Aspen moratorium won’t address bigger issues

The moratorium on residential development in Aspen marks a new phase in the town’s survival effort. The proposed fees threaten all but the super rich. Meantime, regulations make the town an unattractive employment location for non-Aspen residents. In a nation confronting a declining labor force ordinary Aspenites will soon find most services either unavailable or unaffordable.

Start with parking. City officials encourage commuters to take RFTA. But busing increases the individual’s cost of working in Aspen. Local employers must compensate for the added cost, especially as individuals put a higher value their time.

Aspen’s hospital may become the pinch point. Low reimbursement rates my prevent Aspen Valley Hospital from adequately compensating employees. A turnover rate of 46 percent for first-year employees (“Aspen hospital board budgets for raises and $3M for employee housing,” Dec. 14 Aspen Times) is three to five times the national average. This is warming regarding provision of all types of health services — as well as other services.

The other issue is the Entrance to Aspen. The town has essentially become a medieval city with a narrow gate. The commuting delays caused by inaction will just increased the cost for those living in town because commuters will demand compensation.

The impact is visible. Filet mignon at an Aspen restaurant costs twice the price of a better version in a Denver restaurant. Differences in other costs are equally large.

The moratorium will do nothing without addressing parking and the entrance to Aspen. In 10 years, the situation will be much worse. Aspen will become Disneyland in the Rockies with few locals.

Philip Verleger

Denver (previously lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for 20 years)