If it ain’t broke …
Dear Editor:”We must be doing something right” was Toni Kronberg’s assessment of the Christmas season. I agree. We’ve been steadily creating affordable housing for decades that has allowed some of our workers to become permanent community members and bring their vitality to Aspen’s holidays.We’ve created home ownership opportunities that have kept people here; participating in our events as Aspenites: ski patroller, auto mechanics, waitresses, managers, shop owners, nurses, dentists, policemen, chefs, hoteliers and more. We offer the best vacation experience and customer service because we’ve realized that human capital, our people, are our greatest asset and tried to offer some hope of their being able to remain in town. We’ve been successful at giving some people a real stake in Aspen’s future and have reaped their community commitment and involvement as a result. What sets us apart from other resorts has always been that Aspen is a real town, not a façade of a town totally reliant on an imported non-invested transient work force.Note however, that Aspen has created this housing without requiring expensive impact studies (an invitation to endless litigation) and without requiring a public vote on every complex of more than 10 apartments. Toni wants to change the system we’ve had, the one that “must be doing something right” otherwise known as representational government, where every two years voters elect council members to study our communities’ needs, weigh alternatives and make decisions for Aspen’s long-term common good. Her petitions instead have us hold 20-plus affordable housing elections just to relocate the 225 Burlingame homes that she is trying to stop, homes that Aspen voters did approve in August 2000 by 60 percent. Under Toni’s code, expensive impact studies are required on each set of eleven homes. This opens the door for housing opponents to dispute the study results in court, for years, before an election is even held. Under Toni’s code, each handful of affordable homes will require campaign committees, debates, funds raised, mailings done, pro and con newspaper and radio ads. That’s 20-plus expensive divisive elections, debating over and over whether another 11 permanent working folks belong in Aspen; just to duplicate the same number of housing opportunities that Burlingame Village provides. And if Burlingame is any example, housing opponents don’t have to accept the outcome of public votes anyway; they can just do some sort of new initiative.While claiming to seek transparency and good governance via her petitions, the effects of these efforts are to try to kill Burlingame on one hand, and on the other hand make any replacement housing sites prohibitively expensive and disastrously slow in meeting community needs.There is a corollary to “we must be doing something right,” it is “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Please don’t sign the petitions, or have your name removed if you signed without realizing the net effect they will have on Aspen and the hope for a balanced permanent community in the future. Rachel E RichardsAspen City Council member
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