Letter: Making more employees commute
October 25, 2015
Some advocates of Base2 have introduced the idea that declining the lodge as currently designed is an act of elitism because future budget tourists may have to stay in a lodge downvalley.
Is asking budget-minded visitors to travel to Aspen from downvalley less egalitarian than asking the same of the more than 30 employees Base2 would hire?
Housing and development are interdependent. For a long time, the ratios have been out of sync. Now they are completely untethered. There is essentially no employee housing available in Aspen at this point. If elitism is a factor in this debate, those advocating unchecked development without corresponding housing may be guilty of it.
The new Element in Willits will be an affordable hotel 18 miles from Aspen. As a condition of its approval, the developers are breaking ground on 50 new employee-housing units right next door. I believe that is more than 20 more units than the number of people they plan on employing. Sounds pretty fair to me. What a contrast to Base2.
And here's the really interesting thing: Element had an overwhelming response of highly qualified job applicants. My guess is that a good percentage of them are people who are working currently in Aspen and see Element as their first opportunity to ditch the nightmare commute and maybe actually work in a community in which they also have a chance of living.
Real elitism is a developer spending $50,000 spamming the community to promote an oversized project that does not provide adequate housing for workers. Real egalitarianism is balancing the needs of a small town against the crush of unchecked development.
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