Thanks to City Council for listening |

Thanks to City Council for listening

The Aspen City Council deserves a pat on the back for listening to its critics and trying to improve Ordinance 30, a law that placed potential development restrictions on an entire new category of local homes.Ever since the council passed Ordinance 30 on July 10, affected homeowners and their political allies have complained that the move lowered their property values by restricting – at least potentially – what future improvements and changes they could make to their homes. Passed as an “emergency” reaction to a rash of demolitions, the ordinance delays major alterations to buildings at least 30 years old to allow time for a review of the property’s historic value. If no value is found, then homeowners are allowed to proceed.We see both sides of this issue. We understand council members’ desire to manage the scraping-and-replacing of Aspen, but we also sympathize with the affected homeowners, who have been thrown into a kind of bureaucratic limbo. We don’t want to see our once-charming mountain town razed and replaced with vacant trophy homes, but Ordinance 30’s 30-year threshold struck us as somewhat arbitrary and questionable.So it’s good to see the council listening and responding. A committee of homeowners will begin trying to define the ordinance and its effects, and to complete a more thorough inventory of properties that determines which ones are historically significant. Mind you, the council is not exactly backing down; Mayor Mick Ireland made it clear at a Tuesday meeting with the homeowners that Ordinance 30 won’t be repealed, as some homeowners would prefer. But the council seems sincere in its desire to refine and clarify a measure that has caused a great deal of uncertainty and consternation.This is a sign of a functioning local government. We may not agree with everything the City Council does, but its members are actively monitoring events in town, listening to their constituents and reacting accordingly.