Letters to the Editor
Vail, CO Colorado
Wiling to compromise
There was a column by Charles Krauthammer in today’s Washington Post regarding energy independence and global warming ” I personally thought that he was “right on.” His recommendations included increasing the tax on gasoline (as the only way to reduce consumption and also to inspire the use of energy efficient vehicles), drilling in the Arctic Refuge of Alaska to increase our domestic supply of oil, and emphasizing nuclear power to reduce the pollution caused by coal-fired power plants. The “medicine” would be tough to take, but it was a program that would achieve the goals that most of us understand very well.
I know that there are many of us who would hope that further developing the renewable sources of energy would solve the problem. I, for one, have been opposed to drilling in the environmentally sensitive areas of Alaska. And there are many of us who worry about nuclear energy, and the waste products that are the inevitable byproduct. And yet, I personally would surrender my distaste of drilling in the Arctic, and compromise my belief that the solutions regarding nuclear waste are not perfect. I could easily do that if I believed that those two actions were integral parts of a comprehensive program ” a program that would really resolve the much larger problems of energy independence and global warming.
I can only hope that our president and our Congress put politics aside and realistically address these two issues.
David Le Vine
Don’t hurt economy
The Vail Town Council is attempting to push through an incusionary zoning ordinance that will greatly affect our local economy. And not just in Vail, but all over the county. The ordinance would require developers to provide “affordable housing” equal to 30 percent of the square footage of their project, or pay $315 per square foot to the town in lieu of providing the housing.
I understand the dilemma that the town council has. Housing is not very affordable in Vail, and they feel they need to solve that problem. But this ordinance would only make the problem worse.
One study by economists from San Jose State University concluded that construction drops an average of 31 percent in towns where inclusionary zoning laws such as this are implemented. And since the average ordinance requires half of the affordable housing Vail is asking for, i.e. 10-20 percent, this Vail ordinance could be expected to impact construction even more!
The construction industry probably contributes the most to our local economy. Yes, it all revolves around skiing, but without the income generated by development, real estate, and all of the local businesses supported by these industries, Eagle County would change immensely. The same “locals” that the council is trying to help would move on to greener pastures.
Think of the effects on the lumberyards, suppliers, architecture firms, restaurants, bars, gas stations, and every other business, if construction slows so drastically!
I really think the council needs to evaluate where the need for housing is, what kind of housing is needed, and if it is really the government’s job to provide this housing. Most middle-class, local professionals have no interest in “deed-restricted” housing because it is not a good investment. The town council is not going to create nice four-bedroom homes that will be purchased by local doctors, attorneys, and business owners, regardless of what they believe.
They can provide housing for more transient, seasonal workers who are very important to the resort economy.
Perhaps this is where they should focus.
It’s dangerous when the government meddles with property rights. Lawsuits across the country are challenging the constitutionality of inclusionary zoning. This ordinance would basically change single-family lots to duplex, duplex to multi-family, and it would change the definition of every multi-family parcel.
This affects property rights and property values.
I believe the town of Vail needs to stop looking at existing property and look for new property to solve this “problem.”
When a developer of a high-density, multi-family parcel requests more density, then require the additional housing in exchange for higher density.
Perhaps the town should be looking at its own property on the Frontage Road. Give incentives to those who own the commercial properties in West Vail, promoting the development of a Riverwalk-type shopping area with housing upstairs.
Ultimately, the council needs to stop trying to be heroic and look at the reality of the situation. If a surfer moves to Malibu, he doesn’t get to live on the beach. Is this tragic?
No, it’s America, where we don’t forcefully take from the haves to give to the have-nots.
Plenty of locals have sucked it up, living in a two-bedroom condo with roommates while their friends in Nebraska have a five-bedroom home.
In exchange for this, they get to live in a great ski resort, and typically gain home equity faster than anywhere in the world.
Perhaps the town can get involved in providing housing for the more temporary residents, but when it comes to locals, if they really have to get in the middle of it, provide down-payment assistance programs or sales-tax incentives to year-round residents, but leave the open market economy alone.
Don’t punish the builders, developers, and creative business people. Robin Hood may have been a nice guy, but he was still a crook!
Thank you for your time.