Friday, September 29, 2006

Workers and housing

One way to undercut the case for affordable workforce housing is to suggest there's no market.

This seemed to be the thrust of a question posed to the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission by a developer during hearings. "Where are all the people who want all the housing?" he asked, looking around city chambers.

Two answers seem obvious.

First, most workers who would qualify either were still on the job—waiting tables, assisting medical patients, patrolling streets or still on a long commute during the P&Z's tedious deliberations.

Second, a more fundamental answer is this: The case for affordable housing has been made over and over again for years, and more testimony from those in need would be superfluous in the extreme.

Implementing affordable housing attracts mostly those who oppose it.

While the tug-of-war over methods for creating workforce housing continues and scant few units have been made available, another indicator of the urgency has developed in the city of Bellevue.

Bellevue once was regarded as an escape hatch for those moving south in search of housing they could afford.

Now Bellevue is engaged in developing its own affordable housing ordinances.

As real estate speculation and Idaho's regressive tax laws put housing out of the reach of more salaried workers, so, too, the valley risks losing its work force.

The P&Z will fail Ketchum and the rest of the valley if it acts as though the workforce-housing problem is new or unproven. It should reject distractions and get housing-friendly ordinances in place And, it needs to do so without delay.

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