Government Affairs Monthly Report
|City Council Hears Howelsen Hill Vision, Considers Next Steps
At their August 1st regularly scheduled meeting, Steamboat Springs City Council heard an hour-long presentation from Boulder based consultants The SC Group on the possible future of the Howelsen Hill recreational area.
Members of council liked some parts of the consultant's vision for the area while not liking others and considered what to do next. After much consideration and a healthy discussion about balancing the needs of Steamboat's citizens and residents while thinking of tourism's effect on the local economy, council came up with a plan.
The City Manager was directed to come up with an aggressive community outreach and involvement plan that would engage and excite local residents about what their desires are for the future of Howelsen Hill and the surrounding grounds. The intention, since the consultant's recommendations constituted a good start to the discussion, is to complete the community outreach in an aggressive fashion by the first few months of 2018.
In addition, Council directed the Parks and Recreation Commission to oversee the community outreach portion and, to the best of their ability, incorporate this project with the upcoming master plan discussion for the entire parks department.
The presentation of the consultants, which is just a starting point in this discussion, can be found here: http://docs.steamboatsprings.net/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=567&doctype=AGENDA click on item one under community reports (Howelsen Hill) and the supporting materials will appear on the left side of your screen.
Damaging Growth Measures on the Horizon Across Colorado
The Colorado Association of REALTORS® has a keen eye trained on a potential ballot measure in 2018 that could be devastating to the state's economy.
Proponents of a state-wide limitation on growth are gathering signatures now to get on the ballot in November of 18. The proposal could include a ban on ALL new building permits until 1/1/2019, and limits growth of ALL housing units to 1% starting in 2019. Further, the ballot measure could include provisions to not allow any amendments or repeal of this language until 2021 at the earliest.
Clearly, growth is a concern for all communities across Colorado. But, local solutions are the best way to address local problems. Local cities and towns have planning and zoning and review boards and other mechanisms in place to deal with local growth questions. A state-wide ballot question that mandates what happens in local communities across Colorado would be damaging to not only the real estate industry, it would be a job killer as well. Banning growth isn't the answer. Local solutions to local problems is the answer.
NAR Urges FCC to Maintain Net Neutrality
The National Association of REALTORS® has filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to maintain the Open Internet Order that was put into effect in 2015. This order creates rules establishing network neutrality. The FCC has proposed rolling back those rules and is currently seeking public comment.
Net neutrality is shorthand for the concept that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. More specifically, net neutrality requires that broadband networks be free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms. Networks should not restrict the equipment that may be attached to them, nor the modes of communication allowed on them. Finally, networks should ensure that communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.
Net neutrality is important to small, main street businesses like REALTORS® who depend on open internet access every day to run their businesses and serve their customers.
NAR supports net neutrality and urges Congress to oppose legislation that would threaten the current FCC Open Internet Rule and rollback the important protections put in place by the FCC in 2015.
NAR Wins Success in Improvements to National Flood Insurance Program
Significant improvements to the "21st Century Flood Reform Act," key legislation aimed at strengthening and reauthorizing (link is external) the National Flood Insurance Program, have been made in a key Congressional committee. Among the changes, NAR supports the House Financial Services Committee's commitment to retaining "grandfathering" a policy that protects homeowners from significant rate increases when a flood map changes.
The most recent draft will also limit proposed increases to fees and rate hikes that policyholders faced under previous iterations of the legislation. Earlier versions of the legislation included more dramatic cost increases for homeowners and eliminated grandfathering protections beginning in 2021.
NAR President Bill Brown was quoted in a press release praising the activity: "House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), as well as Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance Chairman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), deserve high praise for working with Realtors® to improve this legislation. The changes to the 21st Century Flood Reform Act will help give certainty to homeowners who have brought their property to code and have done their part to protect it against flood risk. It's a fair and reasonable approach that recognizes the need for accessible, affordable flood insurance, while taking us one step closer towards reauthorization.
"This legislation protects taxpayers, as well as homeowners, which is no easy task. The September 30 reauthorization deadline still looms in front of us, and Realtors® are eager to see this legislation progress quickly. Leaders on both sides of the aisle are well aware that this issue touches 22,000 communities in every state, both coastal and inland. We're grateful for the committee's support and look forward to their continued efforts on behalf of homeowners."