Letter: Seven questions about proposed chain regs in Aspen
December 16, 2016
Some serious people have advanced the Chain Store Control Act (CSCA). I'd like to understand it. The first step is to figure out what supporters of CSCA seek to achieve. Then I'd like to understand how CSCA would achieve it, what alternatives are possible, and other community impacts of CSCA.
In that spirit, creators and supporters of CSCA are respectfully requested to answer the following questions in writing:
1. Drafts of CSCA enumerate many goals, some contradicting others. Too many goals lead to unfocused policy. What is the most important specific thing that's sought to be achieved through CSCA? Engineer Aspen's character? Reduce Commercial Core rents? Provide essential goods and services to locals? Punish landlords? Favor certain types of businesses? Other?
2. CSCA proposes to control only "formula retail and restaurant" establishments. Yet there's a proliferation of art galleries, fur vendors and jewelry stores in ground-floor spaces. They don't provide locals' essential goods and services. Many restaurants are too pricey for locals. That has nothing to do with whether they are parts of restaurant groups or locally owned. Why is "formula" retail and restaurant any more inconsistent with CSCA's main goal than these other categories of retail and restaurants?
3. Why is it necessary to provide all locals' basic goods and services in Aspen when shopping is readily available in Basalt, Willits, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Costco, and on the internet, usually at prices lower than Aspen merchants ever will offer?
4. What's the objective evidence that, after excluding formula retail and restaurants, establishments serving locals will be able to afford rents and other operating costs and replace them? Do you have financial analysis to support that prediction?
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5. Proponents claim formula retailers are satisfied to maintain an Aspen presence without generating significant sales and sales taxes. Does a comparison of sales volumes and sales taxes per square foot generated by existing formula and non-formula retail confirm or refute that claim? Please provide the data.
6. Is CSCA the only acceptable approach to achieving your main goal? If you won't consider alternatives explain why? Discuss.
7. Some high end regional retailers don't meet the "formula" definition but wouldn't be locally serving. Thus, they would qualify to occupy space vacated by formula retailers. Will your main goal have been achieved if such regional retailers fill the void left by formula retail? If not, will you return to Council or the voters seeking further restrictions on who can rent space in Aspen?
After answering these questions, I have some more.