Letter: Digging a deeper hole
October 17, 2015
Developers are pouring money into advertising telling us we need more hotel rooms. Really? Why? Don't we have enough people here already? Don't we have enough tourists? Don't we have enough traffic?
Anyone driving around town last summer, narrowly avoiding throngs of people stepping out into traffic, knows Aspen is already beyond capacity. Anyone who still can't find a parking space at City Market or who still has to budget an extra 20 minutes between the airport and the roundabout to get to work on time knows that this town has reached a tipping point. Anyone who has to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic backed up to the Jerome knows that Aspen is full. Those of us who live and work here year round know there are serious problems that need addressing before we add new hotels, workers, cars and commuters to the infrastructure.
Until the city creates substantial levels of new employee housing to accommodate the people who already work in Aspen but are forced to commute hours each day in heavy traffic, we can't handle more unchecked growth. Until the city creates a comprehensive plan to deal with the cars and trucks already clogging our roads and maxing out our parking, we can't accommodate more unchecked development.
Current hotel-occupancy rates are in line with historical averages — meaning there are still plenty of beds for those that want to be here whether or not someone can get a room on any particular high-season date. The problem isn't about bed count — it's about whether we want to keep maxing out our infrastructure at the expense of our air, our environment and our quality of life.
Aspen is full. We need to accept that and do a better job addressing the challenges we have before we keep adding to them with unchecked development. When you find yourself in a hole, first, stop digging.
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