In his editorial of Sept. 3, Publisher Baranczyk displays a surprisingly superficial understanding of the issues facing Chaffee County.
He reports that at a recent county comprehensive planning meeting of 80 people “an overwhelming number of those attending” voted affordable housing as the county’s most pressing need. Then, he made the leap to write that raising the rural acreage minimum from 2 to 5 acres would make housing less affordable.
The two issues are unrelated because affordable housing is, by its nature, developed within, or adjacent to, existing municipalities. Density contributes to affordability, while municipal services and transportation are essential to it.
In addition, vacant rural land, whether it’s 2, 5 or 35 acres, is already priced well beyond what could be developed into affordable housing.
While “80 or so residents” attended the meeting, more than 1,500 residents participated in the recently completed Envision project. Over 90 percent of those participating in Envision called for Chaffee County to retain its rural nature. That will not be accomplished by spreading homes on 2-acre lots throughout the Upper Arkansas Valley.
My research has identified Routt County (Steamboat Springs) as having made the best effort in dealing with both issues. Re: development. Rural lots are a minimum of 35 acres. Development can only occur on properties that adjoin any of their four municipalities.
Affordable housing is such a critical issue for hundreds of Western tourism destinations that Jackson Hole, Wyoming, recently developed a parking lot and restroom facility where people can live in their cars for rents of $450 per month.
While not solving their housing problem, Routt County has made strides. Smaller than Chaffee County, Routt County has six low-income housing apartment complexes that contain 370 affordable apartments (see affordablehousingonline.com).
The issues facing Chaffee County all seem to involve growth and how to best deal with it. The solutions demand more than simplistic perspectives.
J. David Holt,