As I get a little older, the life shades of grey are not just showing up in my mustache—most everything is a complex shade of grey instead of simple black and white.
For example, I defy anyone to give me a solid black-and-white answer to the STR (short-term rental) dilemma in Crested Butte. To ban them completely hurts some of our local neighbors who use such rentals to help pay the mortgage so they can continue to live here. It fills beds in Crested Butte, which used to be rare since in the “old days,” downtown Crested Butte provided the charm and Mt. Crested Butte provided the lodging. Now STRs bring in tourists who shop and eat and fill the coffers of our local businesses that provide jobs, character and an economy.
But to give total carte blanche to STRs would indeed hollow out the neighborhoods and community so that town would be filled with little to no locals during certain periods of the year such as July and August. And if the economics continue on the current trend, every house could be a rental business and there would be no one here ever, except those living in the deed-restricted places. The town would be for the really rich and the working poor and middle class who can’t afford free market housing in a growing resort town. It would make us more like every other place we try not to be like except when we want to follow their lead.
And even some of the deed-restricted places are a bit of a grey area right now with an ADU (accessory dwelling unit) lawsuit gearing up. It is too bad the ADU situation ended up in court but it will be good to finally clear up the grey area and make it obvious what the community and legal expectations really are with the alley units. No matter which way the court rules, I believe more people than not understand the value of keeping working locals living in town—even if not forced to by law, they will do the right thing and continue to rent their units to solid local community members. And if not forced to by law, the people wanting to keep a dark ADU will get a dark town, with no unique characters and no one to serve them. What a great win!
My instinct on the STR issue is to favor those who live here and tax the hell out of it. Then throw that money to workforce housing in town. That will take a vote of the Crested Butte citizens so that is something that could be pondered for 2017.
There are many different shades of grey. Take two conversations I was part of this Tuesday—one having to do with facts in the political realm and the other having to do with the fact of the powcam. There is a difference between, say, the CBMR marketing crew rounding up with the snowfall total received overnight to help the marketing department, and, say, Donald Trump rounding up the number of votes he says were illegally cast to give Hillary the popular vote.
One (nightly snow totals as brought to my attention from a consistent pow-watcher) is a light shade of grey. The pow-watcher reported that on Saturday the powcam showed 3.5 inches and the resort reported six inches. We received 2.5 inches on the powcam Sunday and the report was for five. Tuesday there wasn’t any new snow but the report was for two fresh. Is snow bumping a standard operating procedure at every ski resort? Did we get two inches Tuesday or did someone “forget” to wipe the powcam on Monday? Does it make a difference to a skier from Denver if we report six inches instead of four? Maybe, but I doubt it. I do know the skiing has been really great for December and maybe those reports mean to say that while we got three inches, it is skiing like six! For what it’s worth, the official CBMR snowstake is in a different location from the powcam.
The other example from a separate conversation (Trump’s illegal vote accusation) appears to be a dark grey insecure middle-school response to hard facts that doesn’t shine a golden light on The Donald. But his tantrum actually throws doubt onto the very foundation of America’s democratic process that relies at its core on fair and honest elections. For Trump to hold his breath and stamp his tweety feet that the votes were tainted is dangerous because of his casual disregard for facts and the fact that so many people believe whatever he says. The election system is not perfect but there is not a single shred of evidence of even a tiny amount of voter fraud. To undercut the integrity of the American voting system is not only immature, it is a danger to the republic, given his stature as the incoming president. That is junk. And the Republican “adults” in the room shrug their shoulders at such disregard for facts and cross their fingers that Trump will support some of their schemes and keep them in power.
Finally, a shout out to one of the characters in town who passed over to what is probably the great Canadian outback in the sky. Igor was one of those people who was kind, considerate and sometimes odd… in a good way. He had wanted to visit Cuba and maybe move to Canada. A man with a mysterious and electric past and present, he loved the “older” Crested Butte but found that even the current Crested Butte was better than most other places. And it was because of the people. He missed the people here. He would come back from a trip and not tell you where he had been and question every “weird” and liberal thing the town was doing, and it made you appreciate the other side. But I never was sure how much of any side (except the firearms side) he was on. Igor’s passing to the other side was a shock this week, and I’ll miss running into him on Elk Avenue or in City Market.
His last lesson might be to experience every moment because you just never know when this dimension will come to a close. Experience a foreign desert or a cold continent. And remember that one big reason you live (or visit) here is because of the people. You can go to a warmer place and you can go to an easier place to live but the people won’t be there. So appreciate the quirky people of Crested Butte—and as this place grows and changes, let’s try to keep giving the characters opportunities to actually live here.
Here’s to what is sure to be an interesting 2017. I think I’ll experience a surfing beach sometime this year. What will you do?