Wednesday letters: affordable housing, Boebert issues, local coke ovens, thwarting beetle kill and don’t tax locals

Affordable housing

The hottest topic in the Roaring Fork Valley, and perhaps the rest of the nation, isn’t climate change, inflation or immigration. It’s affordable housing. Everybody wants to live and work here, but wages are too low, and property prices and rents are too high.

There’s nothing new about this dilemma, and the cause is always the same — capitalism. Developers make more money building single-family “custom” homes than multifamily low-cost housing. Following the capitalists’ credo: They don’t give us what we need; they build what will fatten their wallets.

Then there’s NIMBYism. The Aspen snoots don’t want the lowlifes who wait their tables and douche out their second, third and forth homes to live next to them.

As usual, when the free market falls flat, the government and nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity need to circumvent capitalism and step in. Build the apartment buildings and the tiny homes and put them right on Aspen’s doorstep.

Fred Malo Jr., Carbondale

Boebert’s boondoggles

Lauren Boebert’s crazy antics of the past two weeks — capped by her irrational opposition to her colleague’s efforts on the Debt Ceiling Bill and, ultimately, her refusal to cast her “no vote” and hide behind her whiny little-girl persona — is why her constituents in District 3 need to elect someone who will responsibly represent them.

I am in total disagreement with Boebert’s views and anyone in Congress who acts like that. But District 3 deserves to be represented, and right now, they are not. Their influence on Colorado politics went out the door in 2020.

Think she cares about what really matters to our everyday lives? Think again. That’s about as clean a letter I can write on the topic.

Gary Rauchenecker, Golden

In response to coke ovens

I’m responding to Ken Fry’s June 1 letter to the Post independent, “Coke ovens are filthy.” He said the historical coke ovens that were in Glenwood, Redstone and other places were poison-spewing and filthy. He’s sure large numbers of people suffered from these awful things by burning large quantities of fossil fuels. He asks if there were other worthwhile endeavors. I assume he means other means to derive heat energy for heating and cooking or other methods to celebrate history.

Coal was called Black Earth in Europe in 1200 AD; Germany in 1759 used the exact same term that Ken used in his letter, “fossil fuels.” Coke and coal are similar but different. Coal burns with smoke; coke burns with no smoke. Coke was essential in Germany in 1844 to make iron ore. The Coke Oven History Association notes some of our nation’s first ovens were in Tennessee in 1899. Coke ovens, however, were scattered in our Roaring Fork Valley, beginning in 1884 in Basalt, 1888 in Cardiff and 1899 in Redstone.

Our historical use of coke has been good. Too many people place history far away on the “back burner” of fossil fuels.

Floyd Joseph Diemoz, Glenwood Springs

Glass half empty

Using Ken Fry’s logic, the coke ovens in Glenwood, Redstone and Basalt should be bulldozed. Applying today’s woke values, we should forget our past and condemn our ancestors. They were so evil.

Makes one wonder how his glass half empty will carry us backward into dystopia. Oh, that’s right — without the industrial strength of America, we would be speaking German. Ironically, the call to “make America great again” is a call back to the days of FDR.

Fred Stewart, Grand Junction

Over incentives to control beetle-kill lumber

The smokey haze from wildfires in Canada that has been lingering over Western Slope skies for the past two weeks is a reminder that our own beetle-kill-fueled fire season is upon us. Beetle-kill lumber needs to be controlled by offering incentives to harvest the dead timber.

Over 22% of standing trees in Colorado forests are dead.

Since the mid-1990s, the Mountain Pine Beetle has affected roughly 80%, or about 3.4 million acres of ponderosa-lodgepole pine in the state, while the spruce beetle has caused tree mortality in approximately 40% of Colorado’s high-elevation Engelmann Spruce forests. In total, beetle kill has ravaged some 5.1 million acres of forest in Colorado.

The number of gray-brown, standing-dead trees has increased 30% since 2010.

Wood products created by logging store carbon.

While beetle kill has obviously resulted in a significant amount of dead trees, there are some options for use of the trees after they are killed. Beetle-kill harvesters and woodworkers are using beetle-kill lumber for siding, furniture, framing lumber, cabinetry, paneling and finish molding.

The U.S. Forest Service charges beetle-kill harvesters $20 to remove two cords of wood here in Colorado. Rotting trees increase greenhouse gasses in forest ecosystems by 25%.

With more than 834 million dead trees moldering away in our Colorado forests, we need to compensate people to harvest that decaying fuel, and we need to incentivize producers to sell beetle-kill products exempt from federal taxation.

The next congressman from our Congressional District 3 needs to work through the Agriculture Committee to introduce legislation to pay people modest amounts to harvest beetle-kill lumber from our forests. The legislation also needs to eliminate federal income taxes on wood products sold that are made with at least 51% beetle-kill wood.

Russ Andrews, Carbondale

Real estate assessment solution

Isn’t it great that the all-mighty government gets to decide how much money you need to pay them based on market value of your home?

What about personal value? People who have lived in our community for decades in the same home are now getting a zinger to pay up — or move out — if they can’t afford their tax assessment. That is what happened in Aspen — locals had to move out due to property taxes. Sweet “Home Sweet Home” (not). Nice. Love the government.

There needs to be a Colorado law that makes the tax hike/assessment on your home (maybe “your” needs to be five-plus years or more as your personal residence) no greater than the cost of living and NOT the actual market value of your home. Just because “our location has been discovered by millions” in recent years should not mean we have to pay for something that we personally have known for decades. 

As far as the second-homers go … tax the crap out of them. But leave the locals alone, and allow them to afford their home within reason. The assessments we locals face are completely unfair — yet the government is licking their chops on their newly-spiked income increase. It is time to speak up!

Dave Heyliger, Glenwood Springs

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