Aspen Presses Pause on New Construction, Short-Term Rentals

Residents and elected officials of the famously wealthy mountain town of Aspen don't like the way the city is headed.

2 minute read

December 13, 2021, 8:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


The World in HDR / Shutterstock

"Aspen’s city council this week stopped issuing not just short-term rental permits, but permits for all home construction as the city struggles with a critical lack of affordable housing and the increasing use of homes by vacationers," reports Jason Blevins.

At the moment of the city council's decision, the city was processing 182 new applications for short-term rental licenses, showing the example of broader trend in rural semi-rural vacation destinations around the United States. The rise of so-called "Zoom Towns" is disrupting life in these locations, exacerbating inequality, making it harder for service industry workers to afford homes near their jobs, and raising the topic of gentrification and displacement in corners of the country that previously had been spared one of the more challenging and contentious debates in contemporary planning.

According to the article, Aspen's the short-term rental and construction moratorium taps into a disconnect between the city's previous and current efforts, and the direction of the market in the city.  

With a long-term vision for the city laid out in the 2012 Aspen Area Community Plan, the city is also "years into environmental stewardship missions to reduce Aspen’s waste and emissions." Recently, the council has noted that the industry surrounding residential home development 'poses significant obstacles in making progress on many of these important issues,'" writes Blevin, citing the words of Phillip Supino, Aspen’s director of community development at the conclusion of that last sentence. Supino is also cited to say that the moratorium on new construction won't send prices even higher by restricting new supply. Here's how Blevins explains Supino's line of thought:

The supply and demand for Aspen homes have been decoupled from local economics in Aspen for decades. Working residents are not paying $12 million for their homes. The real estate market in Aspen “no longer delivers meaningful housing for local residents” and “the vast majority” of locals and workers in the city live in deed-restricted, subsidized housing, the ordinance says. 

A lot more of the political debate and local conditions are explained in the source article at the link below.

Thursday, December 9, 2021 in The Colorado Sun

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

View of 110 freeway with downtown Los Angeles buildings in background.

LA Freeway Ramp ‘Quietly Canceled’

A 2018 lawsuit forced Metro and Caltrans to do full environmental reviews of the project, leading to its cancellation.

February 29, 2024 - Streetsblog LA

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Blue and white Pittsburgh bike share bikes lined up at a station with a red city bus on street in background.

Micromobility Operators Call for Better Links to Transit

For shared mobility to succeed, systems must tap into the connectivity and funding potential offered by closer collaboration with public transit.

March 4 - GovTech

New York MTA Bus

Retaining Transit Workers Is About More Than Wages

An analysis of California transit employees found a high rate of burnout among operators who face unpredictable work schedules, high housing costs, and occasional violence.

March 4 - Streetsblog California

View of Hollywood Reservoir with palm trees in foreground and Los Angeles neighobrhoods in background.

California's Stormwater Potential

A new study reveals that if California could collect and treat more stormwater in cities, it could provide enough water to supply a quarter of the state’s urban population.

March 4 - Cal Matters

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.