Weiss joins council field | AspenTimes.com

Weiss joins council field

Janet Urquhart
Cliff Weiss will make his second City Council election bid this spring.

Longtime Aspenite Cliff Weiss has added his name to the growing list of candidates vying for a seat on the Aspen City Council this spring.He joins Jack Johnson, Marcia Goshorn, Andrew Kole, J.E. DeVilbiss, Dee Malone and Pepper Gomes as declared candidates for office, though not all of the contenders have turned in their candidate petitions. The deadline is Friday.Weiss, 55, ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2003, a year after he helped put a question on Aspen’s entrance on the ballot. He pushed to defeat the so-called “straight shot” in favor of the existing Highway 82 alignment through the S-curves.Two years ago, Weiss finished fourth in a nine-candidate field that included two people who pulled out of the race, though their names remained on the ballot.This time around, Weiss said it’s his concerns about growth that have spurred his candidacy.

“I think the pace of growth in Aspen is still too fast,” he said. “I want to have a more sensible approach to growth than even the AACP [Aspen Area Community Plan] calls for.”Weiss said he’d like to see the urban growth boundary – the line that divides the denser development within Aspen from the more rural areas of Pitkin County – pulled in closer. He also advocates capping growth in free-market home development to less than 1 percent annually. Those big homes generate jobs and the jobs help fuel growth, he contends.”As long as there are jobs up here, people are going to move here,” Weiss said.On the subject of the controversial Burlingame Ranch worker housing project, Weiss offered many complaints.”I do feel that Burlingame is sprawl and that it’s growth in the wrong place,” he said.

The project will open the door to more development on the fringes of Aspen, Weiss predicted. He also decried the number of high-priced worker homes in the project and the city’s decision to move so far along on the project with only an advisory endorsement from voters, which came before all the details, transportation challenges and costs associated with the project emerged.Nonetheless, he called an initiative proposal that would give the voters a say on all worker housing projects of more than 10 units or a subsidy level of more than $100,000 per unit “a little harsh.””By not telling us everything, they [the City Council] think they’re going to get things through,” Weiss said. “That’s why we constantly revote.”Nonetheless, Weiss said he sees the need for more worker housing and would advocate setting aside some of it specifically for “critical service workers,” including government employees, police and firefighters, hospital employees and teachers.Excepted from his call to clamp down on growth is the current boom of hotel building, which is replacing what has been lost, he said.

“Lodging is a very different thing. We are a resort and we thrive based on that industry,” Weiss said.”You can’t stop progress and growth altogether. It’s more a matter of it being a little more sensible,” he said.Growth is giving Aspen a crowded feel and threatening its character, according to Weiss.”This is not the charming little town we all came here for,” he said. “When our guests realize we’re not charming anymore, we’re just another Vail.”Weiss, an Aspen resident since 1974, lives on North Eighth Street with his wife, Stacey, an elementary school music teacher, and a daughter. His profession is marketing and advertising hotel properties in Latin America and the Caribbean through his own company.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com

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