Vail Daily column: Government has no business in housing business
September 5, 2016
When my wife and I first moved to Vail in 1984, we never considered living anywhere besides Vail proper.
There was no arrogance or elitism involved, as she worked on the mountain from Pod 3 (Lionshead Village) and I worked at the front desk of the old Westin (now the Cascade, or whatever name it's going to have this time).
Vail is where we worked, so Vail is where we lived.
Sure, we were not married to "each other" at the time, but that's beside the point (and also a pretty cool coincidence).
But the point is, we lived where we worked, or at least close by, and so did the vast majority of co-workers.
For that matter, phone calls west of Dowd Junction were long distance, going to dinner at Ruby's in Eagle-Vail was out of town and the Gashouse in Edwards was way out of town.
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No big deal, but like all situations in life, things change.
Unlike Trump tweets and Clinton emails, folks began to realize buildable land in Vail proper was finite, and housing prices began a meteoric rise. The higher they rose, the more workers lowered the elevation of their living quarters, and the downvalley exodus began.
It was a natural progression, sort of like how Black Lakes form the Gore Creek, which empties down valley into the Eagle River (for all those trickle-down economics theorists).
And here we are today, with the town of Vail and its ambitious plan to add 1,000 units of deed-restricted housing to the town's inventory throughout the next decade in a project dubbed "Vail Housing 2027."
I'm not sure if that's a year or the number of housing units in Vail the government wishes to control.
Either way, in case you couldn't guess, I think government, at any level, has no business being in the housing business. For that matter they have no business being in the art, marketing or bedroom business either, but those are issues for another day.
The town of Vail wishes to buy deed restrictions on existing homes and rental units using our tax dollars, as an example, to pay Dr. John Q. Public's down payment on a home he wishes to buy in exchange for the deed restriction.
Not only does the good doctor save tens of thousands in his smock, thanks to the generosity of Vail taxpayers, the government gets to play a large role in who can buy what, where, until the end of time.
Regardless of where I think the doctor can go stick his smock, where he and the doctor family lay their heads at night should be up to them, and them alone, based upon their personal finances, among other things, as opposed to the financial whims of a local taxing authority.
Columnist Glenn Beaton at the Aspen Times, http://www.aspentimes.com, provides a wealth of insight into boondoggle government housing attempts in Aspen, concluding that limiting growth, a lack of property maintenance and downright fraud is rampant in such projects.
Sure, growth problems, poor maintenance and fraud are prevalent throughout free market capitalism too, but at least it's not funded with tax dollars.
So simply because a situation worked well in the past doesn't mean the government should be involved in attempting to make it work in the future, nor is it the government's responsibility.
Oh, and if you're wondering why I chose a medical professional as an example, please tell me you didn't really believe these types of programs are created for lift-ops and housekeepers, right?
Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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