| AspenTimes.com

City of Aspen’s fees raise costs for landlord, businesses and consumers

Editor’s note: This letter was directed to Aspen City Council and Mayor Torre.

First of all, thank you for your service during these trying times.

The subject today is why there are so few affordable restaurants in our town. Using basic economics, every time you increase fees to the developers like parking for construction vehicles, permit fees, safety fees, tree fees, park fees, employee housing mitigation fees, etc., the building owner (landlord) must pass this on to the tenants.

Just like the deal the city cut 10 years ago over the lower level of the newly constructed building next to Paradise Bakery whereby the landlord could only house a locally owned restaurant with a price-restricted menu, it is still vacant — for 10 years.

The recent article in the newspaper revealed that the tenant upgrades could cost $1 million (that is 1 million dollars). Of course a local would have trouble spending that with restricted menu prices. This is basic economics.

The city has just built a new City Hall for the alleged expense of $47 million, which is really insane for a town of this size. It also is obvious that the city collects way too much money.

My suggestion with all this hand wringing is two fold: Re-assess your fees and lower them. They are the highest building fees in America. Your are creating the problem of “too expensive.”

Get real bids and work with a restaurateur to design the lower level in that building and the city pays for it.

Then, there are no more excuses for a city-mandated restricted restaurant to remain vacant. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

Lorrie Winnerman


Pick up the pace on 82 speed enforcement

A little speed enforcement on Interstate 82 east of town would be nice. They could easily fill their citation quota for the year in one day. Regard for community, children and wildlife is past tense.

Brian Johnson


Quality goes down as prices go up at Snowmass Club

First and foremost, kudos to the Snowmass Club staff who remain the strongest asset not yet tampered with by management.

But here’s yet another frustrated Snowmass Club member along with Dan Shapiro, Esteban Ferrer and 17 others.

Not only did our dues go up during the pandemic and renovation closures, but our only option to spend the exorbitant $800 minimum is at a restaurant with below average choices and above average prices. What’s more, if you want to get a table, good luck — multiple times in the past year I’ve been told there’s no room.

In addition, not only is the lap pool falling apart, but it is kept at an outrageous 82-84 degrees. This isn’t a lap pool but a hot tub. And if you complain about the temperature, you are ignored at best and told to live with it at worst.

Cherry on top, the fitness club has limited its operation hours and if you want to swim, you now have to deal with a reservation system which threatens to penalize you on tardiness.

One friend has already canceled their membership. More will follow soon.

Dr. Etikin Camoglu

Snowmass Village

An un-Aspen City Hall

In a Monday Aspen Daily News article on the new City Hall, City Manager Sara Ott explains as a security benefit that all the staff offices are locked off. There will be just a small access window for the public to state their business until the gatekeeper deems it appropriate for them to enter.

That’s been the case with the new Pitkin County Clerk’s building. Is that what the people of Aspen want? We used to be able to interact easily with city staff in their old offices. It seems that staff, with the assistance of whomever planned this arrangement, has insulated itself.

I for one have been frustrated at being kept away and looking through glass at them in their nice new offices, where they are not very inclined to come out and talk, and less likely to allow a lowly member of the public coming for assistance to enter their safe havens. You wind up conducting a conversation with someone inside through the gatekeeper at the little access window. It’s very un-Aspen.

Gerald Grayson


City blows opportunities to make Aspen better

Locals aren’t being priced out of Aspen; their tax dollars are being spent foolishly while city-owned properties are being grossly underutilized. Quit wasting money on massive city government projects such as the new city call and invest into the properties that the developers are purchasing; control our destiny rather than complain about developers ruining Aspen one parcel at a time.

Why subsidize the Wheeler restaurant space for an affordable local restaurant when the city could get that $50,000 a month in rent and invest into numerous sub-prime spaces for local restaurateurs that will actually allow them to be affordable? How much is the city government going to spend on consultants who never lived in Aspen to tell us how to fix all the problems that we keep feeding?

Don’t even get me started on how much the City Council is going to spend on climate change, only to counter any dent they make by introducing 500 to 1,000 cars at the Lumberyard to the existing traffic jam that already exists from the Aspen Business Center to Aspen. We have a $150 million annual budget. This is a managerial problem, not a money problem.

Mark Reece


What’s cooking on Main Street?

I have heard about construction delays on properties owned by Mark Hunt. What about the old Main Street Bakery? What’s going on with that?

Marilyn Carroll


The party of rejection

The Republicans now have lodged themselves fully in opposition to any and all Democratic policy measures which are intended to better the lives of Americans. That opposition is extraordinary! So I thought I’d share my observations with you.

The GOP opposes: fair voting, deleting the filibuster, the idea that climate change is real, charging taxpayers with evading taxes, investigating the Jan. 6 rioting, vaccinations, the 2020 election results, allowing floor debate on the infrastructure bill, funding the IRS, progressive tax rates, extending unemployment benefits, abortions, immigration, harvesting ballots even when ballot boxes are far away (as on the Navajo Reservations), keeping schools closed to avoid COVID-19, mask mandates, any gun regulation, private companies’ refusals to publish false statements, preventing discrimination, stopping conflicts of interest, criticizing pardons of the guilty, preventing the president’s use of the Justice Department as his personal law team, impeachment, leaving government lands free of private mineral extraction, taxing estates, closing tax loopholes, restoring alliances, DACA, postponing evictions, allowing Democratic appointments of justices, teaching critical race theory, giving water to people waiting to vote, disclosing political contributors, accepting Black Lives Matter as legitimate and with a right to speak, labor unions, raising taxes on capital gains, raising taxes on corporations, investigating foreign interference in elections, criticizing a president’s denigration of vaccinations, and so forth, and fifth and sixth.

Meanwhile, the GOP has made strenuous efforts to block any legislation introduced by Democrats. Sen. Mitch McConnell has expressly stated he will work his butt off to stymie any and all efforts to have Democratic policies enacted. In short, he and others say, “The country and our citizens be damned. We are going to hang onto power, even if we are a minority.”

And you wonder why I, in turn, oppose the GOP?

Parker Maddux


Time for Boebert to denounce Capitol invaders

Editor’s note: The following letter was written to Rep. Lauren Boebert, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Pitkin County.

In your first speech to Congress on Jan. 6, you used the words “some of my constituents are outside this building right now.” Perhaps at the time you made this speech, you were not fully aware of the actions of those that were outside the capital building at that moment. When questioned about this comment later, you explained that your duty was to represent the constituency of your district.

On Tuesday, we heard the testimony of four capitol police officers that witnessed firsthand the words and actions of those attempting to enter the building that day. The words used by members of the crowd and directed at the officers at that moment were overtly racist. Their motives and intent to cause harm also were clear. At times, members of the crowd were described as trying to recruit the white officers as sympathizers to their cause to violently overturn the results of a democratic election. We have already seen images of the violence that these insurrectionists directed toward the officers while they ensured your safety. The words used by the insurrectionists, which we hadn’t heard before, threaten long-term damage to our society as well as to our democratic institutions.

I hope you have had time to listen to the testimony of these four officers, understand that they and others that served that day acted in a heroic manner. It now appears appropriate to denounce the actions of those “constituents outside this building right now.” It’s not possible to say you support the police and at the same time support those that attacked the police at the very moment they were protecting our institutions as well as the officials, including yourself, inside that building. I ask that you retract your support for those who conducted themselves in the manner that was described by the four officers Tuesday.

Phil Overeynder


Focus, Aspen council

Our elected hamsters now want further study of traffic conditions. Churning in place on the hamster wheel of indecision (or is it just incompetence), they are incapable of confronting what is plainly evident — Aspen is choked, it will only get worse, and it needs to be fixed now.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, which is a penchant around City Hall, here are three “old” ideas, which if combined could have a synergistic effect and be transformative.

1. Make the central core a car-free zone. This has been studied to death by the city including more malls, using alleys for commercial vehicles, etc.

2. Build a large parking garage at the edge. Such was proposed under Wagner Park years ago by Mark Hunt as a means of mitigation.

3. Widen Castle Creek bridge to have a third and reversible lane. The concept was mentioned in a citizens’ study 20 years ago.

Smooth traffic flow, funnel it to central parking and open up the core to people. Is there any chance that City Council can grasp and execute a plan like that at a systematic level, or will they remain like hamsters seeking only more study, i.e., kibble?

Neil B. Siegel


The self-righteous and their smug addiction

Viruses are a natural part of our ecosystem. And while COVID-19 very well might have been developed in a lab (this isn’t conspiracy anymore), coronaviruses in general still have their origins in nature and still mutate like other viruses.

After a few months of relative calm where things have begun to feel normal, we are now beginning to deal with COVID-19’s mutation: the delta variant. Fortunately, whether because vaccinated people are being infected or it is just less potent, so far it seems many cases are asymptomatic. Not actually knowing you have a virus because you don’t fully experience the symptoms is good news when infected by a virus like COVID-19. Unfortunately, delta isn’t the only mutation we must now endure. Self-Righteous Confirmation Bias (SRCB-20) has mutated into Smug Self-Delusion, or SSD-21.

Similar to delta, much of SSD-21 is asymptomatic. Those suffering typically don’t even realize how smug and delusional they are when spouting catch phrases like “I just trust the science,” while also likely refusing to follow the science on things like biological sex. When it comes to things like biology, trusting in science is hateful and feelings should be embraced and protected. Others signs of SSD-21:

— Ignoring science like natural immunity by those who have already contracted COVID-19, or ignoring the rampant re-infection of the vaccinated.

— Labeling anyone who doesn’t take the COVID -19 vaccine today an “anti-vaxxer” without any knowledge of their private medical history, which could include having taken many other vaccines.

COVID-19’s origins are apparently being investigated, but SSD-21’s origins are clear: decades of discouraging critical thought. And while SSD-21 is typically asymptomatic for those infected, symptoms are painfully visible to observers as those infected desperately simulate intelligence by parroting authoritarian talking points. Fortunately, work is in progress for a rapid response test for SSD-21, which includes simple questions like “please explain the science you are following?” or “please cite your source.”

Chase McWhorter