Tempted by a developer who offered to pay
the city $105,000 instead of building an itty-bitty community housing unit, the
Ketchum City Council said: Build the unit.
It was the right thing to do.
Long ago, the city made the error of
collecting money instead of parking spaces from developers. The theory was that
the city could amass enough money to buy land for parking lots or build downtown
The theory was wrong. The city could never
amass money fast enough to afford to buy land and build parking in a rapidly
escalating real estate market.
What was true then for parking is true now
for community housing. With its ongoing refusal to engage in direct development
of affordable housing, the city can’t afford to let any shred of remotely
attainable housing escape construction. It must demand and protect every square
foot of housing it can.
With no kind of systematic plan in place
to produce housing attainable by workers and young families, pressures are
building that could shatter the valley’s economy if not relieved.
We wonder how many businesses the valley
must lose to high turnover and wages that can never keep up with housing costs
before leaders take action. We wonder how many young families and seniors must
give up on their lives here before leaders with the power to intervene will do
Refusing a payment in lieu of housing was
a good start, but will ring hollow if nothing more is done.