Wednesday letters: City Council out of touch, 480 Donegan, AQCC regs, Aspen dystopia
Council out of touch with city
I read with great interest the Post Independent article dated Nov. 22, “Development moratorium loses Glenwood Springs City Council support.” My suspicions that this council is rudderless when it comes to housing was confirmed by Mayor Godes, “The council’s lack of direction was the reason he could not support the moratorium” and Councilman Hershey’s “I don’t know what the rules are anymore, and I don’t know what council is doing.”
What is the city’s intent? I know the council and its citizens are concerned about housing, but is it housing in general or affordable housing? From my interpretations of recent survey results, the issue is affordable housing, not housing in general. If that is the case, how have this and previous councils tackled the issue? It appears their method to solve the issue is to allow almost unbridled apartment building with the hopes a paltry amount of those units will be deemed “affordable.” Or, they are hoping enough supply of apartments get built that demand drops and with it rent prices. That approach is dubious at best.
How can any organization tackle an issue if they do not have a clear vision and a roadmap to achieve that vision? This issue is not unique to Glenwood Springs. Why not look at other towns or regions that have successfully tackled this problem and emulate their plan?
In talking to my friends and neighbors, the consensus is nearly unanimous. This city council and administration is out of touch with its citizens and it is not for the lack of the citizen’s involvement but a lack of the council’s ability to listen.
Dave and Polly Malehorn
Many housing partnership possibilities
A GSPI editorial sought input on suggested uses for the Glenwood Partnership/R2 WGWS parcel. There are undoubtedly many, above and beyond what has been proposed and approved by the city of Glenwood Springs. City leadership and staff are willing to annex more land into the city and have zoned and approved 300 housing units to be built on fewer than 13 acres.
The lengthy and contentious process resulted in a citizen referendum effort seeking reversal of these decisions. Part of the process that was overlooked or dismissed by city staff and leadership were the legal requirements of parkland and school land dedications per Municipal Code. The Parks and Recreation Commission/director and Re-1 district staff or board were not consulted for input.
Land dedicated could be used for staff housing and to alleviate the shortage of usable public parkland in this area. Re-1 is considering accepting Two Rivers Community School into their umbrella, and a proper school playground and parking should be in play. Habitat for Humanity is in need of affordable land to build owner-occupied housing. They declined to appear before council to avoid being involved in a controversial issue.
Entities such as Re-1, CMC, the Beckleys, HFH, RFTA, the Catholic Archdiocese, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Pitkin and Garfield housing authorities and others have continued to work successfully toward providing attainable housing in our area. The council majority was swayed by the 480 Donegan project committing a small percentage to such housing, even adding 30 more units than the developer proposed … acquiescing to the few and dismissing the many.
The city is hiring a housing manager, perhaps too late when there are so many “proven partners” that could have been involved.
A major “aberration or flaw” of this development was the lack of any true neighborhood dialogue by the owner and developer. Their required “community meetings” consisted of two small group meetings with citizens, not an open invitation to the neighborhood or community.
A project of this magnitude outside the city limits, not supported by Garfield County commissioners, with close to a 10% increase in city residents on just one parcel should have had more and proper commission, agency and neighborhood input.
Assessing Martin’s take on AQCC regs
Garfield County Commissioner John Martin’s reaction to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission’s new oil and gas drilling regulations was somewhat positive considering the BOCC has fought industry restrictions with million-dollar lawsuits before. He said he hopes the rules will make Colorado residents safer.
The new measures call for increased and more intensive inspection of leaks in drilling operations within 1,000 feet of dwellings or schools. Low-producing wells are to be checked for methane leaks. Matt Sura, lawyer for the Western Colorado Alliance, says such wells haven’t been inspected since 2016. When found, all leaks are to be repaired immediately.
Martin has reservations, however. Guess what they concern — money. County revenues have plummeted 60% during the industry’s recent downturn, primarily due to a smaller piece of the severance tax pie, Martin said, and that’s resulted in a reduction of county services. The situation is projected to get worse, and property taxes will have to be increased to maintain the county’s current level of services, he said.
To be sure, a property tax increase would hurt marginalized citizens. They should be given an exemption, and the bulk of the surge should be absorbed by the owners of million-dollar homes and multimillion-dollar businesses. They could pay the increase out of the spare change they carry around in their pockets.
Showing sensitivity to his constituents’ finances, Martin predicted utility bills will go up because of all the regulations being imposed on the fossil fuel industries. Well, our Xcel and Holy Cross tabs are already growing, but it’s not because of controls.
It’s the law of supply and demand. Supply is low because of reduced production during the pandemic, and demand is high because the consumers are coming out of their pandemic funk — the ingredients of inflation.
All this is in the short term. In the long run our power bills will be smaller because Xcel and Holy Cross are switching to renewables, and they’re cheaper than fossil fuels.
Administrators of the ilk of our county commissioners don’t handle change well. The oil and gas industry has been Garfield County’s sugar daddy for a long time now, and Moe, Larry and Curly want it to stay that way. Not gonna happen, fellas. Better find another benefactor or raise property taxes on those who can afford it.
Fred Malo Jr.
Outsider’s view on Aspen dystopia
I moved to the valley in August 2019 after experiencing it through many years of snowboard vacations. As an outdoorsman, I literally thought I’d died and went to heaven. We quickly made friends up and down the valley, and life couldn’t have been better.
When the first cases of COVID-19 were found in Pitkin County, things certainly changed, but one would expect that if you were going through a deadly pandemic. I still felt grateful every day to be in this valley with our tremendous access to outdoor activities and low population density.
Fast forward to today. … Why do I consider Aspen a dystopia? I feel like Aspen is the perfect test kitchen for the World Economic Forum’s The Great Reset in so many ways. “You’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy” has been the reality for many residents for decades. Not by choice, but because it’s too expensive for 99% of the population to buy a home.
Think about it: Aspen is a perfect example of the elite’s dream society where you have “them” living by one standard, with 10,000-plus-square-foot homes, flying in on private jets, burning up insane amounts of jet fuel, and “us,” the serfs, living in a perpetual welfare state with no chance to ever get ahead. Hell, at this point, most people are so used to this system, so entitled to these benefits, they are literally experiencing Stockholm Syndrome and have zero desire to change anything.
This is how Aspen went from a freethinker’s paradise to a town mired in group think, completely homogeneous in its views, a serfdom entrenched in a mass psychosis by their masters. If this makes you upset, you might be a serf.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.