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Letters: Control rent and build, too

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Letters: Control rent and build, too

St Paul’s rent control/stabilization initiative should be passed as part of the solution to endemic homelessness in our city, but it must be coupled with direct creation of deeply affordable housing, and wide use of initiatives like the city’s 4D Affordable Housing Incentive Program to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing.

An editorial in the Star Tribune last week rejected rent control and argued that market forces of supply and demand will solve the problem by creating more housing supply. However, that editorial does not take into account David Schultz’s op-ed in the Oct. 8 Pioneer Press, which points out that the current housing insecurity and homelessness of low-wage citizens results from a failure of free-market forces. Housing for all must be sustained by the direct building of units affordable to new renters with low incomes, coupled with rent stabilization for current renters.

Schultz’s column in the Pioneer Press argues that 1) short-term rent stabilization when accompanied by vacancy control primarily benefits existing tenants but it makes it hard for new renters to find affordable units, so 2) it must be accompanied by targeted building of low-income units, which is a separate market from high-end units.

“Building more high-end units will not lower the costs for low-income units. They are separate markets. Developers will build units that yield the highest profit margin, and that is not necessarily middle-class or low-income rental housing, Schultz writes. He concludes, “Used more carefully and in conjunction with other strategies, such as directly building more affordable units, rent stabilization may serve as a partial tool to addressing the problem that a free market delivery of housing produces.”

Elaine Tarone, St. Paul

 

Let the mayor and council decide

I was pleased to hear about the proposal to enact a rent stabilization ordinance for the City of St. Paul last summer. Several social justice groups reached out to me and many other supporters to garner our support. The concept was consistent with our shared values to build a equitable multi-racial society and foster a caring and responsive economy for everyone. St. Paul is a working-class city with a substantial level of poverty and a large number of people of color. St. Paul also has an affordable housing crisis, a significant homeless population, and an aging housing stock.

I know a lot about housing in St. Paul, as the retired Director of the Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI). Since I retired in 2011, I have seen housing conditions continue to deteriorate while the city’s programs have not been able to keep pace to meet the challenges. Rent stabilization can be an effective tool to control increasing housing costs, especially for lower income residents.

I was ready to join the many dedicated social justice groups to advocate for the passage of rent stabilization until I actually read the proposed ordinance.

If I still worked for the City I would have the responsibility to implement the ordinance and frankly I do not know where I would begin.

Besides establishing the 3% limit on rent increases, the ordinance also contains a provision for landlords to request exceptions based on the concept of a “reasonable return” on investment (ROI). There is no definition of what a “reasonable” return would or should be, nor are there any guidelines on how the ROI is to be calculated. The ordinance also specifies, that “rent increases be made only when the landlord demonstrates that such adjustments are necessary to provide the landlord with a fair return on investment.”

That’s it, the ordinance is based on “reasonable and fair.” No definitions, no guidelines, just leave it to the bureaucrats to decide.

If this ordinance becomes law the only thing I know for sure is that we are going to need a lot more bureaucrats to figure it out.

There over 65,000 rental properties in the city and a large group of these properties and landlords are struggling along with the rest of the community. There will be a ton of requests for exceptions and there will be huge delays in processing.

What we really need in St. Paul, I am reluctant to say, is the approach that Minneapolis has taken to allow the mayor and City Council to decide the best way to enact a rent stabilization ordinance.

Therefore, St. Paul must vote “No” on Nov. 3 to avoid a bureaucratic crisis.

Bob Kessler, St. Paul

Not much seems better

President Biden uses the slogan “Build Back Better.” I sure question that. Not much seems to be better.

The southern border crisis is a real disaster. Prices of almost everything are rising at very noticeable rates. Oil, natural gas and gasoline are at the highest prices in seven years. That isn’t better for us.

Ron Erickson, Maplewood

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Leadville, Northglenn brewer files for bankruptcy after business goes flat

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Leadville, Northglenn brewer files for bankruptcy after business goes flat

A little more than a year after Periodic Brewing shuttered its doors in Leadville and Northglenn, the brewery has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The company said in its Nov. 23 bankruptcy filing that it owes $1.4 million to a little more than 50 creditors and has assets worth $58,324.

Periodic opened in Leadville in 2015, and added a taproom and production facility in Northglenn in 2017. It closed them both in September 2020, announcing the news on social media but offering little insight into the reason why.

Chapter 7 bankruptcies are typically a liquidation process, in which a trustee is appointed to oversee a selloff of the debtor’s assets. The bankruptcy filing indicates that the brewery’s equipment has already been auctioned off by Lake and Adams counties, where Leadville and Northglenn are located.

Chris Labbe was the founder of Periodic Brewing, which launched in 2015.

“We owed a lot of money,” founder Chris Labbe told BusinessDen Tuesday. “There’s really no way around it. There’s only one path at this point to protect all the owners and make sure all the results of auctions are distributed correctly to those debtors.”

Throughout its five years of operation, Periodic served more than 300,000 pints of beer and produced more than 100,000 cans and bottles, according to Labbe. In its filing, the brewery said it had revenue of $784,998 in 2019 and $364,213 in 2020 prior to its closure.

Prior to the pandemic, Labbe said 80 percent of Periodic’s revenue came from its taprooms and 20 percent came from distribution.

“I pushed the business hard in our distribution growth, and we were successful. But going into the pandemic, we were not in a strong financial position,” Labbe said.

While distribution was a lifesaver for some breweries when the pandemic hit, and taprooms had to largely close, Labbe said Periodic stopped distribution during the pandemic in an effort to conserve cash.

“We had expanded into nearly 100 distribution locations in the Denver area and were producing at record levels,” Labbe said. “All signs pointed to continued success in the first part of 2020, but then the lights went out. We scrambled as best we could to gather resources and materials to survive what was coming, but by early June and going into July, revenue in Leadville was close to zero during a period where we usually make a lot of money.”

“It cost a lot of money to prepare and stay on top of the distribution,” he added. “And when the taprooms were shut down, we lost almost $350,00 in revenue over that first summer. It was too much to try to recover from and continue to fight the fight as a family.”

In addition to declining revenue, Labbe said he struggled to find and afford employees to staff the taprooms. Despite having another full time job in the oil and gas industry, he was working at the brewery eight to 10 hours a day.

Periodic Brewing

Periodic Brewing produced more than 100,000 cans and bottles of beer during its five years in operation.

“We physically couldn’t handle it anymore,” he said. “By July, we were at rock bottom, and that led to our decision to close in September. We knew we’d have a hard time recovering from that without an extensive personal investment.”

Creditors include Labbe himself, owed $268,044 for loans to the company; Greenwood Village-based GVC Capital, owed $609,000 for expansion funding; and OnDeck Capital, a loan agency that’s filed a lawsuit against Periodic to collect the $31,622 it’s owed.

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Hawaii’s mountains brace for a blizzard while Colorado continues in a snow drought

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Hawaii’s mountains brace for a blizzard while Colorado continues in a snow drought

Hawaii sits 20 degrees of latitude south of where Colorado sits, has mostly a tropical climate and is surrounded by ocean, yet, portions of the island chain are bracing for blizzard conditions. While Colorado is no stranger to blizzard conditions, this season all types of frozen precipitation have been quite rare.

It is fairly common for the highest elevations (above 11,000 feet) in Hawaii to receive snow, which means the peaks of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea are often the most likely places to see it occur. A Kona low is what is drawing in a lot of moisture from the south while a cold front sweeps through bringing the chill needed atop the biggest mountains. Of course, not all of Hawaii is going to see snow. The lower elevations are bracing for several inches of rain and mudslides in the coming days.

The weather in Hawaii right now is pretty active. There are flood watches, high surf warnings, high wind warnings and blizzard warnings in effect across the archipelago chain.  This weekend in paradise is likely to be a bit of a washout for the folks who live or are vacationing there. Up to 8 inches of rain may fall on the Big Island this weekend, while up to a foot of snow impacts the highest peaks. Winds will gust up to 100 mph at times on the mountaintops while lower elevations brace for 40-60 mph winds. On top of this, the coastal areas of the Big Island are expecting 20- to 30-foot waves this weekend as a result of this Kona low.

This is the weather, minus the big surf, that we so desperately need here in Colorado. Rain or snow is severely lacking and temperatures are drying things out even faster thanks to how anomalously warm they have been. Some places across Colorado just hit their hottest temperature ever recorded in December.

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Grading the Week: Time for Jim McElwain to come home again to Colorado State?

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Grading the Week: Time for Jim McElwain to come home again to Colorado State?

Maybe it’s just the two years of Steve Addazio talking here, but Jim McElwain is starting to look pretty good right now.

If the past seven seasons of CSU Rams football have taught us anything, it’s that athletic director Joe Parker could do worse with his next football coaching hire. A lot worse.

Steve Addazio — F

It’s hard to truly put into words how much of a disaster the Addazio Era was for Colorado State.

On a scale of “Nick Saban at Alabama” to “Mike Price at Alabama,” the Grading the Week staff would rate the Daz’s tenure a solid “Les Miles at Kansas.”

There were losses. There were off-the-field allegations. And, yes, we could see the train wreck coming from the moment it left the station. But at least the Daz actually coached a few games at CSU — something Price never got to do after being hired and fired within a few months by the Tide in 2003.

Now, here we are back at the same spot we were two years ago, when Urban Meyer sightings in FoCo were seen as a reason for hope, rather than the impending doom they actually foretold.

The first thing we’d do if we were Parker: Take Meyer’s business card out of the rolodex and light it on fire.

The second: Flip to our old friend Jim and see if maybe, just maybe, he’s interested in getting the band back together at Fort Fun.

Crazy as that sounds, consider this: As poorly as things ended at the conclusion of McElwain’s three years with the Rams, at least the university received $7 million to watch him shuffle off to Florida.

That’s a heck of a lot better than paying Mike Bobo ($1.825 million) and the Daz ($3 million) to go away.

It’s not like we didn’t have a lot of fun while McElwain was stalking the sidelines in green and gold. The Rams went 22-16 in his three years at CSU, culminating with a 10-2 regular season in 2014 that stands as the most successful in the 14 seasons since legendary coach Sonny Lubick was unceremoniously relieved of his duties.

After getting let go by Florida midway through the 2017 season, McElwain’s also comported himself quite well at Central Michigan, going 19-13 with a pair of eight-win campaigns.

There’s even recent precedent to point to in the Mountain West.

Brady Hoke bolted San Diego State for Michigan, got fired from multiple jobs, then returned to the Aztecs and led them an 11-1 season and a spot in this weekend’s conference title game.

Jeff Tedford left Fresno State, where he was an assistant for six years, for greener Pac-12 pastures, only to come back in 2017 as head coach and lead the Bulldogs to back-to-back double-digit-win seasons.

There’s no reason McElwain can’t do the same thing at CSU.

(OK, so maybe there are a few.)

Karl Dorrell — D-

Those calling for Darrin Chiaverini’s head finally got their wish earlier this week.

It’s hard to argue with the CU Buffs head coach’s decision to part ways with the embattled offensive coordinator after the team’s more-dreadful-than-it-sounds 4-8 season.

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