Aspen in survival mode
Dear Elizabeth Milias and The Aspen Times,
First, I read your opinion column when I can because I find you an intelligent observationist and all that (“Words of war against Aspen’s second-home owners,” Sept. 26).
The only thing is, you are wrong about the vacancy tax being a form of class warfare.
I took your points regarding second-home owners and the vacancy tax to heart, and you have some points to make. But now, take mine to heart as well.
Maybe Aspen City Councilman Skippy Mesirow was not the right person to talk to.
You’re right about L.A. and even, to some extent, Vancouver. We do not have blight, but we do have condos going for upwards of $2 million and you know about the mansions and special retreats and “compounds” going for $20 million (did I get the number of zeros right?) and up, right? Don’t you ever think that maybe that is just another form of “blight”?
This ain’t class warfare; this is survival now.
The loss of a very special mountain town is enough to make me cry. I don’t know about you, but I have done a lot to survive. Now, the vacancy tax is just a survival tactic for the whole town, if you can see it like that. You think $80,000 in RETT and $20,000 in property tax is plenty? No, honestly I don’t. I can’t seem to give up on this place.
Think this through with me. This tax can’t go into Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority. This tax is going to go into a fund to buy up these mansions and compounds, slowly, as they come on the market. Just do it. Whatever happens to them after that, I can’t figure out. I would hope they go to many home-seeking locals. Please see that this is an opportunity. If the rich say “up yours” and decide to leave, well, that is OK with me. But I bet they don’t.
When you are fighting for survival, that is all you are doing to the very best of your ability. Who are your real friends? The second-home owners are not your friends.
I know in my heart is way too late, but a survivor never gives up.