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Sage: [00:00:00] Welcome back to It's Not a Tiny House Podcast where your host, Wyatt Reed and Barna Kasa talk about all things housing while working on creating a unique and affordable housing solution in rural Colorado. They cover everything you need to know, from city code to financing by interviewing experts and sharing their personal experience so you can have the knowledge to overcome the problems nobody else is talking about. And now, onto the podcast.
Rob: [00:00:25] Yeah, at the end of the day, we could talk about the problem however, we want to talk about it.
Wyatt: [00:00:31] But yeah, and I might be.
Rob: [00:00:32] But, but, what, what hasn't happened is a community, it has in pockets, we haven't really shifted this thing into, you know, into high gear. And that's really probably the the call to action for our community is it's like, OK, we're getting our teeth kicked in here. Let's let's collectively make a decision.
Wyatt: [00:00:52] Yeah, we are losing this fight right now.
Barna: [00:00:53] And is that FEDCs kind of job at this point to kind of get everybody on the same page, the business owners, the government.
Rob: [00:00:59] FEDC in this role is, you know, probably a facilitator, a cheerleader, you know, creating incentive that that that's what FEDC's role is. You know, before it gets done, it requires a champion. And maybe you guys or somebody in your circle of influence are the champions and and that's really what drives it. So FEDC kind of clears the deck, makes the connections, gets people thinking about it and and then move, you know, towards somebody that actually is interested in that particular vertical segment.
Barna: [00:01:33] We've been the champions for housing for a year and a half here. And this is not just our project, that's ADE's that's making, any housing. We have never said, no, don't do housing that that has not happened. So how can we get the support of FEDC where really seems like we just need, we'll we'll be here, we'll be at every meeting, but we need the support of organizations who can come and say, we've been around, we have the information. Sure, we know what's going on. We know we have this many people on our board or this many members. And these are the facts and they're right, and let them do it. So if we go for a reason or if we go in to meeting and say we need ADUs and you know, well, yeah, because this business owner, this business owner, this business owner, they don't have a place to put employees that would be working for him.
Wyatt: [00:02:34] At the right price that their employees, now you got this conversation that we've had before, too, right? Like, nobody wants to work. So I've heard. Right, and I said, Well, nobody wants to pay either, right? We have we have wage separations from from our cost of living versus our are affordable or our job what our jobs are paying, too, right? So you've got to find an answer here because only only so many cookies come out of the cookie jar, right, like. So either wages have to go up quite dramatically to live in this area or the cost of living, at least for a certain subset of the population, support staff. Anybody that's going to work inside of a restaurant, rafting all all, all that service industry to kind of right places. You've got teachers, they can't afford to live here. You've got first five year police officers that can't afford to live here, firefighters. We just lost EMS service in Penrose. We just found out we don't have enough volunteers. Potentially we're going to lose EMS services in Florence. That community, those those jobs. The reason that those people do not exist here is because they can't physically exist here on the dollar amounts that they can make.
Barna: [00:03:44] Was it? The 2020 report said that in Colorado, you need to be you need make over twenty six dollars an hour and some cents to afford a place to live.
Wyatt: [00:03:53] So we don't have to. Yeah, we don't have to have. Solid, like we don't have to have hundreds of shipping container houses, what we need is an option so that the market can correct itself a little bit and go, OK, well, I have to compete with the this other option that's now on the market. We can't have a thousand a month apartments and thousand dollars a month insurance costs and childcare costs. When you're working these jobs, it does not workt, like it's so it's not that certain people need to get better jobs are more employment, either employment, your wages go up or you let somebody come into the marketplace that can reduce costs.
Rob: [00:04:35] Right, Yep, agreed. I think you know you're you're you're going down a particularly slippery slope, you know, with this particular discussion. And I'll give you an example. Our newly elected president, Joe Biden, recently was confronted by somebody that was talking about the federal unemployment and suggesting that people are staying on federal unemployment because it's more lucrative to them than going to work. And and so the people that need employees are in effect competing with the federal government,
Wyatt: [00:05:09] Which is a huge problem.
Rob: [00:05:10] You know, to to find these employees. And Biden had a one sentence, you know, little quip and he said, pay them more. That was his solution, he said. Pay him more in a market economy that actually makes sense. It says that if you want to get somebody to move in a particular direction, you create a financial incentive for them to do so. However, here's where the model breaks down is that if you go to McDonald's in the Drive-Thru or Carl's Jr. in the drive thru in a in a Happy Meal suddenly cost you $38 because they're paying the person behind the counter twenty six dollars. That model breaks down because people say, I don't want that meal at that price, it's not worth it. And I don't I can't afford that price of a meal at that point in time. That's where the economy breaks down, and that's where government has the responsibility to each of us to remove obstacles, not create obstacles. That's my view, and I think in this particular sense of the word, the government, whether well-meaning or not, whether you're you're fiscally conservative or whether you're liberal. The fact of the matter is, is they have created an obstacle that didn't previously exist.
Wyatt: [00:06:27] And yeah, they've created competition, right? And so I said, this before
Barna: [00:06:30] And that has been our argument this entire time that the free market isn't free. If I can't build a 320 square foot house, if I want. If I bring skills, resources, money, land, all of it. And there's one rule because you feel like you need a bigger house for you. You don't want other people to live in small houses for whatever reason. That is not a free market anymore. Free market is me trying something and failing epically and then not doing it again because I failed so bad. So let me fail, right? Let me create a product that is junk, right? And then I lost all my time and money and I'll move on. The market told me, that I can't do it. That's different than the government telling me, I can't do it. And the and the market is screaming, we need you to do this.
Wyatt: [00:07:26] And the government is moving too slow to do it. And and the government is not supposed to be the economy. It's the conduit through which the economy moves. Gets your gets your stuff out of my way so we can build a product or the service or whatever that we need to do at the right price. Because what you'll find, I think, is if you allow us to provide the market with a durable, yes, smaller square footage home, other people will realize that they have to then compete again and they'll drive their prices down or their square footage down or whatever down and people.
Barna: [00:08:04] Or they'll get more creative about exactly structure methods. Yes, whatever it is.
Wyatt: [00:08:08] Yeah, sure.
Rob: [00:08:08] Efficiencies.
Wyatt: [00:08:09] What I'm not trying to say is that a small businesses need to increase their wages necessarily. But what I am saying is, is that if they don't increase, then like you can only pay so much from so much, right? And right now, health care costs, education costs and housing costs have well outpaced labor wages. One of the two things one goes up or the other comes down. That's just math, right? That's like that's just how that works.
Rob: [00:08:39] Well, in a zero sum game. That's correct. Yeah.
Wyatt: [00:08:41] So yeah, and so and that's kind of what most people well, if we could get people to a zero sum game instead of a negative game from a taking on debt standpoint, we'd be doing a heck of a lot better than we currently are.
Rob: [00:08:51] No doubt. No doubt.
Wyatt: [00:08:52] Yeah. So that's all I meant by that was that, you know, we've got something needs, of course, correct. And one hundred percent, I think the federal government has to, you know, get the hurdles out of the way.
Rob: [00:09:02] Yeah, and I'll I agree with with both. Both of you are saying I think the the role of government is to consolidate services that can't be easily provided by individuals, right?
Wyatt: [00:09:14] We talked about road building. None of us are going To go out and build a road.
Rob: [00:09:17] You know, police protection, health, health care, you know, public works type projects. But but here's. Where your model may be broken a bit, is that one of the things that government can control to a degree, is the result of your project. So if you drive the expense down to the point where it appeals to a particular demographic that might otherwise be undesirable in the community by the whole, then you're in this predicament where you're not creating a tiny home village, you're creating a tiny slum village, right? So so you maintain some level of a standard that is socially acceptable, if you will.
Wyatt: [00:10:02] Would it be like a building code standard that's already agreed upon?
Rob: [00:10:05] It wouldn't be a building code standard in that example. It would be more about the management of the of the project, if you will. So you want to..
Wyatt: [00:10:15] You're talking like HOA or that kind of a
Rob: [00:10:18] Set of covenants or agreements among the homeowners that they'll self police and they'll self maintain this. So and then you take the government's obstacle away to saying no to you. And so I'm saying that's that may be the piece of the puzzle that that you're that you're missing and in a true free economy, you're correct. But the reality is is that in order to sell it, you've got to convince people. And the way you convince people is by adding amenities it overcomes that.
Barna: [00:10:48] For that piece of information, you can pick one of those two drinks pn the table.
Wyatt: [00:10:53] So you are talking PUD?
Barna: [00:10:54] No, we're talking about creating in our development, whatever it is, creating a set of rules that will maintain standards that will make people feel better about.
Wyatt: [00:11:05] 100 percent.
Barna: [00:11:06] Everything. But the this I have this conversation with a developer that's thinking about coming to Florence, and they said, we're going to build these houses and they're going to be affordable, not really affordable. That's not the point. But I asked them, how are you going to have an HOA? And they said, Yes, we don't want one person to ruin the whole neighborhood. Right. And I said, I don't know anybody that moved down to Fremont County to be told what to do. Right? So building an HOA is with a lot of rules is actually kind of off putting for the majority of the community here. Not everybody, I mean, there are still communities with homes and property values are high. But every time anything happens, it becomes a major problem because they were expecting everybody around them to be an HOA, too. So this is there's set examples of this. Sure. And Canyon City and in Florence.
Wyatt: [00:12:09] And we go back to the broken windows theory on this. Everybody, I've talked with you about this. This may be so in my in my college years, we studied a theory called Broken Windows Theory. So that's a policing course of study. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice studies, right? Broken windows theory says if a broken window goes unfixed, somebody will break another window. Right, right. It clearly shows the community that it doesn't care for itself. No one here is going to clean up. It's the same difference as mow your lawn, trim your weeds, paint your house, do whatever right. We all have all lived inside of the current community, right? Does every single body trim their lawn, fix their house, paint their stuff?
Rob: [00:12:54] There's always the lowest common denominator.
Wyatt: [00:12:56] That's what I'm saying.
Rob: [00:12:57] No matter what level you're at.
Wyatt: [00:12:58] And we were talking about this. My my wife and I were talking about this the other day, and I'm like, I know why you like my hometown. She's like, OK, why is that? It's flat, it's cold, right? It's full of mosquitoes. All of the things with which she cannot actually tolerate. Loves my hometown. Why the standard and the pride and the quality of cleanliness? Community pride is where you start from. That is not a rule, right? That is intrinsic, that is inside of you. That means that you care about your community, right? Right. I would say that the best HOA that I've ever been a part of was no HOA at all. It was a community of prideful individuals that cared for their property and their neighbors. What how do you change that?
Rob: [00:13:35] Well, one way that you could do it is, is that you could have controlled common areas, right? So in other words, you have a situation like like like, well, no, it's like a metro district in a metro district like Fourmile Ranch as a metro district, so they use it to manage their water. And so everybody pays a small tax on their property that is kept in the community and they use that money to pay for their water system. Well, what if that Metro District, you know, cut everybody's grass and plowed everybody snow and created the curb and gutter or whatever the whatever the look and feel is that you guys want to your particular project, but you had, you know, this common good. So there wasn't an individual that is going to be your outlier.
Barna: [00:14:22] You're talking like a condo association. My parents live in a condo condominium right now, and they don't have a lawn mower. Every week they're mowing, trimming.
Rob: [00:14:33] And it looks great, everybody's happy.
Wyatt: [00:14:35] It looks good, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about intrinsic pride of each individual.
Barna: [00:14:39] Brad and I were talking about this. Ok, so you have people who historically cannot afford a more expensive neighborhood or pay an HOA who actually like my HOA fee is higher in Lakewood was higher than my mortgage payment.
Rob: [00:14:54] Yeah, that's right.
Barna: [00:14:54] Because it includes water and heat and everything else right. So it was, yeah, it was actually more than my my mortgage on the condo. Yeah, I got condos cheap. Yeah, I bought at the bottom of the market.
Rob: [00:15:08] Your paying 340 bucks a month for the condo and 450 bucks for your association fee.
Barna: [00:15:12] It's easy. It's easy for that to happen. Same thing. There was a condo building in Columbus that was the same way your HOA fee. They have some golf courses that are like that where HOA fees more than your mortgage. And that's why they're empty. So they can't sell a house. Because their annual dues are $60000, because you had to water the the golf course and like, you can buy a condo for 30 grand because nobody can afford the HOA. That's not where I was going with this. Brad and I were having a conversation about people who have always lived in low cost housing, right? So they've never gotten a security deposit back. So why would I ever clean, right? I never owned anything. Why would I care about it? My landlord has always been shit. Why wouldn't I just do whatever. So when you go and you run across a landlord, that's that's a good landlord and you're like, Well, I don't know what a good landlord is because all mine have been horrible. So how much of what you're both talking about is learned behavior and how much of it can be unlearned? Sure. Right. So you go to, let's say, the RV park in town that everybody complains about? Yeah, well, there's shit everywhere. Well, have you thought about giving everybody a storage shed? Right? You spend the money, right? You as the property owner, you spend the money to do it. And if we can create a product that is high end, high quality, durable, livable and available for anybody. And you can walk in and you can afford it and you're like, Wow, this is nice. This is the first place that hasn't been a shithole for five hundred dollars a month. Yeah. Then you go, Wow, I can. I'm going to keep it clean. Not I walk in stains on the carpet. Wallpapers.
Wyatt: [00:17:03] Smells terrible.
Barna: [00:17:04] It smells terrible. There's like, why would you ever have pride of ownership when your landlord doesn't have pride of ownership?
Wyatt: [00:17:11] I think it's great. And the question that we've heard most, there's a statement we've heard most walking into our units thus far and is like, Oh, this is bigger than I thought it was going to be. Almost everybody who walks and says that the second thing that I've heard the most commonly anyway is how about financing? We heard it this morning, young gal. You know, she's she's working in an engineering firm. She's like, so what about, you know, how does financing work, right?
Barna: [00:17:38] I forgot that.
Wyatt: [00:17:38] Yeah, and I mean, because
Barna: [00:17:40] We heard it last night, too.
Wyatt: [00:17:41] Exactly. How does financing for this going to work? And I'm like our our hurdle right now, personally, to first land use and land availability for us to build this community right. We have an idea on a place where we can do it and you know, it's going to be funding, right? Does FEDC have the opportunity to create some influence so that we can find the lender because I know you talked about that cluster. And financing and funding is definitely a part of it, and people that own part of their community care about it a lot more. And I think part of the pride and ownership is ownership.
Barna: [00:18:17] I actually own it.
Wyatt: [00:18:17] Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it is part of what it said.
Rob: [00:18:19] No, that is a factor because, you know, it isn't a landlord situation like, you know, like you just described in that situation, if you're the owner, right, right, you are your own landlord. Simple answer to your question is FEDC doesn't directly fund projects, but we do work with funders and we do work with people that provide grants and we do spend a lot of time in that world and there's a couple of other associations or organizations around that can help with that kind of thing. So as far as mobilizing on that, we can absolutely help with that. And this is a, you know, it's a it's a unique situation in some respects, but really, it's not much different than, you know, the conversation that's going on in, you know, in every small town or all across Colorado.
Wyatt: [00:19:06] That's right. I know that. I know that we've got a list of people quite literally that have asked that like, yeah, if you can find financing that or if we can find financing right, I want one right. I want to buy one.
Rob: [00:19:18] Yeah, well, nobody in. Not nobody, but very few people on a national level, you know, write a check for their home regardless unless it's a cardboard box down by the river or whatever, right? And so you're not you're not normally just writing a big check.
Barna: [00:19:35] In Colorado that cardboard box is 300 grand.
Wyatt: [00:19:38] Yeah. Well, so and so in in that conversation, too, right? One other person asked the question. He said, Well, is it going to be a depreciating asset like a mobile home? Right? I said, that's a great question. But how much money did you get when you moved out of your last apartment? Anything more than a dollar is an improvement. Yeah, that's right. So I mean, there's equity inside of that, even if it's a depreciating, which I don't believe it would be.
Rob: [00:20:01] It has to do with the permanence of the foundation in most financing.
Wyatt: [00:20:05] And I put one in the ground that's the most permanent,
Rob: [00:20:07] If it's if it's stuck to the ground and doesn't have the wheels on it anymore.
Barna: [00:20:13] These don't have wheels. So we're in the ground.
Wyatt: [00:20:14] So it's one of those things. Yeah. Into the mobile home conversation, right? And so with that, it's like you having equitable opportunities in housing for the next generation or anybody that wants a smaller home. Something is better than nothing. A home you, you have that expense no matter what. And if you have equity in it, you can use that lever later in life. If you want to have your kid get educated and they want to go to college, if you have a medical emergency and you need to pay a bill, right? X, Y and Z, that is why equity in a home is so critical and the future generations. And I was into the into this for a long time where I'm like, I don't ever want to own any of that because I have a liability. I want that lever now that I'm older in life. And so helping people with the education of why you want to own this is is really important to you.
Barna: [00:21:02] But it's also not for everybody. So we talked to somebody yesterday like they want to rent, like their at phase in their life. We're like, I need space for this, my stuff and art studio or just my hobby, whatever, and I need a place to sleep. That's it. Other than that, I'm downtown. I'm talking to store owners, I'm going to a coffee shop, I'm getting some ice cream. I'm I'm involved with the community. I just need a place to sleep and a place to have some stuff. And that's fine and we want to provide that as well.
Rob: [00:21:36] That's why when you go to Denver now, you see apartment buildings going up literally on every corner. Because people want to rent, that's a that is a transition that's happened. It's just reality. And the storage units and stuff are going up right across the street because people want a place to put their surplus stuff. So, you know, home ownership is not necessarily the, you know, the panacea. It's not the thing that it was in the 50s or 60s or even.
Wyatt: [00:22:04] It's almost it's almost the opposite now because that was, you know, the white picket fence in the house was was the goal, right? And now it's almost the avoidance.
Rob: [00:22:12] Now its the anchor tied to your backside.
Wyatt: [00:22:12] Yeah, yeah, because, you know, and so that's another reason why well, if you're going to own something, why not make it small?
Rob: [00:22:19] You know you don't have to.
Barna: [00:22:21] I can own four small things all around the country and do whatever I want.
Wyatt: [00:22:26] Yeah. And then you can go there for two months and there for three months if you can work remotely. And we're there, right?
Barna: [00:22:33] And still have equity.
Wyatt: [00:22:34] Yeah, yeah.
Rob: [00:22:34] Virtual workers.
Wyatt: [00:22:36] And you have AirBnB opportunities and rentals. And I mean, those networks now exist.
Rob: [00:22:40] No, absolutely.
Wyatt: [00:22:41] So that's that's kind of our. It's kind of our argument, if you will, and I'm like, how is this harmful? I don't see how it could be harmful.
Rob: [00:22:50] Yeah, I think it's about, you know, I'll give you a great example. A user comes to our county and says, I want to, you know, I want to be by a piece of property there because I want to live the rural lifestyle. I want the freedom. I don't want a bunch of people. I don't want a bunch of rules. Whatever they buy a big chunk of property for a commercial use. They go to the county and they say, Hey, you know, we want to use it for this. And the county says you have to have a drainage plan. They say, why do I have to have a drainage plan? It's like because the water on your property is going to end up on your neighbor's property. That's that shouldn't take the government to tell you that right. A responsible human being would say, you know what? I want to control my stormwater, so it's not negatively impacting my neighbors. That, to me, is the type of government regulation that makes sense. And it's it's a logical thing, and it's a rule that we need to follow. So when you start talking about, you know, the housing problem, you want a home that doesn't have a negative impact on your neighbors. It's as simple as that. So if you can control the interaction between parties and the interaction between the entire development and the community that that it's in, you have a much better chance of selling it and then ultimately getting approved and at the end of the day, making it a successful project.
Rob: [00:24:11] So I extend to you guys. You know, the the thought that being creative with this component is where it's ultimately going to get done. And if you go to the extent to create the plan and you can show this minimal impact or this this focused impact on an individual property, I think you'll be more successful and you don't have to look very far because the new Holiday Inn Express. That Anice just built in Canyon City, it's got a great big, nice, wonderful building full of, you know, hotel rooms or motel room.
Wyatt: [00:24:47] Next to the feed store.
Rob: [00:24:48] Next to the feed store, but next to his employee worker housing project, right? What a great idea that he solved the problem because now the compensation plan that he has with his employees includes a place to live, includes a loyalty component, and it's a nice place. And that wasn't allowed in Canyon City until he created the the concept. And now we've had people from the state and other places. You guys are talking to some of them. They came here and said, This is a great idea. Why didn't everybody think of this? And it's like all you have to do is listen to Tennessee Ford you know
Wyatt: [00:25:28] Go to any ranch that hires ranch hands and puts then in the bunkhouse.
Rob: [00:25:32] The company store. Yeah, it's been a concept since the coal mines in Virginia.
Wyatt: [00:25:35] Exactly.
Rob: [00:25:36] You give people housing on board and you gain their loyalty. Those are not positive examples but that is the concept.
Barna: [00:25:43] I think had a conversation with Allan Tormohlen.
Wyatt: [00:25:46] I can never say his name.
Barna: [00:25:48] Yeah, I think I got it right.
Rob: [00:25:49] That's real close.
Barna: [00:25:50] Close enough. Yeah, I talked to him and he said he lived in place at one time where the lack of housing they created a requirement that if you're building a building, you have to have housing attached to it. So if you want to build a downtown store like you buy a downtown building, you're not opening your store until you have two units upstairs.
Rob: [00:26:13] Precisely live work environment, right?
Wyatt: [00:26:14] Yeah. So we talked about this with with the shotgun style housing and the shipping container housing. You build a house on top, you have your your business or your your workshop or whatever downstairs. And I'm like, It's all live work thing. You don't have to go anywhere. Yeah, we have that too, right? Like so I think.
Rob: [00:26:30] Especially even like the mountain communities like Breckenridge, they allow live work. Yeah, you couldn't live in Breckenridge if you couldn't live above your workspace, right? It just you just couldn't financially make it work so it's a great concept. Love it.
Wyatt: [00:26:45] You know, and same footprint. Yeah. And so you're not using more land, you know, you're kind of going vertical, but you're not breaking the rules because a lot of places have two and three story limits. Yeah, you know, we talked with Mark about that stuff as well. And and so, you know, I think what what Barna and I talk about the most with this, what what we're preaching is that this isn't the solution. This is A solution. This is a solution that's here and it brings in a multifaceted benefit to the community, right? We do understand there's a little different. We do understand that we might want to put this in a little different area so that our comps aren't on their comps. We've done all that. All we're saying is give us a little bit of leash and we can do this just a little bit. Don't let us run crazy.
Rob: [00:27:32] That's our leash is a special review use. You know, so say say allow this by code upon approval, by by council, right? So give us an opportunity to go in there and present our idea to show you that we've checked all the boxes, convince you that we've done everything that needs to be done. And then you give us a yes,
Wyatt: [00:27:53] We're almost there. We're almost there. We talked you invited him last night to to to tour our project, right, so that everybody can instead of see it from the outside, see it from the inside. And that's going to make that's going to round a lot of corners for a lot of people. Even if you hated it, you might not. You might just now dislike it. Right. Or however,
Rob: [00:28:12] Incremental improvement.
Wyatt: [00:28:12] And you might go, yeah, and you might say, You know what? It's not for me, but I could see my niece, nephew, grandson, grandkid, kid, whoever goes, you know what I mean? They went from my house to a dorm room to what? This is no smaller right now. Everything's in here, right?
Rob: [00:28:28] And so four hundred feet or three hundred feet.
Wyatt: [00:28:30] All we're saying is like, it's not up for you. It's up for somebody that wants or needs it, right? That's all we're asking for. Is that opportunity to fail in the free market.
Rob: [00:28:41] No, it's a reasonable request. And I think the the government, you know, should being, you know, fiduciaries of our taxpayers money should hold you guys to a certain level of accountability. I mean, that's that's reasonable, right? Yes, that's what a cooperation is, is, you know, people, you know, from their various perspectives, you know, come to some kind of a conclusion that is mutually beneficial. And so, you know, don't ask for no rules, ask for rules that, you know, permit flexibility. That's that's what I would suggest to you.
Barna: [00:29:14] And we're actually only asking for one thing one number to be changed.
Wyatt: [00:29:21] Square footage.
Rob: [00:29:22] Which is what?
Barna: [00:29:23] Square footage. Other than that, other than that, we can meet everything else. If we need to have 15 foot setbacks, we'll do that. You know, if if that's what it takes, that's that's not a problem. We'll we'll play within all the rules, but to have one number stand in the way of housing for 30 people. Thats a little...
Wyatt: [00:29:44] We do text edits all the time we've noticed that inside of, you know, local inside the local operations anyway, where they'll somebody will just want to do a text edit. And it's going to be clarification between how long someone can park an RV in an RV park if they want to have, you know, on site management. These types of things are relatively simple.
Barna: [00:30:06] So that that frustrates me is that, oh, we're just going to do a text edit and it's a significant, a major, modification in how your business functions.
Wyatt: [00:30:16] It is in the business function, but it is a clarification in a lot of the ways that we've seen it too.
Barna: [00:30:20] Yeah, it is. But you also shouldn't be making that decision in a vacuum. So when somebody in government or in a wherever in town says, right, I don't want RV Park RV to be there long term because it will turn into the one RV park that nobody likes, right? Because they'll be there long term. So you make that objection. And then based on that, we're just going to do a text edit for that. Well, where are the RV park owners? Were they invited to provide feedback? If my business model is, I cater to contractors who come here and fix roofs after a hailstorm. Or contractors who are building the thousand houses who need to be here for the next, I don't know, three years to do framing and everything else. And now you're telling me I can't have them here more than six months, right? Yeah, it's just a it's just a text edit. It's not a text edit. It is significantly changing somebody, possibly changing somebody's business model, which if you do not get, we've been forced into community outreach, forced into it, even though what we did is a use by right where the government has not been forced into community outreach. That doesn't seem the way a business should be conducted itself because we were just talking about it. Your city is a corporation, the city manager is the CEO and the City Council is the board. So if we as tiny micro business owners at this point, we have to do community outreach and talk to everybody in the community to do something that's a use by right. But we can do a simple text, edit and significantly impact multiple people who have invested significant amount of money in this community without any outreach to them. How does that help economic development to throw back at, you know, the job title.
Rob: [00:32:24] Yeah, I think you know this might this wouldn't be my FEDC answer for you. This would be my I probably have a few more years on the planet than you to answer. Ok. So the way you fix a problem like that is that you become the solution, right? And what happens frequently. I've seen it many times where people won't join their homeowners association. They could care less right up until they do care. And now they got to join and they join, right? They don't want to run for office until, you know, they say, well, you got to, you know, fix your fence or whatever. And then they then they run for office, OK? I have never met anybody to this point in my lifetime that ran for city council, that ran for any other reason than they had an issue that they wanted to help fix, right? Everybody's got an agenda.
Barna: [00:33:17] Their issue to fix.
Rob: [00:33:18] Whatever it is.
Wyatt: [00:33:21] An axe to grind.
Rob: [00:33:22] There's always there's always something. And maybe there's something is the greater good. That's a possibility, but they have a reason for doing it right. And I'm suggesting in this particular situation, if you guys feel passionate enough about what you're attempting to do, then you're only real. Action in my mind is to become directly involved, and that could mean running for office on your own. That could be that could mean sponsoring a candidate that is like minded for you. But I'm suggesting to you that the most fulfilling thing in life is becoming a part of the solution instead of part of the problem. And if you're viewed currently as a potential problem by this establishment that you're, you know, the city or the county or whoever you're up against. Beat them at their own game, become involved and then push a candidate forward. You got one right here in this building that did exactly that. That's now a city council person for the city of Canon City. Got involved, and that's your solution. And then once you're involved, then you can drive policy towards a more suitable outcome relative to what your particular interests are. And apathy is a huge thing. Almost always, when somebody with emotion, with ambition, with a cause becomes involved, they get it accomplished because, you know, they're dealing in an environment where others are not nearly as passionate as they are. Get involved,
Barna: [00:34:53] We are involved. I've been involved in this community basically since we moved here. Yeah. Helped with a ton of the events Chamber of Commerce. I was a treasurer up there. The merchants we attend. The majority of.
Rob: [00:35:08] Get involved in government.
Barna: [00:35:08] That's going to be, that's the plan. Wyatt Reed for mayor.
Wyatt: [00:35:11] You yake it easy with that.Sage will edit that one out. Last question.
Rob: [00:35:15] All right. By the way, I admire you guys what you're doing and nothing critical here. I'm just giving you good advice.
Barna: [00:35:23] A lot of good advice.
Rob: [00:35:24] Get get into the fray.
Wyatt: [00:35:26] No snowflakes here.
Barna: [00:35:26] You hurt my feelings. I'm going to cry later.
Wyatt: [00:35:27] You're fine. And usually I actually ask people like, you need to cut me up a little bit if you have a problem, because if I don't know what where the rift is, sure I'm just business as usual. The crystal ball, right? So so that's written on the board so that we can go, what's the I'm going to ask two questions What's the next big thing in six months in this area that you see or are you excited about? And maybe give me the three year layout because I hear from a lot of people. I know a lot of business owners in town as as you do in the area, especially. I have family that are other business owners as well. This I have heard this quote from more people than I can probably say in this, but it's this town is about to blow up. This town's about to blow up. This town's about to blow up,
Rob: [00:36:13] In a good way or in a bad way?
Wyatt: [00:36:14] In a good way. As far as economically. People are Yeah, yeah, no. Oh, sorry,
Rob: [00:36:18] Should I dial 91..?
Wyatt: [00:36:20] No, no, no. And that is is always brought to me in there seeing a tidal wave, a tidal wave shift, I should say, of either traffic to town, people into their stores, people into their businesses. I'm curious what you see in the next three years, but I'm curious most about what you're excited for in the next six months.
Rob: [00:36:38] Fair enough. You know, we'll deal with them in in reverse order. So, you know, next three years, I think the people that are telling you that you're going to see this, this place blow up, there are some pretty solid indicators when you see the mass exodus out of the front range cities like Boulder and Denver, they're going someplace. Where are they going? They're going to go someplace where they can transform their lifestyle. Where can they transform their lifestyle better than Fremont County? Not too many places.
Rob: [00:37:05] A dollar goes further here.
Wyatt: [00:37:07] It goes further here. But even if even if it was on par even more expensive, the the accessibility they have to things that you don't have in the city are here. So if I'm a let's say, I'm an automotive technician, I'm driving my car home from work in my forty five minute 12 mile commute and
Barna: [00:37:26] 3 mile commute, what are you talking about?
Rob: [00:37:27] You know, I got the window down because the AC is not keeping up and I'm just like one miserable son of a gun. Yeah, just because of that, I don't even love my job, but I'm good at it, so I continue to do it. And an ad comes on the radio and it says if you lived in Fremont County, you could be fishing on the Arkansas River right now instead of driving home from work.
Wyatt: [00:37:51] Does that ad exist?
Rob: [00:37:52] You could be on a bicycle. Doesn't exist to the best of my knowledge, but what I'm saying is that the hypothetical of that indicates to me that there are people there are people that are thinking that right now they're saying to themselves, I don't have to live in this environment that I don't like. I can raise my family in small town America, so I know that we are. We are seeing this inside out, you know, evolution or migration from these metro areas here, so that the trick there is we have to maintain them. One of the one of the obstacles is clearly housing, and so there's no no disagreement there at all. But I think you're going to continue to see that we refer to those as location neutral employees. So these are people that no longer are dependent on a specific geographic location in order to do their job. Then you have that other example where somebody is just trying to change their their lifestyle around. So I have a high level of confidence that in spite of our seeming, you know, issues with doing so, we are being discovered, you know, you think that's going to going to continue to happen and we do see the flow and we do see people that are starting to be here. So three year plan, we're going to see an improvement. In our housing picture, we're going to see an improvement in our local service economy, and I think we will see an influx of people because they're simply nowhere to put them in the metro area. And nobody that is there currently wants to be there.
Rob: [00:39:24] So we're going to see that now how we address it. That's a whole another question.
Wyatt: [00:39:28] The big responsibility isn't it?
Rob: [00:39:29] But you know, if you're talking about speculative, you know, investing or whatever is pretty good, pretty good chance that we're right right there where where we need to be in it. I had the opportunity to meet with one of our utilities service providers downtown today. And, you know, they're already planning.
Wyatt: [00:39:50] Yeah, they're coming.
Rob: [00:39:51] They know it's happening. So they're already putting in infrastructure that's going to happen. What's going to happen in the next six months is that you're going to see several significant projects there. At least four of them that I'm aware of that include multi-use developments, housing, you know, commercial retail, public works. All of those projects are currently in the works. And one or more of those are going to occur in that period of time. And these are projects where you're talking about, you know, three, three or three hundred and four hundred and five hundred and eight hundred housing units that are that are going to be in our community. And they're going to be where maybe where you guys are imagining, but where I call it as the missing middle. And that's the place where a young family or a schoolteacher or a first responder or somebody can live a reasonable lifestyle and a reasonable home. And I believe that section of our housing is going to be the area that will solve first. Not affordable at the very bottom of the spectrum, not the luxury at the very top, but I think we're going to see this expansion in the middle.
Barna: [00:40:59] What's the price range on that?
Rob: [00:41:01] I'm thinking it's probably the three hundred thousand dollars range, right? I'm guessing, you know, I don't I don't know where.
Barna: [00:41:08] Every developer we've talked to they're, there, they are three hundred thousand just material costs and labor costs.
Rob: [00:41:16] You're talking to twelve hundred square foot, you know
Barna: [00:41:19] 12 to 14
Rob: [00:41:20] Yeah, exactly.
Wyatt: [00:41:21] That's exactly what the guy from Pueblo told me. So that's great. Yeah. Anything, any any final parting words, any last minute plugs for FEDC, you're self.
Barna: [00:41:29] Where can we find you or FEDC.
Rob: [00:41:31] I was going to suggest to the two of you that being members of FEDC would be a great thing for you to participate in in the process and be around people that are thinking about some of the same things that you're thinking about. And FEDC would welcome your youth and enthusiasm because you've got a group of us that are old guard that have been around a long time that have a lot of experience and we're doing good work. But we need that that transition piece where we start getting
Barna: [00:42:02] We need dumb enthusiasm and we can learn something.
Wyatt: [00:42:04] Exactly right.
Wyatt: [00:42:05] So what does what does membership look like?
Rob: [00:42:07] An entry level membership is 250 a year and it goes up from there. Some of our what we call our sustaining members pay eight to ten thousand a year. It's it's not a huge commitment in time or energy. What it is is it's connecting yourself to a process.
Wyatt: [00:42:23] And its access to other people in the community that are like minded, that are willing to put some skin in and move things forward.
Rob: [00:42:30] That's exactly right. And more importantly, in my view, is it's a platform for this creativity, right? So an individual can have a great impact, but a large group of individuals has a much greater impact. And and so we could roll, you know, a new profit cluster under our you know that. I like the start component. I like a, you know, an action word. So TechStart, WellStart, AgSgtart. You know, what is it? You know, HousingStart.
Wyatt: [00:42:59] You know what you call it when you start construction on a home, it's a housing start.
Rob: [00:43:02] There you go.
Wyatt: [00:43:03] And right now, I mean, we were talking about this last night. I'm like, We don't have that many housing starts right? We can have more.
Rob: [00:43:11] We've had the most housing starts that we've had, probably ever in the county. You know, in the last 2 years. Yeah, which is a good thing, but it's not nearly, it's not nearly where we should be.
Barna: [00:43:23] I'm sorry. I have some questions.
Wyatt: [00:43:25] You want to keep going?
Barna: [00:43:27] Well, I just have a question. I've had it for like half an hour.
Rob: [00:43:29] Fire away.
Barna: [00:43:30] So I'm like, Robs gotta go.
Barna: [00:43:31] So earlier you brought up, you know, like watershed study. Let's say if you're water coming off your property, stormwater. Yeah. What can we do to reduce the paperwork and costs to enable housing to happen faster or there are no costs that can be reduced because right now, you know, basically I have a friend in the county. They built commercial building, a pre engineered commercial building, and it took them two years. Just because of paperwork and it was like, OK, now this now this now this like wall, we're in the middle of nowhere. We're on like one hundred and sixty acres. We own all the acreage on this side. We don't own the other lot on the other side. And now we're talking about stuff that, you know, this building's been here for 60 years. It has less of a foundation. Whatever like this building has been here 60 years now. You're costing me triple what the original cost estimate was, and we're taking two years and that's hindering my business. It's a commercial project, it's a commercial property, it's a local business and the bureaucracy has is hindering that development. And same in our case if we're going to provide a house for under one hundred thousand dollars. I mean, way under in the case of a single unit. But if people tack on another sixty thousand in paperwork now it's not $100000 house.
Wyatt: [00:45:06] So your question is what could we do away with? In order to reduce time and cost for housing units, right?
Barna: [00:45:14] Yeah.
Wyatt: [00:45:15] Essentially.
Barna: [00:45:15] Yes. Ok. What I'm saying is I'm just going to see what how much help can we get in reducing that bureaucracy? What can we do as non-experts in the field, right? We're learning, but non-experts to make sure that we can reduce that dollar amount, right? Because every time somebody rolls through and says, What about this? And then, OK, that's another three grand. Well, now we added $1000 per unit and you keep doing that. Now affordable housing doesn't exist. On CHFA website and affordable housing unit. Without land, it's two hundred and seventy nine thousand dollars. How's that affordable?
Rob: [00:45:58] It's affordable because it's part of a tax program that offsets the the value of the house that all citizens taxpayers are are paying. So that's how the program works.
Wyatt: [00:46:09] That's not more affordable, it's somebody else's money.
Rob: [00:46:10] Well, it's just shifting. Shifting the wealth is what it's reallocating the wealth, which is a whole another.
Barna: [00:46:18] Yeah, we do not have time for that. But question is like the paperwork. Is there something that the local governments can do to reduce paperwork, to make construction and economic development faster and better?
Rob: [00:46:31] Yeah. Cannon City just got done rewriting their code. They just adopted it in July for, you know, subdivisions and things like that to expedite the process. They just made a change in how you pay your personal property tax, right? So you used to have to pay a big chunk of money up front to buy your permit and then that covered tax on all of your materials and supplies. Well they change that? And they said, now they're not going to collect it up front. You pay it when you go to Home Depot, where you pay it, when you go to Knect.
Barna: [00:47:02] That makes sense
Rob: [00:47:02] You know home center, whatever. So so there are there are people in the area that are working on that. But I think the answer to your question is, is that the county, the cities of Florence and Canon City primarily could could take a page out of the Corporate America book. And it was founded by Toyota right after the Second World War. And it's called rapid continuous improvement. And it's a concept or lean manufacturing. Some of you may have heard that or Six Sigma, I give you all these these terms, but basically it involves looking at your process and identifying areas where you can improve the process and reduce the cost.
Rob: [00:47:42] And I think our county and our city municipalities could find great value in adopting some type of a rapid continuous improvement program. And the way that you would do it is you would seek out a consultant that that's an expert in that that more most of the time comes into a big manufacturing firm or big corporation and teach them those those tactics. And I've been I've been banging that drum for a while, and I think that that would be a way to help improve the situation. And the way that you improve it is you take the people that are directly affected by it. You put them in a room together, kind of like my profit cluster concept and then you get them to start talking about these various components of this and you incrementally reduce your costs. And if they were to do that, that would be the fastest way to fix it, in my opinion. And and like I said, kudos to Canon City for stepping up and doing some of that. Florence is much more lean just by their very nature, and so they've always been capable to respond quickly, but they could certainly use some more.
Wyatt: [00:48:50] They need systemization is as all they need, which is going to just make sure you know where everything's filed.
Barna: [00:48:55] And Canon City has been really good with that. So if you go on the Canon City website and you go, I want to do a PUD, here's your flowchart for how to do a PUD. Here's your developing guide. Here's your building guide. So that's been great in Canon City and Florence needs a little bit of that. Sorry, next question. So are we? What is a timeline for doing something like this, implementing all these things we've talked about?
Rob: [00:49:22] Well, to me, they're just in the in the vein of rapid continuous improvement. These are things that that have to happen rapidly and continuously, right? So that means they need to happen now and they happen and tomorrow.
Barna: [00:49:36] I understand that. But we're saying, you know, you've got to build this tool and fix this problem and fix that problem and housing. What is the timeline for that? Because we said three years, six months, what because we talked to some builders and like, oh, we spent five years trying to get this project off the ground. Are we just impatient or is five years ridiculous to get a project off the ground?
Rob: [00:49:57] No, I think that's ridiculous.
Barna: [00:49:59] OK
Rob: [00:49:59] You know, I do think that, you know, a project of significance can take a couple of years or three years. You know, if you're talking about something beyond a, you know, six homes or something like that, you just start talking about a major project. You've got a lot of entitlement work that has to be done. You have a lot of engineering that has to be done. You have to get that done before you can get the financing done. So, you know, there there are these sequences that are hard to avoid, but but that that should scale with the value of the project and meaning that if you have a, you know, a million dollar project, it should be much faster than a $10 million project or $100 million project. So to your point, you know, if I had a magic wand, I'd make them happen instantly. But in the reality is that you have to empathize. Ok, that's the first step. You have to look at somebody else's situation and say, Oh gosh, I get that and I see how that affects. Then you had to put it in perspective. You have to say, OK, how does this look relative to the bigger picture? And then then you have to move towards the solution? And I think what FedEx role in this is this educational component where we're bringing these various entities and some of them and many of them are our members and we're educating them to the problem. But more importantly, we're offering potential solutions.
Wyatt: [00:51:20] When you got good friction there because you've got other people that have that have been in the trenches and struggle through their business and right. So you've got a lot of similarities in there and you want people that are going to contribute. I always call it good friction because, I mean, you're going to get it. And it's just one of those things where, like I said, you really don't worry about offending me because that's friction that helps me sharpen it because I'd be like, OK, I'm I don't I haven't lived your life. I haven't walked in your shoes. Tell me what's going on. And I go, Oh, empathy. Yeah, that's that's part of it.
Rob: [00:51:48] So empathize. Put it in perspective, then move forward. And the cycle is the cycle of City Council or in the case of the Board of Commissioners, the Board of Commissioners election cycle. That's it. That's your cycle, right? So as as an election season is upon us in November? Right, that's our opportunity.
Wyatt: [00:52:09] That's the starting line again?
Rob: [00:52:10] Yeah, that's exactly right. Because you're going to have on January one, you're going to have a new cast of players. And so you want to effect change. Now's the time to do it. You've got, you know, four or five months between now and the end of the year. You've got a couple of months before the election season start seeking out candidates that are, you know, can appreciate your points of view, start, you know, having the conversations with the existing officials that are hoping for re-election and and start affecting your, your politics or your situation right now today.
Barna: [00:52:44] Well, this is hilarious because it seems like everybody, everybody really has ended up on politics. Everybody, it's housing. What are you going to do? I want to build cool shit and help people. I'm sorry. You're a lobbyist now. You're you're involved with politics. You're getting this person elected.
Wyatt: [00:52:59] You're like, we didn't expect that right? But but but it's consistent and we have to heed that. And that's important. And I also have to point one other thing out. We have I have especially sworn the absolute least on this episode out of all of the other episodes, even in five minute increments, you could find me swearing at least once. In this one I have done zero. Well, I want that. For the record.
Rob: [00:53:22] Let me offer my final parting comment on that. The swearing is the use of the term that is a weak mind expressing itself forcefully.
Barna: [00:53:34] Now you hurt my feelings.
Rob: [00:53:35] So I would encourage you to build your minds and your vocabulary.
Barna: [00:53:41] Our vocabulary.
Barna: [00:53:41] English is not my mother's tongue. Yeah, I think it's what we say.
Wyatt: [00:53:45] Then you have you have just just completely just slaughtered me over the last.
Rob: [00:53:51] You can do it. You can do it. People will listen more intently.
Wyatt: [00:53:55] I agree. And I don't. I don't bring it out. When we're in City Council, I don't bring it out anywhere else.
Rob: [00:54:00] That's probably the time you do want to bring it out.
Barna: [00:54:02] What? Now we are doing everything wrong.
Wyatt: [00:54:04] I live on a construction site, you know? Well, and maybe, perhaps I've given myself a little too much leash with that. I've heard about it for a while. I can clean it up, and maybe now is when I turn to leaf.
Rob: [00:54:15] You guys are doing a great job. Don't let any of this discourage you. It's part of the process. You know, when you show up to the job site and you put your tool belt on, you got a hammer on one side, your politics, you're on your other. And it's they're not mutually exclusive no more than, you know, you got to have to fuel in your car. You've got to have air that you breathe in order to do stuff in this world, you've got to have this political component and you've got to pick a side and and and push it forward. You know it. The the people that fail most miserably in politics are the people that don't commit. Whether it's black or white or red or blue or the left or right or whatever. You can't be walking the fence and actually get something done.
Barna: [00:54:57] So since day one, I think when we started the podcast, we've been saying you need to get involved. Because like, you got to walk through that door. Go to City Council and start listening to how your your government is being run.
Rob: [00:55:11] That's right.
Barna: [00:55:12] And how that local government affects your life way more than the federal politics or the national level politics that everybody watches on TV. So one less hour of whatever news you watch and go to City Council.
Wyatt: [00:55:26] Seriously, man, we talk about we talk about it all the time, right? Those that go, those guys play professionally in the big leagues. Yeah, we live down here and we play in the minors, and that's that's what you have access to. And that's perfect. Yeah, I mean, but but respect the gravity and the weight.
Barna: [00:55:40] It's also accessible. You walk in. That's it.
Rob: [00:55:43] Accessible. It's a good thing when I wake up in the morning when my eyes open and I look at the the ceiling and I start planning my day, the very first term that continuously comes to my mind is activate. My objective every day is to activate somebody for something, to get something moving, and that's what I'm trying to do today with you guys is activate get you off the perch, off the sidelines, off the sofa, whatever into the fray. People police people. Right, so with without you being in the process, you're subject to whatever whims they come up with.
Wyatt: [00:56:22] Well, and Barna and I, you know, guilty as charged, right? We sit in the echo chamber every once in a while and just kind of yell at each other, the same things back and forth. And it all sounds really good. And we are passionate about it. We are willing to carry this ball and we are willing to move it forward. And, you know, I'll speak for myself, and that's what I'm like. I can file down some of the edges and and every once in a while, I'll knock the sawdust off and be do the political thing. I don't. I didn't. I didn't get into this for that right? Put it like that. I got into this to make a difference and to build houses for people. But if that's if that's what comes with it, then that's what comes with it. And that's what we've learned consistently from people smarter than us. You and the other guys that were that were here previously, right? That's great. And if that's if that's the only thing I took away, that would be unbelievable amounts of good information. And that's not all.
Barna: [00:57:14] I got tons of great information today. We are going to have to grow up. Start acting like adults. Sgtart listening to other people. This is this is all new.
Wyatt: [00:57:26] Yeah. Yeah. So, so thank you again for taking the time out
Rob: [00:57:29] You're very welcome. Thank you. I appreciate the invitation.
Wyatt: [00:57:32] Awesome. Thank you. All right Sage.
Sage: [00:57:33] Thank you for listening to another episode of our podcast. Go to our website notatinyhousepodcast.com for show notes and how to contact us. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter @notatinyhouse and on Instagram @notatinyhousepodcast. If you listen this far, you probably enjoyed the podcast found the content valuable. Go ahead and share it with your friends and on social media. Please rate or review our podcast and follow us to get notified about our next episode and we'll talk to you next time on It's Not a Tiny House.