Beckwith: This is how you run Aspen
April 19, 2017
It's local election season! So it's time for all you outraged Facebook users to get off your extremely vetted and credible websites and actually put your vote to use. There are a lot of divisive issues going around, and as someone with a public voice, I'm here to tell you how I'd fix them if I was elected Mayor Quimby, er, uh, Springfield is great! I meant Aspen.
These are easy, highly illegal fixes. First, we enact a super, double-secret clause that says if you're building a hotel or condominiums and you choose to forgo the employee housing in lieu of cash, then your hotel is now an affordable apartment complex.
"It says here you're trying to get around the employee housing. Well, congratulations. Your 'affordable' hotel is now affordable housing."
If you get angry and pull your development plans as a recourse for not knowing about my super, double-secret housing clause, then guess what: Now you must pay the city the cost of your hotel. Say your property was going to cost $250 million; now the city has $250 million for affordable housing all because you refused to designate a couple of your 80 rooms for employees.
The other solution, in addition to my super, double-secret housing regulation, is to give dishwashers and longtime line cooks who have worked in Aspen for more than 20 years their pick of vacant store fronts to use as an apartment. This rewards people who love our city because you clearly have love for this place to slog through those shifts for decades. It also incentivizes property owners to do something other than wait for a high-end purse or linen boutique to pay exorbitant rent prices.
Speaking of unnecessary and sparingly used stores, I would require stores and restaurants in the core to pay their rent with money earned from in-city sales. This would help eliminate brands from opening an Aspen location just for the prestige and having a wealthy backer shell out rent. To be fair, I would split it up into adjusted three-month intervals because May and October would sink a lot of places. So if you can't pay your rent with money earned in January, February and April; March, May and June; July, August and September; or October, November and December, then you're on probation. (Because I take this so seriously, you'll notice I attempted to put a big money month in each of the three-month increments.)
Once you're on probation, you can't miss another month, and the only online sales you can put toward your rent payments must be from people with addresses in the valley. Also, once you're on probation, your property owner is required to call a number every night to see if their color has been called for random drug testing. This isn't so much for the retail probation as it is for my personal enjoyment.
"Excuse me, Mr. Hunt, we called your number yesterday and you failed to show up. Now give me your car. You can have it back when you prove to us you're no longer smoking crack."
The Entrance to Aspen
My vote is for anything that isn't a monorail and doesn't tear up the Marolt Open Space. Luckily, I have a two-pronged idea. First, all tourists except those with disabilities are required to park their vehicles at the Intercept Lot for the duration of their stay. I know lugging those shopping bags on the bus is a real pain, but so is you trying to navigate the core in your Escalade. Yes, pedestrians have the right of way. Yes, the roads are slick despite your expensive tires. Yes, I do know where Jimmy's Bodega is. It's at the Aspen Business Center.
The other part is every bit as doable as an L-train. At the Intercept Lot, we will construct a massive platform for paragliding into town. If you're that desperate to get in town but refuse to use the free, public transportation, then we'll strap you to a glider and let Darwin do the rest.
All private jets must land at the Eagle or Grand Junction airports without notifying the passengers. This is a little wrinkle that I believe would test your character. Everything will appear OK as you're dialing up your personal chef and personal pilots for a nice Aspen getaway, but upon getting into Aspen airspace, our traffic controllers will politely reroute you to another airport. Even if the weather is perfect, your landing will be denied. Now, like an average human being, you'll have to take some kind of ground transportation the rest of the way.
I know, boo hoo, poor you being inconvenienced on your way to a luxurious stay in Aspen. Well, deal with it, because some people fly out here with a layover and a shuttle from Denver, and guess what, they're not entitled, smug, disillusioned pricks when they get here. Oh, you had a long travel day? Well, it's about to get even longer because your room isn't ready. Now get out of my lobby. We'll call you when it's clean.
And I'll leave you with this from my political mentor, the esteemed Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby: "Demand? Who are you to demand anything? I run this town. You're just a bunch of low-income nobodies."
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.