The Town of Carbondale is implementing its first-ever Affordable Housing Plan following an Oct. 3 board meeting where trustees agreed on goals and strategies to achieve them.
City administrator Colin Laird explained the need for a “revised community housing plan” which he submitted to his colleagues on September 29: Carbondale. There are currently over 100 homes for sale in Carbondale, but only six units for sale are listed for less than $1 million. [The] the price range for these units is… $565,000 to $875,000.
Nearly 20 years ago, the city passed an inclusive housing ordinance that requires any development larger than five units to be subject to deed restrictions, and in 2016 the city also finalized the development code. unified to mitigate the impacts of free market residential development on the community and the land. Until now, these were the only guidelines Carbondale had for affordable housing, and they did not have specific goals or action steps.
“Housing has been a priority for the Town of Carbondale for a long time, and we only had one strategy in place – and that is the Inclusive Housing Ordinance – but now we are looking at, what can we do about it? ‘other?” said Carbondale Mayor Ben Bohmfalk. “We never said, ‘This is our goal, this is the number of units we need.’ …Now we’re just going to start reducing them.
Laird’s Affordable Housing Plan also outlines the city’s goal – to double the current number of 144 city-owned, rent-limited and capped units in the city by 2032 – and a number of strategies to help the city to achieve this. Laird said relying on the Inclusive Housing Ordinance was not enough, and amid staffing shortages in the city, he volunteered to create a plan inspired by other communities in a context of Carbondale to get things done.
“One of the reasons I wanted to serve on the council was to codify what we do and think about all the ways we approach our affordable housing efforts,” he said. “I certainly didn’t want to wait until I had the ability. I wanted to get things done so we could take advantage of the timing.
Some of the strategies include expanding the downtown project and making affordable housing a component of it, creating a buy-out system, and asking voters to approve a 6% tax on short-term rentals. term in next month’s elections.
“It’s a good time to be creative,” Bohmfalk said. “We also have funding. Every year we put money from our general fund into the housing fund. So we have a million dollars in an account waiting to be spent. That’s more than Carbondale has ever spent.
Bohmfalk added that the 6% STR tax may not generate enough revenue to significantly alter Carbondale’s capabilities, and that’s why the city is cautious with its estimates of how much revenue the tax will contribute, but it will be the town. first source dedicated to affordable housing, so he hopes to see it approved by voters.
Several of the strategies included in the plan – such as buyouts and examining local median income – are steps municipalities and housing authorities across the region are exploring. Bohmfalk said Carbondale has studied what is done in Basalt and Eagle Valley and tried to learn from its neighbors. Up the valley, the board of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority has held several discussions about adjusting its AMI as residents struggle to balance inflation with housing eligibility.
“Upvalley, they have 3,000 units and we have a few hundred, so it’s a different scale,” Bohmfalk said. APCHA’s total inventory last quarter was 3,127 units. “Sometimes people think, ‘What did we do wrong that led to this?’ And that’s nothing we did. Interest rates are going up, so that’s going to sweeten things up a bit, but it’s been crazy for a few years.
Laird said he hopes the city will have a comprehensive plan in place by the end of the year for the board to adopt so the ball can start. This fall and throughout the winter and spring, the city will begin ticking off items on its new to-do list. In addition to buyouts, the STR tax ballot issue, and downtown project development, the city will also seek to increase inclusive zoning to 25% of residential units and in new developments of five or more, and will continue to encourage non-profit organizations and partner public entities to convert existing housing and/or build new affordable housing options for their workforce and the general public.
“It’s a really tough problem and it’s something we’re going to have to work on for a number of years,” Laird said. “It may take some time to show meaningful progress, but we’re trying to get things in place so we can move forward quickly.”
The draft plan that was presented to the Board on October 3 can be viewed online under the Board Minutes and Agenda Packages tab at carbondalegov.org.