Where Joella Stands on the Issues

HOUSING:

Everything from low income entry level to attainable family housing. We can nibble around the edges within the current City limits, and that may be helpful but to truly address this in any meaningful way, we need to GROW WEST. We have a third chance to make The Brown Ranch property a major ingredient in housing solutions. Whoever gets a third chance to do something right? It will be on this Council to be a good partner with Yampa Valley Housing Authority and Routt County to make the right decisions that will put this project on its feet.

SHORT TERM RENTALS:

Vacation homes and short term rental units are related problems requiring some combination of overlay zones, taxes and code enforcement. We can’t find the solutions until we have all the information. The new Council must continue to make this a priority.

CHILD CARE:

No child care? No workers. No working families?  Welcome to the Steamboat Springs Very Exclusive Retirement Community.  Parents (primarily women) have been knocked out of the work force because child care has become unaffordable and/or unavailable. This isn’t a new problem and it’s not exclusively a local problem. Council needs to partner with First Impressions to find ways of alleviating the lack of space and the absence of providers at the local level. And we all need to let our representatives at the state and national level know that they must fund the necessary resources without delay.

CLIMATE CHANGE:

We have a Climate Action Plan. I’ve read it, and so should you all. I think it’s a good document and I’ll look for every opportunity to move forward on its proposed actions. This is truly a long term project, but it must start now. Council should identify those things that can be implemented first, and plan and budget for them. I’d like to see Council form a committee to meet at least monthly to keep updated on what the City is doing, or needs to be doing.

FIRE STATION:

SSFR needs to have the necessary personnel, equipment, and facilities to protect this community as it grows and as climate change increases the danger of wildfires. We need to build the new fire station. I’m delighted to see Council moving forward on this project again, and I promise that I will do everything possible to see ground broken for a new station in the best possible location.

In answer to questions posed by Sierra Club, September 2021

2A Lodging Accommodations Tax:

Currently this tax is being used to build new trails in the National Forest. There is growing evidence that recreation is having a disastrous effect on wildlife. Should we continue 2A trail building in the National Forest?

I understand the discussion that has surrounded the building of new trails for several years. I also hear a lot of conversations about trails that suffer from excessive use. We need to avoid supporting “disastrous effects on wildlife”, by insisting on full factual information as each new trail (or trail improvement) is proposed and developed, before we commit 2A funds to it. But I support using 2A funds to continue informed trail development until the measure sunsets in 2023. At that point, if the residents of the city want to continue funding trails, I expect Council will hear from them. 

Climate Action Plan:

Transportation contributes 20-30% to our Carbon Footprint. How will you ensure that we reduce traffic in order to meet our climate goals?

We (meaning both City Council and the residents of not only Steamboat but all of Routt County) should focus on increasing bus ridership and on making biking and walking more appealing for non-recreational trips. We made a huge deal about the plastic bag ban, and everyone bought into that transition because they understood its importance. We need to likewise promote using the bus as an alternative to private vehicles—but for that to be effective, we need to make sure that buses are available, accessible and reliable. We need to work together toward the establishment of a Regional Transit Authority. We also need to look carefully at our trails to identify more opportunities for bike-to-work and walk-to-work when weather permits. Additional trails? Additional connections between trails? Because Steamboat is growing west, we need to actively partner with Routt County on potential additional trails and on the Core Trail extension.

What priorities do you have for taking action to address climate change?

The time for taking action is now. The Climate Action Plan includes many proposed ways to address many different problems. We need to keep focused on what can actually be done starting today. So—we can make a difference with our approach to transportation. Every bus that’s added or replaced should be low- or no-emitting. EV charging stations should be a requirement for new construction, as part of a program to encourage our residents to make the switch as EV’s appropriate to our area become available. New municipal buildings (City Hall and Fire Station) should be LEED certified. Development of the Brown Ranch property should include LEED certification as a requirement of all construction.

Transportation:

The city has long realized that paid parking can reduce traffic and encourage the use of alternate transit modes. When is the right time to implement this strategy?

Making our existing spaces into paid parking might reduce traffic, but I’m skeptical that it would be significant. At what level of parking fees would you take a bus to dinner rather than just drive downtown? I’ll keep an open mind on this issue, but right now I’d rather see us promote buses, bikes and pedestrians as “how we live in Steamboat”. And I very much support enforcing the posted parking time limits. My long term dream is to have parking structures on the east and west sides of the city, but I understand that at a cost of $35,000-$50,000 or more per space, it will be exceedingly difficult to fund. 

How can we fund improvements to our public transit system?

Every improvement in our transit system requires increased spending, and every spending increase is considered and ranked with all the other potential increases. So Council needs to think Climate Change every year at this time when budget items are prioritized and decisions are made. If we are able to partner with Routt County for a Regional Transit Authority, then we are looking at potential state and federal money. That’s a major opportunity and I will do whatever I can to encourage that.

In answer to questions posed by Historic Routt County October 2021

Through its Historic Preservation Program, the City of Steamboat Springs seeks to preserve the community’s natural and built historic resources to help maintain distinct community character and to contribute to the cultural awareness, sustainability and economic growth of the community. However, very few historic places are actually protected from demolition by our current City Historic Preservation Program and regulations. Are you familiar with the Steamboat Springs Historic Preservation Program? What do you think is working well and what could be improved? If elected, what role would you advocate for historic preservation to play in the City Council's economic development and sustainable growth strategies for the community?

When my husband and I first began to come to Steamboat 20 years ago, we came to visit my son, who was working as a chef. So we came during mud season because that was the only time he wasn’t working 60 hour weeks. But that wasn’t a good time to ski or to bike, so we had a lot of time to explore both the town and the surrounding area.

The first thing we saw was that this was a genuine small town; the character was obvious even before we began to read the occasional brass plate. Even now, when there really is no mud season and we refer to that period of time as “shoulder season”, it’s impossible to walk, drive, or bike through town without being reminded of what it was.

So what is “working well” is that despite the challenges, Steamboat Springs still has that sweet look and feel that seduces many of us to call it home, and many others to choose this as their vacation destination rather than any of the other mountain resorts.

For a long time, it didn’t occur to me that we were in danger of losing that specialness. And it certainly didn’t occur to me that overbuilding and demolition could happen here. Which tells you that I, and it’s fair to assume many others, took historic preservation in the Yampa Valley for granted. I watched the battle for the 1480 Pine Grove property go down to defeat, and I well remember one of our Council members at the time saying, “There was nothing we could do.” That’s when I truly understood that the City’s Historic Preservation Program is well-intentioned but needs to have some teeth.

As always, when there is a possibility that a person’s absolute right to do whatever they choose is under threat of limitation, I think that there’s a big lift necessary to build support, and that support can come from both our residents and our visitors….IF we position ourselves as a Historic Destination. A place where preserving the past is a real part of our mission and a contributor to sustainability.

As many of you know, my husband and I own the building at 11th and Oak that houses Smell That Bread Bakery. Everyone loves that building, but the only thing that protects it is our goodwill.

I have, as a citizen, and will, as a member of Council, be an advocate at every opportunity for meaningful historic preservation.