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Mountain News: Aspen ups affordable housing ante



ASPEN, Colo. – Aspen seems to be as serious as a heart attack about ensuring more local housing for workers.

Developers of commercial properties are required to provide housing for 60 per cent of their workers. But the city council is now thinking of stiffening the requirement to 100 per cent, and applying it to both commercial and residential development. The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority has been charged with investigating the ramifications.

The Aspen Times also reports that the council is looking at building up to 400 affordable housing units on its own during the next several years. Except at Burlingame Ranch, where 116 units are possible at a cost of $50 million, the other potential units are scattered about the city. Those sites present a host of challenges, and the total bill is likely to be several hundred million dollars, says the newspaper.

Getting all this done may require a new bond measure, to be presented to voters in November, 2008, as well as reauthorization of the real-estate transfer tax and a housing/daycare sales tax.

Evidence of the council’s commitment is also found in the decision to recruit somebody to push the projects to fruition. Because of the various skills required of such a position, the town expects to pay up to $100,000 a year.


School enrolments down

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Student enrolment is down for the eighth time in nine years in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Altogether, the district has lost 15 per cent of its enrolment since 1999.

The story told by the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee is a familiar one: higher costs of living are causing families with children to leave the area. This is despite a housing market where the median price has dropped $100,000 in the last year. The overall population continues to grow.

Much the same story was told in school districts in resort areas of the Rocky Mountains in recent years. However, during the last two years enrolments have begun to grow again. The Aspen Times, echoing reports from Jackson Hole to Crested Butte, this week reports increased enrolment once again in schools there.


U.S. skiers still white & male

ASPEN, Colo. – The news out of the National Ski Areas Association is that not much has changed, and that’s both good and bad for ski areas.

What’s good is that baby boomers continue to ski. The average age last season was 36.6 years, compared to 33.2 years a decade ago.