Do not entertain their housing offer |

Do not entertain their housing offer

Local housing officials are being offered $380,000 to drop the deed restriction on an affordable-housing unit so the property owners can have a home entertainment center there instead of housing a local employee.

We hope the government rejects the offer and sticks to its guns to retain the housing.

The $380,000 isn’t nearly enough money to build or buy replacement housing ” in fact, it’s roughly half the recommended payment-in-lieu amount under the land-use code ” but, of course, the amount of money is beside the point.

The real issue is that in 1996, when Larry and Mara Lawrence bought their residence at 985 King St., they agreed to house a local worker in the employee unit on the property. The obligation to house a worker was imposed when the property was first developed in 1980, and it runs with the land. According to the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA), however, the Lawrences haven’t played by the rules of this agreement, so the Authority sued them last December. The Lawrences tried to dismiss the lawsuit, but Pitkin County District Court Judge Denise Lynch denied the Lawrence’s motion.

So now the Lawrences are trying to buy their way out of their contractual obligation. They should not be allowed to.

A deal is a deal. And this deal happens to involve the upper Roaring Fork Valley’s most precious and scarce resource.

So we hope the Aspen City Council and the APCHA will reject this settlement and push for the housing. Deed-restricted units like this one are the only things that keep working locals in Aspen; whenever homeowners like the Lawrences are allowed to break their contractual promises, it places another commuter on Highway 82 and strikes another blow to local life.

Make the Lawrences honor this contract. It’s the right thing to do, and Aspen needs that worker a lot more than it needs another private home entertainment center.

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