Letter: Stone’s rose-colored glasses
Andy Stone seems to be reacting from too much time in a cloistered office, sitting behind an editor’s desk, viewing the world through his chosen set of rose-colored glasses while pontificating to the rest of the little people on his view of what is right and proper. Maybe his departure from that sanctified press environment has caused him to get punch drunk upon facing reality like the rest of us.
To begin with, he takes the time honored low-road tactic of simply berating developers as a class — all rich, all greedy, all bullies. Maybe like others see reporters and editors — all prejudiced, all pompous, all narcissistic.
Of course, to thinking, informed, sensible real people, neither characterization is at all true. Both honestly serve the larger community, albeit there is many a bad apple in both barrels.
As to developers: They satisfy a demand. If all they want is roads and cheap land and few restrictions, they would all go to South Dakota. But there is very little demand in South Dakota, and there is lots of demand in Aspen and in other areas where people wish to live and visit. In short: no demand, no developers. Think of Aspen in 1935.
And as for who does the punching, it is the local government and the local community that has all the punching power — zoning, permits, regulations, fees. A developer doesn’t get to pick and choose, the local government gets to dictate. And that is as it should be!
Developers can ask, whine, cry and cajole, but the local government gets to decide whatever it likes. Good governments decide on sound policy according to broadly adopted and accepted standards of the community like the Aspen Area Community Plan. Bad governments let all development run amuck, the public be damned, and end up with places that are not so nice. Fortunately Aspen has a long history of good government!
Editors, like Andy, are quite accustomed to dictating their views of what we need, but the real choice falls to our elected government. If studies show we are losing hotel rooms and project declining tourist traffic, then good government seeks to address that situation. Saying that we had a booming Fourth of July is like saying, “Gosh, the church was packed at Easter,” when in fact church enrollment is declining. Andy must have had too many hits to the head to understand professional studies and projections as opposed to selective anecdotal evidence.
And citing Airbnb as evidence that we don’t need hotels is equally the reasoning of a neophyte relying on anecdotal evidence. Hotels are desired by most tourists. The rented house on the West End doesn’t offer much in the way of services. People on vacation largely like services. Andy needs some schooling in the tourism business to clear his punchy head. (Oh, but he was an editor, and they know everything!)
And, finally, as Andy seemingly wants to justify his position as support for all that we value in Aspen — the Wheeler Opera House, the Elks Building, the Jerome, the Brand Building, just to name a few — he should note they were all brought into being by — dare we utter the word — developers!
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