You did it!

justice

Volunteers took time out of their busy summer schedules to knock on doors and you folks took the time to invite us in, listen, and get involved in the future of your community. Thank you.

Stay engaged.

Here is Save Historic Jackson Hole’s official press release on the outcome of the signature drive to come up with a referendum petition:

 

24 August 2016

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

The future of Jackson will go to a vote

Save Historic Jackson Hole was successful in having its petition for referendum certified by the town today, and causing town council to suspend ordinances that would change the zoning in District 2 of downtown Jackson that directly promotes out-of-control growth, increased traffic and overcrowding issues, and does nothing to alleviate the valley’s lack of affordable housing, but would in reality worsen the gap between job creation and people with steady local residency to fill those jobs.

It is not the organization’s desire to derail a long (more than two years in the making) process that has provided (until the 11th hour) for adequate feedback from all groups including paid lobbyists. It is not Save Historic Jackson Hole’s intent to oppose property owners’ rights. We also do not wish to stand in the way of projects that will add to our affordable housing inventory.

This is about none of that.

“The addition of 100,000 square feet of commercial short-term rental is what gives the public the most heartburn. It’s been called a ‘compromise,’ an ‘experiment,’ and a tweak to a section of downtown so small as to be inconsequential,” said Jake Nichols, executive director of Save Historic Jackson Hole. “No, what it is, is an entitlement to out-of-state developers to dig our housing crisis even deeper while they get richer. And what it was, was a last-minute modification made on a promise that was in the three-readings stage—where decisions that have been presumably made are supposed to be merely going through the required formality of public notice.”

At today’s emergency meeting, Councilman Don Frank questioned whether the referendum petition is truly a sign that the majority of the citizens of Jackson believe their elected leaders got off-track. He doesn’t think so. He said he believes the majority of the public is the people who voted him into office, and he for one will stand strong and make the tough decisions for them “without blinking.”

“We prefer Councilman Frank made decisions for his constituents without ‘winking,’” Nichols said. “The late addition of short-term rentals was made, in great part, as a concession to SR Mills alone. He owns McCabe Corner (Jackson’s ‘hole in the ground’). He has said he can’t build affordable housing there if he can only make $30,000 on the project. He would rather make $3 million on the project. The town council essentially helped him add two zero’s to his bottom line. Look, if a developer can’t make their grandiose schemes pencil in Jackson, they are welcome to go down the road to Aspen or Vail and make it work there where those communities are more interested in becoming a resort. Unlike Mr. Mills, we need to be able to live here after developers cash out.”

Remember the line: When you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging? Building commercial in order to build housing makes no sense. It’s scooping 10 shovelfuls out of a hole in order to toss two back into it. The hole keeps getting deeper. Traffic and crime keep getting worse, and rents keep going up. And the deed-restricted housing created by LDRs in District 2 is NOT affordable housing. It will sell and rent at prices beyond the reach of the neediest in our community.

Save Historic Jackson Hole feels confident that despite what voters might hear in the coming weeks about the special election in September, this is about the power of the people to have their voice heard, not ignored. To be included in the planning of their community’s future, and not be railroaded by big money interests and shady government concessions.

Expect to be marketed to and pitched at by a slick ad campaign. As a small nonprofit we will not be able to compete on the level paid lobbyists can operate at. Please, search your heart and vote your conscience on September 20. Help make Jackson livable.

 

In the news…

JH Media story

Great press from Jackson Hole Media: “Referendum Gains Steam.”

If you don’t know already, Save Historic Jackson Hole is collecting signatures for a referendum to walk back the decision to add 100,000-sf of short-term commercial rental to District 2 in downtown Jackson. It was a sneaky compromise designed to appease one or two developers including SR Mills who owns the Hole in the Ground (McCabe Corner).

Take back your town. If we haven’t found you yet and you want to sign…find us! You need only be a registered voter living in town. Call Justin at 690-6994 or Armond at 730-2274 and we will send someone to get your John Hancock. Let’s do this and show our elected leaders they need to listen to their constituents. We the people run this town, not greedy developers.

Thanks much!

Help us help you

petition

Please sign our petition and take back control of your community and your future.

We are collecting signatures for a referendum to repeal the ordinance that will change zooming in downtown Jackson to allow for even more commercial development in the form of short term rentals. We do not need any more Marriotts. We do not need any more VRBO high end condos where no one lives but developers and owners get rich off of our resort. We are a community first, resort second.

Email us and we will get something to you that you can sign.

Yes, it’s come to this…

referendum

Referendum on District 2 LDRs.

Look, we just don’t feel right about the way things went down in District 2’s zoning. We know most of you don’t either. Some are biting their tongue and claiming they are OK with the compromise. “It’s the best we can do, right?”

Wrong. We can do better. We deserve better.

We were told, we were PROMISED, no commercial would be added to downtown Jackson. We have enough already—millions of square feet yet to be used. Still, when we all went home feeling like our voice was heard, our town leaders snuck back in short-term rentals (high end condominiums) that will be rented VRBO and Airbnb to attract even more tourists, more traffic, more subsequent workforce to handle the resulting labor needs.

This was done to accommodate Think About It Jackson Hole and a few developers who are sitting on property in District 2, chomping at the bit to make their money. Once again, Jackson Hole is for sale.

Feeling sold out? So are we.

That’s why Save Historic Jackson Hole is pulling out our last resort. We will be launching a referendum if the third and final reading is passed on August 1, making this switcharoo of additional short-term commercial rental the new law. That’s not fair. Our community deserves a say in this. We did for more than two years—and we thank our town leaders for the chance to participate—but we were hoodwinked in the 11th hour. That’s not how government should work.

Want a say in how your town is run? Sign the petition. Want to get more involved? Help us collect signatures. Call Justin at (307) 690-6994and find out how you can get involved and take back your town.

Here is our ad running in the Jackson Hole Daily:

SHJH 7-28-16 NaG ad

 

D2 worked out; cap imposed

agree
Jim Stanford
Jim Stanford

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Town leaders got an earful from both sides but at the end of a 4-hour meeting the council held firm to District 2 land development regulations that recently added short-term commercial potential to 15 blocks of the downtown core. In addition, elected officials also decided to enact a numerical cap that leaders felt would better ensure high-end condo development didn’t get out of hand in Jackson. A 100,000-square-foot threshold of short-term rentals was established. It was enough to satisfy councilman Jim Stanford, but Don Frank became the sole no vote as the council moved to again makeover District 2 land regs and send the ordinance back to first reading. Second reading is expected to take place July 18.

The upshot is that while short-term rentals did sneak their way back into the LDRs for District 2, the 2.4 million square feet potential of such commercial lodging will be limited to 100,000 square feet—at which time, a new ordinance would have to be passed to allow for short-term rental development to go beyond this mark.

D2: Dirty deal

backroom

We aren’t the only ones upset with our elected officials over their change-up in zoning in downtown Jackson where they opted, in the 11th hour, to add millions more square feet of commercial after promising not to. The result of which, by the way, could mean more 50 more hotels in the core of downtown Jackson alone. That’s right…50 more 115-room hotels.

That’s an incredible amount of increased traffic and growth generator. Besides the tourists driving to and from the hotels, each will require staff. Reservations desk, bellboy, valet, concierge, maintenance, housekeepers, laundry, cooks, servers, HVAC repair, and administrators like a GM, assistants, PR, HR, Food & Beverages.

It was a major decision made in AFTER public participation convinced town leaders to stop building hotels and restaurants that worsen our housing and transportation problems. When you’re in a hole, you stop digging, right?

Wrong.

The town council passed out shovels to every condo builder and hotel developer who wants to make a buck in Jackson.

pete muldoon

Mayoral candidate Pete Muldoon wrote this editorial for Planet JH about what he said was a “backroom deal” that came as a “shock to most residents.”

 

Also check out Meg Daly’s coverage.

D2 Switcharoo

marriott

The following letter to the editor ran in June 27, 2016 of the News&Guide.

In case you missed it:

 

Dear Town elected officials,

Help us understand. Because this is all we know:

You saw and heard the public outcry. Roomfuls of sobbing residents convinced you to not add more commercial zoning in District 2. You agreed and were resolute, staff had it drawn up, and it needed only the formality of three public readings to become ordinance.

Then, when everyone went home and the room was empty, you pulled a fast one. In the days leading up to your last meeting two councilors were invited to lunch with an ex-mayor and other powerful hoteliers/businessmen in the community. A third was wined and dined by Think About It Jackson Hole. And the mayor was approached by a turncoat organization that once led the charge to house people rather than build Marriotts.

Suddenly, after working with a major hotel developer, the Alliance too was “bewitched” and asked you to change your minds and add more hotel rooms to downtown Jackson. Only Jim Stanford was not invited to taste the Kool-Aid. Is it because they know Stanford is “untouchable?”

You made a shady, last-minute, backdoor deal and added millions of square feet of allowable short-term lodging, which will exacerbate our housing and traffic problems. You waited until you thought no one was watching to pull your switcheroo.

Please explain how this is good government? You must know what everyone is saying. There is no transparency in Town government, no integrity. It was “Chicago politics.”

People want a livable community. You need to fix this at your July 5 meeting.

Thank you,

Save Historic Jackson Hole

 

Pinedale: All aboard!

New Pinedale city limit sign?

This is classic.

Our county leaders want to know a few things about you.

START Bus wants to know a few things about you.

 

In a survey released yesterday (feel free to take it) START Bus leaders want to know a couple of things including:

  • Would you move to Pinedale if START sent a bus there?
  • Can you drive the bus?

 

START
Will START consider runs to California next in order to get workforce housing bused into the valley?

In other words, even if a bus run would prove viable, START has no one to drive it. What else do our leaders need from us? Do they need us to fill it up, too, at Hoback Market on the way there?

 

Maybe Pinedale will end up being a part of the solution to our housing woes. Maybe our workforce would be more than happy to commute 4 hours a day to fold sheets for hotels charging $600 for a night’s stay.

 

Is this the community we remember? Is this the Jackson Hole we want to live in?

Housing director named

April Norton

April Norton has been chosen to head the new joint Affordable Housing Department. Norton was selected from an applicant pool of 15. That group was narrowed to three finalists last week that included Norton, T.R. Pierce, and S.C. Howard.

A panel of six conducted the interviews: Alyssa Watkins (county administrator), Julianne Fries (county HR), Bob McLaurin (town manager), Tyler Sinclair (joint planning director), Barbara Allen (BCC chair) and Sara Flitner (mayor). Watkins made the final decision today on Norton.

“April proved to be a strong candidate with a passion for addressing the future of our community and the competencies necessary for success in the Housing Director position,” Watkins said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to a successful program of housing production, preservation and management under her leadership.”

Norton is a 12-year resident of Jackson. She is currently a program officer for the LOR Foundation, where she has been employed since 2012. Norton also worked as associate director for Friends of Pathways and operations manager at the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. She is married to Alex Norton, joint long-range planner for the town and county.

“Like most everyone else in this community, I want to find solutions to our housing problem,” Norton said. “Using my foundation background, which is rooted in community collaboration and solutions, I feel I bring a unique skill set to the housing director role and look forward to working with our community to address our workforce housing issues.”

Norton will take direction from town and county leaders as well as a three-member board (Matt Faupel, Amy Robinson and Danielle Goldyn-Haigh) put in place on May 1.

Wildlife: priority zero

Wildlife collisions will keep populations in check and keep Prazma in business.

Elected officials agreed to establish a Community Priorities Fund and in doing so completely ignored the No. 1 concern of the community: conservation. Time and again, when polled, residents of Teton County have been in unison when it comes to preserving wildlife, habitat and open space. In fact, it’s the one and only thing this diverse community can agree on.

Time and again, our desires are ignored.

The 2012 Comp Plan calls for the establishment of a “dedicated funding source for conservation easements and other measures that protect the wildlife habitat, habitat connections, and scenery valued by the community.” To date, none has been designated.

Mark Newcomb
Mark Newcomb, alone in fighting for conservation.

When presented with the perfect opportunity to do so—voting on a general sales tax increase to fund this community’s priorities—electeds once again said no to conservation. At Monday’s JIM, they voted unanimously to raise taxes for housing (50%) and transportation (50%), exclusively.

Commissioner Smokey Rhea expressed her concern that wildlife was not being considered. Commissioner Mark Newcomb took a stronger stance, electing to abstain from the vote in a show of displeasure. It was a nice gesture but a no vote would have been more powerful. Granted, abstaining meant he did not have to cast a vote that would likely be perceived as opposed to housing, which is a death sentence to any politician right now.

It certainly appears as if our elected officials are more worried about reelection and keeping their jobs than they are in doing the bidding of its citizens.

Questions?

Housing is the perceived fire that needs to be put out immediately—today, say elected officials. Adequate workforce housing inventory (rental or ownership) for lower- or middleclass has always been a challenge in the valley, but creating a tax to fund the issue is a desperate knee-jerk measure in response to the intense emotional clamor of the day.

A vote to raise taxes for housing would have gone nowhere in 2010 when the recession helped keep real estate process in check and adequate rentals available to a degree. At various times through the last two decades, housing has been on the front burner, back burner, and sometimes not even on the stove at all. Planning for the future of the county should be a big picture undertaking, not a menu serving of the soup du jour.

It’s the squeaky wheel today. It is causing politicians to bend to pressure and forget a few things:

  • Is government built housing effectively solving the problem? We need to build 3 Groves each year for the next 10 years to keep up with projected growth. Government subsidized building (using the latest metrics) works out to a cost of nearly half a million dollars per unit. We’ll need $125M in today’s dollars, to do this. Can’t be done.
  • Will a private-public partnership get the job done? Based on current numbers for the Housing Trust’s Redmond-Hall project ($12M for 28 units), this arrangement can put housing on the ground for $429,000 a unit. Not much better.
  • What part of building apartment complexes maintains dark skies at night, or natural landforms, or pristine hillsides/buttes, or keeping open vistas? All called for in the Comp Plan.
The future of Jackson Hole its headed toward dense apartment complexes serviced by mass(ive) transportation.
The future of Jackson Hole its headed toward dense apartment complexes serviced by mass(ive) transportation.

One last thing. Let’s say electeds really didn’t give two shakes about wildlife/habitat/open space even though, when asked, valley residents respond somewhere around 75% in favor of funding these priorities, or at least considering them the most important thing we care about as a community.

Given that, wouldn’t it be prudent to at least include conservation on the short list of things we want to tax ourselves for? If a penny increase in sales tax proposal went something like 50% for housing, 30% for transportation, and 20% for wildlife/habitat preservation—wouldn’t that at least be a little more palatable to voters? Sweetening a tax increase with a little sugar might have worked.

As it stands, ANY amount of money we throw at housing will likely be perceived as either a waste or unproductive. We can give START Bus a zillion dollars tomorrow to buy a trillion buses and that still won’t mean more people will ride the bus.

Our elected leaders have virtually guaranteed the failure of this tax at the polls this November.

The homeless have a voice, and their struggles are certainly real and sorrowful. Jackson Hole’s wild creatures, its beautiful landscapes and unspoiled natural features cannot speak. Save Historic Jackson Hole has been and will always be dedicated to reminding our government leaders what we as a united community have always stood for: Wild Wyoming.