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Government Affairs Monthly Report


Fire District Funding Options on Agenda at City Council

Town council will hear a presentation this week from a citizen’s committee whose task is to consider different funding options for the Steamboat Springs Area Fire Protection District.

Last year, the Fire Protection District sought an election to allow city voters to decide if they would be included within the district’s boundaries. The move would’ve increase funding for the city department, which provides services for the district, by levying the same up to 9 mill property tax property owners in the district pay in city limits. The measure did not pass, so the district needs to consider funding alternatives. The council then appointed a seven-person citizen’s committee to explore this and other funding options.

This is the committee’s first presentation to council. The committee has met seven times since Feb. 11, according to documents that will be presented to City Council this week. According to the documents, the committee will present two options: a 4-mill property tax or a combination of a 2-mill property tax and a new tax on marijuana and alcohol.

Newest Plan for Downtown Focuses on Maintaining Character

Steamboat Springs City Council unanimously approved a new version of a guiding plan for downtown last week that focuses on maintaining character while dealing with the town’s parking, zoning, residential and commercial needs.

A consultant for the project outlined that “character” includes the historic buildings of town, views and connections to open space and the Yampa River as well as the businesses downtown, the bulk of which are locally owned and operated.

The downtown plan will be used to guide decision-making and ensure city zoning code reflects what the community values, Gibbs said. It identifies more than 70 specific strategies to meet goals in four categories: land use and zoning; connectivity, parking and mobility; art, culture and heritage; and the character of built environment.

The city’s development codes outline the rules of how land is used and built on, and the downtown plan can help guide code changes to match what the community values.

Keeping up this character will also require new developments downtown to blend in with historic structures. One of the goals hopes to integrate redevelopment to adjacent historic structures through architecture and design that blends in with Steamboat’s historic downtown district.

Many of the older buildings in downtown Steamboat don’t have parking adjacent to them — the oldest buildings are built to the edge of their lots. Any new development in the downtown area is required to provide parking sufficient for their needs. The working group and consultants that developed the plan explored several options for parking in downtown Steamboat, Gibbs said. A parking garage isn’t feasible due to a cost of nearly $45,000 for a space.

The plan does recommend a few other options, including expanding time-limited parking to seven days a week, adding more 2- and 4-hour time-limited spaces in the core area and increasing enforcement of that time limit. The plan also suggests exploring metered parking on Lincoln Avenue and Yampa and Oak streets and adjusting the Steamboat Springs Transit schedule to carry service industry employees working the late-night shift.

To learn more about the downtown plan, visit http://www.engagesteamboat.net/downtown-vision. To watch City Council’s discussion on the plan, visit steamboatsprings.net/agendas.

State News - House Bill 19-1167: Remote Notaries and Protect Privacy

At the State Capitol, a bill advanced last week that can help protect privacy during interactions with Notaries in a remote or virtual environment. HB19-1167, sponsored by Rep. Monica Duran (D-Wheat Ridge), Rep. Terri Carver (R-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Robert Rodriguez (D-Denver), authorizes notaries public to perform a notarial act through use of audio-visual communication, commonly referred to as "remote notarization." Existing law requires an individual to appear in-person in order to get a document notarized. CAR is happy to report that on Wednesday, the bill overwhelmingly passed third reading on the House floor and will now move over to the Senate for their consideration.

In today's digital economy, data privacy is very important for consumers. REALTORS® have ethical duties to respect the clients they represent and protect the sensitive and personal information that is exchanged in a real estate transaction. If passed, this bill would provide guardrails around this new technology to prohibit the sharing of consumer personal information and limit the data collected during the process to be used only for completing the notarial act and processing the transaction for which the information was originally provided.

CAR's Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) supports this legislation because it will protect consumer data in a meaningful way and allow the utilization of technology advancements in the notary process. This legislation properly balances operating business uses with giving consumers confidence that their data is not shared with marketing affiliates according to the privacy policies of the technology providers.

NAR Lauds Legislative Effort to Strengthen Fair Housing Act

The National Association of REALTORS® supports legislation introduced in both chambers of Congress Wednesday to extend protections under the Fair Housing Act to the LGBT community. “REALTORS® have worked for [nearly] a decade to ensure the American dream of homeownership is not unfairly denied to those in the LGBT community,” NAR President John Smaby said in a statement.

NAR amended its Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2011 and gender identity in 2013. Last year, the association supported the Fair and Equal Housing Act, which would make those protections part of the Fair Housing Act. However, Congress adjourned before the bill could come up for a vote.

The legislation introduced Wednesday, called the Equality Act, includes the NAR-supported housing protections of the Fair and Equal Housing Act and also extends LGBT protections in the areas of employment, public accommodations, credit markets, and voting. Shannon McGahn, NAR senior vice president for government affairs, will appear at a policy summit hosted by the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals next month in Washington, D.C., to talk about next steps for the legislation.