The housing shortage is no less threatening to our mountain towns than a wildfire. Every city government in Blaine County should treat the shortage as a crisis in order to fix the problem quickly.

Elected officials should declare a housing emergency and take measures to combat it, including the suspension or elimination of zoning ordinances that limit the supply.

They should open their doors to readily obtainable units that don’t take years to develop or build. Such units include manufactured and container housing, RVs and tiny homes.

For example, Ketchum quickly could convert the city-owned downtown parking lot that gets little use into a site for RVs or tiny homes for local workers. A tiny home enclave there could become a showplace for innovation in cost-effective living.

Cities could allow private landowners to convert driveways, yards and garages in every zoning district to accommodate temporary or permanent small units.

During the pandemic, Blaine County’s cities became Zoomtowns, the high-tech name for Boomtowns. Housing for local workers was already in short supply because of restrictive zoning and a vacation-housing market that soaked up former long-term units. Now, it’s nonexistent.

Without drastic action, the pressure on businesses and service organizations that can’t get enough workers will only increase. Local salaries cannot sustain the skyrocketing housing costs. Our towns have to change to meet the challenge.

Boomtowns are nothing new. Elected officials must quell the crisis soon or it will send more workers packing and suck the oxygen out of our mountain towns.


“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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