The high cost of paradise
Vail CO, Colorado
Government has tip-toed into the affordable housing quandary, which the free market has proved spectacularly incapable of solving.
Land is too expensive. Too many people of means can afford the most profitable properties to build. A largely service-oriented economy cannot pay the wages for local workers to buy homes where they work.
Eagle County, with 85 percent taken up in national forest and Bureau of Land Management land, is landlocked and very, very popular right now.
The result is property values soaring to many times local wages, making what was up to recently merely difficult much more so.
But the appearance of more government attention on the challenge will solve little. Housing for we workers won’t be solved by regulation and subsidy alone.
Developers, even big developers, cannot carry the whole burden, however saddled with popular mandates that lead nowhere they may be.
Employers have a huge role, which they need to take more seriously or pay the consequences, perhaps more than anyone.
The issue is not so much that homes cost so much to buy or rent.
The consequence of failure will really be the utter lack of workers to keep the resort and second-home paradise going.
The labor shortage already is beginning to pinch. It will get worse.
And finally, the community ” we voters ” will need to decide just what kind of place this will be for us, and our children.
Housing will never be cheap, unless we truly leave this to the winds and they blow the working class away.
But, treated like the infrastructure it truly is, this one can be brought at least closer to balance with the jobs that need doing to keep the Vail Valley the relative paradise it is today.
” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board