Slowly but surely, the new Chaffee County Comprehensive Plan is taking shape. Another piece of the puzzle took on a more firm form on Jan. 9 when members of the Chaffee County Housing Policy Advisory Committee sat down with officials from Cushing Terrell, contracted to develop the new comp plan. The emphasis is due to early response that indicates that issues surrounding affordable and workforce housing is seen by county residents as the number one issue facing the county.
This wasn’t the first HPAC meeting with Cushing Terrell, but it was the first to devote time to refining the questions to be included in a formal housing needs assessment survey designed to provide direction for the county to continue to create housing solutions. A more informal version of a housing needs survey was first offered to the public in Dec., during the Chaffee Together pop-up meetings in Salida and Buena Vista, which collected comments from 111 responders.
The seven-question survey asks residents whether they might support a local dedicated housing tax to support affordable housing programs, and if so, what form(s) of local taxes might they be likely to support. In the earlier. limited-reach survey, some 63 percent of respondents indicated that they thought the county should better monitor short-term rentals.
The survey asked residents about their willingness to support additional density development in certain areas near existing municipalities, and whether they would support the county encouraging accessory dwelling units as an affordable housing solution.
The group included questions about the concept of co-op housing and whether zoning policies should be adjusted after the comp plan is finalized to support new housing types such as dormitories for seasonal workers, or boarding house concepts with private space, but with shared living and kitchen spaces.
The county is also engaging with key county employers, searching for collaborative solutions. While the question is included, the general sense was that the public doesn’t yet understand the concept, so education is in order.
It is expected that the survey will be finalized and published for public participation in the next four to six weeks. For more about progress on the Chaffee County Com Plan Process, referred to as Chaffee Together, go to: https://together.chaffeecounty.org/about.