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The Future Sandpoint – Do we really want to become Aspen?

why are we even looking to the huge tourist towns for guidance?

The Future Sandpoint - Do we really want to become Aspen?

As part of a homeschool civics class comprised of students in the 7th through 10th grade levels, students were asked to write opinion editorials on topics of their own choosing which reflect current themes in governance and policy-making.  Over the course of the next few weeks the class will be tracking the views of and commentary on their op-eds with the goal of generating as much meaningful community engagement as possible.  A prize will be awarded to the student who is most successful at generating meaningful community engagement with their op-ed. Thanks so much for partnering with us to create this experience for the children and teaching them to be actively involved in the governance of their community!

The Future Sandpoint

Do we really want to become Aspen?

by HSC05

Sandpoint is the not-so-hidden gem within the gem state. People are flocking to the Sandpoint and surrounding areas for various reasons, most of which are based on the beauty and culture of this precious area. There are many people, both newcomers, and legendary locals, that are concerned with the coming future of Sandpoint. The current mayor of Sandpoint, Shelby Rognstand, has quite the vision for Sandpoint’s future. A plan I don’t think many would find as dazzling as he does.

Mayor Shelby is very concerned and currently focused on the future development of Sandpoint particularly the ‘housing shortage/crisis, “If there is one thing we can, and are expected to do, is to regulate how development happens in the community… That essentially requires robust community feedback. It is up to you the community to tell us what you want the community to see in a few years.” He made a very important point here, the community in Sandpoint gets to decide where and what we want Sandpoint to be in the future. The mayor’s main concern was for the labor and workforce of Sandpoint, saying “Nobody wants to have to commute 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours to work. You want to live close to where you work…so the goal here is to improve access to housing for everybody.” (See  below or listen here: audio link)

His main idea for overcoming this problem is to implement seller and buyer deed restrictions on new homes and increasing zones from to the current 6 zones to an unknown number (However, he mentioned Spokane had 26). The mayor held places such as Aspen and Vail Colorado as “successful” in using this form of managing development, as well as seeing them as ideal tourist towns. “[Colorado tourist towns] are dealing with this problem, small towns getting more and more expensive, Aspen, Vail… They have had to figure out how to solve this problem otherwise how do you have service industry people [afford housing so they can work]”

I along with many others would attest, this micromanagement style does not work. I have acquaintances who grew up in these areas in Colorado and of which were a part of the workforce in these major tourist towns and they stated, “All of us who were working in these areas had to, and still do, drive hours to our job each morning. No one who was working retail or restaurant or any other sort of job ever even dreamed of living in town; it simply wasn’t possible.” By simply searching on Zillow for the cheapest housing available in both Aspen and Vail currently, shows the city officials were not successful in bringing down housing prices for a local workforce in the slightest. The cheapest place on the market in Aspen CO currently is a 1 bed, 1bath, 392sqft. Condo for $943,000 and a three bed, two bath home with less than 2K sq. ft. is $ 1.6 million. Similarly, in Vail CO, the cheapest place on the market is a 1 bed, 1bath, 576sqft. Condo for $475,000. I don’t think anyone would call that affordable housing.

On the other hand, why are we even looking to the huge tourist towns for guidance? Especially as it is obvious Vail and Aspen haven’t solved these problems well.

I love Sandpoint for Sandpoint, there is a reason so many people are drawn up here. The magnificent beauty that surrounds Sandpoint is one thing, but a unique culture flourishes here. There is no other place in the world like Sandpoint. The uniqueness of diversity within the town makes all feel welcome. A sense of freedom exists in simply walking through the neighborhoods and seeing the variety of home styles, to driving down First Street and experiencing the different local businesses. If there is a large increase in planning and zoning zones, it will allow city officials to have the ability to micromanage the town regardless of what the community wants. This kind of management leads to restrictions and limitations of homeowners, businesses and entrepreneurs. There are ways we can solve problems without turning Sandpoint into Vail or Aspen or any other place for that matter. We all love Sandpoint for being Sandpoint and we want it to stay that way as much as possible.


Related: Sandpoint’s Activist Mayor Should Do His Job or Step Down

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7 Comments on The Future Sandpoint – Do we really want to become Aspen?

  1. This article does not accurately describe the current state of Aspen. Aspen is a prosperous town that has effectively taken care of it’s housing problem

  2. This is a well thought-out article. I hope many people share their input for the future of Sandpoint. I love it like it is.

  3. Thank you! The mayor’s vision for the town (as designed by the planning and zoning committee and business owner task force, both of which HE appointed) is absurd.

    • I absolutely agree! Exactly the planning and zoning committee are appointed not elected. The mayor appoints these positions this is why we need to get a mayor in office who is on the same page as the community!

  4. I can attest to the high cost of living in CO that made it impossible for most people to live up there. I would never like to see Sandpoint become anything like Aspen or Vail!

    • Thank you! It simply isn’t true that these huge tourist town are successful in this aspect and being we don’t want to become anything like Aspen we have no reason to be looking at these towns for guidance.

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