of 322 units. This is on the low end of what our economic planning consultants recommended would be ideal, in terms of providing for a healthy year-round economy, and was further pared down throughout the creation of the Draft Comprehensive Plan in an attempt to assuage concerns about changing the community’s quiet character too drastically.

Our community cannot afford to lose any more affordable housing opportunities.

Today (Thursday, Feb. 10) at 4 p.m., the Mountain Village Town Council will host the second in its series of special public meetings about the Draft Comprehensive Plan. On today’s agenda is a policy discussion about Professional Housing. I urge anyone who is interested in the social and economic future of the region to attend. It will also be on Mountain Village Cable Channel 15; or via the Web at www.townofmountainvillage.com. (On the home page under Village News, click on the link Watch Town Council Live.)

Those watching remotely may e-mail comments and questions to Community Relations Manager Nichole Zangara at nzangara@mtnvillage.org during the time Council is discussing the agenda item you are interested in.

The Town Council will continue discussion on various elements of the Draft Comprehensive Plan at special meetings scheduled for each Thursday in February. Visit the Town of Mountain Village website for a full schedule with agenda items. You may also download a copy of the Draft Comprehensive Plan from the website.
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