On The Issues

Jackson Hole Affordable Housing Dashboard

Affordable housing is an area where we’ve made significant progress in the last 4 years — but we need to build on it.

Number of affordable housing units built, approved and planned for since 2019 — more than during any four-year period in Jackson Hole history

Est. number of affordable housing units needed in Teton region to meet current demand

Average government subsidy per affordable unit

Amount raised via taxes from the $54 billion in real estate sales in 2020 and 2021

Amount that could have been raised in that time with a 1% real estate transfer tax

To build on the progress we’ve made since 2019, I will pursue the following in my second term:

  • Push for enforcement of short-term rental rules and regulations without having lawmakers in Cheyenne limit our ability to do so;
  • Continue lobbying lawmakers in Cheyenne to authorize a real-estate transfer tax (RETT) — for without it, we cannot meet our community needs;
  • Pressure developers to create a “voluntary RETT” by stipulating in the title deed of every new property that, upon sale, 1% of purchase price will be donated to a local housing fund;
  • Inventory land within town to be conserved and encourage affordable housing where appropriate;
  • Require everyone renting out a home — whether short- or long-term — to have a business license. Done properly, this will barely burden property owners, yet will generate enough money to allow the town to do the enforcement needed to keep neighborhoods intact – to prioritize our homes as the essence of our community, not just another commodity for investors.
  • Continue using my 20+ years experience studying and advocating for affordable housing and a RETT to make Jackson a model for addressing housing affordability.


Coming Together To Address Our Challenges

Jackson Hole faces a host of tremendously complex issues, none of which can be solved by one individual alone. Instead, if we are to succeed as a community, we need to work with each other – government, business, non-profits, and interested citizens joining forces – to collectively identify and address our challenges.

Community-wide, there is far more affordable housing today than there was four years ago. Far more support for local social services agencies. A far more robust START transit system than when I was sworn in.

We are making progress. But there is more we can — and must — come together to accomplish.


21st Century Community. 20th Century Operating System

Jackson Hole is a 21st Century community with a 20th Century operating system. Sales taxes produce roughly 80% of Jackson’s core revenues, yet account for only 15% of our economy. It makes no sense that a $1 cup of coffee generates more tax revenue than Teton County’s 2021 combination of $1 billion of services revenues, $3 billion of real estate sales, and $4 billion of investment income.

Ultimately, the only way to properly address this dilemma is for the Legislature to create a 21st century governmental funding mechanism. Thanks to coal’s demise, this day of reckoning is coming sooner rather than later. Given the increasingly anti-tax bent of the Legislature, though, it’s going to take awhile.

Until then, the community is going to have to become more creative in identifying and paying for its needs and wants. Models exist, including building on the success of efforts such as the “Save the Block” campaign.

As a first step, we must properly diagnose our problems — not just their symptoms but their causes. My 20-plus years of experience in studying Jackson Hole and similar communities give me an unparalleled ability in this area. Over the last four years, I’ve been privileged to use these skills in service to the Town of Jackson, and hope to use the next four years to build on the efforts I’ve helped put into place.


Demonstrate a Commitment To Stewardship

Of all I’ve done during my first term, perhaps the thing I’m proudest of is envisioning, advocating for, and championing the effort that led to the creation of America’s first-ever Ecosystem Stewardship Administrator. This position lets the town take a holistic approach to dealing with the area’s many and interrelated conservation issues – we can’t address only one and hope to preserve and protect the area’s ecosystem.

Among the many important challenges we face are water quality, climate change, preserving habitat and, critically, our inability to assess ecosystem health. Each is vital, and now local government has a staff member devoted to that job.

This is necessary, but not sufficient. For Jackson to reach its potential, we need to continue to prioritize and demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship.

Second term priorities

Jon with city bikes
  • Continue to deliver a high level of core services: water, sewer, streets, and more.
  • Build on the tremendous progress we’ve made over the past four years in providing record amounts of affordable housing, expanding the reach and capacity of both START and non-motorized transportation options, and improving the town’s internal operations. Specifically, that includes:
    • Establishing measures of Jackson’s economic, environmental and community well-being to inform future policy decisions.
    • Instituting a 21st Century operating system to increase revenue (such as via a real-estate transfer tax), assess and address community needs, and improve governance.
    • Instilling a sense of leadership and investment in the community to leave Jackson better for those who come after us.
    • Improving access to town government by establishing a Youth Advisory Board and ensuring materials/communications are produced in English and Spanish.
    • Increasing service and convenience for START transit.
    • Conducting an inventory of land within town to be conserved and encourage affordable housing where appropriate.

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