Meet the candidates
The hopefuls take stands on affordable housing

The Durango Telegraph continues its coverage of the race for city council this week by posing a question to the six candidates on affordable housing. Next week, we will conclude with a final installment of “Meet the Candidates.” The mail-in ballots are due by April 1.

With local real estate prices skyrocketing and land at a premium, what do you see as the council’s role in affordable housing? How would you propose to keep Durango from outpricing its working class?

Name: James Sloan, 38

Occupation: Corrections case manager

“Encouraging the provision of affordable housing is a proper and laudable goal for the council. The council can enact regulations requiring high-density residential annexations as well as relatively high-density infilling. This will increase the supply of homes in such a manner as to not only promote affordable housing but also reduce sprawl.

These proposed zoning regulations should be carefully drafted and carefully followed. Durango should attempt to ensure that its codes, etc., contain no contradictions and are as clear as is feasible. Perfection in this, as in all things, is impossible to attain, however, it should be striven for.

This said, there are several factors that drive the Durango market that are not within the control of the council. First, as the population increases and more people discover Southwest Colorado, demand for housing in this area will almost certainly continue to increase. Second, it is probable that the current state of the various stock markets has encouraged investors to purchase real estate which has resulted in a demand for real estate that might not otherwise occur. Third, lower mortgage rates have further fueled demand beyond that which might otherwise occur.

Appropriate zoning can effect a positive change.”

Name: Sidny Zink, 51

Occupation: Certified public accountant

“It will be critical for the City Council to understand the issue of affordable housing from all angles. That includes growth, economic development, quality of life and more. In turn it must help educate the citizens. Council needs to study the impact of the planning process on efforts to keep costs as low as possible. Can the process be expedited? Are there fees that might be waived in certain circumstances? The council should carefully consider where infill development is appropriate. Encouraging economic development to provide more higher-paying jobs is another way council can help people afford reasonable housing.

It’s tough when we want to control growth to also acknowledge that we need to grow our supply of housing if we want to avoid making Durango an enclave for the rich.

We have some great organizations working on this issue, including Habitat for Humanity and Community Development Corp. A regional housing authority might be a way to help those and other groups work together to find alternative ways to finance land and infrastructure.”

Name: Dale Garland, 45

Occupation: Durango High School social studies teacher

“Leaving affordable housing to the dictates of the marketplace will not make affordable housing a reality, so I do think that the City Council should be active in addressing this issue. There are many things that a council should do to address this issue:

1. Examine the feasibility and the advantages of a regional housing authority. This authority should address this issue on a regional level because potential solutions to this problem may very well lie outside the city limits of Durango.

2. Re-examine current zoning and occupancy codes which deal with ‘granny flats.’ I would be in favor of hearing the discussion about developing housing on existing properties.

3. Encourage private-public partnerships to build affordable housing projects within the city limits.

The associated issue with affordable housing is the current job market in Durango. I am in favor of working with LEAD and other regional economic development groups to make Durango competitive in attracting environmentally compatible industries that pay enough so that people aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.”

Name: Michael Rendon, 30

Occupation: Director of the FLC Environmental Center

“I feel very passionate about affordable housing, and it is one of the main reasons I am running. There are many different actions that the Durango City Council can take to ensure affordable housing for its citizens. The city can foster open dialogue on public/private partnerships – partnerships that would finance, construct and manage affordable housing. The city can look into the use of federal money to stimulate private funding of affordable housing. This means working with organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Colorado Housing Inc. Local banks can form a bank community development corporation to meet the credit needs of low-income people. An ‘inclusionary zoning’ ordinance would secure affordable housing in new developments. A Regional Housing Authority is an option as long as it is done with the least amount of bureaucracy and the greatest impact on affordable housing. I would like to see more discussion around ‘mother-in-law’ housing, focused on providing opportunities for building small alley houses within city limits to provide more housing opportunities. I believe the city should take the idea of a livable-wage ordinance for Durango seriously so working people don’t have to struggle to meet their basic needs, such as housing.”

Name: Lee Goddard, 62

Occupation: Owner of Goddard Enterprises

“Barb and I faced the problem of housing 35 years ago and again approximately 20 years ago when we moved to Durango. Now our five children have, are or are about to face similar problems. The daunting problem of putting a roof over your head is not new to me.

I believe the city of Durango can be a part of the solution, although not the major role player. Public/private partnerships can be formed. The establishment of a housing authority could consolidate and enhance efforts of numerous groups and individuals. If the city has the discretionary funds available, it should continue to subsidize projects out of the general fund with waiver of fees for projects which are deemed beneficial in providing attainable housing.

The term ‘step-up’ housing was brought up during my last term. Briefly, current homeowners are not always interested in what their house sells for, if they can improve themselves. For example, if market-driven dwellings can be built in the $175k to $195k range, those people with real equity may be able to move up, while selling their existing home for less money. Consider new approaches.”


Name: John Gamble, 55

Occupation: Social worker

“The city needs to continue to provide fee waivers and subsidies to selected low-income housing projects such as the new Mercy Housing Project. The city needs to adopt practices such as inclusionary zoning, which require new developments to include affordable work force housing. The city needs to utilize every available resource, to assist the nonprofit and for-profit developers to support that housing development. Our residents should be able to live in the same community where they work.

The regional housing authority currently under development should bring new energy and funding opportunities to the table. Simply put, the city of Durango must play a key role if new work force housing is to occur in our community. The market alone will simply not suffice.”










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