Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Marsha Marsha Marsha, letter to the editor

APCHA APCHA APCHA, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.

Yep, it’s human nature, find yourself in a deep dark hole… dig in deeper.

Why would government discourage real estate development when government is funded by taxes on real estate sales? Endless growth… that’s our economic model…that’s our vicious circle.  APCHA’s circa 1970’s rules are not carved in stone… time to smash them.

Solution 1: Stop being a real estate economy… foster other economic drivers.
Solution 2: Pay the servants more.
Solution 3: Tax the masters more.

We complain that APCHA should sustain itself and limit free market potential in the same breath. APCHA puts a cap on earnings for residents and a limit on tenure. APCHA restricts rentals and resale.  APCHA also cedes maintenance and responsibility for maintenance to those same residents. So, live below the Aspen poverty line if you want to keep your home, move or die at the end of your term, and don’t repair anything because you don’t have the money to do it much less the opportunity to recoup the cost on resale.  Local government gives lip service to lower priced lodging and slaps fines on APCHA residents who rent out a couch during Xgames which in turn facilitates the  highway 82 bumper car fun when our 100,000 new best friends rent homes below Basalt. The entire system is perched on the head of the very wobbly pin of the real estate transfer tax… so if we actually stop selling off paradise and leave room for trees, elk and a lion or two…. we lose the cash for “affordable housing”.

Solution 1: An Arts economy. 
Solution 2: Link wages to a percentage of profit. (or…ducking... muttering under my breath …. make what we pay City staff in cash and benefits the minimum required for all workers in Aspen….at very least give any company with an Aspen Business License the opportunity to buy into City health care)
Solution 3: A billionaire income tax… for those who claim Aspen or Pitkin County as their primary residence. It will still be cheaper than NYC or LA. This links our tax base to our wealth index instead of  build, buy, or die base.

Bonus initiatives? Want to slow development? Require net zero for every new building… including government buildings… including the lift 1A corridor. Want to reduce traffic? Restrict traffic to EV vehicles and subsidize EV purchases…(at very least stop subsidizing non-EV vehicles - like the Downtowner vans). Want to subsidize housing? The City could co-sign existing free market housing for residents and be a guarantor for the first, last and damage required for every long term lease  (It will be a long long time before that expense reaches the cost of one Burlingame bedroom).

Oh yeah, rumor has it we have an election coming up. Vote for the candidate who can stop digging a deeper hole and think themselves out of the damned box.

Think the Green New Deal  is radical? There is an alternative "little ice age" genocide.

Friday, December 14, 2018

What would Yvon Chouinard do? Letter to the editor. Unpublished.

What would Yvon Chouinard do?

Lead by example.

1. Make all City owned and operated buildings net zero. That includes APCHA. Replace “City of Aspen” with “Pitkin County” copy and paste.

2. Make all new City building projects net zero. Replace “City of Aspen” with “Pitkin County” copy and paste.

3. Make all City vehicles EV. Replace “City” with “County” copy and paste.

4. Do not hand out a single City of Aspen subsidy to a company which isn’t net zero. Replace “City of Aspen” with “Pitkin County” copy and paste.

5. Do not hand out a single City of Aspen grant to a non-profit or entity which isn’t net zero. Replace “City of Aspen” with “Pitkin County” copy and paste.

These are not radical suggestions.  After all I haven’t suggested we give every deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, chickadee, nuthatch, blue spruce, lodgepole pine and wildflower an absentee ballot….we should because those are what make “Aspen Aspen”… but that would be radical and I doubt you’d get the bears to vote in March.

Lead by example, that is what I expect of my representatives and my government. Do more-300 City employees can make a bigger difference than any single citizen.

Gofundme bail for climate protesters 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Subsidies for Billionaires.... letter to the editor


Under the fig leaf of reducing cars in Aspen we are poised to subsidize a multi billion dollar company with $800,000. Do we get stock options with that?

1. Rideshare does not reduce vehicular  traffic- anywhere. If it’s successful it increases the number of vehicles.
2. Rideshare has about 5 drivers in the valley.  We have no drivers because there isn’t any money in it. Want to increase the number of drivers? Have our 300 City staff take one rideshare a week. I can give you coupons.
3. Rideshare does not reduce your carbon footprint (see point #1) if you want to reduce the carbon footprint - subsidize some electric cars with that $800K- for the police force, for existing livery services, gift the down payment to 800 lucky Aspen citizens for their first electric car.. (have an EV lottery instead of an APCHA lottery) … any one of these would reduce our carbon footprint.
4. Airports, airports, airports. It’s about the airports…. and if you really want to reduce the number of cars during ski season you will take one of those mini buses and start direct bus service from baggage claim to Aspen. Next open communication between Grand Junction, Eagle, DIA and Aspen airport transit authorities when ever there is an airport closure to stop “dead heading” aka one way trips and returning to Aspen empty.
5. High volume events like Xgames, New Year’s Eve, Food & Wine bring in rideshare drivers (mostly from Denver) …. drivers without local business licenses and without local knowledge (hilarity ensues when they try and use GPS in the RFV). That’s where your “new” drivers come from… places with a lower cost of living … just like the rest of the service industry… which means … you guessed it… more traffic.

Rideshare is a free market business model with a lot of venture capital and to date only successful in a high volume urban 24/7/365 environment. We are rural resort with a seasonal economy and marginal connectivity…. and chances of having enough empirical data to find trends for our economy are slim to none… Do not try and shovel an $800K metro model into an Aspen size sack. 

See the previous post for more "mobility" talk.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Mobility letter to the editor

Mobility lab $2.5 million…. and another “ask” on the ballot for RFTA… uhhuh.

No, I don’t believe that a cappuccino machine at Brush Creek will reduce the number of cars in Aspen. I believe what would help is a reliable public transportation service where you never wait more than 10 minutes, which does not use hwy 82 (please, no more HOV on the right,  ever), which scales the size of transport to the number of riders and which is Green. R&Ding that type of solution is worth $2.5 mil.

Repeating old LTEs: pay for the bus with a credit card or phone at every stop.  Buying passes in Aspen or paying with cash is sooooo 20th century.

Have a  small buses picking up direct from baggage claim at the airport and going into Aspen. Our guests can’t find the bus stop, they can’t find the underground passageway; and they’re constantly trying to cross 82 at one of the most dangerous intersections on the most dangerous road in the State. It doesn’t matter that the bus is free if they can’t find it or they die trying.

Have a local bus which meets up with Bustang. That would be “local” not just BRT because if you can walk to a local stop that bus will not connect to a BRT in time to get you to Bustang.

Let’s add late night down valley buses for the “worker bees” who leave after closing time. Make it a “quiet bus”.

Driving livery - both limo and rideshare- for 3 years the greatest opportunity  I can see to conserve is when the airport is closed (snow, wind, wildfire- whatever). There are just as many people trying to get into Aspen as trying to get out and yet most of us drive to another airport and come back empty. The answer is simple- the implementation is difficult- a dispatch service which all livery services can opt into for all Colorado airports. This would match riders to incoming drivers who want to return home. It could cut the number of livery vehicles down by half. It could reduce the traffic just when the roads are the most dangerous.

Trying to change behavior rarely works. Plugging existing behavior into new easier patterns... that has potential. JM2¢

Plus ça change.... 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Lake Christine Fire continued

July 10

Okay this is going to be a long update.  It ain't over till it's over. Here's the executive summary: After El Jebel was saved by extraordinary firefighters the monster moved up Basalt Mountain and set it on fire. The monster kept eating beetle kill through old growth forest and wildlife habitat, exploding pinions and turning them into rockets which shot across the mountain making spot fires on both the East and West steeps which fueled it's march towards the North and Gypsum.  As I write this extraordinary efforts from an army of firefighters, first responders, helicopter pilots, water truck drivers, and all manner of support teams have reached 87% containment.  It's almost impossible to imagine how rough the terrain is where this battle rages.... but here is the view from where I am... 

July 10 and Basalt Mountain is smoking from spot fires.
There was the promise of rain on July 11
...but nothing up on the Heights... this was my view driving back to the ranch...
July 12
Having missed the "parade" for the firefighters I made a little sign.
You can see Basalt Mountain smoking in the background.

Because a sign has two sides....
Helicopters were flying over head 
The mountain was still smoking
...and the heli crews were working....
... and the view at night left no doubt..
July 13
... and the mornings began to fill with smoke...
making for spectacular sunsets
and ominous sunrises 
July 18 brought wind
The Pyrocumulous grew

and grew
July 18
July 19
 It ain't over till it's over

Midnight July 20-21 it was time to bug out again.
July 21
Coming home from Denver on I70 the smoke from Lake Christine turned the sky orange 
July 22!!!
Look closely 00.07"
Report for July 23... the monster is still growing...
in the afternoon two more RAIN events
bringing another 00.13" 
July 27
more smoke and moving north on the East side of Basalt Mountain
The big kids move in next door....
July 28
Total for Saturday 00.18"

and with the rain and the helicopters the result today is:

87% containment

The evacuation orders have been lifted 

I still have helicopters overhead.