AACP doesn’t accurately reflect Aspen economy | AspenTimes.com

AACP doesn’t accurately reflect Aspen economy

Dear Editor:

In the past three years the unimaginable has happened in Aspen – a national recession has affected the local economy unlike any in the past 50 years. The “new normal” Aspen economy is vastly different than the 2007 economy quantified in “The Aspen Economy” by Economics Research Associates upon which the AACP is based.

• The report states more and more Aspen employees will be needed, never imagining that 2,400 (two thousand, four hundred) Pitkin County jobs were lost in 2009 and 2010. For the first time Aspen needs jobs.

• The report accurately contended the real estate economy had become double the retail economy. True in 2007, but due to the recession real estate’s portion of the economy has already dropped to historical levels of 2000.

• The report projects midvalley housing prices will continue to rise, further increasing the need for production of affordable housing as an alternative. In fact, home prices in the mid-valley have dropped 40 percent in the last few years.

• The report also projects fewer workers will live and work in Aspen. Due to the severe drop in employment, today 65 percent (sixty-five percent) of Aspen employees now live in the Aspen area. Isn’t 65 percent a critical mass of employees targeted by the AACP as our community goal? Do we need 100 percent affordable housing mitigation?

• The report identifies as problematic the magnitude of second-home ownership as a percentage of the local economy. Recently an oft-cited Colorado demographer told the county commissioners that “the era of second homes as the economic driver for Pitkin county is likely a thing of the past” and the “new” economy is likely to look like 30 years ago – fueled by destination tourists, second homes are no longer a threat to bring too many jobs to Aspen.

(All of the above statements from public government data and methodology)

MUCH OF WHAT THE AACP SEEKS TO DO HAS ALREADY HAPPENED

I’ve been told by government officials that it is good to have a plan based on a boom economy because it might happen again. Really? All predictions are the “new normal” Aspen economy is here for 10 years. I’ve also been told by government officials that the 2,400 jobs that have been lost might be “jobs we don’t want here.” Once again, really? Just what kind of jobs are acceptable? The city’s 2011 AACP survey showed “economic development” as important to citizens as “managing growth.” It costs very little in time and money to simply establish the current (and probably future) economic reality in Aspen.

Please approve funds for an update to the economic basis of the AACP.

Tim Semrau

Aspen


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