Sunday, March 31, 2019

Frisco invites community to Touch-a-Truck event on April 4

Summit Daily

The town of Frisco is inviting the community out to the Frisco Bay Marina on April 4 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. for a Touch-a-Truck event.
Kids and adults alike will get a chance to touch and climb inside some heavy-duty equipment being used as part of the “Big Dig” project — an excavation of 85,000 cubic yards of dirt out of the lakebed — and familiarize themselves with the details of the project.  
Contractors with Schofield Excavation and Columbine Hills Concrete will have staff on hand to talk about the equipment and how it functions. Free cookies and hot chocolate will also be served.
The Big Dig is the first project of the town’s Frisco Bay Marina Master Plan, meant to improve navigation, lengthen the boating season and expand recreational facilities at the marina. 
Construction at the marina this spring will also include the relocation of a new and improved boat ramp, an expanded beach area and new sidewalks to increase pedestrian access.
Courtesy Summit Daily

HUD charges Facebook with housing discrimination over targeted ads

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Thursday that it has charged Facebook with violating the Fair Housing Act by enabling advertisers to choose who could view their ads on the social media site.
According to HUD, the social media giant enabled real estate companies to unlawfully discriminate against users by choosing who could view their ads based on race, nationality, religion, color, familial status, sex and disability.
Specifically, HUD alleges that Facebook allowed advertisers to exclude users classified by characteristics like whether they were parents, non-U.S. citizens and non-Christian, as well as those flagged for their interest in Hispanic culture and accessibility.
Advertisers could also target based on gender, showing specific ads only to men or only to women, and could cross out neighborhoods they wanted to exclude on a map.
And it doesn’t stop there.
According to HUD, Facebook mines extensive user data from its own site and combines this with data collected from other sites, using “machine learning and other prediction techniques” to classify users in order to project their likely response to a specific ad.
In doing so, HUD said the company could create groupings defined by their protected class, assuming this group shared either an interest or disinterest in housing-related ads, and then use this information to enable advertisers to enhance their targeting.
The charges follow a complaint that was filed by the department in August in response to a ProPublica article that revealed Facebook was giving advertisers the ability to exclude certain ethnic groups from seeing ads.
The complaint prompted Facebook to remove 5,000 ad target options to “help prevent misuse,” but that didn’t satisfy a number of fair housing and civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, who proceeded to file a lawsuit against the company for discriminating against protected groups.
That lawsuit was settled last week, and as part of that settlement, Facebook announced it was instituting massive changes to its ad platform to disable functions that allowed for discrimination.
But that wasn’t enough for HUD, which said it aims to “obtain appropriate relief for the harm Facebook caused and continues to cause.” 
“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.” 
HUD General Counsel Paul Compton added that despite new technology, century-old fair housing laws still stand, and discrimination in housing-related advertising is against the law.
“Just because a process to deliver advertising is opaque and complex doesn’t mean that it’s [sic] exempts Facebook and others from our scrutiny and the law of the land,” Compton said. “Fashioning appropriate remedies and the rules of the road for today’s technology as it impacts housing are a priority for HUD.”
HUD said the case will be heard by a federal administrative law judge or a federal district judge, as the charges are civil rather than criminal.
If Facebook is found in the wrong, it may have to pony up a good deal of cash for damages and fines.

Jessica Guerin, HousingWire Newsletter

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will host its third annual climate panel on April 7

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area will host its third annual climate panel on April 6 at 5 p.m. in the A-Frame building. 

Titled “The Future of Skiing: The Science Behind the Snow,” the panel features climate research scientists and advocates who are focused on how climate change is affecting winter and the ski industry, especially in Colorado. 

The panel will be moderated by A-Basin COO Alan Henceroth and is open to the public.

“The climate panel fits with A-Basin’s commitment to and enthusiasm for running a sustainability program, and grounds our efforts in climate science,” said Mike Nathan, sustainability manager for A-Basin. 

“We want these panels to be science- and data-based, not political. We know climate change is a real challenge and see this as a great opportunity to hear from local experts studying local issues.”

Panelists include Elizabeth Maroon, a scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder; Dr. Noah Molotch, associate professor and director of the Center for Water, Earth Science and Technology at the University of Colorado and a research scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Geraldine Link, director of public policy for the National Ski Areas Association; and Torrey Udall, director of development and operations for Protect Our Winters.   

A-Basin is hosting two other events in 2019 focused on sustainability and the environment, including Save Our Snow and Demo Day on March 30 and an Earth Day celebration on April 20.  details can be found at

Bathroom Linen Closets Are Most Wanted Bathroom Feature

A majority of home buyers – 78 percent — expressed that a ‘linen closet in the master bathroom’ is a desirable (52 percent) or an essential/must have bathroom feature (26 percent), putting it in first place in the most wanted bathroom features list (Figure 1).
This data comes from NAHB’s recently released report, What Home Buyers Really Want, 2019 Edition. The report is based on a survey asking recent and prospective home buyers (people who bought homes in the previous three years or are planning to do so in the next three years) about the features they want in a home or community.
One question asks home buyers to rate a comprehensive list of features using a four-tier scale of do not wantindifferentdesirable, and essential/must haveFigure 1 shows the top ten bathroom features with the highest share combination of desirable (would be seriously influenced to buy home if included) and essential/must have (unlikely to buy a home without it).
Two other features were rated as essential/must have or desirable by at least 70 percent of home buyers: ‘both shower stall & tub in master bath’ (73 percent); and a ‘double vanity’ (71 percent). It is important to note that these two features have the highest shares of home buyers rating them as essential/must haves (32 percent each), more than any other bathroom feature listed in the survey.
Another four features were rated essential/must have or desirable by at least 60 percent of home buyers: ‘private toilet compartment in master bath’ (65 percent), ‘white toilet, tub, & sink’ (63 percent), ‘ceramic tile walls’ (62 percent), and a ‘granite vanity’ (61 percent). Rounding out the top ten are the following features: 57 percent of home buyers rated ‘multiple shower heads in master bath’ an essential/must have or desirable feature, followed by a ‘body spray panel in master bath’ (56 percent) and ‘whirlpool tub in master bath’ (54 percent).
To get more facts about what home buyers really want, please visit to download the latest edition.
Courtesy Carmel Ford, National Association of Home Builders.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Breckenridge stops taking development permits in Historic District

Michael Yearout Photography

Breckenridge Town Council has put a hold on most development permits in the heart of town, effectively stopping new construction early in the building season.
The decision is in response to a new challenge within the town’s National Register Historic District, and leaders unanimously passed a moratorium on permits in the Conservation District Tuesday night via an emergency ordinance. The moratorium is designed to stop new additions to historic structures while the town looks to update its design standards so the buildings won’t lose their individual historic designations and degrade the overall integrity of the Historic District, said Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe.
“Authenticity is an important word,” she said. “I think authenticity is hard to earn, hard to keep and hard to maintain, but I think it’s an important word.”
 As passed, the moratorium could span up to six months, which would constitute the bulk of the summer construction season, but Wolfe, other council members and town staff have said the hold could be lifted sooner if the town can get its design standards updated in time. Because it was passed as an emergency ordinance, it takes effect immediately.
“I feel a sense of urgency to get right on this,” Wolfe added. 
The emergency ordinance was adjusted from an earlier version to exempt Class D permits, which cover small projects like new roofing, signage, fencing or minor remodels. The hold on permits covers the Conservation District, which encompasses the town’s prized Historic District.
The problem was triggered by a state survey suggesting Breckenridge is trending in the wrong direction with the size of some of the additions it’s allowed to surviving historic structures in the Historic District. As a result, the State Historic Preservation Office recently downgraded a number of buildings in the district from “contributing” to “non-contributing.”
Local architect Janet Sutterley, who frequently works on projects in the Historic District, has problems with how the survey was conducted and the downgrades.
“That’s a big deal for a lot of people,” she said. “To me, I see (the state survey) as a slap in the face. I know that’s harsh, but I really do.”
Considering all the time and energy town planners, staff, council and homeowners have invested into the Historic District, Sutterley said, she wonders how the state could reward such efforts with a survey she feels was based entirely on “subjective opinions.” Sutterley also said she hopes town leaders will exercise caution and pursue “logical changes” in the design handbook, originally drafted in 1992.
“We need to live here and make this a great Historic District,” Sutterley said. “That doesn’t mean we leave properties as little house museums. These properties that have been downgraded, (the owners) have done amazing work on them. Most of (the renovations that led to downgrades) are really good historic preservations.”
It’s unlikely the Historic District would be delisted itself, said Peter Grosshuesch, director of community development. However, he explained it’s important to watch trends over time, and if town code is consistently producing projects that result in the downgrading of historic structures, at some point there will be consequences. One could be reducing the size of the district.
“I don’t think we’re on the brink of anything like (delisting),” he said, “but the specter is out there. It has happened.”
Addressing the elected officials, Breckenridge resident C.J. Milmoe didn’t oppose the moratorium. Actually, he said the moratorium didn’t go far enough and asked town leaders to halt all ongoing construction in the Historic District, not just new permits, as he pointed out the emergency ordinance was missing a couple of pages.
Addressing Milmoe’s request to stop all construction in the Historic District, the town attorney said property owners who have already secured development permits have vested rights to those developments. As such, putting the brakes on any ongoing projects was “a bridge too far” for Mayor Eric Mamula and other council members.
But council showed its willingness to take heat for stopping most of the new construction projects across the Conservation District by putting a hold on development permits until the town can update its design standards. Additionally, council is putting together a group of invested stakeholders to work on updating the design standards. Courtesy Summit Daily.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Breckenridge invites residents, businesses to cut lights for ‘Earth Hour’


Breckenridge will be recognizing Earth Hour from 8-9 p.m. on Saturday by asking residents and businesses alike to turn off all non-essential lights.
A town-issued news release cites Breckenridge is committed to protecting the environment by promoting sustainable practices, including renewable energy, water conservation and the reduction of single-use plastic as its reasons for participating in Earth Hour, which also asks people to commit to reducing their carbon footprint and conserving energy.
Seeking to promote smart-energy usage and resource conservation to help reduce the impacts of climate change, the town has programs to help residents and businesses alike conserve energy, reduce their usage and optimize sustainable practices.
  Residents and business owners wanting to know more about how to be more sustainable in Breckenridge should go to
Courtesy Summit Daily.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Facebook Ends Targeted Ad Program for Housing


Facebook has announced that it is dismantling its targeted advertising program for housing following complaints that the social media giant was encouraging housing discrimination.
Last August, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) filed a formal complaint against Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act by enabling housing discrimination in its advertising platform. In its complaint, HUD stated that Facebook allows advertisers to target which users are able to receive housing-related advertisements based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability and ZIP Code. HUD added that Facebook also allows advertisers to set preferences by offering discriminatory options, thus limiting housing options for the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York also filed a statement of interest, joined in by HUD, in U.S. District Court on behalf of a number of private litigants challenging Facebook’s advertising platform as being discriminatory.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer issued a statement that noted the company was the subject of litigation filed by National Fair Housing Alliance (NHFA), the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations that raised “valid concerns” related to discrimination. The company also heard complaints from civil rights leaders and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The litigation was settled out of court, with new policies included as part of the settlement.
“Anyone who wants to run housing, employment or credit ads will no longer be allowed to target by age, gender or ZIP Code,” Sandberg said. “Advertisers offering housing, employment and credit opportunities will have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in their campaigns overall. Multicultural affinity targeting will continue to be unavailable for these ads. Additionally, any detailed targeting option describing or appearing to relate to protected classes will also be unavailable.”
Sandberg added that Facebook would be working to ensure that future advertisements do not run afoul of fair housing laws.
“We’re building a tool so you can search for and view all current housing ads in the U.S. targeted to different places across the country, regardless of whether the ads are shown to you,” she continued. “Housing, employment and credit ads are crucial to helping people buy new homes, start great careers, and gain access to credit. They should never be used to exclude or harm people. Getting this right is deeply important to me and all of us at Facebook because inclusivity is a core value for our company.” 
“This settlement positively impacts all of Facebook’s 210 million users in the U.S. since everyone is protected by our nation’s fair housing laws,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA.  “As the largest digitally-based advertising platform and a leader in tech, Facebook has an obligation to ensure that the data it collects on millions of people is not used against those same users in a harmful manner.”
Courtesy National Mortgage Professional Magazine

In Dillon, Ice Castles melt, marking a success in their second year

#Dillon #Colorado
Summit Daily

Just weeks ago hordes of visitors were pouring into Summit County to take in the frozen spires and colorfully illuminated passageways of the Dillon Ice Castles.
Now, two weeks after closing, the remains are a somewhat somber reminder of the temporary nature of ice castles: a short-lived work of art composed of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water, more than 200 lights and over 10,000 man-hours of construction work reduced to a giant pile of snow and ice in the Town Park. But while the castles can’t remain for long, their impact is still substantial.
“I think Dillon has been recognized as a sleepy town without as much recognition as some of our neighbors, despite great amenities and a great location to access all this area has to offer,” said Kerstin Anderson, marketing and events director for Dillon. “The media value that has been brought by the ice castles in the Front Range and nationally is upwards of millions of dollars we couldn’t achieve without an attraction like the ice castles. The other piece is the satisfaction levels and just the sense of glee. To have that tied to your town or your brand is really something special for Dillon.” 
The 2018-19 season was the second straight year that Dillon hosted the ice castles, one of six in North America built by Ice Castles LLC every year. This season the attraction was able to open about a week earlier in December than in the first year due to colder early winter weather, allowing even more visitors to make their way to the spectacle despite some intermittent closures to I-70 and other roadways into Summit County.
“We don’t release our visitor numbers, but it was a strong year and we did a little better than last year,” said Ryan Davis, CEO of Ice Castles LLC. “We had pretty consistent traffic, so it was a good winter for us. … We got a decent amount of skiers, but a surprising amount of people were just driving up from the Denver area just to see the castles.” 
Dillon saw relatively consistent sales tax numbers compared to last season, when the town witnessed a massive boom to business due to the ice castles. In December, when the attraction opened, the town saw an extra $28,747 on top of the 2017 numbers, a 4.1 percent increase. In January this year, the town saw sales tax numbers drop about $14,600 from 2018, about a 2 percent decrease. The numbers still represent a considerable jump for those months since before the ice castles arrived — 28.4 percent growth in January since 2016, and 21.2 percent growth in December since 2017. The town hasn’t yet released numbers from February or March.
Anderson also said that this season couldn’t really be considered an “apples-to-apples” comparison due to some businesses closing before winter, such as Adriano’s Bistro that was torn down to make room for Uptown 240, and the Conoco gas station that was demolished to make room for the Hilton Homewood Suites. Though businesses in the area still felt that the ice castles helped to boost traffic during the winter months.
“I thought it was good,” said Craig Sikorski, owner of Jersey Boys Pizza and Deli in Dillon, who said he’d like to see the castles return next winter. “As far as being a business owner, I think it was really good for us and for the town. They always help us, and it was a really good season overall.”
After another strong showing from the ice castles, it still remains to be seen whether or not the company will return later this year for a third season. Part of the discussion will revolve around how the Dillon Town Park is able to recover following the deconstruction of the castles this spring.
Last year, significant damage to the park put the ice castle’s return in jeopardy when construction equipment used to remove the ice gashed large areas of the park.
Both Ice Castles LLC and the town are optimistic those issues can be avoided this spring. The group brought in Marston Mats — steel planking to create a temporary floor — this year to help minimize damage to the grass.
“In year one there are a lot of things you don’t know, like how it’s going to drain,” said Davis. “You can guess but you don’t know until you do it. There was some learning last year. One of the operators that helped us tear down ended up digging into the lawn, but this year they know what to expect rather than it being the maiden voyage. There will be a lot of things we’ll be able to do more efficiently and better.”
The ability to remove the castles without significantly damaging the park would be a big step in the right direction for the potential of the ice castles returning, especially as the town moves forward with projects related to the Dillon Parks and Recreation Master Plan. This summer, Dillon is planning on making parking improvements along Buffalo Street and La Bonte Street, and reconstructing the tennis courts. Next year, the town is hoping to construct a multi-use field and make playground improvements at the park.
Anderson said that representatives with Ice Castles LLC would likely return to Dillon sometime in the near future to discuss a third season in Dillon.
“We need to talk to council, and see how cleanup goes this spring and make sure that Ice Castles is carrying through on the good work they’ve done all season,” said Anderson. “But when you see the numbers impacting our community, it makes sense that we’d continue a partnership. We’re interesting in having conversations early this spring to determine if we can partner in the future.”
If the town council decides that the ice castles are something they’d like to see return this year, the company has made it clear that they’re also on board.
“We certainly intend to return,” said Davis. “This is a great place for us to be. We have a great relationship with the local community, and we like it. We really don’t have any reason to look anywhere else in Colorado.”
Courtesy Summit Daily.