Vice News Tonight became the latest media outlet to cover the legal battle between Vail Resorts and the Town of Vail over a condemned worker housing project. The 5.4-acre project would house 165 employees, but it is located around a bighorn sheep habitat. The interview talks with a conservationist, local workers, a homeowner near the proposed housing site, and Beth Howard, who is the COO of Vail Resorts.
Some of the interesting tidbits I found from the video were:
- A 2019 study found that Eagle County is 4500 housing units short of its current needs.
- One couple in the news reports live in their van and they’re willing to live in a place for up to $2200 a month, which is pretty expensive. Whenever rentals pop up, hundreds of people apply.
- When Beth Howard was interviewed, a press person for Vail Resorts stopped her when she was discussing possible other affordable housing sites. This is because Vail Resorts and the Town are in active mediation to figure out alternative housing solutions.
- A 72-unit affordable housing project is currently under construction by the Town of Vail. Vail Resorts decided to not lease or buy the property, in spite of the town offering them these options.
I appreciate Vice’s on-the-ground reporting on this important topic, but I feel the report comes more on the side of the NIMBY/bighorn sheep crowd. It tries to be balanced by interviewing Vail Resorts, but their legally required scant answers make them lean towards the other side.
Bighorn sheep hang out in the steep hills above the proposed site, but this is right next to the frontage road off I-70. In addition, bighorn sheep are not listed as an endangered species. They didn’t also discuss the luxury homes that were built around the hills of East Vail, which have not been condemned. I do believe that they should look into other sites, or convert one of their hotels, but it’s unclear if these other locations can house as many workers. I personally am not the biggest fan of Vail Resorts due to the lack of investments at my home mountain, but I’m on their side here.
The video from Vice News is below.
Image/Video Credits: Vail Ski Resort, Vice News Tonight