Affordable workforce housing won the election last week. Every candidate who ran in Ketchum and Hailey and every candidate who won endorsed increasing the supply of housing.
This means that 100% of the more than 1,500 Ketchum residents and more than 1,400 Hailey residents who cast ballots backed candidates who support doing something about the critical local housing shortage.
Now the real work must start.
This is not work that can plod or mosey. It is work that needs to be accomplished at sprint speed because cities in the Sun Valley area are decades behind other mountain resorts on this issue and must play catch-up.
Ketchum Mayor-elect Neil Bradshaw and Councilmembers-elect Amanda Breen and Courtney Hamilton, all incumbents, promised to hire a housing expert to work in city government.
They said the city needs someone whose job it is to find ways to remedy the housing shortage, a shortage that is squeezing local businesses and making life miserable for local workers. They acknowledged that the city needs to find ways to navigate Idaho laws that handcuff housing.
The city is a full partner in the Blaine County Housing Authority. However, the BCHA is a hobbled political hybrid that serves two masters. It was created to keep the political heat that housing issues generate from scorching elected officials. This is the root of its failure to meet the demand for workforce housing.
The housing shortage has now generated so much heat every elected official in every City Hall in the Wood River Valley is sweating.
In Ketchum’s most recent budget, the City Council approved spending $51,000 to hire a Boise housing consultant. It was a wimpy move that will generate another dusty tome for city archives unless someone is on the ground here to execute plans and relentlessly seek solutions.
Ketchum’s mayor and councilmembers should keep the promise they made, reopen the city budget and find the money to get a skilled and gung-ho housing official on the job ASAP.
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