housing goes off charts
ASPEN – A house built through the Pitkin County Housing
Authority is on the market for $1.05 million.
“We hated putting this in the paper,” Cindy Christians,
operations manager for the housing office, told The Aspen Times
So how does it work? Aspen and Pitkin County wanted to ensure
residency of the local professionals, who earn too much to qualify
for the housing authority’s lower-priced category housing
but don’t make enough to buy a free-market home. So, several
projects have included resident-occupied housing. By the rules,
sellers on this particular house – a four-bedroom, 3.5-bath,
one-car-garage home – were able to recoup 4 percent annual
appreciation. Sellers of other homes in the program can get
up to 3 percent.
Several other homes among Aspen’s 1,200 units of affordable
housing also are valued at around $1 million. By comparison,
the median price of a single-family home on the free market
in Aspen last year was $2.6 million.
In the fallout of the news about this $1 million-plus, the
Aspen City Council is considering capping the price of houses
in another resident/affordable housing project coming on line,
the Burlingame Ranch, reports the Aspen Daily News (May 9).
The council seems firmly convinced that not just dishwashers
need help in Aspen, but Mayor Helen Klanderud is steering the
council to prioritize who the beneficiaries are. “What
will we have next year, a $2 million ‘affordable’
house?” she asked.
Vail experiments with dog parks
VAIL, Colo. – At the far ends of Vail, about 10 miles
apart, the Town Council is experimenting with making two community
parks dog friendly and leash free.
At the park in East Vail the experiment seems to be working.
One neighborhood resident attributes the success to the cohesive
nature of the neighborhood. Peer pressure seems to work. At
West Vail, however, the park has become filled with feces, and
unruly, loose-running dogs may be frightening some people.
The town has agreed to post most signs, reports the Vail Daily
(May 11), but one town councilman says residents will have to
figure out answers themselves, or the experiment will likely
be a quick failure.
Global warming to claim ski areas
LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – You know those small ski resorts
in the south end of the Sierra Nevada, within driving distance
of L.A.? Forget about skiing there a century from now. There
won’t be enough snow because of global warming, reports
the Tahoe World (May 9).
Since 1950, but especially after the mid-1970s, the West has
experienced marked climatic changes, warming by 1 to 3 degrees
Celsius. Furthermore, spring gets sprung earlier. A study by
the University of Washington found that from 1950 to 2000, the
statesnow pack as of April 1, which is usually the peak, has
diminished by 38 percent.
During the 21st century, global warming will continue, perhaps
a result of natural variability, but increasingly scientists
agree that people-caused greenhouse gases are causing a large
part of the warming. And, even if emission of greenhouse gases
were cut today, the effect is still there for many years into
the future. One scientist, Dr. Dan Cayan, director of the Climate
Research Institute at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, predicts
that California will warm by 3 degrees Celsius.
This spring warming also has implications for cities. In the
West, most of the precipitation comes from mountain snowpacks.
These snowpacks typically melted more leisurely into spring
and early summer. But with spring coming earlier, the runoff
is more rapid. In effect, the mountains served as a reservoir,
but that reservoir is vanishing.
Man accused of shooting at workers
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A Steamboat Springs man is accused
of shooting two workers on a river-excavating project behind
The city had hired a company to place boulders in the riverbed
to improve fish habitat and create additional recreation areas
for tubers and kayakers, explains The Steamboat Pilot (May 8).
Police say the man fired two shots at the workers, injuring
neither. The accused admitted in court that alcohol had clouded
his judgment. Moreover, he can’t recall much of what happened.
Ted Nugent shocks radio listeners
WINTER PARK – There’s some confusion about the
lineup for Winter Park’s big music show this summer. Denver-based
rock’n’ roll station KBPI-FM, which has something
of a rock-shock approach, was co-sponsoring the event, and it
had figured to have rock-shocker Ted Nugent as the emcee.
Nugent says lots of things with the intent of shocking people.
Most prominently he has defended hunting of big-game animals
(he’s a bow-hunter). This time, in arguing that using
words takes away their power, he repeatedly used several racial
slurs. This has Denver in a bit of a tiff. No word yet on what
this does to Winter Park’s summer music festival.
Redistricting aids Republican cause
ASPEN – It is said that Boulder is a halfway house for
ex-Aspenites and ex-Vailites. Now, they’re at least in
the same congressional district.
Last year, when squabbling Democrats and Republicans couldn’t
come to terms with redistricting in Colorado, a federal judge
drew up a map that broke apart the traditionally solid Western
Slope. Using I-70 to help define community of interests, the
judge extended U.S. Rep. Mark Udall’s district from Boulder
up I-70 to include Summit County and also Vail-dominated Eagle
County and, off to the side a bit, Winter Park-dominated Grand
That left Democratic-tilting Aspen in the Republican-tilting
Third Congressional District, which is represented by U.S. Rep.
Scott McInnis. Although professing otherwise, McInnis seems
as scornful of Aspen as Aspen is of him. That is, of course,
But a former miner from Leadville, Ken Chlouber, wants to move
to Washington, D.C. in a powerful way – as a U.S. representative.
A flamboyant and successful politician, and also a Republican,
he is now aiming to replace McInnis when McInnis runs for governor.
According to at least some theories, that explains the mountainous
part of this redistricting shuffle.
Mountainfilm’s helm changes hands
TELLURIDE – Mike Shimkonis has at least temporarily taken
on the duties of executive director at the Telluride Mountainfilm
Festival, replacing Hal Clifford.
Clifford resigned in late April, about a month before the start
of the event’s 25th anniversary celebration on Memorial
Day weekend. He said he had recommended changes that he believed
were essential for the organization, and when the Board of Directors
refused them, he thought it best for the organization if he
left, according to a report in The Telluride Watch (May 2).
Shimkonis is on the Board of Directors for the film festival.
He lately has been involved in the real estate industry in Telluride,
but before that he worked in sales and marketing for the Telluride
Ski & Golf Co., directing special events, and in the early
1990s he worked in public relations for Vail Associates, which
is now known a Vail Resorts. Clifford, before joining the film
festival last fall, had been a free-lance writer and the author
of several books.
Canyoneers set sights on Bluejohn
ASPEN – Aron Ralston’s incredible experience in
hacking off his own arm is transforming Bluejohn Canyon from
a “hidden gem” to a source of great curiosity among
canyoneers, reports the Aspen Times (May 9).
Located on BLM property near Canyonlands National Park, the
canyon was already on the map among skilled climbers. But since
Ralston’s story has circled the globe, the National Park
Service has experienced a surge in inquiries about the canyon.
Once most callers learn that the trailhead for the canyon is
more than 25 miles from the nearest paved road, their curiosity
But Ralston’s story has piqued the interest of serious
canyoneers. And a team from the Aspen Times visited the site,
even picking up Ralston’s climbing harness. Had there
been a rainstorm when Ralston was trapped, he would have been
doomed, says the newspaper.
The Park Service retrieved Ralston’s hand and lower arm.
“Obviously, we didn’t want to leave it out there
for other people to run into,” said a Park Service spokesman
Paul Henderson. “It would probably have ended up on e-Bay.”