Housing Dilemma for Ski Resort Workers

Good afternoon readers,

“Wealthy property owners don’t want affordable housing, but they want their slopes groomed" – comment from the President of Deer Valley Lodging Premier Resorts in Park City Utah.

Interesting article below on a very sensitive issue that faces all ski resort communities: employee, local or affordable housing. Crested Butte has grappled with this issue for years. Now that we are seeing skyrocketing land and home values the issue is on our door step. While we can ‘hang our hat’ on some of the progress this community has made toward local housing (Stallion Park, Buckhorn Ranch) I think we have a long way to go to resolve current affordable housing issues county-wide let alone the requirement of enacting new policy that gives us a chance to avoid the pitfalls that communities like Park City are living now.

The biggest problem in Crested Butte regarding affordable housing is the lack of ‘affordability’. Recently, two deed-restricted, local buyer only designated homes sold for $595,000 and $690,000. Currently, there is an affordable, deed restricted unit in the Skyland River neighborhood on the market for $750,000. To me, these prices are ridiculous and point to the very reason Crested Butte is no different from places like Park City and Telluride. The only "locals" that can afford this type of housing are very wealthy locals. Even my friends that are local attorneys and doctors will admit they would have a tough time financing these types of properties.

While I could go on and on regarding this subject and possible resolutions I will offer up one idea only: If a property is deed-restricted to a local buyer only, get Gunnison County involved and make the land value of any deed-restricted property a buck. Thats right, $1.00 value on that dirt. If its going to be deed-restricted, restrict the value of the dirt and keep the price of the property attached to the value of the structure on the dirt. 

Food for thought.

Read this one too:

Resort realtors trade tales of housing boom
Jackson Hole, Whistler and Sun Valley are hot markets, too, industry panel says
Link to Article

Channing Boucher
Visit Crested-Butte-Real-Estate.com

A Housing Dilemma for Ski Slope Workers

(June 13, 2006) —   Affluent second-home owners might consider Park City, Utah, to be affordable locale when compared with Aspen or Vail, Colo., but an average price of $1.09 million for a single-family home puts ownership out of reach for most local workers.

Park City, which had year-to-year price appreciation of 54 percent between the first quarters of 2005 and 2006, exemplifies the growing crises of affordability in Rocky Mountain resort towns, a focus at the Urban Land Institute’s Spring Forum.

“We make our living from recreation. It takes a lot of people to fuel that economy,” says Phyllis McDonough Robinson, Park City’s affordable housing director. “If we don’t have a work force in place, it threatens the long-term viability of our economy.”

Additionally, she notes that wages for hospitality jobs like those found in resort communities tend to be 25 percent below average.

Development rippling from resort centers transforms former ranch and farming communities into recreation communities and creates more high-cost, low-wage economies centered on service industries, forcing service workers to travel farther afield to find housing they can afford.

Even though Salt Lake City, 40 minutes away, provides some relief, employers such as Kim McClelland, president of Deer Valley Lodging Premier Resorts in Park City, say his company’s inability to hire enough workers is directly attributable to the lack of affordable housing. In spite of the town’s acknowledged dependence on service workers, he says community opposition to affordable housing remains strong.

“[Wealthy property owners] don’t want affordable housing, but they want their slopes groomed,” McClelland says.

Two years ago, Denver architect Blake Chambliss walked throughout Colorado as part of an 800-mile People’s Walk for Housing Justice to bring attention to affordable housing issues in the state. He traveled to ski resort communities to engage stakeholders in conversations about affordable housing.

“Resorts are among the first to recognize that this is a community problem, and they’re working to amass resources and community will” to achieve a better balance of housing, he told ULI’s gathering.

Among his observations were the need for increased density, inclusionary zoning, collective decision making at the regional level, better infrastructure coordination, and more dialogue between the development community, governing officials, and the community at large. “This isn’t just about housing,” he says. “This is about community.”

By Camilla McLaughlin for REALTOR® Magazine Online

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