Fort Collins has been evolving and growing from the times traders traveled the Overland Trail to the city of innovation full of bikes and music we celebrate today. Our community will continue to face diverse issues as we grow towards an even brighter future. On council I promise to look at every issue through the lens of Cost, Culture and Collaboration in pursuit of strong solutions for tomorrow.
- Affordable and Attainable Housing
- Affordable housing as it relates to people in the lower 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and how we assist some of the most vulnerable populations in our community. I am a board member for Neighbor 2 Neighbor and past development Chair for Homelessness Prevention Initiative and believe that stable housing is crucial for positive personal and professional growth and developing the sense of place and community that strengthens and sustains our culture.
- Attainable Housing, related to people above 80% of the AMI, is a growing issue as well. Given the tremendous appreciation we have seen in the region over the past 5 years, many people that we consider to be doing “OK” in our community are struggling to find opportunities to rent or purchase a home without spending over 30% of their monthly income.
- Fort Collins is a highly educated community, but we do not have the jobs to match our skilled workforce. A recent economic study showed that 78% of our population has above a high-school education (trade school, college, etc.) but only 38% of the jobs that we offer in the region require that level of education. This adds to issues like traffic, pushes people out of our community as they look elsewhere for opportunities for themselves and their families and also depresses wages and creates greater competition for lower paying jobs.
- Long-Term Strategic Planning
- Fort Collins is transitioning from a large town to a small city and that comes with a lot of growing pains. I believe that with proper planning we can grow in a way that will help us not only maintain, but enhance our community and culture over the next 20-30 years. City Plan, the long term vision for zoning, transportation and transit in the community, is currently being developed and will be a guiding document for our future. We have the opportunity to shape our Fort Collins, and Northern Colorado in ways that align with the existing and emerging values and priorities of our citizens.
To address the Affordable and Attainable Housing issues I believe that we have an opportunity to put upward pressure on our state officials. We have seen small wins in this space related to reformation of construction defects laws to encourage development of condo housing (an entry level housing option for many people). The City should continue to leverage its ability to plan on a long time horizon by utilize our land bank in conjunction with regional partners to promote development of affordable housing options. Higher density pedestrian areas with co-located living, working and commercial spaces to maximize our land use and enhance neighborhood character and livability should be a priority in our high-traffic corridors as well as diverse development in the greenfield space to the northeast. Our fee structure and its timeline for review could be reviewed to provide incentives for more sustainable types of housing and combat fee increases that our out of cycle with the fluctuating economic conditions. Public infrastructure plans and solutions should precede all development to ensure that growth can pay its own way to reduce negative impacts across the community.
Regarding Underemployment: Northern Colorado is well known as a great place to live, but more can be done to define ourselves as a great place to do business. I believe that the city has an opportunity to attract and grow businesses who align with our culture and values and would would also benefit from our high standard of living, talented workforce pipeline and research expertise. This outreach effort could be done on our own or through collaboration with organizations already operating in this space for the region like our regional Chambers of Commerce, One NoCo and Colorado State University. To maximize the economic impact we should focus on 1) Continuing to create, grow and support home grown innovation 2) Attracting Primary employers – businesses who do more than 50% of their business outside of to the region – to maximize the multiplier effect on money brought into the community. The city should be a convener of these types of conversations and provide unbiased information to maximize our unique regional advantages.
Long Term Strategic Planning requires outreach into the often silent or unheard populations in our community to ensure that as we define the foundations that will shape policy for the next 20 years ALL voices are heard. City Plan and the related Zoning, Transportation and Transit plans are critical tools for shaping that foundation. Having a council that is approachable, representative of the diverse voices in our community, and willing to listen to all stakeholders is crucial to that process. We should pursue innovative ways to engage community stakeholders at every level in these conversations. How we choose to grow as a community and the partners we engage along the way will shape the future of not just Fort Collins, but Northern Colorado as a whole.
Thank you again. People, like you, who made it to the bottom of this page and are engaged with the process are the best champions for local level politics.