Letter: Excess supply for unlimited demand

Excess supply for unlimited demand

Andy Stone certainly gets one thing right — we have no control over the law of supply and demand.

Or, viewed another way, we do have control if we want to unleash growth and thus create excess supply to satisfy unlimited demand.

But that is akin to destroying the village to save it!

By limiting growth — a desired public goal — we limit supply, and that causes land and home prices to rise. We have offset some of the undesired consequences by creating affordable-housing programs, and those have largely worked. But, if that’s the case, why the absence of Stone’s cited “swingsets in backyards”?

The answer is that choosing a place to live involves more than just a house price. Families also need to buy school supplies, get cars serviced, get shoes repaired — and none of those things can be readily done in Aspen. We have groceries and Gucci and not much in between. In addition to housing, we also should be investigating how we can expand services to local residents. And that is a whole different set of policy dynamics, indeed.

But Stone also addresses the lodging question and takes issue with us “falling behind Vail.” Well, we not only are falling behind Vail, we are falling behind most resort locales in the Mountain West. Our lodging stock is decreasing and aging, and we certainly lack anything even modestly “affordable.” And that speaks to our core industry — tourism. It is in that category that we are falling behind and losing ground to the competition and thus a lodging incentive ordinance to facilitate a refurbishment of our needed lodging stock. And we can control that refurbishment. We are not seeking to recreate Vail, heaven forbid. But that does not mean that we cannot and should not expand and upgrade our hotel offerings in order to sustain our tourism industry.

Things change, and we need to change with them. That is all that is being facilitated by City Council with this new ordinance. We will not be Vail, and don’t want to be Vail or anybody else. But improving our hospitality offerings helps keep us who are.

James DeFrancia