Council will lobby lawmakers

Officials will participate in legislature session

— The Steamboat Springs City Council will not hold a council meeting Tuesday night. Instead, council members will lobby state lawmakers.

City Manager Paul Hughes said a small Tuesday agenda and an early morning Wednesday at the state capitol caused the council to cancel Tuesday's meeting. It is the first of two council meetings that will not take place.

"It is a planning meeting anyway," Hughes said. "What better way to plan than to go down and participate in the legislature session."

The council also cancelled its meeting on the third week of February because of the Steamboat Springs School District's Blues Break. It is rescheduled for Feb. 25.

On Wednesday, the council will attend the two-day Colorado Municipal League's Legislative Workshop.

City Public Information Officer Lauren Mooney said it is a chance to meet with legislators and discuss current bills.

Gov. Bill Owens is scheduled to talk to the representatives from municipalities. He will give a State of the State address on the states' relationship with municipalities.

"It is a good time to remind legislators in the State of Colorado that most of the taking care of people is done by local governments, not state or federal governments," Hughes said.

Four council members -- President Kathy Connell, President Pro Tem Paul Strong, Arianthe Stettner and Nancy Kramer -- will attend the workshop with Hughes.

Hughes said the workshop is also a chance to lobby against bills that would take away the rights of municipalities in favor of state control.

Hughes said one top priority for the council and other cities and towns is Senate Bill 154, which would take away deed restrictions on affordable housing and therefore eliminate municipalities from keeping an available stock of affordable housing.

The bill prohibits a county or municipality from creating ordinances or resolutions that would require an owner of a private residential property to sell the property below its fair market value.

Without deed restrictions, municipalities fear that they could create affordable housing, sell it at a subsidized price and then have no means to prevent the owner from immediately selling the unit at market value and turning a profit.

Hughes said another bill that has become a top priority for municipalities is one that would make it more difficult for homeowners to sue builders. Before the House of Representatives, the bill would limit what damages could be covered on properties that are in compliance with the building code. It would also virtually eliminate builders from paying triple damages and limit the number of complaints a homeowner can report.

Hughes said although the city has not taken a formal stand against the bill, the CML has expressed opposition to it.

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