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Who needs affordable housing?

Matt Zalaznick

Another batch of affordable apartments bites the dust in Eagle-Vail and I say, who needs cheap housing? This is a world-class resort, not a college town. The sooner we all come to grips with this, the sooner we can stop fretting about deed restrictions, and the sooner we can stop forcing hard-working developers to hack into their bottom lines building those pesky “employee units.” Those apartments are just going to be infested by rent-dodging folks from lower tax brackets who are likely to trash the living room, set wildfires on the carpet, punch holes in the closet doors, and require eviction at the end of ski season anyway. Think of the architects who visit the valley having to look at the boxy, pseudo-woodsy facades of these affordable complexes. It’s clear the owners aren’t going to get top dollar per square foot. Why, you might forget this is a capitalist nation in its real estate prime, rather than Iron Curtain-era Bucharest. There’s simply too much money to be made to put affordable apartments along the Eagle River. You might as well have ski-in, ski-out deed-restricted studios in Bachelor Gulch. And don’t forget those Realtors getting cheated out of monster commissions when they’re sadly forced to peddle a no-frills $175,000 townhouse to families who are going to be hard-pressed to put in wood floors, families who won’t be able to inflate the property value so the commission might not be so puny the next time round. Unfortunately, we’re creating a dangerous cycle of flimsy commissions that won’t even make one month’s payment on a giant yellow Hummer H2 that a cowboy-hatted Realtor can tattoo his face to the side of. Hey, there’s a lot of room around the airport for dumpy, low-cost flats. Think of the marketing slogans: “Come home to the Villas at Runway Gulch” or “Realize the American dream at Roaring Engine Valley.” Better yet: “You’re not home until you’re at Landfill Landing.” A good example of a place where the county feels comfortable admitting its lack of serious concern for the lower classes is Highway 6 in Eagle-Vail and Avon, on either side of the entrance to Beaver Creek. A lot of affordable-housing residents walk home from work along those stretches of the highway. In a community less assured about its glitzy destiny, that part of the road would be well-ighted so drivers could see the workings stiffs humping through the dark. There might even be some kind of sidewalk or a walking path other than the narrow shoulder of the highway. But those streetlight-less stretches leading in and out of the blazing-bright roundabout that creates a shining path to mansion central are pitch-black – especially on icy winter evenings when all the hard-hats are getting off the bus to slip-and-slide home to their small apartments. There’s not even any kind of barrier between the cars going an average of 55 to 60 mph. But gosh, wouldn’t that be a waste of money paving a path or building a barrier for someone who’s only going to be in the valley six or seven months? You’ve got to think of the locals – I mean the real locals – who built their mansions in the ’80s. They want taxes spent on them. The resort philosophy seems to be that Joe and Jenny Sixpack can work in the hotels and run the ski lifts and rent the smelly ski boots, but we sure don’t want to see them. At least not well enough not to run them over. Better watch out for that big yellow Hummer!City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14620, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com


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