June 10, 2021
RE: Our Vision for NSP
Dear Teton County Commissioners and Jackson Town Councilors,
Thank you for your continued diligence throughout the ongoing planning process for Northern South Park (NSP). We applaud your decision to forego the initial application for development in favor of completing a holistic Neighborhood Plan for the entire area.
ShelterJH builds grassroots and political power so that all community members can live where we work, creating a more resilient and just future for Jackson Hole. As the only independent housing advocacy organization in Jackson Hole, we are striving to create an inclusive and vibrant community where all locals can live where they work.
Our vision for NSP is an inclusive, sustainable, and walkable neighborhood that captures our community values. We are at a crossroads, and we have the opportunity to make a choice: implement our desired growth patterns and address critical issues like housing affordability, environmental stewardship, and transportation, or continue down the same path that will not only entrench ourselves more deeply in these mounting challenges, but put our economy, quality of life, and resiliency at risk.
We believe that NSP presents an opportunity to change course, but it won’t be easy. Changing course means that most of the homes in this new neighborhood will need to be sold or rented at prices that people earning a living from the local economy can afford. To get to that place, we need to stop kidding ourselves—homes priced at over $1 million and rooms rented at over $1,500/month are in no way affordable to most of the people that earn a living here and keep our local economy functioning.
As we have known for decades, creating true affordability does not pencil and requires community investment of density as well as public and/or philanthropic investment. That means to get a new neighborhood that serves the entire community, we need investment from all sectors of our community working collaboratively.
It is not the sole responsibility of the landowners to make sure that most of the homes are actually affordable, but they should at the very least genuinely invest in the collaborative planning process to create a neighborhood that has a mix of home types and walkable neighborhoods. In addition, to meet the new subdivision standard created in the late 90’s, they should commit to building at least 25% of the for-sale product and ensuring those homes are initially and permanently affordable to a mix of Affordable households. Finally, they should prioritize selling lots at sensible prices and partnering with local businesses, the public sector, and non-profit housing organizations to further housing affordability.
Other sectors of our community also have a responsibility. Businesses should more actively invest in the production of places to live that their employees can afford by entering into long- term leases for their employees to facilitate the development of rental apartments. Our existing non-profit housing organizations should use this opportunity to raise philanthropic dollars to purchase land and construct homes. The Town of Jackson and Teton County should prioritize pursuing funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, and/or The American Jobs Plan to construct roads, sidewalks, bus stops, trails, bike lanes, and utilities. To make sure these investments in affordability are protected, these homes need a permanent mechanism to keep them out of the speculative market and occupied as intended long-term.
Finally, all members of our community should raise their voices in support of well-planned neighborhoods and a stable source of public funds so that we can legitimately mitigate our housing crisis, improving our quality of life, stabilizing our economy, and enhancing our resiliency. It takes a community to build a community! If we work together, NSP can reflect our values and make the landowners an incredible profit.
Clare Stumpf – Coordinator
Mary Erickson, Elizabeth Hutchings, Mike Welch, Christine Walker, Ryan Nourai, Skye Schell, Ash Hermanowski – Board of Directors