Renters living in illegal secondary units on Buena Vista Court will have some more time to stay in their homes while their landlords try to solve some contentious parking and snow-removal problems that have been causing headaches on the cul-de-sac.
The reprieve came when the Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday night narrowly voted to table three different planning appeals from property owners on the street until March 7.
The property owners are seeking to have four illegal secondary units approved by the city.
But the city’s elected officials said they won’t consider approving them until the property owners on the cul-de-sac can show they can address some serious issues the added units have created on the street.
The city’s planning commission rejected all of the proposals to legalize the secondary units.
In addition to the parking and snow-removal problems, there are also zoning and code issues associated with the illegal units.
Some property owners on the street are looking to the city to reject the added units. And some residents have suggested the property owners get together and form a homeowner’s association.
“It sounds like there is a little bit of momentum here to address the issues facing this community,” Councilman Jason Lacy said.
But Lacy cautioned the homeowners that if they can’t show some significant progress in addressing the problems by early March, he will join the three other council members who wanted to deny the appeals on Tuesday
“Time is of the essence,” councilwoman Kathi Meyer told the property owners.
The tabling motion is likely to delay municipal court proceedings against the property owners who created the illegal secondary units.
Councilman Scott Ford, who voted against the tabling motion, said the neighborhood did not appear to have a good track record in addressing the issues.
Some residents who have been affected by the illegal units testified that previous efforts to start an HOA or even a road sharing agreement have not been successful.
The issues on Buena Vista Court stem from some property owners creating illegal secondary dwelling units in their duplexes without seeking approval from the city.
The added units have increased the demand for parking and made snow removal more difficult.
When Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Mel Stewart pulled into Buena Vista Court the morning after a Dec. 15 snowstorm, he was shocked by what he saw.
Residents were trying to push their cars out of snow that was 8 to 10 inches deep, and Stewart’s vehicle with four-wheel drive could barely enter the private cul-de-sac.
“We could not have gotten our fire truck or ambulance into that cul-de-sac to respond to any emergency,” Stewart said. “I was quite shocked by the chaos that was going on in that cul-de-sac that morning.”
An abundance of unplowed snow and several vehicles spilling into the street have combined to create headaches for many of the cul-de-sac’s residents.
Stewart said he was told the cul-de-sac had no organized plan for snow removal.
The fire chief told city officials he is opposed to increasing the residential capacity on the street unless the property owners form an HOA to address snow removal and parking so emergency access is available year round.
Council President Walter Magill said he thinks there is now too much density on the cul-de-sac.
“We’ve now got 12 to 13 units off that cul-de-sac, and there’s at least 30 cars up there at times,” Magill said. “It is a mess of parking. I think we have a responsibility to not encourage this type of bootlegging of units.”
Magill questioned what good would come out of tabling the appeals for nearly two months.
“I don’t know that giving them another month will make a difference,” he said.