No building? No problem
January 30, 2007
I got an anonymous flyer warning me, IN CAPITAL LETTERS, that the “city council is about to pass an ordinance, which would put a moratorium on building permits for single family homes,” and advised me to take action “IF YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN YOUR FREE-MARKET RIGHTS BEING STOLEN.”I don’t like anonymous anythings. If you have something to say, have the balls to put your name to it.And I am well aware of the council’s intent to control the pace of construction and development, as the community’s Core Beliefs symposium this summer DEMANDED, and can see no reason to limit controls just to the business district when the entire community is one whopping construction area.The goal is to limit construction in any given neighborhood to a tolerable decibel level of hammering, nail guns, back-up beepers, power saws and pneumatic drills, and I’m all for that.”ANYONE PURCHASING YOUR HOME MIGHT HAVE TO WAIT TWO YEARS OR MORE FOR A BUILDING PERMIT,” implying that potential buyers might go elsewhere. May they go elsewhere.One of the arguments against any controls in the private sector is the tearjerking scenario of the pitiful old locals who have been counting on the day that they can cash in on their tear-downs and retire to Tahiti or move downvalley, dreams that will be dashed if this “Draconian” proposal passes.As a pitiful old lady local, I say bullshit.I bought my little miner’s shack in 1972 for $47,500, furnished. No one would deign to spit on it now, but at the time it was middle-class high-end, and I was scared out of my mind because I was making only $9,000 a year (then not to be sneezed at) and the payments of $350 a month were twice what I had been paying in rent.I’ll be the first to say that I was lucky, the first to say that Aspen has been good to me and the first to say that the escalated value of my shack on a scrap of land was an astounding, unexpected windfall.I also owned a large chunk of land in Alaska, which I thought would be worth millions and finally sold for little more than I had paid in property taxes over the years, a little lesson in land speculation. One could say the same about the stock market.All I know is that speculation, development, reconstruction, remodeling, and scraping and replacing are out of control on almost every block in Aspen, and I’m for anything that would slow the pace and reduce the congestion and the cacophony.I’ve already been caught in the net of historic preservation, which would make anyone think twice before buying my shack, and maybe a potential buyer would think thrice if there were controls on its redevelopment (translate: turn my house into an historic mudroom and build a mansion on the back), but however its value might fluctuate I will, if I choose to sell out, have made a huge return on my investment.The goal of the city is to limit the number of development applications and spread them out so you don’t have messes like Park Avenue and the Smuggler area. The council is just starting to try to work this out, so BE NOT AFRAID, it is NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.Su Lum is a longtime local who does love it that we’re so excitable. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.