Roger Marolt: Roger This |

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

In order to save the city the pile of money it will take to hire an independent consultant to determine if it would be worthwhile to hire another independent consultant to tell us whether or not our local economy will ever be different from the way it is right now, which, if so, presumably would indicate that the Aspen Area Community Plan (AACP) as currently revised should be gutted and the tedious process of writing it over from scratch begun again by a completely different group of citizens, all members of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (of developers and dirt pimps), or ACRAP, I have put together what might be called a flow chart for decision-making, except there is nothing charty about what I have put together. So, the best I can hope for is that whatever it is, it flows. To help you form your own consultant-less decision about what to do with the new AACP, begin with question 1 and go with the flow:

1. Do you think that at the height of the real estate investment insanity in 2007, life in Aspen was a living nightmarish sort of hell due to the non-stop, round-the-clock construction of timeshares, penthouses atop art galleries atop boutiques over garden-level office spaces, and non-slip gutters at every traffic-clogged downtown intersection? “No,” go to 2. “Yes,” go to 3.

2. Congratulations on your recent move to Aspen. We hope you enjoy our abundance of world-class recreational, dining, shopping, and cultural experiences. This is a good time of year to get bargains on gear at most local ski shops, so be sure to take advantage of that. Remember to carry your new boards over your shoulder, tips forward. Street maps and bus schedules are available free of charge at Rubey Park.

3. Do you think the quality of life in Aspen is better now than during the Noisy Years? “Yes,” go to 4. “No,” go to 7.

4. Do you think the better quality of life here now is actually the silver lining in the dark economic cloud that might eventually lead to even greater demand for our town by tourists and second-home owners as soon as they realize this, too? “Yes,” go to 12. “No,” go to 8.

5. Do you hope the real estate market will rebound to be crazy nuts again in our lifetimes? “Yes,” go to 2. “No,” go to 6.

6. OK, great. So, we should amend the AACP to make it easy on developers, re-ignite high demand for real estate in forever-popular Aspen ahead of the national recovery, and pave the way (so to speak) for lots of loose cash around town for when the larger economy picks up steam later and things really get rolling beyond all control. Will you wish that local government had stepped in earlier to control the explosive rate of growth and construction impacts if that happens? “Yes,” go to 12. “No,” go to 2.

7. Do you think the new AACP should be revised to make it easier and less costly to develop or re-develop commercial real estate in Aspen? “Yes, because I enjoy the opportunities that come with boom/bust economies,” go to 9. “No, because I believe in the long-term prospects of the product here, and slow growth will be sustainable growth,” go to 12.

8. Look here, sour puss. You’re not being realistic. If you want to get anything out of this exercise you have to be honest. Go to 4 and try again.

9. Do you think a relaxation of local government and the new AACP on restrictive growth policies would override all other national and worldwide economic factors that are stifling real estate development almost everywhere and would result in a serious jolt to instantaneously jump-start the economy here? “Yes,” go to 10. “No,” go to 11.

10. Would you agree that the restrictive growth provisions of local government and the AACP might be necessary when the worldwide and national economies begin to turn around after Aspen has already rebounded and the pace of growth in Aspen really heats up? “Yes,” go to 12. “No,” go to 5.

11. OK. I get it. You happen to be a doomsday conspiracy theorist with a bad attitude and believe that people are going to stop coming to Aspen all together because of some cryptic art that was inexplicably placed in strategically selected floor tiles at DIA by Vail Associate Special Forces to subliminally convince people to keep clear of here. In order to thwart this nefarious plot we must build more timeshares, penthouses atop art galleries atop boutiques over garden-level office spaces, and non-slip curbs at every traffic-clogged intersection whether there is any current demand for it or not and regardless of any negative impacts.

12. OK. You get it. Save the money and can the consultants. This economic bust is temporary. We have to be forward-looking on this issue. Aspen is still amongst the best places in the world to live. If the national economy booms again we need the AACP in place. After we begin experiencing the negative impacts of rampant growth it will be too late to do anything about it. Restrictive growth policies keep the butter from going rancid on the bread, which will, ironically, make it more valuable to the developers with sensible plans to eat their slice and not the whole damn loaf. While the economy remains slow, the restrictive provisions of the AACP are irrelevant because nobody wants to do big-time development anyway. If the economy is moderately good, the current draft of the AACP will keep quick-buck developers at bay while forcing committed developers to sharpen their pencils to come up with long-term viable projects providing lasting value to our town.

13. OK, I’m just going to say straight up that there isn’t one single point on this flow-whatever that would lead you to this section. Knowing this fact, do you think you have arrived here by mistake? “Yes,” go to 2. “No,” go to 2.

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