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Council members should clean their ears

Michael Cleverly

It seems that the public servants of the upper valley have a newly discovered interest in the opinion of the people who elected them. I applaud this. They’re going to hold some meetings to get input, take the pulse on how folks feel about things like development.Ever hear the expression “Get the sh**t out of your ears”? I would never presume to speak for anyone but myself, but, “Holy Helen Keller, Batman,” I do kind of, sort of pay attention to what I see, hear and read. I think that I can safely report that the only people who think all this development is just wonderful are the people who are getting rich off said development. And maybe some of their friends who are wealthy enough to live in the kind of bubble that allows them to pretend this crap isn’t ruining our town.If the mayor and City Council don’t know this already, their heads must be stuck in a very dark hole indeed. Our pro-development mayor can have all the meetings she wants, but it’s still going to be like that old Einstein quote “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The response of the people will be “No, we do not fancy all these projects that are doing nothing for the community but making a very few already rich people a lot richer.”Here’s another revelation for you guys. Everyone in Aspen would like to see the arrogant jerk who topped those trees on East Hopkins Avenue strung up in the nearest tree that he forgot to top. And, right or wrong, these same citizens think you guys are in the pocket of the rich and are protecting this jackass for one reason and one reason only. There’s been a feeble attempt to talk the talk on this matter, but, as of now, no one has come close to walking the walk. I sure hope people remember this when election time comes around.Guess what. People like dogs and cats – especially young people. This is a young town. If you build employee housing and sell it to people and say “there you go, there’s your home, you own it, enjoy,” and then tell them they can’t have pets, then it really isn’t their home, is it? It’s more like one of those old-age homes.Here’s another one. You don’t eliminate parking problems by eliminating parking. Gee, I must be the smartest guy in the whole world to have figured that out. When you want to turn every square inch of Aspen into paid parking, you effectively eliminate it as an option for the people who need it most – the workers, the people who keep the goddamn town running. Spread the word.Better yet, drive up to Highlands to go skiing some nice winter day and see what happens – you’ll either be charged $10 or you won’t find a space. Take the bus? Maybe you live somewhere that you have to drive five miles and take two buses, just to reach a place that you could have driven to in five minutes. Let’s just build a lot of parking for the private jets that come here twice a year and let everyone else walk – yeah, that’s it.Check this out. We all know that everyone, especially the Planning and Zoning Commission, folded like a piece of origami on the new Water Park feature going in above Hallam Lake. Nice work on that. Those “philanthropists” made some really big concessions.And there’s this. No matter how hard and fast you spin it, you will never convince anyone that developers have the community’s best interest at heart. When a large piece of property on the edge of town was recently sold it was front-page news. When, a week later, that property was resold at a $40 million dollar profit, it was front-page news. I’ve got some back-page news. There is a duplex on that property. Last fall, two women moved into that duplex, one in each unit. These are two professional women, longtime locals, not ski bums, people who are assets to the community, who make the “good Aspen” the good Aspen. An older, slightly decaying structure, these gals put hundreds of hours and a lot of their own money into shining up their places, and they turned out great. That was last fall. This spring they got a “Get out in 30 days” notice. The new owners couldn’t wait an extra minute to get their sweaty paws on their $40 million profit. In the end they got an extra week or two, only because the closing was postponed – it was a lawyer thing, not a decency thing. They’re only human beings, you know; this, as always, was about something else.A bit farther downriver, a couple who had been living in a cabin on a large ranch were given a new lease. The couple are longtime locals, part of the fabric of the community. The agreement that they’d had for years with the previous property owner stipulated that the owner could demolish the cabin and, of course, develop the property anytime; the couple just had to be given six months’ notice. In May the couple received the new lease from the new owner. This lease was only for six months and said the owners only had to give them 30 days notice should they decide to develop. It also added that they suddenly had to pay utilities. Obviously not a very good deal, but it gets better. The lease was retroactive to January. This meant that the lease only had 30 days left on it, just enough time to evict them. If they’d signed it, they could be booted out in 30 days, and had the privilege of paying all those back utilities. Good deal!Then there’s Pete Luhn. Pete was back in the news this week. Lest you forget, Pete is the geriatric cancer patient who was thrown out of his house east of town by a developer who broke every single promise that he made. The developer’s pusillanimous lawyers felt physically threatened by Mr. Luhn and filed for a restraining order to keep him from beating them up. Then Luhn was forcibly evicted.As far as I’m concerned, all these lawyers, developers and profiteers should feel threatened. I can’t believe they have the hair to show their faces outside during daylight hours. If you are pro-development and think you should make the argument that these folks have the good of the community at heart, then think again.


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