I have had the good fortune of making a life in Durango. I value the diversity of our community, and that we’re made stronger by inclusiveness of the widest possible variety of socio-economic and life experiences. That diversity creates an opportunity for our best ideas to be fostered and developed. We are unique in all of the mountain communities in my experience by our commitment to remaining diverse and for resisting the monoculture that has developed in other communities with similar features to ours.
I have personally witnessed the impacts of pervasive gentrification on the communities where I’ve lived and worked, and though there are benefits, the concept of “everything in moderation,” certainly applies. We value the idea that our community welcomes those who have achieved wealth and prosperity, just as it welcomes those with other sorts of values, lifestyles and ideals. We are stronger together, and the cornerstone of the ability of our community to continue to succeed together is access to opportunity. It’s critical to me that we have housing opportunities for the widest possible range of our citizens. It’s critical to me that jobs are plentiful and meaningful. It’s critical to me that we keep our hometown character and quality of life as the foundations that hold up our community as it responds to growth and change.
How do we make this vision a reality?
Here’s what I support, while viewing all of these issues through the lens of valuing the core character and principals that have made Durango the place it is today and the place we all hope it continues to be in the future:
- Density – This key word is critical as we look toward how future developments will impact the availability of a variety of housing and business opportunities in our community. Where applicable, higher density in traditionally commercial corridors with walkability and inviting aesthetics and streetscapes are desirable. I support higher density residential and commercial corridors, specifically in downtown, Camino del Rio and the north Main Avenue areas of our community, where existing infrastructure and neighborhood character can support this kind of development. Parking issues, multi-modal accessibility, commercial vibrancy, and housing variability all benefit as existing structures that don’t meet the highest and best use criteria relative to their design and location turn over and face incentives to redevelop with the future of our community in mind.
- Affordable housing initiatives – This is an area where our community has made some innovative ground up with the La Plata County Homes Fund, formerly the Regional Housing Alliance. Their homebuyer assistance programs are effective and well respected, but in the coming years our community has to place more emphasis on finding ways to impact affordable housing availability while trying to keep pace with a dynamic pace of organic growth. Embracing appropriately planned apartment development, seeking funding mechanisms that don’t burden only one component of our business community for providing down payment assistance and finished homes, and identifying city land resources compatible with housing opportunity projects with triple-win development potential are all considerations for addressing important housing shortage issues in our community. The city is in the process of obtaining a comprehensive housing study which will be received in the spring of 2017. Implementation is targeted for this summer, so this issue will be one of the first things the new council members will tackle.
- Accessory Dwelling Units – The city has already wisely provided for ADU development in EN1, EN2 and Animas City (EN3). This in-fill density development has been a tremendous win for both sides of the affordable housing question. Development of ADU’s provide additional much-needed rental housing in our community while simultaneously creating income streams for existing and future homeowners that alter the affordability economics of ownership in favor of a broader-based home ownership diversity. Fears widely espoused about trash, noise, and parking issues have not substantially impacted neighborhoods according to city code enforcement records. Even some of the ADU’s harshest critics of this housing strategy have recently come out in favor of this type of in-fill development. I’m in favor of expanding this program in the city where it’s feasible considering lot size, off-street parking and accessibility.
- Infrastructure development and smart management practices – We must invest in the bones of the community to stay relevant and continue to provide the vehicle for the social and economic engines in our community. Our community voted new property taxes down as a funding mechanism despite the shortfall of tax revenues in the county from oil and gas revenues. We have to get creative. Establishment of an airport authority with autonomy and expertise to manage the area’s air transportation hub has potential to separate the city and county from their unusual and functionally inequitable current operating methodology. Creation of an airport authority will help to establish a focused and responsible organization designed to fund and guide the development of this essential economic driver, and it opens up the ability to potentially expand the governance across state lines to create a regional hub with regional funding. Additionally, in lieu of voter-approved property tax funding of roads and bridges, the city has find creative funding mechanisms to maintain, expand and modernize it’s infrastructure. This is a priority. Without investment in roads, bridges, transportation, and broadband Internet, the city will have a difficult time attracting and keeping businesses that provide economic opportunity to our citizens.
- Durango Character Districts – The city has already begun a process to identify character districts within our city. “The Durango Districts Initiative is a citizen and city collaboration to ensure that as Durango grows it promotes the unique characteristics of our neighborhoods.” (https://districts.durangogov.org/). I’ve written and talked a lot about how Durango needs to keep its “real town” character forefront in it’s development decisions and initiatives and this is one way the city is partnering with local citizens to address “character” of neighborhoods to ensure that future development doesn’t erode the quality of life in those neighborhoods. Districts include areas like North Main Avenue, Downtown Durango and Camino Del Rio just to name three. I’m in favor of these discussions and the initiatives they’ll inspire.
- Homelessness, Vagrancy and Panhandling – The ACLU has been pretty aggressive with cities that have acted to curtail the various impacts of panhandling, vagrancy and the like. It’s something I’m concerned about from several angles, including the health and safety of those in the homeless community. We have some pretty amazing resources to help those who are truly in need in our community, but the impacts of panhandling and vagrancy on city commercial and park areas are growing and of a great concern to many, me among them. I have a lot to learn from the current council and city staff on this issue, as they’ve been actively grappling with it for some time. In short, I’d certainly like to see less of the opportunist aspect of what I think many of us perceive to be relatively young and/or healthy wage-capable folks who are making a living off of a penchant to panhandle as a form of employment. I’m in favor of more aggressive and creative solutions to mitigate the impacts of this behavior on our local businesses and citizens. I’m in favor of sending a clear message to the segment of this population that relies on opportunism and city fears of a litigious civil rights body that this behavior is neither welcome nor acceptable in our community. That said, I want to be sensitive to those in our community that are truly in need of some of our community resources as a last resort and a hand up. I’m very interested to see the results of a new study funded by Manna Soup Kitchen to study issues relevant to these concerns.
- Fiscal Conservatism – I recognize the fiduciary obligations the city councilors are beholden to and I aspire to be an example of responsible fiscal conservatism, transparent oversight and ethical adherence. My approach to the budgetary process and the subsequent oversight of the implementation of that budget by our city will be to ensure that every dollar is thoughtfully and appropriately utilized and accounted for. As a business owner and a person who has run large organizations personally, I’m well equipped to provide valuable insight and judicious oversight to the budgetary process.
- Ethical Integrity – Over the last few years ethics and conflicts of interest have been issues the city council and city staff have grappled with. Obviously councillors in our community are volunteers who are paid a minimum stipend for the many hours they serve so it’s not a full time job for anyone. For those who aren’t retirees, there are going to be issues on the council relevant to their other professional pursuits. There are a couple of ways to handle those issues. The councillors have done a good job seeking ethical guidance from the city attorney to know when to most appropriately recuse themselves from votes where their various business interests are directly aligned. Secondly they created an ethics body to review issues relevant to the council and other city boards. I will be extremely mindful of my fiduciary stewardship on this council. No councillor should put their personal interests ahead of the prudent and responsible, thoughtful and considered actions as a councillor. I’ll give you an example which I hope will be demonstrative of my commitment to community over professional interest. Housing is very important to me. I want our community to foster housing opportunities for the widest diversity of our citizens as possible. Communities cannot thrive without economic and social diversity and the interplay of the widest possible spectrum of jobs and and socioeconomic diversity. We should all be concerned about the monoculture that gentrification entails. I was one of the first instructors to work with the regional housing alliance to teach their class for first time home buyers. Though I was a Realtor during the years I taught this class, I steadfastly refused to benefit personally by my students transactions because I felt that was a conflict, even thought at the time it would have been technically permissible for me to work with them and earn commissions from their sales. I referred the students to the RHA staff who then referred them to other local Realtors to help them buy homes. In another example I worked with the city on vacation rentals and was a proponent of a percentage density limitation in neighborhoods even though the opposite less-restrictive proposal would have benefited my business interests far more. I think it’s incumbent upon me to raise the standards of my council actions far above my personal interests. I want our community to thrive for all its citizens and to be a place my son and all of our sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, and community members have opportunity in. Without that perspective Durango would simply not be the amazing “real town” that it ought to continue to strive to be.
- Other areas of support and interest:
- River Trail Expansion
- Ewing Mesa Music Venue and Fairground Development
- Camino del Rio underpass
- Addressing Animas Riverfront disconnectedness with the city
- Reducing parking requirements to enable more dense residential and commercial development in existing urban cooridors.
- Multi-modal development throughout the city to encourage protected bike lanes and safe and seamless multi-modal flow in the city.
Although this isn’t a comprehensive list, I hope it has given you a taste of where my priorities are, and what I think about some of the important issue facing our city. If you’d like to discuss any of these items further with me, please feel free to reach out here.
Durango is growing and thriving. We’ve a diverse, passionate community facing modern challenges to manage our growth and uphold the great heritage that makes living, working and raising families here so rewarding. It’s incumbent upon elected city officials to make smart, progressive choices to guide policy that both protect the values of our community and enable change that drives economic and social well-being.
Amongst some very good choices for Durango City Council in this upcoming election, I urge our community to consider Chris Bettin as your choice to represent our voice. I’ve known Chris for 15 years and have worked closely with him in his various capacities as a real estate professional in southwest Colorado. He’s deeply tuned to the character of our community. He’s also both passionate and patient in regards to his views on how we develop and nurture foundations for Durango’s growth and sustainability. His focus on (practical) economic development, his views on addressing Durango’s infrastructure challenges, and his passion towards providing affordable housing in and around our city will resonate with many Durangoans who value smartly progressive policy management by our city representatives.
– Matt Taylor
Even if Chris Bettin was not a longtime friend of mine, I would favor the issues he has established as being a priority for Durango. Among several favorable issues, creating affordable housing within city limits is both a short and long term necessity which is exemplary of Bettin’s determined vision. It is a reminder that the average citizens of Durango are important and not just the affluent or second home owners. It invests upon our children the possibility to remain in Durango; that our home-grown talent can remain home, if they so choose.
In the 25 years we have been friends, I have witnessed Bettin’s multiple jobs and careers from bartending to resort management. All of which he approaches with calm confidence, motivation, and successful results. Whatever he is tasked with, Chris makes it significantly better than how he found it. He has creative foresight to issues that need addressed, a progressive approach to resolve, and the intelligence and management skills to see the task through.
Chris Bettin is a loyal friend, a committed father, with the ability to both lead and listen. On a personal level, I am delighted and proud that he has this opportunity because I know he can make a positive difference. If you care about Durango, if you care about the future of Durango, vote Chris Bettin for City Council.
– Terry Maloney
There are a number of ways in which to assess the current slate of Durango City Council candidates. Each candidate has had an opportunity to make a strong impression on the basis of expertise in particular issue areas, or length of tenure in the community, or the potential for broad-based leadership across the diverse interests represented in Durango. And, of course, reliability and personality figure prominently in our consideration of the choices.
While I find most of the candidates appealing, I believe that Chris Bettin stands apart. In the last several months, we as individuals, a community, and a country have had ample opportunity to align around a rational conclusion: if we want to make progress, we must start with our common ground and build from there. Chris Bettin scores high marks in all of the factors mentioned above, but if you observe him in public appearances, the debates, or in casual conversation, he consistently combines total study and preparation on any Durango-related subject, with an attitude of eager listening. He gives time and energy to understanding the issues, but then matches this investment with his interest in finding common ground.
There’s not much more we can ask for in a City Councilor. I heartily endorse Chris Bettin and encourage those who are not yet familiar with his candidacy to give him strong consideration.
– James Schaffer
I have known Chris for 6 years, while living and playing here in Durango. I am always impressed with his sensible and calming approach to life’s challenges. Chris’s unique approach to challenges will benefit the City of Durango.
The most compelling reason to support Chris, is that he believes in Durango not politics. Chris is willing to serve his community, which is the way leadership should be. His goal, like mine is to improve Durango’s foundation. Our future challenges will be dominated by Durango’s housing shortage and inadequate critical infrastructure (roads, sewer, power, internet). If elected, I would feel at ease knowing that Chris was applying his unique skill sets to these challenges.
– Justin Bates
I attended the League of Women Voters Forum for City Council candidates this evening, 3/16/17, and came away with fresh impressions of the candidates, the sort of impression one can get by being in the room, in line of sight, so to speak.
The main reason I went was to see and listen to Chris Bettin. We worked together at Purgatory, (then DMR) way back in 2002-3. He impressed me then as a man who could navigate complex and challenging interpersonal relationships, and I wanted to see if he still has those skills, so essential to effective action in the role he is seeking.
It seems that Chris has grown and deepened, and continued to develop those and other abilities. I noted his sense of humor, fluidity of thought, and humility tonight, qualities which contributed to numerous rewarding conversations we had, well beyond the mundane concerns of work.
I believe Chris Bettin would be a remarkable City Councillor, and encourage you to cast one of your votes for him.
– Jeffery DeCelles
I am writing this letter from Muscat, Oman because when we move back to Durango at the end of the year, we want Chris Bettin to be representing us on Durango City Council. Chris has a wealth of knowledge, experience and creativity that will allow him to foster Durango’s smart growth, while also helping to make it livable for a wide range of people. His experience as a business owner gives him insight into fiscal issues facing the city. He has a strong sense of the community’s housing needs through his work in real estate. Chris was also a bartender, a ski instructor, a front desk clerk at a hotel and a carpenter.
He understands what it takes to make ends meet in Durango and will use that knowledge to help others to do the same. His dedication to Durango is apparent through his previous and current community service. Chris has used his housing expertise to teach the Regional Housing Authority’s first time home buyers course, and just completed a six year volunteer term on the board of directors at SASO. Chris is a man of integrity whose experience will help Durango continue to thrive. He is also just a heck of a nice guy who will listen to his constituents’ needs and work to find common ground.
– Sarah Brown
Given our current political climate, we have pondered the question of what makes a good leader. Particularly in a small town like Durango, where we are dealing with growth and infrastructure issues, examination of a city council member candidate’s moral code is important when considering growth strategy while preserving a community’s character.
Based on our experiences with other similarly situated small towns, board member positions, and working with both large and small businesses, we believe the most important attributes of a good leader are active listening, responsiveness, authenticity, acting respectfully, staying current with local and regional issues, and relevant experience and qualifications.
We have had the pleasure of office sharing and leasing space from Chris Bettin, as well as developing a friendship, and we can say with complete certainty that Chris Bettin will be an excellent leader for Durango.
In council forums, we have seen Chris “hear” constituents, even the opposing voice, and provide meaningful respectful responses based on facts, not hearsay. Daily, we see Chris interact with his staff, clients, friends, and family where he not only actively listens, but listens to learn in order to make an informed decision. Chris’s business and family here in Durango anchor him and assures us that he is committed to the proper growth, success, and stability of Durango. We value Chris for his innovative, open-minded, and honest approach to life and feel grateful that he is willing to give his most precious commodity – time – to our community. Chris Bettin has our vote for Durango City Council.
– Kristina and Brad Fox
I first moved to Durango in 1988 to attend Fort Lewis College, where I would ultimately get degrees in Business Administration/Tourism and Resort Management, English Literature, and Philosophy . I have a twelve-year-old son, Dylan, who is the biggest basketball fanatic, besides me, who I know. I’m an avid musician, writer, skier and mountain biker.
I have worked in the resort and real estate industry for over 29 years. With a background in four-star resort management and homeowner relations, I have focused much of my career on resort real estate markets and the income derived from the rental of investment property.
I began my career at Tamarron Resort, now The Glacier Club, while working part-time at Purgatory as a ski instructor. Through the years I have witnessed the community go through a dynamic pace of growth and change.
Durango offers the best possible combination of features for an outstanding family-oriented community. It is situated in arguably the most beautiful setting in all of the United States, and offers ‘out the back door’ access to world-class fishing, four-wheeling, hiking, climbing, skiing, mountain biking and a host of other pursuits. Preserving the quality of life in our area is of critical importance to me.
I am currently the co-owner of Durango Land and Homes, with my partner Christina Rinderle, Durango’s Mayor. I worked previously as the managing broker at Durango Mountain Realty, the real estate arm of Durango Mountain Resort (Purgatory). Prior to that I was the director of sales for the new base area development at Durango Mountain Resort, Purgatory Lodge. I have been a licensed Realtor since 2003, and a licensed employing broker in the state of Colorado since 2012. I am also the co-owner of Premier Vacation Rentals Group, the area’s largest vacation rental management company. Premier Vacation Rentals also has offices in Denver, Colorado Springs, Moab, Ouray and Ridgway. Keith Brant, one of Durango’s other current city councillors, is my business partner in the vacation rental management company.
I have also worked in this community as a server and bartender in local area restaurants, a front desk clerk at an area resort, a ski instructor and as a carpenter. I have professional writing credentials and have been published in regional and national publications.
I recently finished a six year term on the SASO executive board as the financial officer. I currently serve on the board of the Durango Area Association of Realtors, where I’m their Technology Committee Chairperson, and where I have been a member of the Legislative Policy Committee for a number of years. I am also currently a board member of the Colorado Real Estate Network, which provides a regional MLS service to the western slope. I was proud to be one of the first real estate instructors providing first time buyer education courses for the Regional Housing Alliance. I was formerly a board member on the Durango Mountain Master Association. For more experience and community service details see my resume information here.