Andrew Scott: Housing and open space

The city and county are on a buying spree. Two apartments for a million dollars each, both beyond the roundabout; and now Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority puts 79 Burlingame 3 units on hold from sale in the “lottery.” These are taxpayer-funded units that were built for a community housing pool that all eligible inhabitants should be benefiting from.

Meanwhile, another taxpayer-funded entity, the city of Aspen, is salivating from the sidelines, preparing to take first pick of these units to purchase from APCHA inventory to house exclusively its own workers. Employer on one end, landlord on the other — sounding familiar around here?

Competing with residents for an extremely limited housing supply and driving up real estate prices, multiple entities compete with APCHA and the free market. Local businesses, the police department, fire department, school district — they are all vying to invest in a speculative housing market at the top of the pyramid.

This is nothing less than manipulating the free market with taxpayer dollars, looking more like the worst practices of a communist state than something a democracy would produce. 

Are we surprised that the problems these municipal impositions were supposed to solve have gotten steadily worse the last 40 years since the policies were imposed?

Both the city, who are about to try and make their open space sales tax permanent, and the county tax us so we can continue buying up the valley to “conserve” it as never ending fields of ungrazed hay fields.

Yes, recreational facilities and “open spaces” are nice, but why not combine open spaces and housing budgets so housing can be built on portions of the farmland along the highway corridor to provide livable, permaculture, based, polycrop agriculture communities that are impossible without people to care take and build soil on the land? Otherwise, “open space” translates to “no houses.” 

Perhaps the tribal governments of the Ute tribe, who were granted this land in the Ute treaty of 1868 only to be kicked out by a governor named Pitkin on behalf of mining interests, could do a better job managing open spaces and could accomplish the development of some housing clusters along the transportation corridor instead of just hiring another big city consultant for a feasibility study that costs more than it would to house someone in the valley for well over a year.

Will the only employers left be the city, the county, their districts and major publicly traded corporations, like Restoration Hardware, who seem to tear down businesses as a policy, putting nothing in their place but empty holes and concrete blocks and wire mesh walls where parking once was?”

Andrew Scott