For Chris Bettin, the No. 1 issue facing Durango is housing.
Some aspects of the housing market are beyond Durango City Council’s purview, but he would like to add incentives for developers to create a variety of housing opportunities, he said.
Bettin is one of five candidates running for three seats on City Council in the April 4 city election.
A real estate brokerage owner, Bettin would like to see higher-density projects with room for retail space and homes along north Main Avenue, Camino del Rio and other areas where infrastructure exists. As properties are sold and redeveloped, he wants to ensure that they pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
“I think that’s really critical: to grow on land that’s already been developed,” he said.
Bettin would like to see the city support opportunities for low-income housing, such as the Lumien Apartments on 32nd Street and projects such as Three Springs that have a variety of housing types.
He also wants to allow secondary rental units in some parts of town where they are illegal. That would include Established Neighborhood 4, the city’s designation for the west side of town, excluding Rockridge. It could also include Established Neighborhood 5 on the east side town, along streets such as Riverview Drive, Rio Vista Circle and some neighborhoods along North College Drive.
Preserving the city’s transit service, Durango Transit, is a priority for Bettin, although he doesn’t see a clear solution for funding it.
He would like to consider reauthorizing the 2005 sales tax to address the city’s transit needs. The 2005 half-cent sales tax is split between paying off the construction of the Durango Public Library and Florida Road and paying for the city’s open space, parks and trails development and maintenance.
Half of the 2005 revenue could be reallocated by voters before the tax sunsets in 2026.
To boost economic development, he would like to improve the broadband internet infrastructure to help make Durango more business-friendly, especially for the tech industry.
“You could pave almost a hundred alleyways and get almost no impact on our quality of life. ... Put some energy and effort into broadband internet – the multiplier effect there is tremendous,” he said.
When it comes to roads, he says the city should focus on maintaining what exists and serving the new growth that the city expects.
After the defeat of a property tax measure to fund a new terminal for Durango-La Plata County Airport, Bettin said the city and La Plata County should form an airport authority to focus on it and perhaps open up regional funding opportunities to improve the facility.
“I think it gives us leeway that we don’t have right now, and I think it’s a good first step,” Bettin said.
He would like to see the airport terminal remodeled or rebuilt to serve an influx of new residents who are predicted to move to town by the state demographer .
When asked what separates him from his fellow candidates, Bettin said he brings a variety of experiences to the table, such as working at restaurants, building his own businesses and serving on various community and professional boards.
“I have worked at every level of this community,” he said.
He was motivated to run, in part, because he observed the council for eight years as Mayor Christina Rinderle, his longtime girlfriend, served. Also, believes he could make the greatest difference in the community as a member of council.
[email protected]This story has been updated to correctly describe Bettin’s profession.