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Moratorius-a-um

Cheers for the six-month moratorium on new building permits, one small but determined step against the veritable tsunami surging at the gates of the town. Let them eat Snowmass Village.I wish it were for five years, the amount of time it would take for the bulldozers and cranes to finish what has already been approved and actually bring peace and the natural selection of traffic control to the upper valley. Seeing the amount of Tonka toy activity that’s going on between Burlingame and Grand Junction, it’s hard to shed a tear for the demise of the construction industry, as it seems there’s more than enough work to go around.A week ago Tuesday, I went to the City Council moratorium meeting with the intent of seeing it through, but between the oppressive hot breath of the realtors and not being able to see or hear any of the speakers, I bolted for home to watch it loud and clear on GrassRoots TV. Thank you, GrassRoots, our local treasure!A few speakers at the Tuesday second reading took umbrage with the City Council for bringing up the moratorium late Monday night when no one was in the room. Au contraire, it had been brought up at the beginning of the meeting, plenty of time to get those cell phones humming and storm the gates before it came up for discussion at the end of the scheduled agenda.Umbrage was also taken at the “emergency” nature of the ordinance, though everyone knows that the “emergency” was that, if forewarned, developers would rush in with applications before the gate closed – witness the Wienerstube building redevelopment sliding in under the wire late Tuesday afternoon.Moratorium or not, this summer is going to be a jackhammer-fest of previously approved construction, with CDOT adding a maraschino cherry on top with highway enhancements and detours all May and September, city sidewalk diggings already in progress, and the new bus lane on Main Street in place starting June 5 – I can’t wait to see how that plays out.Coming up is a public hearing on May 8 to extend paid parking three blocks deep into the surrounding residential zone to keep all the naughty scofflaws from moving their cars every two hours and, instead, get them on the buses where they belong.When paid parking was first implemented, cars vanished like magic for a few days until the commuters realized that the promised zipped-up bus system meant standing from Aspen to Glenwood if you could get on the buses at all, forcing commuters to get more creative. RFTA since has asked us for tax increases that would solve the problem once and for all and, like Charlie Brown and the football, we got snookered again and again: too few buses during the rush hours and endless meanderings to get from here to there in the (literally) slow times.I’m one of those grumpy old Aspenites who is happy to bitch about conditions without offering a solution, but I am also a strong proponent of not making things worse just for the sake of doing something. If you want a four-lane highway into Aspen, you have to make a place for the unfettered traffic to park. If you want more people on the bus, you have to have a better bus system. If you want an intercept lot, you have to find a place to put it (preferably one which will serve the AABC and Burlingame) and a system to serve it.As the downvalley area becomes more and more autonomous, I suspect that our ultimate problem will be attracting people to work here at all and that we’ll be lucky to keep employees working here even if we dispatch limousines and stretch Hummers to carry them to and from jobs in town. Su Lum is a longtime local whose most valued possession is her handicapped parking permit. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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