Letter to the editor: Ski areas are responsible for housing problems

Chuck Savall

We read daily about our “housing crisis:” complaints, proposals, restrictions, moratoriums, anger and a continued decline in quality of life for Summit with no good options. No one ever dares mention the root cause, which is the continued development of more ski-area terrain. In the last few years, there have been expansions at Arapahoe Basin, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge and Keystone. Build it, and they will come.

More terrain means more employees, which means more infrastructure and more required housing, while Vail, POWDR and Dundee continue to expand. Why? Because our elected officials put businesses in front of citizens. Just because the Forest Service approves ski expansions doesn’t mean towns and the county always need go along. It’s time to start saying no!

Look at Keystone’s Mountain House base area. There are acres of undeveloped land and old, outdated structures due for replacement right at the base of the ski area. I’m sure Vail has this earmarked for future development of high-priced condos, hotels, restaurants, etc. Meanwhile, they pass off their employee housing problems to taxpayers to pay for. Why aren’t we demanding that resort owners use their own land for employee housing, instead of saving it for future high-profit projects? There’s never a problem finding land to develop for huge gains, while ignoring the problems that creates for our community. Plus, Breckenridge spends millions every year to promote tourism. The last thing we need is more tourists needing places to stay that don’t exist.

Now we propose encouraging owners to switch short-term rentals to long term, guessing that might help. Has anyone asked those owners if such programs would be adopted? How hard would that be?

The moratoriums we truly need are on ski-area expansions and business growth.

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