We knew that affordable housing was going to be a problem in the future of Telluride way back in the 70’s and we’ve been working on it ever since.
The land for Shandoka came from a negotiation between the Town of Telluride and the Telluride Company not long after the Benchmark Company purchased controlling interest from Joe Zoline.
The deal was that Allred wanted to get started developing and as part of the purchase he got Backman Village at the western edge of town. He proposed to annex and rezone the property for some single family residences, but mainly for condominium development for tourist beds, which we desperately needed if our ski resort was going to make a go of it.
I wasn’t involved in the negotiations, because it involved only the Town and I was county, but the negotiation was difficult and contentious where lines were drawn in the sand by individuals that never were forgotten.
One of the conditions was that The Telluride Company was required to deed title to land it owned to the town for future employee housing. That land is where we built Shandoka almost fifteen year later.
It was a good thing we had it. The biggest problem with building affordable housing is land in ski resorts. As the problem gets bigger the amount of land available to build on gets scarce and more expensive. Housing Authorities end up bidding against developers for land and the location of the land is critical to both since both want a location that is walking distance to the community and its shops, store, skiing and job locations.
Affordable housing gets a lot less affordable if you have to drive 45 minutes each way in a car that costs $20,000 or more and with gasoline costing $250/gallon or more. I always figure that a car costs $1000/month with payments, gas, insurance and maintenance, not to mention time. Time spent driving is time not spent with your family, your children, or time just spent on yourself.
Shandoka was a golden opportunity.
SHANDOKA TODAY WITH 110 UNITS AND DAYCARE
When I joined the Telluride Housing Authority there was talk about the property, but there were a lot of people that thought that no one would ever want to live next to a parking lot in the shade of the ski mountain. The majority thought we should sell it and take the money and buy other land to build on.
I thought they were wrong and that we should start building and build and build. After serving on the county Planning Commission, it seemed obvious that Telluride was falling further and further behind. The P & Z had done a study when we zoned the Mountain Village and all the other major developable lands in the Telluride Region and determined that a minimum of 12% of all densities needed to be “deed-restricted” for affordable housing for locals. All the TREPAC participants agreed and 12% was built into all the future zoning including the Mountain Village. We came about that number by going to Aspen and meeting with their Housing Authority and talking to other ski resorts around the country. Aspen told us 10%, but we thought 12% was better. Now we know the number is at least 25% and that we need land and lots of it to meet current demand and future demand.
I now know we made a mistake at the county level in that all the landowners agreed to designate 12% of their densities for affordable/employee housing, but they retained ownership, control and pricing of the land. We should have set up a mechanism for the land to be transferred directly to the housing authority or transferred to some third party so that it would out of the control of the developer and in the control of the people that need the housing.
Shandoka was a great project and since it was built has always been full and always had a waiting list of applicants to move in. Some tenants in Shandoka have been there since it was built.
The project now totals 110 units of affordable for rent housing, a community day care facility and the only Laundromat in Telluride.
THA was made up of Susan Wilkin (Wilkin Court), Dave Johnson, Elaine Fischer, Michel Montague, and myself. The Housing Authority had some problems in its past and had been plagued by corruption and incompetence on the part of management with a very shaky working relationship with the Town Council.
Affordable/employee housing is just a tough deal. Essentially, you just have no friends out there. No one wants it next to them (nimby) and no one wants to pay for it, they’d rather have a town swimming pool, a skate board park, higher salaries for town employees, free ski passes, you name it—it all comes before housing,
However, I believe affordable housing is the most neglected of the important things that government actually should be involved in like, school and education of our children. I think affordable housing is extremely important to a community like Telluride where land and house prices in the free market system have become so expensive that no one that lives and works in Telluride and actually lives off the money they make in Telluride can afford it anymore. Sure, it will always be a good investment in places like Telluride, but you have to have real money to play today.
With the help of John Young, who was an affordable housing expert with lots of experience in Aspen and Ted Guy an architect from Carbondale who had also been involved in building a lot of affordable housing, we made the decision to build. We hired Shaw Construction and got to know Steve Meyer who managed the company very well and Tim Hild came to town to be the superintendent of the construction. The first phase of the project came in on time and on budget as did the other three phases in later years. In all we built 110 units and proved to even the worst of affordable housing critics that it could be done.
At the time we launched Shandoka our studies showed that the cost of a two bedroom apartment in the town was costing $1200 a month for rent, not including utilities, and the now famous triple net add on. At $10.00 per hour, an individual would have to work 40 hours a week to just pay the rent, forget the utilities, or food and medicine and clothes, and an automobile.
It’s been said that by studies that 30% of all American are just one paycheck away from being on the street.
Healthy people have affordable housing and their children then have a much, much better chance of staying in school, doing well in their lives and graduating from high school and going on to college. The three most important things for a family are: affordable housing, educational opportunity and lack of fear, living with the fear of someone getting sick, losing their job, crime, drugs, or just a run of bad luck
And, driving back and forth to Montrose doesn’t work. For most people it is a minimum of four hours on the road and longer on bad weather days. Many people have to leave before their children get up in the morning and get home after they have already gone to bed.
Inadequate, inappropriate and sub-standard living conditions for working families in a community as wealthy and successful as Telluride is just not acceptable to me. The problem of the value of land and property appreciating faster than the income of working families is not one that is going to go away in Telluride. We have a very small amount of zoned property in the Telluride Region that has not already been developed and we have very little potential development property because of the National Forest lands and just too steep, and hard to get to.
If you think real estate prices are high now, come back in ten years when there is no more. I’ve always said that some day Telluride is going to have the most expensive real estate of any mountain resort in North America and its all tied to the natural beauty and the scarcity of developable land.
There is the law of Supply and Demand and then there is this little paragraph entitled, “The law of scarcity” in our old college Economic I books. I’M SURE YOU REMEMBER.