Affordable Housing and Firefighters

by jhwygirl

Driving west from Missoula, many of you may have seen the billboards for Frenchtown Rural Fire District (FRFD) advertising for volunteers. It’s not very often you see big expensive billboards used to put out a call for volunteers, so it’s pretty plain to see that FRFD is hurting for volunteers for an important community service.

With all the new subdivisions popping up all over Missoula County, one might assume that with those expanding number of households would come an expanding number of volunteers – but apparently that isn’t true. The Evaro Fire Station, because of the lack of volunteers, may have to close.

That, coupled with a budget crisis in which $300,000 mill levy failed in May, is bringing to rural Missoula County a crisis that has been creeping upon rural fire companies across the United States. FRFD stretches from Mineral County to Frenchtown, and encompasses the huge area of Frenchtown, Huson, Upper Nine Mile, Petty Creek, Six Mile and Alberton. Frenchtown has not raised its mill levy since 1991.

Anger towards growth is what long-time residents are fighting, and they are taking it out, hell-be-damned with the consequences, on FRFD. Six Mile resident John Appelt, a retired Chicago firefighter sums up his feelings like this:

This is our fire department. We own it. We will decide what level of services it provides. We’ll decide how much in taxes to pay.

We don’t want anything to do with Missoula. They descend upon us, telling us what to do in our own backyard. They are 180 degrees different from us. We are very clannish here. I would have seceded from Missoula so I don’t have to pay for things like open space. I have all the open space I need. Why would I pay for more? I was outvoted by a bunch of liberal college punks.

Translation: I’ve got mine, now the hell with the rest of you. Welcome to the neighborhood, I guess?

Shannone Hart, who was born and raised in Frenchtown but now lives in Missoula, wrote a guest column in the Missoulian back on June 28, in reply to Mr. Appelt’s comments. Her well written piece took offense at his use of the word “clannish” for his neighbors and community members – I sure wished the Missoulian archived these local guest column pieces – and she quite righteously took him to task:

My three generations of family members helped make the community where Mr. Appelt now lives in. We helped shape that community with the help of other people and we helped make it a desirable place to live. Mr. Appelt obviously saw this hardwork pay off, as he sold his place in Chicago and moved into the valley that others before him helped to mold.

Those three generations dealt with obstacles along the way, just as Mr. Appelt and other Frenchtown community members currently are. Everyone needs to understand that everyone wants what is best for the community as a whole, not what is best for select individuals.

Nestled in her wonderfully written response, Ms. Hart also added this tidbit, explaining to Mr. Appelt why he was wrong to think that budget cuts were the simplistic answer to FRFD’s woes:

Mr. Appelt and others would like to restore the fire department to its 1962 vestige; however they are not dealing with a 1962 community. Folks simply can not volunteer that much time anymore. Home prices are very high and most families are holding down multiple jobs to keep their heads above water.

Ms. Hart paints a picture of that which is at the core of FRFD’s woes – a shortage of volunteers due to the high cost of housing and a lack of enough personal time to allow for volunteer commitments. A sad but very real reality that is facing not only rural Missoula County, but communities all over the state that rely on volunteer firefighters.

As another stark example of what a lack of volunteers can do to a community – exhibit the community of West Yellowstone – who’s Insurance Service Office (ISO) rating was recently downgraded from a 7 to a 10. A 10 rating is the equivalent of essentially no fire protection coverage at all. This downgrading will cost the West Yellowstone Day’s Inn an increase of $15,000 per year for insurance coverage.

$15,000 per year.

Fire Chief Jason Catrambone explained that while the rating had to do with both staffing and training, without enough qualified personnel, the ladder truck meant very little. “The only true issue is staffing.”

Other issues stem from a lack of volunteers – one being an aging volunteer base – already (remember?) shrinking because of a lack of volunteers. Of the 48 volunteers with FRFD, 14 have less than one year of experience, while 12 have more than one and less than 3 years of experience. Only 11 volunteers have 7 or more years of experience.

Less than 1 in 4 with more than 7 years experience.

The time of volunteers that hopped off their bar stools to answer a fire siren are gone – being a firefighter requires training and commitment. Lack of experience not only increases the risk to both the community and its structures, but also its firefighters. Fighting fire in rural Missoula – rural Montana- is no easy task. We’ve got structures large and small, old and new, grasslands, cropland, and timber. Training is pretty darn diverse and necessary.


A lack of housing that is affordable to its community members has serious impacts. Not only does everything from your car repair work to hamburgers cost more, but government services cost more because hiring that county clerk to process your license plate request means that the county has to pay a wage that is conducive to keeping an adequate county employee on staff. It means that your taxes have to be set at such a level that supports essential services that are needed to keep a community running. Everything from that county clerk to the county sheriff to the paid or volunteer firefighter to the county attorney to the support staff at the county commissioner’s office.

And that same holds true for the City, which goes without saying now, doesn’t it?

Over the last 20 years or so I’ve had many a conversation with those who think that affordable housing really isn’t that important – but in that same breath they would say that police and fire service are.

How much do you really want to pay out of your own pocket to keep yourself protected with an adequately trained, prepared and supplied police and fire? How much is an increase in your taxes worth if it means preventing a $15,000 increase in cost for insurance?

Or might it not be better to look at one of the root problems of the issue at hand, and look, comprehensively, at the problem that the lack of affordable housing means to a community?

When a community lacks affordable housing it lacks economic viability. That is pretty plain to me.

This is the first piece of many more to come on the subject of essential affordable housing.

  1. You think Appelt hangs a “Native” bumper sticker on his car?

    Why is it that so many folks who complain about outside interference are actually from somewhere else?

  2. So what should we be doing (about housing) that we aren’t doing already?

  3. noodly appendage

    Carol, your question first. A: requiring that a certain amount of housing built be priced for purchase by those at the 50-80% of median income range.

    A word to those who live outside of town: you get what you pay for when it comes to fire protection. SPRINKLE!

    And as to this, ” I would have seceded from Missoula so I don’t have to pay for things like open space. I have all the open space I need. Why would I pay for more? I was outvoted by a bunch of liberal college punks.”

    I hear it said in Gallatin County about Bozeman all the time.

    In Gallatin, those rural landowners who farm and ranch, have all their ag property exempted from the open space bond issue levy. They pay it on their residence.

  4. Carol – I can not think of one thing that the county is doing to help ensure, development-wise, that this community can economically sustain itself.

    At least in the city – some on council – actually seem to want to do something.

    I’m really tired of hearing every single subdivision approved touted as the answer to the county’s lack of affordable housing.

    A 94 lot subdivision approved up in Lolo, that neighbors complained about from the perspective of traffic concerns, water, public safety (increased need for fire protection resources without generating sufficient revenue to meet the increased demand) – that was approved citing, in part, the need for affordable housing.

    Those lots are now selling for $90,000 – not even close to meeting the median income of a two-income household once you factor building a house on it. (Land cost 1/3 to 1/4 the total value with construction).


    The Frenchtown situation illustrates the same – increase development, and increased tax revenue – yet the increased revenue generated is unable to keep up with the increased demand for essential infrastructure (in this example, fire protection).

    No development is able to pay for itself – and yet the taxpayers are expected to eventually buck up for new development.

    Doesn’t seem fair.

    Shouldn’t new development lead to enough increased revenue (whether directly via property taxes from the private homes or indirectly via increased business taxes generated from the expanded population base) to meet infrastructure demands without having to put those costs on the backs of long-term residents?

    I’d like to see development be sustainable. I’d like to see a more thoughtful approach to development that at least attempts to be sustainable.

  5. Ayn Rand

    As long as you continue to remove developable land from the public, prices will go up. What you really want is the builder to sell below cost. At least be honest alphebetgirl.

  6. noodly appendage

    Sell what below cost? The land and development together, with financing, is far below 90k a lot.

    What you mean to say is “below market”. And yes, that is what has to happen.

  7. Ayn Rand

    nice try to change my statement!! Sell below cost in econ 101 means below COST. I’ll go real ….dollars… for …the …..lot…and …it…costs …10 …dollars…for …the …building…the…total…cost…is…20…dollars…!!! you …want …it ….to…be…sold…for…15 …dollars.

  8. If cost is 90K and post-construction value is 270K to 360K, then selling at, say, 180K is below market value, not below cost.

    Real slow…180K…minus…90K is 90K left over… = profit…

  9. BTW, I like the nickname “alphabetgirl”!

  10. so Ayn – what you are suggesting is that developers are breaking even on subdivision development…whether they build or whether they just sell lots. No ‘profit’ – that the price tag they have on lots and homes is a break even number. No room to move.

    Me? I think developers – combined with realtors – push those prices to as much as the market can possibly bear along with what their wallets are able to hold on to while they wait out their price.

    If they didn’t lie during the approval process – telling the County Commissioners or the City Councilmembers that they would be providing affordable homes as a way to make their high density all the more palatable – maybe it wouldn’t be so maddening.

    As far as pricing – all those guys look at what others are selling stuff for. I seriously doubt anyone is looking at a set, say, 30% mark-up (that is just a number I picked, and not one that in my own mind thinks is fair or unfair).

    What is happening is that people are paying a greater percentage of their income into housing – and not into the other things that stabilize the economy of a community.

    If, in another industry – lets take phone service, for example – all of the industry got together and decided to collectively charge a certain price that was, for example, a 200% mark-up, we’d have the federal government come in an charge price-fixing.

    We’ll have a post later defining exactly what affordable housing is.

    And yes – in some – very few – communities, developers are required to sell a portion of homes based on the median incomes of the community members.

    I am not knowledgeable enough to say what the solution or solutions are – a needs assessment study needs to be done, and the community has to come together in meaningful discussion and realize the impact that no action will have. I don’t think anyone could come in, with any credibility, and simply say what the solution is. Any solution would be a collaborative effort.

    There are economic impacts to a lack of affordable housing. What everyone wants to tolerate in cut services and higher taxes is what the discussion needs to revolve around.

  11. noodly appendage

    BTW, residential growth doesn’t pay for itself. It has to be complimented with commercial, office, and industrial growth. Without a local option sales tax, or perhaps a realty transfer tax, its not possible for local govt glean the taxes needed from just residential growth.

    I’ll go real slow(ly) too, (it’s an adverb that’s needed here). Lots don’t COST the developer 90k. Its the developer’s asking price.

    There are ways to get the land cost to 30k or less for a lot, for the required affordable units. A lot, after all, can be as small as 3000 sq ft. In addition, multiple detached homes can be put on a “condo-ized” bigger lot. Lots of options there, really.

    Probably a bigger barrier is that developers pre sell the lots to realtors speculating, and builders wanting “inventory” and then there’s no lots available for the energetic self builder who subs himself or negotiates with his own general .

    But then, as Ms Buyavowel says, I’ve got no cred.

  12. carol

    So we just have to…what, demand that these evil contractors not make so damn much money? I’ll bet they’d be really excited about that. Lots of incentive there.

    I don’t think the people who go into contracting and take all the financial risks are doing it for the govt-university-nonprofit type chump change that the affordable housing lobby is content with

    I know, let Habitat for Humanity build all the houses! That’s the ticket!

  13. noodly appendage

    Developers, contractors, those are not synonyms, either.

    Developers have to make money,or lots won’t be developed, but they don’t have to make money on every lot to still make money. Affordable housing lots will be the same as curbs and gutters and sidewalks, and parks, required infrastructure. Will that raise the price on the other lots? Perhaps, but there is the market force pushing down as well. YOu could also reduce infrastructure requirements for additional lots, such as reduced parkland or curbwalks and rolled gutter, etc.

    Builders, or contractors if you will, must have a profit margin on the home, or they won’t build, and nobody should be able to make them. This is america and the lockean principle of controlling one’s labor is still in sway (no matter how much it’s under attack by the left and right). And that profit margin must be enough so that they’re tempted to build.

    Affordable housing is, in essence, small homes or townhomes on small lots. You can’t get it otherwise, no matter how much the communists want to take from each according to his ability and give to each according to his need.

    You have to work on supply, and to some extent, demand as well. And still it might not work. There’s always a bigger house with a longer commute. Why? Because the land prices, farther out, are cheaper.

  14. Ayn Rand

    Ah finally, I got you to the root of your real hate. All life is an education and you finally found your base. The landowner. That hated, vile, contemptuous person that actually owns something. You want to dictate the price the landowner sells for. After all, we live in a city of socialism. Missoula isn’t called Berkley North for no reason. If you cannot redistribute wealth by taxes alone, use some form of eminent domain to assure that no one, no one, who owns dirt can sell to someone of their choosing. And if they try to, deny, deny, deny. You set the price. Market be damned. We don’t deserve to live, we retched and undeserving, over privileged marketeers. We hold the proletariat down, jack booting them at every turn. Nice life you live. It must be comforting to hate so much. The real sad character here is the landowner because they allow nits to control their lives. After enough time, there will be a resurgence of private property rights and you will have nowhere to go. Enjoy your haunts while you can.

  15. No one said developers should be forced to build affordable housing. You could always use tax incentives. Or maybe use taxpayer money for grants, or whatever. Maybe holld a prize for a contractor to come up with the least expensive “model” green house.

    Not everything’s about seizing property, AR, or compelling folks to go against their will. In face, there are Missoula developers who want to build affordable housing, believe it or not. Let’s encourage them.

  16. noodly appendage

    Well, I’d reject the whole “hate” thing from any of you, and I’ve gotten it now from both sides. Ad hominem is the last refuge of the incompetent.

    And in this case, oddly enough, I find myself on the left side of Jay and MsBuyavowel. Jay, hwygirl, You will, at some point, have to add affordable lots to required infrastructure.

    So, I AM saying developers over a certain size should be forced to provide lots at prices that can allow attached or detached owner occupied housing to be built for a profit by builders and sold at affordable prices.

    I’d just remind you two of my leftist position the next time I get a bunch of crap from you about my “right wing” positions. It won’t happen very often, that I’ll be to your left, and I’d say it’s coming from my increased familiarity with the issues of affordable housing.

    The right of a person to private property, including the right of their own person, our most private of property, is not completely absolute. But it’s fundamental. I betcha Ayn Rand doesn’t believe in the Lockean ideal of private property rights to the extent I do!

    There is also the “right to develop”. (We know that through “transfer of development rights” for example.) So there are protections for the landowner. But landowners are controlled by zoning, planning, design standards, and should be. The west can’t all look like Reserve Street.

  17. jhwygirl

    noodly – never said you had no cred….you jump to defensiveness quicker than need be there.

    Ayn apparently has no problem with having her taxes increased to subsidize development of new subdivision.

    Apparently we should all bow to the almighty developer in the name of business – even if it is bad for the business of government.

    With PEACE to all!

  18. DC Kidd

    I could sure go for an affordable vacation. Where are all the socialists when you really need them?

  19. wharf rat

    Hi Folks…

    Disclaimer: I have been a volunteer firefighter back in the days of “have pickup and shovel, will respond”. I know Chief Waldron and believe that he has done a great job in the FRFD.

    While affordable housing is an issue in the District, the bigger issue is growth itself. Like it or not, Frenchtown is a suburb of Missoula and Alberton will be soon enough. The area you moved to ten of fifteen years ago is not the area you live in now, partially due to you and others moving in.

    The pissing match within Frenchtown Rural Fire is simply one act in the large drama of growth. The really stupid thing is that the complainers will be left with limited protection because they have created an environment discouraging to volunteers.
    Chief Waldron has done a great job lining up resources and keeping the Department going with limited resources. The District, though, will have to face and vote on an upgrade to a professional, paid department or sharply increased insurance costs.


  20. South of Town

    Other than common sense and a garden hose, I haven’t had any fire protection where I live for the last 27 years. Sure, there’s a volunteer firehouse 15 miles away over a really bad county road, but it takes about 45 minutes to get a fireman to my house (or a deputy sheriff for that matter). My insurance company (Travelers) says I don’t have any fire protection at all, as far as they’re concerned. Funny thing, though, my insurance rates are about the same as people in town right next to the firehouse!

    I don’t buy that West Yellowstone insurance story at all. The bottom line is the whole damn town is a tinderbox because it’s surrounded by dense forests that haven’t been logged in decades. That’s what’s going on. You could have 20 firehouses in West Yellowstone and they couldn’t save the town.

    This whole idea of affordable housing is just a rehash of subsidized housing for people who shouldn’t own a house in the first place. That’s all it is. And trying to link subsidized housing to fire protection is totally bogus. Try again.

  21. This whole idea of affordable housing is just a rehash of subsidized housing for people who shouldn’t own a house in the first place. That’s all it is.

    BTW, the median house price in Missoula is above $200K. That means it’s out of the price range for most Missoulians. So basically you’re saying that teachers, firefighters, small business owners, etc shouldn’t own a house?

  22. South of Town – you may not “buy” the West Yellowstone insurance story, but facts are facts. One business has said that their insurance is going up $15,000 because of the drop in ISO rating. ISO ratings are used all over this country, by insurance firms all over.

    If your insurance rate is comparable to those “in town right next to the firehouse”, then I’d consider yourself lucky. I’m sure the Fire Chief in West Yellowstone isn’t making stories up.

    Wharf Rat – briefly, I’ve tied together affordable housing and firefighters in the headlines, but the content puts together a story of unsustainable growth.

    Growth is the issue, I agree – it’s complex, and unsustainable growth results in lack of affordable housing, higher taxes, less volunteers, yada yada yada…

  23. That sums it up well Jay – “I, the taxpayer, want fire protection and police protection and school teachers – but I don’t want those people living in my neighborhood – let ’em commute from 50 miles away.”

    And when an emergency happens and I have to count on my emergency personnel to drive from 50 miles away – that’s OK too!

  24. noodly appendage

    Well, I like living where I live, and it’s unreasonable to think others won’t as well. What will you do to keep that “growth” out, “gut shoot em at the border”?

    The issue isn’t “growth”. It’s “demand”. And if you don’t grow to meet the demand, the housing gets much, much, much less affordable.

    Hey, there’s plenty of towns that aren’t growing and where houses are cheap. Why not go there? Because there’s no jobs and you don’t want to live there anyway.

    Demand, and supply, still the same ole story.

  25. South of Town

    “BTW, the median house price in Missoula is above $200K. That means it’s out of the price range for most Missoulians.”

    If that’s true then “most Missoulians” need to earn more money or should rent a place or think about moving. Where they’d go I don’t know because the median house price in the United States is $230,000! (What’s wrong with you people up there anyway? Are you starting to miss all those high-paying mill jobs?)

    “So basically you’re saying that teachers, firefighters, small business owners, etc shouldn’t own a house?”

    No, Jay, I’m saying that NOBODY should own a house (or anything else) if they can’t afford it. Is that hard for you to understand?

  26. carol

    There have been a lot of apartments built in the last 15 years. It ought to be a renter’s market. I’ve known families who always rented–military especially. Seems like only in the last 20 years people have gotten so frantic to buy.

    FWIW, I worked with someone who had a Habitat house built for her. She complained because she had to make payments on it. Some people should just stick to renting, rooming with others, and we shouldn’t be stigmatizing mobile homes through zoning.

    I think what’s really being demanded is taxpayer-subsidized stickbuilt homes near the Good Food Store for the young professionals working at UM, gov and nonprofits.

  27. carol ??? what are you saying? “seems like in like only the last 20 years people have gotten so frantic to buy.” That is the so-called American dream – since post WWII – homeownership – the one assurance of self-made economic stability into old age. Seriously. Can. Not. Buy.Your.First.Paragraph.At.All.

    You own your own home. Why is it you chose to buy instead of rent? (That was rhetorical – I’m not really asking that you answer.)

    Habitat focuses on people of 30% and lower of the median income – and most housing professionals and housing agencies will tell you that housing ownership opportunities do NOT work for people that make less than 50% of the median income. They don’t – at the very least – make enough to pay the taxes and upkeep that come along with mortgage payments.

    Homeownership is what stabilizes a community – people get married, they have children, they add to the community. Renters come and go, by and large. (I feel an attack coming on for that statement.) I rent, BTW – but would love to own.

    Missoula certainly needs rental housing, but it needs housing that is affordable to people that make 80% and above of median. And there simply aren’t sufficient homes at those price levels to serve that market.

    When a person pays more than 1/3 of their income into rent or mortgage, property tax, gas and electric and water and garbage (any or all as necessary to have a roof over their head), they are paying more than what the federal government says someone should pay for housing. 30%.

    And an investment adviser would say 25%.

    Anyone that is exceeding that amount, is not putting that remaining income into food, vehicles, healthcare, entertainment, education, etc. – all stuff that generally goes back into the local economy.

  28. I think what’s really being demanded is taxpayer-subsidized stickbuilt homes near the Good Food Store for the young professionals working at UM, gov and nonprofits.

    Yowza! Now we’re getting personal! Seems like the issue here has nothing to do with subsidized housing…

    So…I’m guessing you don’t like how the neighborhood is changing?

  29. …I’m saying that NOBODY should own a house (or anything else) if they can’t afford it. Is that hard for you to understand?

    See, “appendage, noodly,” and “girl, alphabet,” for a reasoned response.

  30. South of Town

    I’ve watched this affordable housing idea go through at least four or five major contortions over the years, the results of which have produced only more and more absurd justifications.

    So now we have reached—what? Mid-level absurdity? We’ve reached the point where “teachers, firefighters, small business owners, etc.” cannot afford a house? And that means the public schools will soon close, fires will rage out of control, and nobody will be able to buy a blueberry muffin anywhere?

    OK, people, let’s get this post over with. Let’s run with this affordable housing idea, take it to the max, and reach the apex of absurdity.

    The median price of a house in Missoula has hit $750,00!!! McDonald’s workers, motel chambermaids, and bank tellers have long since disappeared. Now, the average doctor, dentist, and lawyer cannot find affordable housing. You can’t get a prescription written, and even if you could, oh hell, the pharmacies closed years ago. It’s been almost a decade since you had your teeth cleaned because all the dental hygienists left town, and now you can’t even get all those rotten teeth pulled! Geez. You’d really like to sue somebody, but lawyers are nearly impossible to find, unless they come all the way from Wibaux, and even if you found one, the local court is closed because the judge couldn’t get any affordable housing.

    You’d think there would be a limit to this absurdity, wouldn’t you?

  31. South of Town

    Make that $750,000 or a million five or whatever….

  32. noodly appendage

    Ketchum, Idaho, Jackson, Wyoming, Aspen Colorado, are already there, South of Town.

  33. “That is the so-called American dream – since post WWII”

    Oh, THAT’s the American Dream? I’m never sure, sometime it’s home ownership, sometimes it’s going into business, sometimes it’s getting rich. Seems to be a moving target.

    “So…I’m guessing you don’t like how the neighborhood is changing?”

    Actually I do. Cute houses–I’d buy one. I just saw a couple dozen of the 2-story clapboard things as I drove up Kemp this morning. They all seem to be at least 180K though. There seems to be a certain price point. I knocked on a lot of those doors last year and they didn’t all appear to be owner occupied (absence of landscaping is a dead giveaway).

    I wonder how many hundreds of these have been built in the last 5 years.

  34. South of Town

    Hey, Carol, news blast: “The National Association of Realtors said that sales of single-family homes fell 3.5 percent while the supply of new single-family homes rose to its highest level since June 1992.”

    Maybe it’s time we grabbed a couple units before all those teachers, fireman, and small businessmen start buying them. And if the market hasn’t hit bottom yet, we can always sell them to the People’s Republic of Missoula to use as affordable housing.

  35. Ooo, “People’s Republic of Missoula”…I like that! Certainly it would be refreshing if the voters, and not moneyed interests, had the primary say in their community…

  36. Housing was real reasonable back in the 1980s. The economy was terrible too and people were moving away to better job markets.

    Wait for it to tank again, then if you still have a job, jump in!

  37. South of Town

    Jay, anybody who works hard, saves his money, and gets ahead is part of the “moneyed interests” in your skewed worldview.

  38. Well that may be true. That is, the “get ahead” part. There are loads of people who work hard and save their money only to get sh*t on by folks picking their pockets.

    Pensions reneged. Escalating insurance costs. Elaborate government-subsidized projects that benefit, say, Exxon, while gas prices spiral out of control.

    A lot of “conservatives” talk up “personal responsbility,” “free market,” etc, while handing out tasty contracts, deregulating, and basically allowing certain businesses to do what they want while we bankroll it.

    That’s not a “skewed” worldview. That actually happens. If in Missoula our civic leaders do their jobs with their actual constituents in mind — and create a “people’s” republic — I’m all for it.

  39. South of Town

    “There are loads of people who work hard and save their money only to get sh*t on by folks picking their pockets.”

    So that makes it OK for you to promote picking somebody else’s pocket. What are you, the Fagin of Missoula?

    Maybe you should try attending to your own business first and getting your own house in order, rather than attempting to control other people’s lives. Strive for perfection in your own life. When you achieve it—or get fairly close—people will look to you as an example of what they could be.

    Start a business. Treat your workers with respect and pay them well. Give all your profits to charity. Show the world what you’re made of. Otherwise, you’re just another liberal with a savior complex, standing on a virtual soapbox, railing against the invisible forces of evil oppressing the world.

  40. Picking pockets? Did I somewhere advocate for raising your taxes?


    I want fair taxation. Right now — according to a 2004 GAO report — over 90% corporations pay less than 5% in income tax. How does that compare to your rate? I think the rate should be fairer. Maybe a graduated flat tax rate, and a simplified system? No AMT?

    I also want my tax dollars directed towards civic projects that benefit me, not to subsidize companies that don’t need the handouts. Parks. Schools. Creating a livable community.

    I’m writing here as someone who works for a living (two jobs), takes no government money, has kids, and a mortgage. I’m just demanding a voice and a stake in my community. And not just for me, but for my neighbords and fellow city members.

    Sorry you’re against that.

  41. I find it interesting how quickly carol and South of Town went to the “you are anti-development” cry. Without ever addressing the result of their pro-developer stance – which is, as has been pointed out, MORE TAXES and less service for the higher bill.

    No one business is more heavily subsidized by the local taxpayer than the development community. That is fact.

    I, for one, said quite clearly that I was supportive of sustainable development. I am not anti-development, and this post shows that I am anti-tax when it comes to subsidizing development.

    noodly appendage pointed out that no residential development pays for itself. He’s right. The issues in Frenchtown illustrate that. And if you ask any honest politician, they’ll tell you the same. Or the County or City Engineer or the County or City Planner, etc.

    Yet South of Town has to go to drastic claims, accusing the supporters here who are wanting to see something done proactively of hysterically running around saying that we won’t have fire or police or schools.

    No one said that, and South of Town know it.

    From what I’m seeing – since carol and wharf rat and south of town haven’t flat-out said it – is that carol, wharf rat and south of town apparently support higher taxes and lesser services and higher costs to the taxpayer in insurance costs (for one) as a cost of high development.

    The the almighty developer deserves a free-ride, unlike the local fence place down the street that pays its taxes, and pays it business license, and in exchange gets potholes out its door and police and fire protection that is both suffering from cuts and costing more and more.

    So while that local fence company fights to keep prices competitive, the local developer gets to work hand-in-hand with other developers and real estate agents and push their prices up, collectively, to whatever they can afford to speculate.

    Gee – and I thought conservatives were supposed to be pro-business and anti-taxes.


  42. I never advocated any of that, but I don’t have much faith in government’s ability to manipulate the housing market.

    I’m not even sure what we’re talking about with “affordable housing”–buying, renting, what? Because I’ve been here long enough to remember when renting was a huge issue too because there weren’t enough units. Is it still? I remember when mobile home spaces were impossible to find. Are they still?

    And with all the condos and rowhouses and dupes and things that have been built, at Hellgate Meadows, Windsor Park, and scattered all over the west side. Will anyone go on the record saying how many more are needed? No, it’s just more, more, with no acknowledgement of what has been built so far.

    I don’t think there will ever be enough, especially as people keep streaming in because it’s such a cool place doncha know. If I had it to do over I’d have moved to Butte.

  43. “affordable housing” is housing that costs no more than 30% of your gross income. Those costs include mortgage or rent, homeowners insurance or renters insurance, gas, electricity, water, sewer and garbage. Not phone, not cable. Those direct costs associated with keeping a roof over your head. That’s what the government is saying (HUD).

    I do plan to keep going at this issue, especially since we are nearing city council elections. Neither the city or the county is “managing” growth. Nothing proactive – and there are many that lament that two political subdivisions that are facing such large growth aren’t looking at the situation proactivley instead of re-actively.

    I am, with little regret, heading off for sagebrush land – and hopefully a view of the Blue Angels doing a fly-over of the Tetons on Monday while on their way out of Bozeman where they will be for the weekend. Thursday’s photo shoot apparently didn’t go well due to clouds.

    I will, when I get back and my family is back to their own haunts, get back to the task of giving out the facts and figures that will explain and support my position (at least I think so.)

    So while I will go on record illustrating the gap in affordable housing that the market isn’t providing – I won’t be able to see how much more is needed. As you said, more and more keep streaming in.

    I hope ALL have a lovely weekend, and I thank everyone for joining in on the discussion.


  44. South of Town

    “If I had it to do over I’d have moved to Butte.”

    I think I love you!

    Anyway, Carol, here’s a news blast from today’s WSJ:

    • The collapse in new home sales in the West — where affordability issues are dramatically worse than in the other areas — has been the worst of any region, with the June level of sales at a more than twelve-year low after having plunged 57% from the peak quarterly sales rate hit in 2005Q3. –Morgan Stanley Research (07/26/07)

    You see, the market is the answer, not the government. Say, let’s go into the real estate business together. We could speculate on a house. Now’s the time! And if it doesn’t sell right away, well, uh, maybe we could move in together, and, uh…

    Oh, hell, my wife’s a socialist. What can I say?

  45. Ayn Rand

    thats affordable housing in Jackson Hole!!

  46. no it’s not ayn. Locals that support the economy by providing the services are being pushed to drive from as far as Idaho Falls.

    You can’t run a business without employees.

  47. Wow, over the pass…or around through Alpine in winter? did they ever improve the roads?

    I’m sorry but I could see that coming 30 years ago. Coulda shoulda stuff was cheap there in 1973.

  1. 1 Median Home Price in Jackson Hole = $1.18 Million « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] South of Town, how do you explain […]

  2. 2 Some Observations on Land Development and Profit « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] called “fire protection”), I began to ponder this today: There are those (see here and here for some discussion in that regards) who slam any mention of inclusionary housing as a solution to […]

  3. 3 Affordable Housing for City Police (Only?) « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] both deserves and needs that (especially with Bobby Hauck, run amok) – but it does illustrate some of the very issues I’ve been speaking about. (For more b’bird stuff on affordable housing, click on the “affordable housing” […]

  4. 4 Workforce Housing Initiative Resolution at Tonight’s City Council « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] amoungst our pages here at 4&20 regarding affordable housing. Consider checking these two out: Affordable Housing and Firefighters Affordable Housing for Police […]

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