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Teacher housing to be tied to jobs

John Colson

The Aspen City Council went along with the idea of tying local teachers’ housing to their jobs on Monday night, although there were some reservations expressed by council members.

The council approved, by a vote of 4-1, an Aspen School District request to amend local affordable housing regulations as they apply to the Moore housing project, which is located near the Aspen schools campus on Maroon Creek Road. Council member Terry Paulson voted to deny the school district’s request.

Six of the 31 affordable housing units being built as part of the Moore project are reserved for teachers.

The City Council’s decision means that any teacher or other school district employee who is allowed to buy one of the homes must work for the district for 10 years after the purchase date or sell the home within one year of leaving the district job. And the school district will have the right of first refusal to purchase the unit from the departing employee.

Council members had earlier rejected the school district’s request, arguing that it was wrong to tie someone’s home to their job.

But in the wake of appeals by all five Pitkin County commissioners, Mayor Rachel Richards, an opponent of the district’s request, agreed to bring the issue back for reconsideration.

At first reading on Jan. 10, it was Paulson who changed his vote to allow the request to go on to second reading, and Councilman Tom McCabe who dissented.

At Monday’s public hearing, it was McCabe who sided with the majority.

McCabe said he remained “steadfastly opposed” to the concept of tying housing to someone’s job. But he said he was persuaded by the project’s developer, Aspen native Tommy Moore, that this particular rule was part of the Moore family’s plan to ensure housing for teachers.

Paulson argued forcefully against the idea, declaring, “It’s one more encumbrance you put on a teacher that limits his ability to teach.” Fear of losing one’s housing can inhibit free thinking and good teaching, he implied.

In agreeing to go along with the proposal, Richards successfully attached an amendment that a district employee cannot be evicted if his employment terminates due to the “death or disability of a family member.”


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