Burlingame deserves your support | AspenTimes.com

Burlingame deserves your support

Five years later, the voters are being asked once again to make a decision about the Burlingame affordable housing project.In August 2000, with 59 percent voting yes, they authorized the city of Aspen to enter negotiations with the Zoline family to secure property necessary to build 225 housing units three miles from downtown Aspen.At the time, opponents raised a number of valid arguments questioning the wisdom of locating so many homes so far from the center of town. Many of those arguments hold true today.Locating the 236 proposed units on what heretofore has been open ranch land and sage hillsides is not ideal. Losing yet another upvalley ranch to development, especially development of the intensity that Burlingame represents, is lamentable.The new homes will put additional strains on the two-lane entrance to Aspen and the Roaring Fork Transit Authority’s in-town service.Equally disturbing is the fact that government officials have struggled to make more than half the units available to people with modest incomes, at prices ranging from $43,000 for a category 1 one-bedroom condominium to $219,000 for a category 3 single-family home.Despite all that, this community should vote “yes” on Burlingame.Why? One reason is that it goes a long way toward the community goal of providing housing for the people who work here. Two hundred and thirty-six residences will enable a lot of working people – from line cooks to estate attorneys – and their families to call Aspen “home.”While opponents of Burlingame often point to “infill” housing as the real solution to Aspen’s housing, time after time small housing projects around town have been rejected for one reason or another. Even without the Nimby factor and politics that crop up with each infill proposal, there just isn’t the space to build the amount of housing to meet this community’s needs.Although located outside town, Burlingame is really just one more element in a suburban growth trend that begins at Cemetery Lane and Meadowood and extends to the North 40 neighborhood, the bus barn and the Aspen Airport Business Center. And even if the Burlingame affordable housing project isn’t built, the Zoline property is nevertheless going to be developed with scores of large, high-end homes, many of which will no doubt sit vacant for much of the year. The Zoline property is not open space; it is simply undeveloped private property that is currently being used as a ranch. There’s nothing in the law that requires the Zolines to continue ranching there, and the family has made it clear they have no intention of doing so.Finally, the city has pledged to make this project as environmentally sensitive as possible and to make more of the units more affordable to people with modest incomes.While not perfect, Burlingame will make Aspen accessible to more of the people who make Aspen special. Isn’t that the point of our affordable housing program? Vote yes on Burlingame.

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