Opinion | Kim McGahey: Free enterprise is the housing solution
Conservative Common Sense
The Frisco Town Council, the Breckenridge Town Council and now the Summit Board of County Commissioners are following the national liberal template established by Obama henchman and former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that no crisis should be wasted.
The local fake crisis that has dominated the breathless headlines lately is workforce housing. If you listen to Frisco Mayor Hunter Mortensen or Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula, you would think their towns, and Summit County in general, are overrun by homeless local workers cluttering our Main Streets with tent cities subjected to freezing nightly temperatures and barely keeping their starving infants alive.
Playing on the emotional heartstrings of otherwise caring community members, these liberal politicos want you to think that this manufactured crisis is larger than life and will eventually end the prosperity we all enjoy in Summit County. They would have you believe that San Francisco homelessness has come to Summit County and that the government is the only way out.
Their plea is that if the government doesn’t do something — anything — in a big hurry to subsidize workforce housing, then the local service sector economy will evaporate, and there will be no worker bees left to take care of all the rich, white, second-home owners who are to blame for the prosperity in America overall and Summit County in particular.
Never mind that housing in Summit County has been an expensive commodity ever since the ski industry came to town in the 1960s. The prices and availability have always been just out of reach for those raising families here. But it was a personal obstacle that hard work, saving money and sacrificing some luxuries solved. It was never a government crisis of entitlement as proposed now in council chambers around the county.
Our elected leaders’ plan is for government to deprive those greedy second-home owners of their constitutional property rights through increased taxes or ordinances that limit short-term rentals. Their solution is more government control and less private sector involvement.
Government control never turns out well, including the U.S. Postal Service, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Summit Combined Housing Authority and just about everything else the government gets involved in. President Ronald Reagan said it well, “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
Government should not be in the local real estate business due to an inherent lack of expertise, efficiency and enforcement by that administration. Government bureaucrats don’t have the real estate knowledge, and taxpayers should not be on the hook for their lack of business acumen.
Instead, the solution resides in the private sector. The major employers in Summit County like Vail Resorts, Copper Mountain Resort, Breckenridge Grand Vacations and numerous restaurant and ski shop owners have the knowledge, the incentive and the resources to solve this issue.
These private businesses could buy relatively inexpensive land in satellite communities like Leadville, Kremmling and Fairplay and build large apartment buildings to house local employees. Providing shuttle service from those workforce housing locations to and from Summit County would be inexpensive and green, since most of those employers already own mass transit vehicles. And it would be an economic shot in the arm to those communities.
Rather than punishing the high street homeowner for generating short-term rental income, local governments could provide tax, fee and development incentives to local business owners who would be building these remote housing facilities.
Just because you want to live and work in paradise doesn’t entitle you to own a tax-subsidized condo next to the recreation center. That socialist concept didn’t work in Chicago, California or Venezuela, and it won’t work here.
Private sector free enterprise abiding by market supply and demand will solve this issue without depriving local property owners of their constitutionally guaranteed private property rights.
Kim McGahey’s column “Conservative Common Sense” publishes Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. McGahey is a real estate broker, tea party activist and former Republican candidate. He has lived in Breckenridge since 1978. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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