City ups housing goal to 60 percent |

City ups housing goal to 60 percent

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen has reinstated its goal of housing 60 percent of its work force after the City Council lowered the bar to 55 percent last year.

Whatever the percentage, some council members weren’t expressing much optimism that the community will attain it when they met this week with the housing board to debate how much housing should be required of new development.

The city has long advised developers that they need to provide housing for 60 percent of the workers generated by a new project. But, when the council reduced the community’s overall goal to 55 percent, some members suggested the city should cut back what it asks of new development, as well, to be consistent.

“If your overall housing goal is 55 percent, then we’re not justified in asking more from the developers,” said Councilman Tim Semrau.

However, the government will have to build even more housing to attain an overall goal of housing 55 percent of the work force if developers are asked to build less as part of their projects, said Councilwoman Rachel Richards.

“It just means more will be built on the taxpayer’s dime,” she said.

“I’d support any number if we’d actually build any of it,” Richards added.

“Sixty percent ” I don’t think it’s a sacred number. I don’t think 55 percent is a sacred number,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud.

“At the glacial speed with which we build housing, it’s not going to happen soon anyway,” she said.

When the city contracted with outside consultants to study Aspen’s housing needs two years ago, the consultants concluded the city needed 995 additional units in order to house 60 percent of its work force. That report, issued in February 2002, was based on employment data and available housing at the time.

To house 55 percent of the work force at that time, another 606 units were needed, according to the report.

The city could set its goal at 20 percent and call it a day, Richards said, wryly. “Reducing our goal doesn’t make our problem go away,” she said.

“If we drop it back to 55 percent, we’re going to get more behind the eight ball,” said housing board member Marcia Goshorn, urging the council to make 60 percent its goal.

The council, with Councilman Terry Paulson dissenting, agreed with that approach.

Either percentage is too arbitrary, Paulson complained, decrying the impact of the additional growth on the community.

The difference between 55 and 60 percent is more than 300 units, he noted.

“That’s another Burlingame. Where are we going to put that?” he said. “Somehow, we have to revisit this whole housing thing.”

Housing 60 percent of the work force was defined as Aspen’s goal with its adoption of the original Aspen Area Community Plan in 1993. The updated 2000 AACP set a more finite target of 800 to 1,300 more units. The 995 additional units identified by the consultants as what was needed to house 60 percent of the community’s workers fell in the middle of the AACP range.

[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is]

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