Aspen’s housing board forces two residents to sell their units for non-compliance
The Aspen Times
The local housing board voted this month to force the sale of two deed-restricted workforce units because their owners were out of compliance with the rules of the program.
The first case is Bert Przybylski, who has owned a unit on Teal Court in the Centennial complex since 1997.
He recently had a double-lung transplant, after suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which has kept him from living in Aspen for a few years.
The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority (APCHA) was first alerted via a complaint in August 2017 that Przybylski hadn’t been living in his unit for quite some time.
By December of that year, he was approved for a leave of absence through November of 2018.
When he failed to return home, APCHA sent him a notice of violation.
In a Jan. 7 letter, Przybylski requested additional time to return home to recover in Phoenix where he had the surgery.
“I ask for a continuation of my leave as I have every intention of returning to Aspen which has been my home for 40 years,” he wrote to the board as part of his appeal. “I wish I could give you a firm timeline for my return, but given the complications I cannot at this time. My plan is to return to Colorado at lower elevations to see how my body will adjust to elevations gradually. …
“I would hope that you could allow me to return to my community that means so much to me. I have benefited from the housing program perhaps more than anyone else since I got back to the Hunter Longhouse in 1980.”
The board, agreeing with APCHA’s position that units available in the workforce housing inventory are for people who work in Pitkin County full time and live in their homes a minimum of nine months a year, denied Przybylski’s appeal.
He will be given until May 1 to list his home because he is recovering in Arizona, the board agreed. Under the deed restriction guidelines for Przybylski’s unit, the maximum value he can sell it for is $192,814.
The second appeal that the majority of the APCHA board members denied was from Kurt Keller, who was issued a notice of violation in October for failing to meet residency and work requirements.
He has not lived in his deed-restricted unit in the Manor House, located on Aspen Mountain Road, for years.
In 2016, his studio was listed on Craigslist as a rental for $1,300 a month with a year lease.
As APCHA was investigating, Keller’s sister informed the agency that he is living with her in California because he is “not very well,” according to a memo from APCHA compliance Bethany Spitz to the board.
Additionally, APCHA spoke with a representative of the family, who indicated that they do not believe the property has a deed restriction on it.
But APCHA attorney Tom Smith presented the board with a notice of the agency’s restrictions that were filed with the county Clerk and Recorder’s Office in 1994, which was four years before Keller purchased the unit.
Eighteen years ago, Smith had reached out to Keller asking for proof of compliance but Keller never responded.
Keller purchased the property in 1998 for $140,000, roughly $60,000 more than what the price should have been, according to APCHA’s calculations.
The notice of filing of the deed restriction put into the public record shows that the developer of the condominium building received approvals based on the condition that unit No. 6, Keller’s unit, be deed restricted.
Documentation from the subdivision for the Manor House states the studio would be used for an individual as an employee-housing unit for two or three years and then be sold to APCHA for $40,000, “plus the increase based on the national housing cost from June 1, 1978, to the date of sale,” according to Spitz’s memo.
APCHA board member Chris Council said he dissented on the decision for Keller to sell the unit because he disagreed with the required listing price of $153,346.
Council said Keller initially overpaid by $60,000 as a result of whatever missteps occurred years ago.
“In fairness to him, yes, it should be considered a deed restriction but I feel he was taken advantage of,” Council said earlier this month.