Take care of what we have first | AspenTimes.com
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Take care of what we have first

Dear Editor:We have shown many times how we value our service community and have done right by providing a large amount (40 percent-plus) of affordable housing compared to our resident population and as it compares to the rest of our country! Take a tour in your mind. Affordable housing is everywhere in our community, with great smaller projects that blend with surrounding neighborhoods, utilize existing bus lines and infrastructure. Stillwater, Top of Aspen, Obermeyer, Little Ajax, Rio Grande, animal shelter, and a Smuggler site, (100-plus new units in town) are all on the way.It’s worth pointing out that last October, Scott Condon wrote an article entitled “Job numbers fall.” Colorado Department of Labor and Employment figures showed that for Pitkin County, from 9/11 through 2003, job growth fell. Since that time to present, the only significant new job and business growth in our city and county have been a 6 percent annual increase in local, state and federal agencies. Oddly, in a marginal economy, the growth rate for affordable housing is way up. What does this say?Supply and demand. When local government builds housing, it depresses wages and salaries for all employees who are already struggling to make their mortgages. Does this benefit our community? No wonder larger employers support Burlingame. Current employees and families are thus unable to pay for maintenance on their home or to save for college, or must pay higher association fees. Building affordable housing does have consequences. In this light, why would any current resident or employee vote for a large project like Burlingame? Let’s move slowly, together, and take good care of what we have first.During the recent Burlingame final approval meeting, planners explained how there will be 60 units that can be added onto at Burlingame. Sixty lottery winners can have that third or fourth bedroom at their own cost to be reimbursed at resale. Councilwoman Richards told of a couple who want a third bedroom for an artist studio to paint in. Our mayor asked if this new idea is equitable. How do you administer this new option, keeping it fair for everyone? Who tells the other 37 owners at Burlingame and the hundreds of others elsewhere they can or can’t add on an extra room? What happens to the next buyer? Just one example of how layering complexities and confusion add to our program. When we’re so overcrowded we can’t walk or ride bikes around without being defensive, when our open space is continually threatened and made developable, when our schools are so full that we have to increase class size, bring in modulars or build bigger schools that resemble Denver sizes, when traffic worsens and construction noise is heard all night long, ask yourself, is this reflecting your values? Are we doing the right thing? Paradise found … and lost? At what and whose cost?Burlingame does not belong, built or annexed into town. We must revisit our growth plan. Terry Paulson has steadily, without wavering, said no to Burlingame, erratic code amendments and annexations that chip away at our foundation. He has asked us what will happen if we don’t slow down and what could be if we do. The time has come to ask ourselves, what do we want to be? Vote NO on Burlingame, YES for Paulson.Colleen Collins BurrowsAspen


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