MAYOR BOB DELVES … I appreciate Bob trying to show another perspective of the Mountain Village’s approach to workforce housing in last week’s Watch. Certainly, through the Intergovernmental council of local governments, the Mountain Village and the County have been working with the Town of Telluride and the smaller communities in the county to try and find some collaborative solutions to the issue of where to house the workers needed to run our local economy. Bob and I actually sit on an Intergovernmental task force, working with the Forest Service, to see if we can identify some new land in the region that we can trade into the private sector for workforce housing. It’s slow work, but it’s critical for the future … Except, what do we do NOW to fill the needs of the growing workforce necessary to service the Mountain Village? And I repeat that cannibalizing Norwood’s hot beds, which a couple weeks ago seemed to be in the works without any regional discussion, is NOT a good way to do that … Bob, of course, being new to the area, writes in his commentary response to my concern about the Norwood deal that, because the County had “assigned” a 15 percent workforce mitigation requirement back in the 1980s, when Mountain Village development was approved, he “must assume that the County considered the 15 percent to be sufficient ‘mitigation’ at the time” … Well, no, Bob. Actually not. The County had updated its outdated workforce housing mitigations standards for new development from 8 to 15 percent just before the Mountain Village proposal was initiated. However, I recall many of us lobbying hard for 30 percent. And I also recall Telski CEO Ron Allred coming to a BOCC meeting back then with his phalanx of cohorts and screaming bloody murder (okay, maybe “loudly protesting” would be more accurate) that 30 percent was excessive, unreasonable and would torpedo his development. Sufficiently cowed, the commissioners of that day acquiesced to that new number-out-of-a-hat … All one has to do is take a look at the cars on the road up Lawson Hill each morning and late afternoon, in spite of the gondola, to see that the Mountain Village’s current workforce housing unit numbers for a development now 70 percent of buildout is insufficient. The Mountain Village may be ahead of some arbitrary 15 percent standard (does 15 percent workforce housing have any sound grounding in science – I can guarantee you it doesn’t), but it’s clearly not enough. Never was … Even Bob admits as much in his commentary’s second point. Of course, as the Mountain Village has incorporated, all new development is subject to the Town of Mountain Village regs, not County regs. And, again as Bob admits, while they have tried to make their new developments house 15 to 20 percent of their workers, that’s clearly not enough and yes, without a formula based on sound science, the Mountain Village doesn’t have it right yet … Of course, with deed-restricted units in the Mountain Village open to all, workers are housed there who work in Telluride as well as the Mountain Village (not a whole lot of work going on Downvalley). That’s a situation that has come about since the Mountain Village piggy-backed its new town on the allure and reputation of the old town, and so has to carry some of the impacts as well as share the benefits of its brand name (you don’t see many national advertisements seducing visitors to “Come to the Mountain Village” but a whole lot saying “Come to Telluride” – for facilities that are often in the Mountain Village) … And yes, some of us choose for many reasons (cost, family, way of life) to live in the Norwood region rather than in the glitzy East End. And with 60 percent of Norwood residents working in the East End, it certainly helps support the economy of Norwood to have the Mountain Village/Telluride resort as economic driver of the region. No question. And the Mountain Village did contribute $100,000 towards the Norwood Habitat for Humanity homes on a site that the County donated for free. That kind of collaborative working together is obviously not the cannibalization I was talking about. Stealing Norwood’s already constricted hot beds so we can fill Telluride and the Mountain Village’s hot beds is what I mean by cannibalization (we’ll be down to less than 10 rental beds in the Town of Norwood were the Back Narrows’ deal with Capella to go through). A visitor-dependent county like ours needs hot beds on both ends of its long boxcar boundaries. We shouldn’t be stealing from one end to feed the other … For all Bob’s talk of avoiding divisiveness, the whole issue with the Back Narrows Inn – actually, Norwood’s historic Western Hotel, renamed by a previous owner – could easily have been avoided by communicating with the Norwood Chamber and Norwood citizens (as well as us government types) about the proposal, and getting some feedback before completing a laissez-faire free market deal … It feels like bad faith when the County, which is really not the government that has the legal responsibility to provide housing mitigation for its new workers, gets blindsided by a proposed deal like this … No, I don’t plan to stop working on finding new land for East End workforce housing with the Forest Service, but let’s be upfront on our plans on how to handle the workforce housing shortage. Let’s try and work together – not use the free market to sneak one by one’s smaller partners … It was just two years ago, back when the Mountain Village was touting plans for $800 million of new construction, that a Mountain Village planner came to a Tri-County North meeting in Ridgway – Montrose, Ouray and San Miguel counties meet quarterly to discuss regional issues. There, the assembled commissioners and citizens from the three counties were told that the Mountain Village would not have enough housing for most of the new workers from all this fabulous new construction, and that Montrose and Ouray should expect to house the brunt of all those great new jobs. I was flabbergasted. And outraged … I think the new leaders of the Mountain Village, through our Intergovernmental meetings, have come a long way in getting really serious about working collaboratively to address this fundamental social imbalance, symptomatic of every successful resort community in the West … I’m all for jobs. I appreciate Robert Levine’s wanting to invest here. But let’s get this straight. I want us to work together on workforce housing, not cannibalize sister communities to satisfy the East End’s unmet needs.
RIP … It is with great sadness I learned of long-time local and fellow Green Party member Dennis Daigle’s passing, as well as the Norwegian philosopher founder of Deep Ecology, Arne Naess … More on that next week.
FOR THE JOY OF IT … Were you one of those youngsters turned off to poetry in school? Who never understood what all the fuss was about, and haven’t read much since? Or maybe just the opposite. You’ve been trying your hand at iambs and ghazals … Well, Ouray’s unofficial poet laureate and fellow columnist for the Ouray Plaindealer Beth Paulson has a workshop for you … Learn to read and understand several accessible contemporary American poets. Come see why some folks swear by poetry. Are quite moved by it. Love it even. Plus, Beth will take you through some directed writing exercises, so you get a chance to try your hand at mixing all you’ve heard and seen with what you know and do – for beginning and intermediate students … Jan. 24th. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. <www.weehawkenarts.org> 970.318.0150
THE TALKING GOURD
serves as screen.
this heart’s flow
still good to go.