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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
[email protected]

The race for the Teton County commission intensified last month when the commission’s vice chairman declared his opposition to open market housing developments.

Vice President and Democratic candidate Luther Propst has touted his commitment to restricted-deed housing projects in Teton County. Yet one of his Republican opponents, Kasey Mateosky, said Propst voted to stifle housing expansion of any kind — including restricted acts.

Propst denounced open market housing in an October 26 Facebook post accompanied by a video.

“Let’s be crystal clear: Creating more free market housing is not helping our working class,” he wrote. “I’m proud of my votes for truly affordable housing projects and against projects that pass themselves off as ‘affordable’ but would only push us deeper into crisis.”

Propst said he was proud of his vote against building “83 more luxury homes in a place where we can house locals.”

“It’s time to hold developers accountable and create more restricted-act labor housing to keep our community members in our community,” he added.


Luther Propst and Kasey Mateosky

Candidate counters

Mateosky, however, told the Cowboy State Daily that deed-restricted housing isn’t the issue; on the contrary, Propst’s resistance to housing projects in general limited the supply of housing for the workforce.

He referenced housing projects turned down by Propst and the majority of the commission, sometimes in the name of wildlife conservation or open spaces.

The news reports confirmed it. Several proposed housing projects have failed in recent years. Propst voted against allowing at least two major property developments, with commissioners Greg Epstein and Mark Newcomb.

Voting against a labor zoning proposal in 2019, Epstein said it would have undermined “the nebulous and hard-to-define qualities of open space and wildlife” in the area, Buckrail reported.

In that same vote, Propst, who also voted against the zoning change, said he wanted to have more holistic discussions about neighborhood planning rather than a one-time zoning change.

“They don’t want us here”

Mateosky speculated that Propst’s spoken commitment to restricted-deed housing could be a way to stifle the market and stifle population growth in the wealthy county.

Deed-restricted housing in Teton County houses government restrictions, caps on resale prices, and sets income and other requirements for the types of occupants who can live in each home.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” Mateosky said. “What if you wanted your workforce around you and you had a chance in government to be for affordable homes…I would vote yes to all of that. Whenever we have the opportunity to help house the workers, I am late.

Mateosky is a builder. When talking about the Teton County workforce, he uses the first person plural pronouns “we” and “we”.

“They just don’t want us here,” he said of the majority of the commission.

Propst did not respond to a voicemail on Wednesday or to a list of questions emailed on Thursday.

Supply and demand

Mateosky said he was not opposed to restrictions on acts. He said such government housing programs can benefit people, adding that his children went through a similar program ten years ago.

“(Deed-restricted housing) is a good idea,” he said. “But the problem with what we have here is that over the last 10, 15 years, the sitting commissioners have stifled the supply (of housing) just a little bit at a time” by refusing projects for construction.

With less supply comes higher prices.

About 38% of all homes in Teton County are worth more than $1 million, up 13% from the 2012 figure of 25%, according to the Wyoming Division of Administration and Information. . In Uinta County, which has a population roughly equivalent to Teton County, the million-dollar housing category grew by less than 1% of its total over the same period.

Another problem, Mateosky said, is that government-controlled housing, if it allows the county commission and its offices to be restrictive about who lives where and how much homes cost, also allows the county government to stifle construction and expansion.

Not much ground though

Teton County assessor Melissa Shinkle told the Cowboy State Daily that deed-restricted housing is hotly debated in the area, with critics saying occupiers are feeding off government subsidies and not paying their share property taxes, and supporters saying the restrictions are necessary to house teachers, city, hospital and road maintenance workers, and other workers.

“I think the majority supports it,” she said, adding that occupants of deed-restricted homes pay property taxes on restricted values, though the county often foots the bill for the deed. initial purchase of each home when not private. possesses. There were exceptions of people who also donated homes or land.

Shinkle acknowledged Mateosky’s concern that letting the government control housing could stifle housing supply.

“There is some truth to this because as the city and county buy more properties and restrict them, it will certainly drive them away from the open market; basically, by reducing the ability to buy out,” Shinkle said.

But, she said, the presence of luxury homes in Teton County is so huge that simply restricting the market would not be enough to bring down home prices in the area to a level accessible to working people.

Shinkle said she disagrees with the idea that the commission contributed to the county’s soaring real estate prices by denying residential zoning to the workforce.

“I can’t speak to their voting record, but when we only have 3% private land, we’re already at a huge disadvantage (by limiting prices),” she said.

With so little land available, “you have to be careful what you allow to develop,” she said. “I don’t think their decisions necessarily contributed to this (price hike).”

Propst told the Jackson Hole News and Guide in July that voters should embrace restricted-deed housing and should “consider carefully claims that ‘freeing the market’ will solve our housing crisis.”

Rich land, price freeze

Teton County, the wealthiest area in Wyoming by landslide, has struggled for years with soaring real estate values ​​and the resulting difficulty in housing workers. Many workers employed in the county travel thousands of miles a year, including in wintry weather in the mountains.

This summer, the county commission tackled the issue by approving a vision plan for a housing area to contain no less than 70% deed-restricted housing – 30% or less market or unrestricted housing. .

“Affordable housing,” a form of deed restriction, is just one of the county’s methods of controlling the housing market. It caps the increase in the value of a house at 3% of the consumer price index, which is an indicator of inflation. This prevents any profitable resale of the house, in perpetuity.

Additionally, the Teton County Housing Department, an arm of the county government, selects tenants and owners of these homes through a weighted draw process. But there are strict eligibility requirements. For example, occupants must fit into a specific income range based on the home, must work full-time in the county for at least one year, must not own any other property within 150 miles of the county ; they cannot have guests for more than 30 days per year, nor leave the unit for more than 60 days.

Another government control in place in the county, called “workforce housing,” sets similar limits on who can live in or rent a home. It does not cap rental rates, but this strategy caps the resale price similar to affordable housing offerings.

Place of reception

Along with his wife Liz Storer, Propst owns two properties in Teton County, according to the county’s land database.

Their home and land on Elk Run Lane is valued this year at around $1.17 million. Their home and land on Whitehouse Drive is valued this year at around $2.3 million, according to the database. Neither land is subject to a deed, the assessor’s office confirmed.

Storer is also a Democratic political candidate, challenging Republican nominee Paul Vogelheim for a Wyoming Senate district based in Jackson.

slate

Like Mateosky, Republicans Peter Long and Tom Segerstrom are also vying for seats on the commission.

Propst and Mark Newcomb, both Democrats, are up for re-election. Wes Gardener is also running as a Democratic candidate. Brenden F. Cronin is running as an independent.

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