Vail Valley Voices: Vail evolving into a global leader
Ryan Summerlin December 28, 2012
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at www.vailhomeowners.com.
Vail reached a tipping point and has now become a premier year-round international destination resort community which is steadily maturing beyond being a small town.
This is a categorical shift that is firmly resting upon the legacy of strength set down during the founding decades.
The next 50 years will be a dynamic time for the community. The challenges to sustain and guide a qualitative tourism economy cannot be accomplished by the town of Vail or Vail Resorts alone.
Success will require new forms of inclusive collaboration and communications that embrace the spirit of internationalism in shaping the future for the entire community.
We look forward to being an important part of that collaboration.
Dr. Gail Ellis President,
Vail Homeowners Association
Vail in the next 50 years: One of the biggest challenges for Vail in the next 50 years is to encourage the participation in the affairs of the community by a much higher percentage of non-resident property owners.
Within the next 20 years, the composition of today’s local population will shift toward a higher percentage of non-resident owners.
If Vail is to attain and maintain global leadership as a mountain resort community, it will need to make its government and corporate processes inclusive for non-resident property owners both nationally and globally.
The town of Vail has taken its first steps in that direction by making Town Council meetings available through the posting of its upcoming agendas and associated meeting documents on-line, video live streaming and archiving of its public meetings on the Internet.
More of the town’s boards and commissions need to do likewise, particularly the Planning and Environmental Commission and Design Review Board as these are two entities that directly affect the property owners’ interests.
Whether climate warming or normal cyclical weather patterns, the effect of repetitive December droughts upon the community’s small-businesses could have a lasting impact.
The combination of drought and the prolonged affects of the great recession are causing some local business interests to be more inclined to turn to local government for financial subsidies, which occur in a variety of forms.
Some of these subsidies are adversarial, including preferential zoning decisions, pitting the commercial and residential beneficiaries of the past 50 years of economic success against each other.
Adversarial subsidies may bring short-term gains for some local businesses. But in the long term, such subsidies undermine the community’s sustainability.
Adversarial subsidies that cause residential properties to be devalued for the gain of some commercial interests are not productive.
They will have the effect of deterring investment in residential properties which is one of the primary sources of capital that has sustained the local economy since its inception.
It is the view of affected residential property owners that several development proposals are seeking financial gain to the benefit of commercial interests at their expense.
An example is a residential-commercial conflict which arose when the town of Vail allowed a cadaver surgery lab in a mixed commercial and residential building in Vail Village.
The atypical use and the manner in which the town applied its review processes offended the sensibilities of the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
This and similar actions heightened awareness that the balance of power in Town Hall appeared to have shifted toward commercial interests and farther away from protecting residential quality of life and values.
Vail Homeowners Association helped organize neighborhoods: Many property owners in neighborhoods affected by these development projects recognized that their only defense was to mount an organized offense.
The homeowners association took steps to assist property owners to organize, providing them resources with which to assess the proposals, identify concerns and communicate them to town authorities and the community at large.
This collaborative approach has already resulted in a positive outcome for property owners in many instances.
The association is still at work on behalf of others.