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The affordable housing shuffle

Dear Editor:

The affordable housing coffers are empty ” but the cry from our government is we need more affordable housing! But, how do we build it if we don’t have any money in the bank? City Council’s answer: Borrow it. Why not ” we’re certainly going to have the real estate transfer tax in the future ” Aspen voters always vote yes when it comes to affordable housing. I suggest “always” might be a dangerous concept, this time around.

Before I get into that quagmire, let’s take a look at where the money earmarked to build Burlingame went. Yes, we had it ” but we spent it. Over the last six months or so, this new council has purchased the BMC land for $18 million-plus (the fact it was assessed for $6 million-plus, seemed to get lost in the affordable housing shuffle). The idyllic Swiss Chalet fetched a price tag of $3.6 million, just prior to the property being designated “historic.” And, the Castle Creek land purchased for $5.4 million was offered to the city for $3.6 million months prior.



The concept of “robbing Peter to pay Paul” historically never has worked. And the downside could be very costly to the taxpayers who ultimately are guaranteeing these loans.

While all this is going on, it was just announced that City of Aspen, Town of Snowmass Village, and Pitkin County are conducting a $44,500 survey to find out why people like affordable housing. I’ll tell you why ” because it’s AFFORDABLE! Another question has to do with if the needs of those living in affordable housing are being met? Again, cheap housing. Where can I pick up my check?




The question that needs to be asked is: Do we need more affordable housing? The sales pitch is always about “community.” I understand the concept of “community,” but I think the Aspen community is in pretty good shape. I’d like the current council to make a case for more affordable housing based on facts ” not the emotions they rely on to generate a positive vote. I’d like to see an evaluation looking at the pluses and minuses of affordable housing. Of course if the minuses outweigh the pluses ” what will council have to focus on?

How about the traffic problem? The truth is, the big selling point for more affordable housing is that problem. As I remember it, this council vowed to come to some conclusion on a solution and move forward. Instead it is lost in the shuffle.

So, here’s an idea we could run up the proverbial flagpole. Until the current council moves forward on the Straight-Shot, Split-Shot, or NO Shot, we put a moratorium on their spending, and on their focus. If we did that, you can be sure the traffic problem would move right to the top of the list.

Finally this thought. If we solved the traffic problem, we might in turn, indirectly, solve the housing problem.

Andrew Kole

Aspen


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