Council needs to get its priorities straight
July 1, 2012
It is always interesting to hear what the Aspen City Council is focusing its time and our resources (tax dollars) on versus what is important to the people of Aspen based on the city’s own surveys.
In April, the City Council enacted a 28-foot height limit in the downtown core based on the opinions of three city councilmen. Somehow, the previously proposed “emergency ordinance” and the enacted height limitation was said to be based on the multiyear, $1 million plus Aspen Area Community Plan process. Despite, in my opinion, city survey questions that are nearly always biasedly worded to solicit a desired response, no reasonable person could conclude that the Aspen Area Community Plan process and surveys indicated a 28-foot (two-story) height limit was desired by the community.
To follow up the enactment of the 28-foot height limit, the Aspen City Council actively solicited community feedback on their height limit and potential modifications for certain uses. Being a hot community topic, a whopping 85 people participated in the survey, and of these select and solicited people, fully 32.5 percent, or 27.6 people, believe all future buildings should be limited to two stories.
No word on if the 85 survey respondents included Ireland, Skadron and/or Torre. Regardless, I conclude that somewhere between 27.6 and 30.6 Aspenites are concerned enough about permitted downtown heights to support the new height limit.
Meanwhile, the survey indicated that 70 percent thought free-market residential should be allowed downtown. By contrast, Ireland tells us that free-market housing in the downtown core is robbing Aspen of its vitality, and you can bet that he will do everything he can to prohibit free-market housing in downtown Aspen.
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This week, I read that the Aspen City Council finally had some discussion of the Entrance to Aspen, a hot topic of the 2007 council election and a topic this very City Council listed as one of its top 10 goals for 2011-12. Despite this being a longstanding issue, some Aspen City Council members expressed disdain for the topic coming up. Naturally. While this issue has been around for 40 years, the most recent (March 2011) city survey (when the entrance traffic was mitigated by the Great Recession) indicated that 60 percent of Aspen and Pitkin County voters strongly support some type of change to the Entrance to Aspen, and just 10 percent strongly oppose taking action on the matter.
In the face of these results, Councilmen Steve Skadron declared he had “come to the conclusion that the entrance we have now is the appropriate one.” Meanwhile, the mayor declared he would ask the council to put this issue aside and put energy into making this town more bike-friendly with bike lanes and some other facilities.
Rather than spend time and resources on topics important to the councilmen, shouldn’t they be serving the community by spending time on the issues the community is concerned about?