A few corrections
August 22, 2007
Dear Editor:The Aspen Times Editorial of Friday, Aug. 17, (“Thanks to City Council for listening”) commends the City Council for listening to the citizens on Ordinance 30 issues. There are some important corrections to the editorial which should be considered.As for listening:• The mayor began the meeting by announcing that Council would NOT hear comments of citizens requesting repeal of the legislation.• He announced that Council would NOT hear reference to the governance process enacting the emergency ordinance.• He also announced that Council would NOT hear any discussion of the city’s failure to comply with the previous law, and its confounding effects on homeowners under the new law.No council member expressed any concern about this suppression of public comment, despite former Mayor Klanderud’s plea to allow citizens to express their breadth of concerns, including governance concerns.The Times editorial also stated that the ordinance was “passed as an ’emergency’ reaction to a rash of demolitions.” City staff advised Council that a list of 15 recently demolished, historically significant “unprotected” properties justified their case. That was grossly misrepresented data. A study of those 15 properties found that each of the properties were in fact protected by existing legislation, and indeed, 14 of the 15 properties were fully reviewed by public process by the Historic Preservation Commission and/or City Council and all were found NOT to be worthy of historic designation. Despite the clear facts, that these example properties were fully capable of being protected under the existing code – these properties were used as justification of the “emergency” ordinance. The City Council and in turn the public was told that these properties were “unprotected ” and disappearing at rampant rates of 2.5 to 5 per year.Council has been unable or unwilling to address if there were unprotected properties of historic value have been lost or threatened in recent years, other than the 15 that were misrepresented. Nor have they been willing to address why they used false data to justify this ordinance. Passing laws based on false and exaggerated data is hardly respectful of the citizens of Aspen.Note that the Times’ editorial presumes the Council’s motive was to “manage the scraping-and-replacing of Aspen” – as many of us do, particularly since neither staff nor council can or will identify truly unprotected properties which were lost, or what protective measures were missing from the old code. We would like to know what warranted the sudden and virtually secret passage of this law. It appears to be a convoluted attempt to indirectly slow “scrape and replace,” skirting their campaign promises not to adopt such ordinances. Through their furtive adoption of the measure, supporting City Council members temporarily avoided the anticipated wrath of the voters who would have reminded them of those promises before they enacted the law.At the conclusion of the Ordinance 30 work session on Tuesday, Council would not answer many of the questions citizens had posed, and refused to allow further questions from citizens on the next steps in the process of further shaping the ordinance.It is hard to understand how Times Editorial board sees these actions as “a functioning local government,” “listening to their constituents.”Mike DillardAspen and Norman, Okla.