Our Town

I came across an interesting paragraph yesterday in a Kurt Vonnegut short story entitled "Where I Live." It made me think about Salida, and the feeling many of us share that we are at a crossroads. Will Salida continue to be a small mountain town where people live simply, or will it devolve into a pseudo town that exists for the pleasure of rich tourists and where locals are priced out of the housing market?

Here's the paragraph:

"For one thing, it is not a hollow village, with everything for rent, with half of the houses empty in the winter. Most of the people live there all year round, and most of them aren't old, and most of them work - as carpenters, salesmen, masons, architects, teachers, writers, and what have you. It is a classless society, a sometimes affectionate and sentimental one."

I did not attend the Mountain Mail City Council candidate forum, but I read in the paper that nearly all of the candidates agreed that the time has come to discuss vacation rentals. Here's the quote from October 23: "One issue that got a practically unanimous response was the place of vacation rentals in Salida and the problems they create when they saturate an area."

Wouldn't it be great if the Council tackled a topic right away on which there is a lot of agreement? It may be a good way for the members to get to know each other, practice compromise, etc. as they coalesce into a fully functioning Council which demonstrates mutual respect and cooperation. It would be a win for the Council and a win for the City (in my humble opinion) to start formulating a framework for vacation rentals in town. I believe that we need a policy that respects the rights of all property owners (those who rent out their homes and those who live next to them) and also forces those who are using their homes for profit to treat that home as a business (taxed accordingly).

Let's get a community task force together to give feedback to the City Council on this issue. I would love to see the Council have a process for collecting community feedback on critical decisions, and then using this information to synthesize a reasonable course of action. Let's research how other towns have and have not successfully managed the vacation rental industry in their towns and learn from others.

Let's start a conversation.

In my vision of this framework, the taxes/fees paid by owners of vacation rentals will be funneled into projects for attainable housing for those who live and work in our community. That's my vision. What's yours?

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Comments

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  • Awesome conversation to start. This is a broad conversation that will have a lot of options discussed. Most Salidans think affordable housing is an important issue, perhaps the most pressing issue facing our community. The current Council should address it. It could be the issue that brings this community back together. Start by saying the Vandaveer may or may not be the solution. We need to take some baby steps and develop some basic strategies. We should get all the options out and into the conversation. Hopefully the first idea out of the box isn't a budget buster none of us can swallow. Billy C.

  • Why start building hundreds of houses when there are no good jobs or industry here?

    Number one priority in my mind is to educate our people beyond high school/GED. Leadville, Alamosa, Canon City, and Gunnison all have further education, why don't we? Our smartest kids go on to get educated elsewhere and few of them return. Educate the people and they will at least have a chance to prosper. The highest and best and first use for Vandaveer should be further education. It would also provide the double benefit of adding a new industry that will provide positive results way beyond the simple addition of jobs. More housing would naturally follow. That's my vision. Next?

  • Do we have statistics on the affordable housing shortage in the county and in Salida?

  • Good jobs and available housing go hand in hand. Employers say that it is hard to recruit if candidates cannot find housing at a price commensurate with the jobs available. The Economic Development Council has some data about the housing shortage in the county. They have been working at both ends of the county to get some projects off the ground with mixed results.

  • FYI, the planning commission has taken up the issue of vacation rentals. A work session should be on the agenda soon. My understanding is that is will not be a one time event wherein policy will be made. Because vacation rentals touch on issues of property rights, affordable housing, economic development, and quality of life issues within neighborhoods, I would hope that we get a good public turnout. Should be fun!

    I believe that the planning commission is the proper venue to take up this issue, or most land use code issues. At this level, with public input, policy through code can be presented to the Council to review, discuss and vote on with another round of public comment during the council sessions. It seems the Council has there hands full as it is. I, personally, prefer that our Council not micromanage but delegate and lead; let the various volunteer boards, commissions and staff do their work and then review and vote upon recommendations.

  • I think you have a good idea with having the Planning Commission involved under the direction of Council. I think Council can (and should) elevate the matter and make it a priority. I also think that the Planning Commission can have a couple of roundtable with interested parties, like the Economic Development Corp, vacation property owners, vacation property managers, developers, etc. who are all stakeholder in the conversation. If the final recommendation involves any kind of tax or fee that needs to be approved by a vote, they could put this on the November 2016 ballot. This would give a year for folks to come together and collaborate rather than go with a knee jerk reaction.

    I know that many of the people who have nightly rentals collect all the appropriate taxes. City could use this year to get a good accurate list of who has rentals and make sure that the owners/ managers are all aware of and are following the existing regulations. There could be a grace period during this time.

    I have heard that the City doesn't have a way to enforce the existing regulations. It seems like this could be rectified by Council without a vote of the people so that if there are scofflaws then the City could have a way to enforce the existing rules. For example, Council could pass a Resolution that gives someone (Code Enforcement?) authority to pursue delinquent parties.

    It seems like there is always an intern in City Hall. Maybe they could acquire a second intern to do some of the heavy lifting. This could be a very meaningful internship for student who in interested in a career in community development.

  • edited November 2015

    The more that comes out about Vandaveer, the more it looks like tax (or water and sewer fund) dollars going to subsidize profits for a few developer and realtors. Our staff spends a lot of time and energy on it, essentially "playing developers" with our money, with no consequence to them for bad decision-making.

    The only plans thus far (new government buildings southeast of Big O; a hockey rink; new baseball fields "that are going to bring reams of tourists from over a hundred miles around!") work to increase our operating costs at a time when the City says it doesn't have enough money for operations. These plans would also divert our capital funds from maintaining and preserving the street / water / sewer infrastructure that we already have, that all knowledgeable parties - the water rate study engineers, PW Director, Finance Director - say really needs to be fixed.

    City officials and staff should not say again, "Lowry is going to build infrastructure and it won't cost the City a dime!" It will cost whatever the 31 acres cost the city when it purchased the land, those 31 acres being transferred to Lowry for doing the infrastructure. This is not meant as a ding on Lowry. Lowry is just doing what it does.

    It would be good to have some sort of plan articulated, too, beyond saying "affordable housing" and "Vandaveer" in the same sentence, before the team goes and transfers the 31 acres.

    Why is there such a rush on Vandaveer? Why did former councilman Baker more than once feel compelled to say, "Let's do something, anything, even if it's wrong!"?

    The Natural Resource Center Development Corporation was only supposed to get 16 acres of land. The City also gave it the $300k it got from the sale to Pinto Barn of the other 16 acres or so of bottomland just west of the USFS building, in order to help it develop the NRC. It wasn't enough.

    Vandaveer was never supposed to be a 191-acre development play toy for City staff, but it somehow devolved into that. Vandaveer has imposed tremendous direct and opportunity costs upon the city.

    The Council will likely have to put the 2% sales tax allocations to a vote. Maybe it would be appropriate to earmark some of those funds towards paying off the $multi-million loan, after we get Hanlon to provide a public and cogent explanation of just exactly what he led the Council to do - in a legal sense - out there in 2011 - 2013, and how he envisions undoing it.

    Can't it just be green space for a while, and sit on the "for sale" market or something? What harm in that?

  • There are many, many families priced out of the housing market. Build costs are high, land costs are high, and development costs are high. Many people, myself included, see Vandaveer as a great option for developing attainable housing. The problem of affordable housing has only gotten worse over the last eight years since Salida purchased Vandeveer. I don't think sitting around for eight more years will help the situation.

    I see Vandeveer as a place where there can be two or three kinds of development. Some land can go to commercial enterprises, which keeps people working. Some can go to rich folks who want to buy 400K+ homes. Those first two activities can subsidize some housing for local people, hopefully built by local people, again keeping that money in the community.

    I would much rather see Salida put that land into service as housing for middle class families than build ball fields. Families and young people are leaving town because they just can't make it financially. We could build a bunch of ball fields, but it might be an exercise in futility if there are no kids to play on them.

    I agree that there seems to be a rush on selling off Vandeveer. I think there should be a master plan for the area. We had one in 2008 or 2009 when the City was planning to bring in a big developer to do the whole area. Whatever happened to that plan? Let's get a plan together with community input before we start selling off parts and pieces. I hope that the new plan does not involve a master developer. There are lots of locals (myself included) who make their livings from building and/or development. Let's keep those families working in our community rather than bring in an out of town tract home builder. (I haven't heard that anyone is planning to bring in a tract home builder.)

  • Paige,

    When I was first elected to council, unopposed, because no one else was interested way back, in 2005, I really wanted to sell the land just to get the debt off the books. Then in 2007-8 when Keith Baker was elected, we found out that the 2004 purchase of the land in the General Fund was a violation of TABOR. The water debt was totally legal under the enterprise rules created by the Colorado Municipal League after the TABOR Passage. We then, under the contract for purchase, had to pay off both the water and land debt, using reserves. That lead to a need to increase reserves and a water/sewer rate increase. At that point council thought getting some type of higher education on the land would help of our local economy, as well as housing. I was in complete agreement with the Forest Service building as an initial step in the creation of an "out door" campus which might lead to the higher education component.

    As I recall, (that is my out for possible memory inaccuracies) the developer last decade, had the vision of multiple large box stores as well as well as multiple different types of housing. The effect of the stores on both downtown and other highway 50 retail was unclear. The economic kaboom in this country, took them away. The possible sources of their financing reach a level of remarkable absurdity. I think we, collectively as Salida, dodged a bullet. There may be more bullets coming.

    The greater difficulty is that almost no western mountain town, area, where outside people want to move into, has figured out how to keep prices low for the real people/workers. Salida has been thoroughly discovered, remember Gentlemen of the Road were here.

    I think your ideas are pleasant and more or less correct, but how can we control the avalanche coming our way?

    Jay

  • So many questions....

    Are new developments required to have green space which the baseball fields would provide?

    Wouldn't new baseball fields at Vandaveer open up the land where they stand now for housing development?

    Are there laws in place that specifically tell a homeowner what they can and cannot do with their home?

    Would existing rentals be "grandfathered in" after any possible ordinance changes?

    Does anyone really believe some sort of lodging tax is going to stop or lessen the amount of short term rentals in Salida?

  • New development must pay about $3000 per home for parks and open space fees plus $200-$300 per home for school fees. If a development is large enough, the developer can work with the City to create a park within the development in lieu of fees. Basically the developer gives the City the land on which to build the park or money for the City to build new or improve existing parks. So, yes, new development does contribute to parks and schools. Not to mention the $13K to $15K in water and sewer taps required per new home.

    I believe there are some regulations in place in the City code regarding short term rentals (tax and fees) but I don't believe there is a mechanism in place to enforce existing regulations. I think that this would be a good place to start. My understanding is that the City doesn't have a list of who is renting property out on a nightly basis, so it must be difficult to know who is paying the required taxes/fees. I think a registry is a simple place to start so the City knows the magnitude of the industry. If regulations change, then this registry could help with the "grandfather" situation if it arises.

    I don't know if a lodging tax would slow down the growth of short term rentals, but lodging tax money could go to help build homes for residents in other parts of the City. Many mountain towns have "workforce" lodging. These units are reserved for necessary personnel like teachers, firefighters, police officers, etc. I think that Vail has a lottery, and the longer a person (family) has lived in the community, the more chances they have to live in one of these "rent controlled" units. I don't propose that the City own, build, or manage housing for necessary personnel. I think a free market approach is best. But I believe the City and and should do what it can to make this kind of development possible. If the City took the lodging tax and nightly rental fee ($2.50 per night, I think) and earmarked it for the purpose of supporting affordable housing, that would be a start.

    I read that Boulder doesn't allow second home owners to rent out their homes. Full time residents can rent out their homes when they are not there. This helps locals defray the high cost of living, but doesn't remove a home from the rental/resident housing pool.

    Currently, Salida doesn't allow short term rentals in ADU's (Accessory Dwelling Units). It makes sense to me to allow a person to rent out an ADU because the homeowner is on hand if there are any problems. I would rather allow nightly rentals in a local's backyard that supplements a local family's income than a second home owner who is here two weeks a year who rents out a home for 50 weeks at a profit.

    Also, I think that is a home is used for a business, it should be taxed as a business. There is debate as to the legality of this. I am sure the City could get prompt legal advice about this.

    There are a lot of different ways that other communities have engaged this issue. I think it only makes sense to have a community discussion about the impact, both present and future, of nightly rentals in our community.

  • edited November 2015

    You know how people have been able to have affordable housing? 3.....2......1.... They make it a vacation rental. That's just one way it can be done. Also, I don't really know what affordable housing means. One person can buy a home for 250,000 and it be affordable and another for a half a mill. and it be affordable.

    Of course, if you are saying there is a demand for housing then what's stopping you from buying some land partnering up with some investors and build? If the demand is so strong as you claim then you'll make so much money you won't know what to do with it. You'll be in control and can under cut every rental property in town.

  • My husband and I own a home building business and we do build homes. The problem with making things affordable (whatever that means to the reader) is the accessibility to land and the high cost of infrastructure (tap fees, sidewalks, landscaping, etc.). It is pretty easy to build things in the $300-$350K range and you are right, these homes sell. I would love to see some changes to our planning regulations that allow (even encourage) higher density, which reduces the cost of land per living, allowing duplexes to share water and sewer taps, which saves on infrastructure, and encouraging (or requiring) developers to set aside some lots for lower cost housing. I also like the idea of deed restrictions, which limit the sale price for select units to keep them affordable in perpetuity.

  • Good discussion, and it's all over the map. The one thing that stands out for me anyway, is the question of affordable housing, and Carl hit the nail right on the head. What's affordable for one, isn't for another.

    What needs to be considered is workforce housing at a rate that workers can actually afford on the wages paid, AND maintain a high enough quality of life to make them able and willing to stay at their jobs long term. How long can a person be expected to "work to live" with no opportunity to enjoy all that the area has to offer?!?!? Employers complain constantly about employee turnover....

    What do I mean by that ? Think about what many employers can afford to pay, on the low end, $8.00 an hour, and on the high end, $12.00 an hour. Yes, there are a few that pay more, and a few that pay less, however for the purposes of this letter, I'm going to arbitrarily say $10.00 an hour is a median wage for workforce housing. $400 bucks a week, $1600.00 a month. Adjust it up or down a couple bucks, the numbers still tell the same story.

    In today's Mountain Mail there are 13 properties for rent in reasonable proximity, most well above $1000.00 a month, and a few hovering just below that figure and only one well below it (which I admit skews the results to show a lower number than truly realistic, however keeping it simple and factual here).

    Add all 13 prices together, divide by 13 and you have an average of $1056.00 per month, plus utilities, say $250.00 a month average which I believe to be a low number. Add in the cost of transportation to say, Monarch 100.00, car payment of $150.00 and insurance of $100.00, you're at $1666.00 !!!

    That's $66.00 a month more than the gross income, once you take out State, Federal taxes, medicare and social security taxes which are about 25% of a workers gross pay. I'm not going to get into federally mandated health care etc.

    So, at the end of the day, you have a worker who's running about $700.00 bucks a month in the red, without food or clothing figured in. Think of the single parent with children working at Monarch bumping chairs, cleaning tables, working housekeeping at a motel, a server at a restaurant, the clerk at the liquor store, a Wal mart Associate (Night stocking jobs start at $9 bucks an hour according to the sign at the entry), Starpoint and Columbine workers.

    Without these folks there would be no Salida, no service, no t-shirt shops, no convenience store clerks, no hot springs pool staff. Folks we see every day, serving us. They cannot afford to pay rent that exceeds their net income.

    I could go on, however I think I made my point. How about building housing these folks can rent, for about $500.00 a month, once the renter pays utilities they are at 750.00 a month. That's more than 1/2 of their after tax income.

    It'll never happen. Wages aren't going to go up across the board either. Ya know why ? In either scenario, there's no profit in it, not for the developers, not for the rental property owners, not for the city, and not for the employers. If there were profit in it, it'd happen overnight.

    Food for thought. There are a LOT of good people that find themselves in this "class" that live here. A LOT.

  • All, There are a couple of things that will create further obstacles beyond Marshall's thoughtful and , I believe, accurate analysis.

    First, we have TABOR, which gets in the way of any form of taxation in Colorado. Then we are a Statutory City, so the legislature would have had to previously sorted out all the options. Lastly, at the moment, we have NIMBY. For those who may have forgotten, Mira Monte was to be a quite concentrated development to the west but was opposed by all the 2-5s outside of Salida as well as others nearby. The development went away in the 2008-9 financial mess in the country.

    A couple of things I did learn during my 8 years on council (which was an interesting experience), no government decision is unopposed by at least some, and all government decisions, including elections, produce unintended consequences.

    Keep the discussion going.

    Jay

  • I attended the NRDC meeting today. I can't remember the name of the developer, but there is an outfit (from the Springs, I think) that is putting together a proposal for low income rental units somewhere in the Vandeveer property. What I heard today was very preliminary, but this project may have up to 60 units, 48 of which are going to go to low income residents and the other 12 will be at market rates. I think that there are income guidelines similar to the property on Holman. For two years I lived in a home in Trailside that backed up to this Holman property so it was literally in my backyard. What a well run, clean, quiet community! I hope that this effort in Vandeveer goes forward and is as well run as the Holman place. I heard today that the plan for this Vandeveer project is to target households down to the 30% AMI (annual median income) level. The AMI in our area is around $40K, so 20% of that is $12,000 per household. There are some complex tax credits, etc., and this company has expertise in this area. This is all preliminary, but what good news! I hope it moves forward in the near future. If you want to help it along, you could let your City Council representative know that this topic is important to you.

    48 units is a drop in the bucket, but it will be the first drop in the bucket in a very long time!

  • Jay - can you remind me where Mira Monte was proposed to be located?

  • It as to be just west of Cottonwood Green. I do not recall the exact numbers, but it was downsized a bit due to the local opposition, and then went away because of the greater economic problems. The land is now under development.

  • Crestone Mesa is in the location that was going to be Mira Monte. Crestone Mesa has 46 (or close to that) single famliy and duplex lots. They sold out that development in less than a year.

  • I sort of lost track of this - is Crestone Mesa considered "affordable housing"?

  • This from an old Citizen article http://salidacitizen.com/wp/?p=3722592

    While a search of Zillow reveals a lot for sale there for 74K, google shows a few homes for sale, with no listed price, however surrounding properties are listed anywhere from 650K$ to 525K$

    I bet Donald Trump finds this affordable, however I don't. I'm positive my friend that works at Starpoint doesn't.

    Regarding Paige's reply, I sure do hope that this project comes to fruition. I can't help but wonder though, as there's clearly no profit in a development such as this, what is the motivation of the developer ? Is it a philanthropic corporation ?

    Waiting for the other shoe to drop? I hope not, while it indeed is a drop in the bucket, it's a sorely needed drop, and a heckuva start to a solution for a major problem facing Salida.

  • Pretty cool conversation to drop in on. Wishing folks here in Bend were more engaged and forward thinking as you all are. Nice work, Paige.

  • Hmmmm. Came across this article from

    http://salidadailypost.com/2015/12/03/opinion-between-a-stockyard-and-a-sewer-plant/

    At first glance, seems to be short term rentals (read: vacation rentals) disguised as workforce housing ? Not really sure what to make of it at this point, seems a little dense, and if one is to give any credence to the author's assessment, possibly a little on the shady side of things as well.

  • edited December 2015

    I am so glad you shared this article. And thanks to Cynda for writing it. I have some thoughts on the project.

    First, I think it would be awesome to add a lot of small rentals to our rental mix. Hopefully small means affordable. How many times have you heard of a single person looking for a room to rent in town?

    I wish the developers didn't plan on up to 33% short term rentals. If you read this thread, you know my thoughts on nightly rentals and how they affect affordability and access of housing for locals. But, this project is still in the planning phase so there will be opportunities for citizens to offer feedback at planning and zoning as well as city council meetings.

    I happen to think that having small homes share water taps is a great idea. Ten years ago, we built Triangle Court on 1st and 3rd by the ball fields. We were allowed to use 5 residential taps for 10 homes. This saved us thousands in tap fees and was one of the reasons we were able to sell those homes well under $200K. (The following is from my memory and may not be exactly correct.) As I recall, the HOA for the Triangle Court community pays the water and sewer fees every month. The City is still getting paid every month for the water that is used. The City only has to send out one bill every month instead of 10. The HOA pays the bill automatically so there is little issue with collecting the money. The only difference in the hardware is that we only laid five pipes to the homes instead of 10. Yes, the City got less money up front for tap fees. But those homes were sold at a truly affordable price that created 10 new homeowners in town. And the City has been collecting water and sewer fees for 10 years.

    If we are serious about creating affordable housing, we need to address water and sewer tap fees. Recently we tried to build a sixteen unit apartment complex in town. The project fell apart for many reasons and will not be built. Our plan was to use a commercial tap to provide water and sewer to the sixteen apartments. This was going to save up to $120K on the development, or about $8000 per dwelling unit. The apartment community was going to use the same amount of water and sewer whether the water came from 16 taps costing $13K each ($208,000) or a commercial water and sewer tap (about $80,000). The only drawback to using a commercial tap vs 16 individual taps is that if the property was ever to be divided in the future, the development would have to install individual taps.

    This requirement (individual taps) seems ludicrous to me. I wholeheartedly support shared water and sewer tap fees for small homes.

    In a perfect world, I would love to see some of these units available for purchase. I believe home ownership is the best way for people to feel secure (and to be secure) in their housing situation. Landlords can raise the rent and terminate leases, which can make renters insecure. That being said, with the City planning and zoning rules the way they are today, this development would be much more expensive if the homes were put up for sale individually.

    Each individual home would pay $3000 in open space fees and $300 in school fees. (200 homes at $3300 per home is $660,000. I didn't see in the packet whether the project will be paying these fees, which are normally only paid when property is subdivided and has individual ownership.)

    Also, with current rules, if the homes were sold to individuals, each home would have to purchase individual water and tap fees (200 X $13.000 is $2.6 million in tap fees). I believe that under current rules the project could opt for commercial water and sewer taps, which cost much less and can easily service many, many small homes per commercial.

    I am looking forward to following this Cleora project.

  • Well, ridiculous or not, they are contemplating it. Given the players, they must see profit in it.

    As for tap fees, I'm betting that somewhere palms will be greased, and there will be some "variance" given as an incentive for the project to be built, that's what Real Estate Development companies do, they build and profit, more profit is better for them. Nothing wrong with that, as long as it doesn't place any burden on the taxpayers.

    The city of Salida is not what one would consider a wealthy city. Tap fees are one way cities generate revenue, typically in order to finance the operations of water and sewer services they provide. They have little to do with how many pipes feed a building containing how many dwellings. It's about having a healthy infrastructure that can be maintained and updated as needed.

    Without fees (yes, tap fees are one) to those wishing to make a profit, the taxpayers are going to bear the financial brunt of the project as the city needs money from somewhere to ensure services. Granted this scenario (concessions and variances) tends to spread out the development costs over the taxpayer base, but in my eyes, the taxpayers shouldn't have to ensure the developers make a profit.

    The downside to this is, if the developers aren't seeing piles of cash sent their way via concessions and variances, they aren't going to build anything affordable, they will build $750K trophy homes in exclusive gated communities instead.

    In all fairness though, Trophy Homes are a one time profit. 200 Tiny little (250sf)boxes built in a cow pasture will generate a continuous stream of profit, first from the assembly of the box, then from the development, and then monthly with the rental income. If it's annexed into the town, then road and bridge, police, fire and EMS services will all cost the town money to provide.

    When I look at it that way, 200 tap fees at $8000.00 each doesn't seem like such an onerous thing at all. Over 10 years, it'd add $67.00 a month to the rental, and help keep things as they are for ALL Salida taxpayers by the development paying it's way.

    Bet there will be concessions and variances though.. I used 10 years as a baseline, as from what I can tell, these little boxes are built "UBC modular style" in factories, as "inexpensively" as one can build. Not something built to last a lifetime. Think huge trailer park. I'm betting the developer isn't planning on a 10 year Return on Investment. Probably more like 2 years until the profit starts flowing in to the bank.

    Remember, anything that sounds too good to be true, usually is. We all too often forget that sage advice. Friend Ranch is a shining example.

    However, that's just me and my 2¢, your mileage may vary.

  • To me the density, and I would assume the visual, of the proposed single dwelling unit development is totally out of character with Salida and surrounding areas.

  • Agreed, absolutely.

    But then that all sorta depends on your point of view. At least this would be out by the stockyards and sewer plant, and not in "town proper" where it would be really out of character. Neither the Stockyards OR the Sewer plant is visually appealing (or good smelling for that matter)

    Given the overwhelming need for workforce housing, the proposed location is about as good as one can get. Where else would one put a high density development akin to a trailer park ?

    I think what worries me more than the development itself, is how its being proposed, and what the end cost to the city will be. The lack of transparency / information and the possible concessions to the developer are worrisome. Hopefully the specifics will surface soon..

  • I think one thing many people can agree on is that the actual cost to deliver water is not clear. Everyone pays an up front cost and everyone pays a monthly fee for water they use. I don't think it is easy to distinguish between what should be billed up front (water and sewer tap fees) and what should be billed monthly (water used and sewage produced). We have been building in Salida since 2011, and tap fees have risen steadily. The city planner way back then said that this would happen because Salida had not been investing in infrastructure for years and the time had come to start fixing what's broken and planning for the future. So for decades citizens probably underpaid both tap fees and monthly fees, and for the last decade both tap fees and monthly payments have gone up. I understand that development needs to pay its way, but right now the dollar amounts seem very arbitrary and I am glad that the Council is looking into this.

    When people talk about the "cost to the City", I think it is also important to consider the benefits to the City of adding users to the pool that supports public infrastructure. The PUD application says that they plan to use a 3/4" line for a pod of six tiny homes. If they build 200 tiny homes, this will be 33 water taps at a cost of $9,943 for a residential tap and $5,206 for a residential sewer tap. That comes to 33(9943+5206), which is just shy of a half of a million dollars. Plus, monthly payment for actual usage in perpetuity. If the homes are ever sold individually, the sellers/buyers would have to cough up for individual lines, but if they are held in common ownership then I don't think the current code requires separate taps.

    More users means that the overhead costs are shared between more users, which should drive down the costs for everyone until more capital investment is needed to keep up with the added demand. A half of a million dollars in tap fees seems like an asset to the City.

  • Marshall - Frankly I'd rather look at the stock yards! I agree on concern about how it is proposed ...

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