Death by Smart Growth
March 26, 2002
We live with a death wish. This is self-destructive behavior. Remember how we kept Killer Highway 82 two lanes to scare people away from Aspen? We called this Smart Growth.
Here is a brief account of how that idea is a financial failure today:
We joined voters in the Roaring Fork Valley to approve the formation of a regional transit district. But, who knows what it will cost to operate, manage and maintain a bus system that will always lose money over the long term?
Pitkin County loses money subsidizing its recycling program. And the county will lose more of this money as it grows out of its present site. There is no plan for a new landfill in the county. How much more will recycling and trash collection cost when it has to be trucked outside the county?
Elam has the only gravel pit in the county. There is no plan for another pit. Who knows where all the road base and aggregate will come from when this pit is depleted? And what will gravel cost here when it has to be trucked in from the outside?
There are 41 taxing districts in the county. Nobody knows anything about their financial and political condition? Who knows what property taxes will cost us in the future?
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Speaking of costs, Pitkin County has one of the highest cost of living indexes in America. It is certain to go higher and higher as it costs more to run more buses, as recycling and trash tipping fees cost more, as gravel costs more and as district operations and maintenance costs more. All these increases will make it increasingly expensive to live in or visit our resort.
But wait just a snow-making minute. Our Smart Growth management has not managed all these monies so that growth pays its own way in public costs. Mercy, who is watching the store?
Non-managed growth in public spending has made the resort grow too expensive for most locals. High costs have changed Aspen into an exclusive playground and investment opportunity for the rich. Unfortunately, there aren’t likely to be enough of the rich to make our short ski season profitable.
Smart Growth turned out to be a death wish, the ultimate form of self-destruction for locals.
Be Brave Comrades.