`Elitist’ Aspen offers example to follow on low-cost housing
A thank you to all involved in the Red Feather Ridge proposal who understand that “bigger is not always better.” Your input highlighted that many needs and opportunities exist within and adjacent to our city limits, and that growth (and its impacts) are not always good.
As pointed out by our mayor, Glenwood Springs is geographically constrained. This should be viewed as a benefit rather than a detriment. It adds to our quality of life and to the attractiveness and desirability of the area. It helps maintain our small-town character and keeps current and future infrastructure costs and needs reasonable. Everything from utilities to emergency services to public transportation to maintenance of roadways and parklands benefits from a compact urban form. Especially in these times of reduced sales tax revenues, it is important to focus on what we have and what will come with the Glenwood Meadows project … hopefully a quality development that will serve many needs while mitigating many of its impacts.
In reply to the mayor’s and Councilman Merritt’s thoughts that we are not interested in “providing housing for our working-class people,” we need to come to the realization that because of these geographic constraints, not everyone can achieve the Great American Dream of a single-family home on a 6,000-square-foot lot. Not all can afford to have this luxury, nor should we exert too much effort or allow concessions to provide dream homes to a few when the needs are for so many.
Savvy developers are constructing centrally located condos and townhomes while others continue to pursue dreams of trophy homes on golf courses. To avoid becoming “a complete elitist town like Aspen,” we should follow that city’s example and be more aggressive in providing true affordable housing.
Aspen has set high goals of housing the majority of their workforce, in both for-purchase and rental units. We should seek more deed-restricted housing in all commercial, residential, and mixed-use projects, and an even greater amount in those that request annexation and/or extension of our Urban Growth Boundary.
True affordability (for both the homeowner and the city) can come from clustered, attached, higher-density housing versus a spread out single-family project on individual lots. Mandating the use of low-maintenance and energy-efficient building materials and techniques will also result in more affordability over the longer term (this was pitched by the developers of Cardiff Glen, but there was no requirement by the city or follow-through by the developer).
Upvalley governments did the work that enabled owners of mobile homes to purchase the land under their homes and build equity rather than continue to pay space rent. They have also worked on replacement housing requirements for those developers that remove and redevelop existing affordable housing units. We need the courage to provide and require the same.
As far as the expressed desire to expand the “kingdom” of Glenwood, there are some large parcels of undeveloped land in West Glenwood as well as urban-density residential areas including West Glenwood, Three Mile Creek and No Name that Garfield County may prefer be incorporated into our city limits.
But as with Red Feather Ridge, do we want to accept the immediate and ongoing responsibility (fiscal and otherwise) of these areas? We think not, unless there can be demonstrated true benefits and minimal costs to the current and future citizens of the city of Glenwood Springs. The city is also a major landowner in South Canyon, which can offer many creative opportunities.
Again, thanks to all who took the time to be involved and expressed their thoughts or support. Thank you also to our City Council for understanding that our community is made up of more than just those citizens residing within the city limits and for allowing those residents living up Four Mile Road to share their thoughts and concerns. We hope that you will continue to help make this a great community that goes beyond those “lines drawn in the sand” (city limits and Urban Growth Boundary).
Greg and Sean Jeung
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