Eagle County Workforce Housing Task Force - save the date

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The Eagle County Housing Task Force will host 2 community visioning sessions on Monday, December 4th from 11:30am – 1:30pm and from 4:30pm – 6:30pm at the Grandview Room in Vail. The purpose of these sessions is to hear from a broad cross-section of public and private members of the community about what their vision/dream is for workforce housing in Eagle County.  Using Vail Resorts’ proposed East Vail Project as a concrete example for discussion, the sessions will be organized as a series of stations that will allow participants to share their input on a number of key aspects:

  • What’s your vision for workforce housing in our community?
  • What kind of housing is appropriate and needed? Specifically aspects such as size and mix of unit sizes and affordability as well as whether a mix of rental and for-sale homes can improve the viability and appeal of workforce communities.
  • What role can site planning and architecture play in creating a viable and attractive workforce community?

During the summer of 2016, Michael Hazard, AIA, and long term resident of the Vail Valley and Bobby Lipnick, MD, MBA, LEED AP met while serving on the program committee for The Vail Symposium.  Hazard, a local architect, moved to the Valley in 1977 when he was able to afford a studio with views of Golden Peak on a $12,000 salary. Lipnick, with an MBA in real estate and finance, earned in 2005, has held a passion for the Vail Valley that extends back to his first visit to Vail in 1968. They were determined to give back to their community by employing their combined design, planning and real estate skill set to create a workforce housing conference dubbed. The NIMBY Jamboree: “Creating a healthy community through affordable workforce housing”. Held this past August 2nd & 3rd and drawing twice the anticipated attendance, the title was coined by one of their panelists, a talented developer who related the many experiences he had in presenting and seeking approval from communities for new workforce housing developments.

Favoring the status quo over change and fearing the worst, neighbors will often assume that any project carrying the moniker affordable, workforce, local, or entry level has to mean cheap, transient and/or loud and will negatively impact surrounding real estate values. Given that for most, our homes are a substantial component of our financial profiles, it is understandable that this contingent is vocal and passionate in their vigor to oppose such projects.

Lipnick & Hazard’s goal for the conference was that it would be the start of an ongoing process to redefine what good workforce housing development can become.  They insisted that there be a long term housing task force, for at least the next ten years, to provide a stewardship and continuity of support for housing. It is meant to reverse negative beliefs and encourage our community to embrace vibrant, innovative and sustainable workforce housing models as integral elements of our communities from East Vail to Dotsero.

What is the new Eagle County Housing Task Force (ECOHTF)? The task force is comprised of 14 community leaders and volunteers from throughout Eagle County. The Eagle County Housing Task Force is a resource for all in our community who are seeking affordable housing to live in or those interested in developing workforce housing. The task force plans to facilitate the creation of more workforce housing through education, data collection and public forums by creating a more efficient process.

The Vail Valley Partnership recently surveyed the community in order to determine the priorities in the Valley and concluded workforce housing is the number one priority. Eagle County has run similar studies reinforcing the need for increased housing. Housing is a critical component to a sustainable community. This fall, Vail was named to the top 100 sustainable destinations in the world for 2017 by Green Destinations.  In order to become re-certified as a sustainable destination in 2020 Vail must meet and maintain progress on many sustainability criteria including workforce housing. The ECOHTF will work with members of the sustainable destination steering committee to achieve this goal. The ECOHTF will also work with public-private partnerships, deed- restricted projects, land swap deals and community land trusts to facilitate the creation of adequate workforce housing in the Vail Valley.

The task force believes that our community’s need for an equitable and diverse housing stock is essential if it expects to maintain the excellence that brought us here and attracts our guests. The best results begin with a vision for new communities that are defined by the residents, their needs and how the mix and disposition of homes lend to the project’s livability and longevity. It is imperative that they be designed to give pride of place to its residents. Maybe trite in tone, but it is this aspect that most importantly distinguishes a successful project and leads to acceptance from its neighbors because the pride of place ensures that homes are maintained and landscapes are watered.

The best results will begin with a vision for new communities that are defined by their residents, their needs, and how the mix and disposition of their homes will lend to these projects livability and longevity. Housing needs to be designed to give pride of place to its residents. Please join the community and let your voice be heard.

Bobby Lipnick, MD, MBA, LEED AP      Task Force Co-Chair

Michael A. Hazard, AIA                       Task Force Co-Chair

Eagle County Housing Task Force Members:
Mick Daly; President, Eagle County Chamber of Commerce
Michael Glass; President, Alpine Bank Vail
Elyse Howard; Development Director, Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley
Scot Hunn, AICP; President, Hunn Planning & Policy LLC
Morgan Landers; Community Dev Director, Town of Eagle
Greg Moffet; Councilman, Town of Vail
Molly Morales;             Property & Housing Coordinator, Vail Health/Board Member of the Vail Local Housing Authority
Chris Romer; President & CEO, Vail Valley Partnership
George Ruther; Community Development Director, Town of Vail
Kim Bell Williams; Housing Director, Eagle County
Kristin K. Williams; VP of Mountain Community Affairs