District Three candidate says addressing housing is “imperative,” can’t be forced down valley
Candidate Amy Dickson said she feels there are the appropriate guardrails in the Brown Ranch Annexation Agreement to protect the city.
Candidate Amy Dickson has considered running for Steamboat Springs City Council before, but feels now is the time for her to step up and help make decisions that will guide the future are made with a community-centered lens.
A resident for 28 years, Dickson said she has worked a wide variety of jobs in town from the service industry to the nonprofit sector. She cares deeply about the community and feels she has a connection in the community that will help her accurately represent it.
Since Dickson moved to Steamboat she met her husband, raised a family and was able to scrap together enough to buy a home. Through that whole time, Steamboat has been talking about affordable housing.
“It was a stretch for us for sure, but we could make it work,” Dickson said. “That’s not what we’re seeing today. The working class and the workforce in Steamboat can no longer afford to purchase and some to even rent places in Steamboat, forcing them out of our community.”
Addressing affordable housing in Steamboat Springs is “imperative,” Dickson said, and this is something she feels the community agrees on. She pointed to the 2017 vote to fund the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and last year’s short-term rental tax that supports housing, as times the community has supported efforts to build more housing.
What shouldn’t be part of Steamboat plan to solve its affordable housing problem is trying to push the issue up or down valley, Dickson said.
“That’s not addressing the affordable housing issue in Steamboat Springs, it’s pushing our challenges and issues with affordable housing to other communities,” Dickson said. “We agree there is an issue on affordable housing in Steamboat, let’s come together and tackle it together in Steamboat Springs. Brown Ranch is one way for us to do that as a community.”
Dickson said she feels the Brown Ranch Annexation agreement has put in appropriate guardrails to protect the city. She pointed to the city’s ability to deny building permits if there isn’t funding for capital improvements or to reduce STR tax revenue for the project if unit delivery metrics are not met by the Yampa Valley Housing Authority.
“I think the annexation agreement as laid out has the appropriate guardrails to protect the city in the event certain metrics are not met or there are not funds available,” Dickson said.
While Steamboat shouldn’t be looking elsewhere in the valley to solve its housing struggles, Dickson said she feels there should be robust regional transit. This could help with a shortage of workers in Steamboat and could make it more sustainable for outlying workers to get to town, Dickson said.
When it comes to transit in town, Dickson said she feels the city needs to be looking at building a more robust system that keeps both residents and visitors in mind. This could also help with sustainability goals by getting locals out of their vehicles and making it easier for visitors to come to Steamboat with out needing to rent a vehicle.
“It’s not only about public transit, but continuing our work around creating pedestrian-friendly roadways and bicycle-friendly roadways,” Dickson added.
When it comes to sustainability more broadly, Dickson said it is City Council’s job to make decisions that are not based on today, but the impacts of the future.
“We should not be kicking the can down the road and not making changes now because we are worried about the financial impact,” Dickson said. “I think we need to have a vision and a longer-term look at the city needs and the community needs.”
When it comes to fiscal responsibility, Dickson said to her it means decisions with financial implications are made with community need at the center. Essentially, when council does make investments with taxpayer dollars, those investments should be rooted in what the community is asking for.
One example, Dickson said, is when restaurant owners downtown asked Council to extend the local bus schedule later into the night so their patrons and employees have a safe ride home. Spending money on this would be a direct response to community need.
“We talk about fiscal responsibility because really, that is a reflection of our core values,” Dickson said. “I have a strong nonprofit healthcare background. With limited dollars coming in and a lot of areas that you want to fund at the end of the day, what’s the need and then you prioritize.”
Top Photo Caption: Amy Dickson is a candidate for the district three seat on Steamboat Springs City Council. (Amy Dickson/Courtesy)