Aspen’s home ownership pitfall
Dear Editor:Empowerment to control with impunity seems to be the bottom line for the Aspen government, and of course devising new ways to extract that dirty lugar from the second-home owner.There are no governmental checks or balances in place or means of accountability (sometimes if the press is willing and able). There is only a facade of process and little search for truth for the majority of Aspen’s City Council (personal observations) and there never will, due to the largess and “the tyranny of the majority” driving the elections.Without state intervention and a change in voting laws, there is absolutely nothing keeping the city from steadily increasing their stranglehold over small business and taxpayers. The city of Aspen is democratically totalitarian and is a city where taxation without representation exists and is promoted. The existing social divide between those who own property and those who don’t is in our opinion the primary difference between old and new Aspen.For some reason, home ownership in Aspen is seen by the second-home owner and resident alike as a status symbol. Somewhere along the time line there appeared for many second-home owners the social importance for the pretentious display of wealth, which is reflected in many of their homes. Personally, it has been over 10 years since we have willingly divulged to anyone that we hold real-estate in Aspen other than in a commentary regarding the town’s social ills; to do so is an invite to stereotyping and misperceptions, the same as holding up a sign saying, “Please overcharge me, I can afford it.” The association of ownership in Aspen has been for years perceived locally as an undeserved privilege for the wealthy and has been used as an effective political tool to spur on class retaliation by the voting majority to increase property tax and fund largess legislation.What the voting public doesn’t fully appreciate is commercial property assessed valuation for taxation is over 3.5 times the rate as for residential taxation. So when you vote to increase taxes to stick it to the rich for some extravagant public project, you’re really sticking it to yourself when you buy anything in Aspen.The city of Aspen is building a separate annexed city (Burlingame) for employee housing, literally a company town, with the company being the city of Aspen. Burlingame is a definite win-win for the city and developers alike. This company town of sorts provides ready access to a huge reservoir of cheap labor and new, moldable voters. The prospect of increased profits through cheap labor alone could be reason enough to delay large-scale development plans until Burlingame’s completion. Cheap labor and a willing government fuels large scale speculative development earmarked for a rich, high-profit margin market. This current frenzy of large-scale construction is purely driven by the prospect of short-term big profits. This irreversible large-scale urbanization and massive population increase is inarguably not for the betterment of quality of life or the real improvement of the vacation experience in Aspen, but more for benefit and health of a growing bureaucratic government.Why are taxpayers indirectly financing large scale corporate development which will ultimately decrease their quality of life? Seemingly population growth and development in Pitkin County is open ended, why?Caroline McDonaldAspen
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Development in Basalt barely skipped a beat in 2020 despite the coronavirus. It’s expected to be busier next year.