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At their work session on Monday, February 5, the Salida City Council (SCC) heard a report from Ashley Kappel, Executive Director of the Chaffee Housing Authority (CHA), discussed usage of the city’s affordable housing funds, revisited the parking program with Interstate Parking Management (IP), and considered amendments to the SCC Handbook suggested by City Attorney Nina Williams.

Left to right: Read McCulloch, Chaffee Housing Trust Executive Director, Ashley Kappel, Chaffee Housing Authority Executive Director, Ken Matthews, housing advocate and Abby Peters, Chaffee County Economic Development Corporation review the merits of the two semi-final site plans. In center background, Francie Bomer, Salida Planning Commission Vice-Chair registers her reaction to a comment. Merrell Bergin photo

Update on Housing

Kappel’s report on CHA developments in 2023 focused on four areas that would have an impact on activities in 2024. These include: “Partner-Driven Development”, which included the Jane’s Place and Carbonate Street projects and a land banking grant from Proposition 123 funds to acquire land for the Alpine West project; and a possible partnership with developer Rob Gartzman to further his Flour Mill project.

“The partnerships we developed in 2023 will set us up for success in 2024,” Kappel said, urging the SCC for partnership support as well.

Kappel reported on other CHA activities such as the Continuum of Care program, which works with unhoused people to find them housing: “We are trying to have some office hours [for the program] in BV, we have had a strong presence in Salida.”

She also reported on the CHA housing ballot issue survey, which went live last week: “650 people have taken it already, the goal [for the entire survey period] was 600.”

City Administrator Christy Doon introduced the affordable housing fund, saying that Mayor Pro-Tem Justin Critelli had had questions about where it could be allocated. “The affordable housing fund has over $900,000 right now,” Doon reported.

“It comes from different sources,” she continued. “We’ve mentioned before a few of the projects we’ve been keeping an eye on for use of these funds, such as First and D . We are moving forward with the design for that project, and hoping to have a public presentation next month. We have been given $750,000 from Prop 123 for land banking. We might need $200-300,000 to match [those funds]. There’s also South Ark [Neighborhood] infrastructure – we have partnerships but will still have to ante up about 1.3 million dollars for that. We are making a presentation before DOLA later this month.”

Doon went through other funding options for making development more affordable, such as waiving fees for building permits and other city services out of the affordable housing fund: “Usually we don’t waive those fees because they go towards the enterprise fund.”

“What if someone wanted to make their project 100 a percent affordable?” asked Critelli.

“Infrastructure [funding] is probably the way to go rather than handing everything over to one developer,” said City Attorney Nina Williams.

“I think it makes sense to diversify the affordable housing fund among different projects,” said Mayor Dan Shore.

“I like having a menu of things that the fund is used for,” said Council Member Alisa Pappenfort: “We want the connection to housing to be clear – so that it’s clear to the public that we’re doing with the money what we said we were doing.”

“Using the money to match grant funds is a way to grow the funding,” said member Dominique Naccarato.

Front section of dirt Public parking lot at 323 West First Street in Salida, leased from Salida Bottling Company. Merrell Bergin photo

Parking Program Concepts

The SCC moved on to discussion of the parking program, with Doon introducing representatives from IP to answer further questions.

“I would like to point out a couple things,” said Doon. “The city does not own any property downtown for parking; we lease three lots, with about $130,000 per year that goes to those property owners. These leases get more and more expensive.

“We have also included a draft map in the packet. Zone A is ‘most desirable’ for paid parking. Zone B is near Safeway – this is where we would put free parking for employees. Zone C is longer-term parking across the river and one owned by Salida Bottling Company on First Street. Zone D is not paid but time-limited. Zone E is the Touber Building. The number of services in this building has increased a lot, and also STR owners have been telling people that they can park there. We want to make sure we have parking for clients and staff.

Proposed Salida Parking Zone Map. Image courtesy of the City of Salida.

“There’s a mix of paid parking and permit parking for residents. I did include the potential for a city share [of the revenue]. IP is totally flexible in terms of working with us,” continued Doon. “The secondary goal [of the revenue stream] is to build up a fund for parking: replacing those lots if they eventually go to housing or something else.”

Doon concluded her introduction by saying that downtown residents and employees would be eligible for parking permits.

Representatives from IP answered questions and concerns from the SCC about costs and overhead for the project, including enforcement, fees collection, and outreach to area businesses, saying that they did different plans for different municipalities.

“Crested Butte does enforcement only, other communities do revenue-sharing [for paid parking] they explained. “…we also do data analytics in order to see what the parking situation looks like in town in order to make decisions. We also have other features we can install with a phone app, such as wayfinding for parking places as well as payment options.”

“I’m not totally clear how we start with a contract like this,” said member Harald Kasper, during discussion.

“Nothing is defined right now – passing [Ordinance 2024-02] is the first step,” said Doon.

Shore asked Police Chief Russ Johnson to speak about enforcement. “We are getting hammered now with call volume,” Johnson said. “I have one community service officer, so we don’t do parking [enforcement]. It takes one person six hours to go the whole route – it’s very ineffective and time-consuming. I would need two or three people six or seven days per week at $80,000-85,000 per person [including benefits] to handle parking.”

After further questions about phasing in the approach to paid parking, and where the parking revenue would go, Pappenfort said, “I would like the money we make from parking to be earmarked for parking – buying spaces etc. I think we will get more buy-in from the public if we do that – can we make some streets one way and do [angled] parking on those streets?”

“Why did we get rid of paid parking in the first place?” asked Critelli.

“Business owners were screaming about it – we didn’t have the analytics to see where it worked and where it didn’t,” Pappenfort replied.

Finally, Williams led the discussion of the Council handbook overview, including such items as changes and updates to the conflict of interest provision, removal of items from the agenda, total number of absences or when virtual meeting attendance members would be allowed, and placement of public comment during meetings.