Aspen lets developers have it both ways

Aspen is an affluent city. You would think those who make the rules and run Aspen would be used to seeing money and immune to its influence. You would think they would listen to Aspen’s residents who they supposedly represent.

But that is not the case.

Take a housing project where developers are supposed to incorporate affordable housing. Affordable housing means lower rents. Developers do not want that, so they pay the city to keep out lower income individuals (i.e. workers — Aspen’s backbone) in their high-priced developments.

They then pay the city money, avoiding providing a quality standard of living, to put workers elsewhere. It’s called affordable housing — nice word for substandard housing. Then raise density — nice word for overcrowding. Now developers squeeze as many units as possible onto tiny lots. Then squeeze three-bedroom units into two-bedroom footprints. Still not enough. So they build three stories high. Elevators are expensive, so they forgo them — total disregard for parents of small children and handicapped individuals. Final squeeze — take away parking by throwing more money at Aspen.

When people complain workers have no adequate housing or care for those who will live in the cheapest product built, they are called NIMBYs (not in my backyard).

So what does one call the developers whose mansions with backyards are nowhere near the low-dollar structures they create on postage stamp-sized lots? Or just rake in millions then leave Aspen? Definitely not NIMBYs. What’s the word you think of?

Ben Bertran


Letter to the Editor