Richards: Soul of Aspen at stake |

Richards: Soul of Aspen at stake

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I’m voting yes on city of Aspen ballot question 2A short-term rental tax and ask my friends and neighbors to do the same. Aspen has worked hard to maintain a real community in the face of extreme wealth inequality — desiring to not become a Disney World town with character actors playing locals, and sidewalks that roll up at night as the entire workforce retreats to points unknown. 

The pandemic, remote workers, and short-term rentals have radically changed the balance between workers and jobs throughout the valley between locals and housing, real community and resort expectations, as well as the human and physical infrastructure needed to sustain our economy. The time to address this imbalance is now.

Your yes vote on 2A will create greater equity between those generating demand for services through guest accommodations that don’t pay commercial property taxes and Aspen’s restaurants and retailers who do pay commercial property taxes in their triple-net leases. Local restaurants and retailers don’t have homeowner associations that can raise dues to attract needed workers.
Now, with a regionally-disrupted housing market, Aspen’s future community, local spirit, provision of services as well as retention of neighbors, friends, and coworkers is literally on the ballot. 

Sustainability and the soul of the town are at stake. Guests demand services; guests pay for services. The shortage of workers and loss of community members won’t stop on its own. Aspen needs to regulate and tax STRs to address the demands they create and support our workforce, year-round community, neighborhood cohesion, and community character. 

Your City Council put 2A forward in good faith, having studied the larger context, observing other communities, gathering input, and looking to secure a sustainable future for our people and economy. Please vote yes on city question 2A, and call me with questions or to help at 970-710-1038.

Rachel E. Richards