Klaus Obermeyer, founder of Obermeyer clothing line, has lived in Aspen for over 60 years. He was recently quoted in The Aspen Times as saying that he had never seen a recession of this magnitude in Aspen’s economic history. To me it seems the same here. Having the privilege of serving on the National Association of Realtors Resort and Second Home Committee now for eight years allows me to have tremendous resources studying the entire second home and resort markets in the U.S. The amount of second homes purchased in 2008 was 50 percent less than in 2006. This year looks to be a continuation of that trend. What most economists are saying about the resort and second-home markets, especially the high-end luxury niche which Telluride happens to be a part of, is that the affluent will be much more cautious about their discretionary purchases in the future.
With all the above said, it has been interesting reading the controversy about the new PUD Ordinance Telluride Town Council recently passed and the controversy surrounding it. The opponents say they are opposed because of the potential of having less affordable housing. What they should be concentrating on is how to “kick start” our economy and if they don’t we may end up with plenty of affordable housing. From my point of view, these objections have been nothing more than a distraction. If developers don’t have a desire and ability to build then this conversation about decreasing affordable housing in PUD’s is completely academic. We are in a significantly different lending market. Most economists, bankers, and mortgage brokers think that the ability to borrow money to build speculative commercial buildings, multi-family homes and second homes will be restricted for years to come. The opposition to this PUD, mainly by three Town Council members plus a few very vocal locals is just focusing on the wrong issues. The business owners on Main Street are scared. Lodging is down and as everyone knows real estate sales are at a historic low in number and dollar volume of transactions. It’s almost as if the opposition to this PUD is not addressing the “elephant in the room.” As Bill Clinton said when he got elected: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Reading the quotes from three Town Council members and a few members of the public who constantly attack the Realtors, the real-estate community and the developers is somehow as if we are for something, then they have to be against it. That’s like O.J. playing the race card. It’s been a great sound bite for them in the past, but I am hopeful that the local citizens of this community can see through that B.S. The lowest level of distraction was when one of the Town Council members suggested that Jill Masters has a conflict of interest because she happens to be a real-estate broker and a member of the Telluride Association of Realtors. To me that is a new level of unprofessionalism from any Town Council member. Jill Masters has been a loyal part of this community and past San Miguel County deputy sheriff and paramedic. When you see a Town Council member stoop to the low level, trying to be against the local economy, businesses and real estate, then you realize their priorities and needs of this community are not on the same page.
I hear there is going to be a Referendum. Frankly, I’m glad. I think there also needs to be a recall too. I’ll be the first to sign a petition to remove the three Town Council members who don’t seem to care about the local economy, the business community and yes, the real-estate industry, which is a huge part of our regional economic force. This immature attacking of the real-estate community and Realtors penalizes every business owner in this region. Let’s get some Town Council members who don’t have personal agendas, who have our economic future as their current highest priority and are positive about working together. These three don’t fit the bill. Of course I could be wrong, but this time I know I am not.