Fat City and developers’ pockets
Dear Editor: The recent articles in the papers and Su Lum’s weekly column are but the latest in the growing chorus of concern regarding the rampant development in Aspen (and throughout the valley).Our government is ultimately responsible for creating an environment that encourages, approves of, and in many cases actually funds all of this development. We are the people who elected that government. To quote Walt Kelly’s Pogo, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”In early spring 2005, under Helen Klanderud’s administration, Aspen City Council passed various citywide upzoning ordinances (infill) intended to fuel development. Prior to upzoning, on a 6,000-square-foot lot in the Commercial C1 zone, a developer could construct 6,000 square feet of building. After upzoning, on that very same lot, a developer can now build 18,000 square feet. The 2005 upzoning provided an extra 12,000 square feet of construction intended to fuel development. To further fuel development, Helen’s administration also eased on-site open space requirements, on-site affordable housing requirements and on-site parking requirements and streamlined the approval process, all culminated by the current search for new office space for seven new employees to move development approvals even faster.Shortly after this fuel was added to Aspen’s development fire, local editorials, columnists (including Su) and voters endorsed Helen’s re-election as mayor of “Fat City” and as well as other candidates who share her agenda of “more is better.” As Su stated in her column this week, “What we have brought upon ourselves is an economy that feeds upon more and more building, more and higher real estate sales and more and more workers to keep the wheels turning. A dichotomy, Aspen style: We hate the way we’re heading but are afraid to step on the brakes because life is profitable here in Fat City.”If we really do hate the way Aspen is heading and want to place a livable hometown above profits derived from Fat City, perhaps it’s time to initiate a recall of those in the pockets of developers. Bert MyrinAspen
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