EDITORIAL: Metropolis authorities as housing supplier, half 4

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EDITORIAL: City government as housing provider, part 4

Read the first part

By the end of Part Three, yesterday, I gave my opinion that the Denver-based real estate experts at CBRE, who are now advising our Pagosa Springs City Council, failed to provide valuable insight into the council’s highest real estate priority – affordable housing. during a working session on January 28th on Zoom.

Shortly before the end of the working session, however, the lead CBRE expert Karlen Beitman succeeded in redirecting the discussion – at least temporarily – to the topic of “Public Private Partnerships”. “P3s”. Providing special subsidies or public assets to private developers to encourage development.

Mr Beitman smiled as he said:

“The other area is what we call ‘development advice’ for P3s. I mean, the term “P3” is so … uh … so universal and is used in a number of different ways. We call it a partnership between a public and private entity, and that’s it. It doesn’t necessarily have to be related to specific sales goals or specific types of assets. However, we see many of our municipal customers seeking development advice because … how do they optimize a particular asset they have?

“For example in the [Town Comprehensive Plan] One of the issues is how to use P3 to incentivize or accelerate development when a city owns land adjacent to a development area. I think one of those things that’s obvious, especially in the recent news, is the development of the Springs Resort and the fact that these city-owned properties are adjacent.

“So, you know … I think my question is … I know there are a couple of different economic development tools – those [Urban Renewal Authority] and now that the reallocation has taken place … I am curious to hear what the council and mayor think about what role you could play in promoting this development … not only from a community perspective, but also as a neighboring landowner.

“Is that something interesting to explore how the city could play a role in this? A bigger role? “

There was a rather heavy silence over the Zoomed Council.

When I listened to the audio recording, I counted 10 seconds before a council member responded to Mr Beitman’s questions. This is actually a relatively uncomfortable time of silence (in my opinion) to follow a question during an active, large group discussion. Perhaps Mr Beitman also sensed the Council’s discomfort?

Finally, Councilor Mat deGraaf laughed.

“Yeah, I guess the answer – I can see it on all faces – you asked a really big question that neither of us has an answer to.”

No one else spoke. Another awkward period of silence.

So Mr. Beitman answered the question himself. “Well, I would say that it could be a recommendation that we … um … make to the city to say, ‘There are some options here to your position as a landowner for this adjacent Land use also on the fact that it is a subject of the comprehensive plan.

“I think maybe we can come up with a description of some options, much like we talk about affordable housing strategies. Is that a fair … move? “

Another short silence. Then Councilor Nicole Pitcher replied succinctly: “Yes.”

Mr. Beitman smiled. “Excellent.”

I suspect, on hearing this audio recording, that the city council was surprised by Beitman’s fascination with the proposed development of the Springs Resort – an extremely controversial proposal locally given that an overwhelming majority of city voters recently approved an amendment to the House Rules charter In order to give voters more control over large tax subsidies, the city’s new urban renewal agency might propose in the future.

View of the Springs Resort from the San Juan Wetlands. Photo by Cynda Green.

A couple of comments. Yes, the city owns ten acres of vacant land owned by developer Jack Searle – the lot that houses the town hall and community center … and the city also owns the San Juan wetlands west of town hall. The wetland packages are located in a protection zone created to ensure that no future development would destroy the wetlands.

Mr. Searle recently sold approximately half of his 27 acres to the Springs Resort partners after convincing a majority on the city council that his empty land qualifies as a “dangerous plague” under Colorado law and is eligible for massive tax subsidies . Although four city council members accepted Mr Searle’s claim of “dangerous disease”, it appears that city voters rejected his claim by a 3-1 lead in the elections.

Yes, when the city’s staff and consultants revised the comprehensive city map in 2018, they described the development of Mr Searles’ vacant property as a “catalytic project”.

Some of us researched this “catalytic project” during the proposed establishment of the Urban Renewal Agency and found that it did not include a single affordable housing unit on 27 acres and that it suggested a commercial landscape of tourism businesses – those types of businesses most likely Pay inferior wages, creating an even more desperate need for affordable housing in our community.

Voters recognized last July that the economic mismatch – the proposed tax-subsidized creation of luxury housing, accompanied by low-wage jobs – overwhelmingly approved election question A to prevent the city council from handing out huge tax subsidies without voter approval.

We will also find that the comprehensive city map has 363 recommendations for improving city policies and regulations, only one of which mentions Springs Resort as a “catalyst project”.

At least 40 of the Comp plan’s recommendations concern affordable housing.

Read the fifth part tomorrow …

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson founded the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 on the belief that community leaders often only tell one side of the story … while the public deserves to hear all of them.