A little lie about blight
Vail CO, Colorado
Avon is blighted. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.
Of course it is. That’s why the Westin is going up, the roundabout sculptures have not come down, and property values are soaring throughout town.
Someone saw a crack in a parking lot! There’s some overgrowth in a corner along Metcalf Road! Some buildings show signs of, gasp, age (or cheap construction). Uhuh. And there are “many” vacant buildings in Avon. Well, that part’s pure baloney.
Why run down your own town, especially one as new and shiny as Avon? Well, for the best of reasons. There’s money in it.
Avon’s government can raise funds to help straighten out mistakes of the past and make downtown more friendly to pedestrians if enough blight can be found.
An official declaration means the town government can form an urban renewal authority, a convention invented for metropolitan ghettos to rebuild. Such districts provide the means to tap tax revenue for the “blighted” area as well as extra powers of condemnation as deemed necessary for the rebuilding.
Vail famously wound up in The New York Times half a dozen years ago with a feature about the owner of a million dollar condo fretting about such a blight declaration possibly leading to her building of million dollar condos being condemned.
A couple of years ago, Vail more quietly set up its urban renewal authority in Lionshead to help with the Billion Dollar Renewal.
Well, sure, this blight business essentially is a lie, albeit a convenient one. No one seriously believes a town where residents increasingly are priced out is in any danger of becoming a ghetto.
It’s just a tool for the bureaucracy, and perfectly legal if also completely misleading.
A loophole, the lawyers would call this ” a convenient twist of definition for a good cause: the rich getting richer.
” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board
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