Housing should have place in environmental plan
Congratulations to John Worcester and other community members who led the city of Aspen to adopt the Canary Initiative. The initiative, named for the idea that Aspen and its reliance on winter recreation makes it the “canary in the mine shaft” of global warming, should result in positive changes in the way city government does business. For instance, the initiative calls for significant increases in the amount of wind- and hydroelectric-generated power distributed through the city’s electric utility. The city also plans to gauge the emissions of pollutants generated by various sources and take measures to reduce air pollution.”Aspen is being cognizant of potential environmental dangers and being ahead of the curve,” Mayor Helen Klanderud was quoted by The Denver Post. “You know the saying about thinking globally and acting locally? It takes the steps at home before you can take bigger steps.”The fact that the city will devote funding to implement the Canary Initiative shows that it is willing to put its money where its mouth is. It’s a big step in the right direction, and it is hoped Aspen’s citizens will take this moment to examine their personal lives and make adjustments that favor the environment.We can’t help but note the irony of this initiative, however. While Klanderud is willing to tout Aspen’s forward-thinking stance to Front Range papers, she has in the past been an opponent of building between 200 and 300 units of affordable housing on the Burlingame property at the edge of town. Although she has dropped her opposition lately, there are plenty of Aspen residents who talk the talk of environmentalism while favoring a situation that forces more and more of the people who work here to live far away.Aspenites fool themselves if they think housing and the environment aren’t directly connected. For evidence, they need only go out to Buttermilk during the morning rush hour to see hundreds of cars backed up, filled with employees on their way to work from their downvalley and out-of-valley homes.People regularly drive 20 to 80 miles each direction to get to work in Aspen and home again, pouring untold amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Yet again and again, so-called green Aspenites turn out against affordable housing proposals, small and large.When voters go to the polls later this year to decide the fate of Burlingame, we hope they will take their mayor’s words to heart – “it takes steps at home before you take bigger steps” – and support a project and a program that will have a truly positive effect on the environment.
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