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Letter to the editor: Michael Schnatzmeyer: We should use all the available tools to build a better Longmont

"Rather than divisiveness and rhetoric, we need to embrace partnerships and policies for transit, housing and sustainability-focused economic recovery with the agency and urgency required," Schnatzmeyer said.
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

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Among the candidates for Longmont Mayor, only Dr. Waters embodies the depth of understanding of both the issues facing Longmont residents and the solutions required to address them.

As a city we are facing a number of simultaneous, complex challenges: from economic recovery, jobs, personal finances, affordable housing, social justice and small business issues — to global threats of climate change and protecting nature. The future of our youngest generations is especially at risk.

Pursuing Covid recovery while acting on these interrelated economic, ecological and climate challenges will require a deeply informed, "multi-solving", and solutions-oriented approach. It will require building relationships and partnerships necessary to develop affordable housing and to implement smart-growth policies for sustainability.

Respectfully, an opposing candidate fails to understand that anti-developer rhetoric and NIMBYism policies (cloaked in greenwashing), will do more harm than good. Their standing in opposition to housing developers, Metro Districts and science-based environmentalism will only obstruct our ability to realize effective solutions. Such positions in effect, threaten to worsen homelessness, crime, social inequities and ecological damage. We cannot afford to throw out tools like Metro Districts and Smart Growth principles because of a lack of understanding of their appropriate use.

By example, Metro districts are a powerful tool to lower the initial upfront cost of purchasing homes — empowering residents to enter the “homeownership class” and grow equity and personal wealth.  This is done essentially by “amortizing” over time, (much like a mortgage does construction costs) — much of the costs of infrastructure: roads, sewer, water, etc.  Like lumber and carpet, these costs must be paid somehow.  Via Metro Districts, — homeowners pay these rising costs of infrastructure over decades, rather than have those costs paid up-front in the home’s price, making housing more attainable. 

Getting people into homes enables homebuyers to benefit from housing appreciation and the tax advantages of homeownership versus renting.  Yes, Metro Districts have been abused by “greedy developers” in some very public cases — but it is just a tool. Much like the very hammers and vehicles needed to build homes, you don’t ban these tools because they have been used by bad actors in malicious ways. Rather, the job of council is to more deeply understad this tool to ensure it is used safely and effectively to benefit homebuyers and create more affordable housing.

Additionally, by example, to successfully bring RTD rail to Longmont we will need greater housing density within 20 minutes of the station, via walkable, bikeable; "last-mile" solutions that are safe and easy to use year-round. Supporting (rather than opposing) such smart growth tactics will not only help reduce city traffic, but it will minimize sprawl and carbon emissions while creating housing that offers car-free, “affordable living”.

The city deserves a COVID and economic recovery founded on ecological protections and social equity goals based on objectivity, data, and sound science, rather than anti-developer dogma.

Rather than divisiveness and rhetoric, we need to embrace partnerships and policies for transit, housing and sustainability-focused economic recovery with the agency and urgency required.

If you want a more walkable and bikeable city; jobs and small business development; affordable housing ("living"); a vital cultural arts and entrepreneurial scene; and a flourishing, sustainable economy that genuinely protects the environment while addressing the global climate crisis, Tim Waters is the clear choice for Mayor.              

By a deeper understanding and willingness to use every tool at our disposal, Dr. Waters offers the leadership, depth, objectivity, and vison necessary to address Longmont’s issues and give the city, and its younger generations, the greatest hope for a flourishing future. 

 Mike Schnatzmeyer,

Co-Founder: StartUp Longmont, TinkerMill Makerspace, Sustainable Resilient Longmont

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