City is heavy with the hammer

When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. 

The stated reason for the moratorium was that the Aspen City Council was not liking what they were seeing during the pandemic, which was an acute event that sent a temporary shockwave through our local economy and the entire world.

The city’s response to that shockwave has been to hammer out permanent changes, even as we transition into a recession. Were there steps taken to explore creative solutions to concerns about traffic, construction parking in neighborhoods or waste from redevelopment projects? No. 

Instead the city wielded its only tool, the hammer, and went straight to the feel-good easy answer of pounding on the free-market by cutting the number of demolitions, which was quickly declared the root of the problem. 

When all you do is hammer, nails keep popping up. 

By arbitrarily limiting demolitions, the unintended consequences are that you end up with 39.9% remodels everywhere, which has the opposite effect to what’s intended. Going to extremes to meet that just-under-demolition threshold of 40% forces projects to prop up the shell of homes and work around the salvaged portions rather than start fresh. Inevitably, this means projects take longer, create more waste and noise pollution, and in the end result in a worse aesthetic for our built environment and negative impacts to the entire community.

Is the punishing message the city is trying to deliver by swinging its hammer really good for the community if it’s not truly effective? 

Peter Grenney