Plenty of demand for Burlingame | AspenTimes.com

Plenty of demand for Burlingame

Dear Editor:

A letter to the editor of the Aspen Daily News dated May 20 stated that, “The city had to reduce prices at Burlingame because there weren’t enough buyers.”

I don’t know what planet the writer was on during our Burlingame lotteries, but I have to guess she was waaayyy out there. Her statement is so far from the truth that I cannot let it stand unchallenged.

We had a very deep response for our lottery offerings at Burlingame. The lotteries at Burlingame were the first time in the history of our housing program that categories 2 through 7 and resident occupied were all offered, so a little bit of guessing came into play with regard to the demand for the newer categories: 5, 6 and 7.

Some in our community had been claiming that there was an unmet demand for those higher categories, and Burlingame was the first opportunity to test the hypothesis. Higher categories mean lower subsidies, and the council tested that possibility precisely to see if the market would support lower subsidies. In my mind, that is a fiscally responsible experiment.

After each of the first and second deliveries of phase one of Burlingame, the council looked at the lottery bid applications for each combination of categories and bedrooms. After considering those numbers the council made downward category adjustments that made more units available to the remaining large pool of unsuccessful lottery applicants. It had nothing at all to do with a dearth of applicants; in fact, it had everything to do with an overabundance of applicants in our program’s original categories, 1 through 4.

As quoted in an Aspen Times story about the downward category adjustments on July 17, 2007, “At Mayor Mick Ireland’s request, the additional cost will be officially ratified in a resolution next Monday.

“‘I would feel better that if we are spending millions of dollars that the public know what it’s for,’ he said.”

As for the writer’s claim that the free-market, profit-driven decision makers are better decision makers, I would suggest she temper such sweeping statements by injecting words and phrases like: Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, black lung disease (coal mining), Union Pacific Railroad, Corvair, Three Mile Island, Bhopal, Bear Stearns, the savings and loan crisis, Nestle’s baby formula, 1929 stock market crash, subprime mortgage crisis, mesothelioma (asbestos), Global Crossing, numerous bank panics, depressions, sweat shops, child labor and on and on.

The history of business and government are both loaded with disastrous failures and phenomenal successes. We need both of these sectors, warts and all.

I’m not going to go near the religious sector.

To set the record straight, on the first delivery of Burlingame phase one (31 units), we had 159 qualified bids.

The second delivery (22 units), we had 144 qualified bids.

The third, and last delivery, of phase one Burlingame homes (31 units), we had 284 qualified bids.

Please consider that all Burlingame units do not permit dog ownership, which leads me to believe that we would have had even more qualified bids absent that restriction.

For the writer to claim the market was “saturated,” and that that forced price reductions, is simply garbage.

Tom McCabe

executive director

Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority


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