Right call to hit brakes before Aspen crashes | AspenTimes.com

Right call to hit brakes before Aspen crashes

As someone who grew up in Aspen, it pains me to see Aspen reeling as more places that used to be people’s homes are redeveloped as second homes or converted into what are essentially hotel suites. Aspen City Council deserves praise and support for its decision to apply the brakes on residential development and short-term rentals of residential properties via VRBO and AirBnB.

Nobody should have to live next door to commercial short-term rentals, even in Aspen. Why should residents have to put up with a mini-hotel next door, with all the traffic from maids and chefs and whatever other staff are needed to service the guests who are staying there for the week or weekend? And if replacement or significant remodels of existing housing is out of control, then it’s right for Aspen’s elected representatives to put it on hold and make sure the rapid changes aren’t destroying the community.

In 2000, when the Pitkin County commissioners adopted a moratorium on development while the downsized the allowable house size from 15,000 square feet to 5,750 square feet, real estate agents and developers howled about the free market, property-owner rights and “community conversation,“ just like they are today.

I hope Aspen voters do not sign developer Bob Bowden’s petition against the City Council action, which will turn an important policy conversation into an electoral circus. People should let City Council know how the changes are affecting them with letters or testimony.

My hometown is losing its soul to the super-wealthy and all the hangers on looking to make a buck from them. I thank City Council for having the courage to act.

Allyn Harvey