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Mountain town leaders talk post-COVID era, deed-restricted burgers

Panelists left to right:
Tanzi Propst/Park City Municipal
Panelists left to right: Jonathan Schechter, Rhonda Sideris, Rick Silverman, Paul Anderson, Ralf Garrison, Wendy Jaquet.

Leaders from ski towns across the Mountain West gathered at the Park City Library to discuss the slew of challenges facing resort communities.

Over 100 people gathered at the Santy Auditorium Monday evening for Leadership Park City’s annual forum.

The panel included Jonathan Schechter, who sits on the town council of Jackson, Wyoming. Schecter told the crowd he believes mountain towns need to start prioritizing quality of life over economic growth.

“What we have is a series of 21st century communities with 20th century operating systems, and so a lot of the struggle, in my view, is sort of like generals planning to fight the last war,” Schecter said. “The ground is shifting underneath our communities so rapidly because there’s so much money pouring in so quickly.”  

Schecter said local governments can only control so much and emphasized the importance of community organizing.

30th Leadership Park City Community Forum
Activist-Thinkers from Aspen, Telluride, Jackson, Ketchum, Sun Valley, and Park City Discuss the Future of Resort Communities

Rick Silverman, a longtime citizen of Telluride, Colorado, who also spoke on the panel, attributed the problem to “affluenza.” On the topic of affordable housing, Silverman said cities are often hurting themselves.

“Are we fueling need, sometimes innocently? Luxury hotel is approved and the higher the cost of the hotel room the more employees they’re going to need,” Silverman said. “We give approval for expansions of ski areas. So at one end of the continuum we’re beating our breast about how to provide the housing, but not giving the same attention to what are we doing to fuel the demand? And I find that maddening.” 

To deal with the affordability crisis, author and journalist Paul Anderson of Aspen, Colorado, said they’re now regulating the price of food.

“The city made a deal with a redeveloped project where the upstairs is a 4,000-square-foot penthouse, the street level is a cashmere boutique, and the basement is what they’ve determined now is going to be the local restaurant,” Anderson said. “They researched the price of hamburgers across the board, and decided on the lower third of cost to assign to the hamburger to be served at this particular restaurant so that locals can afford to eat there. So we have deed-restricted hamburgers, and I think that’s an innovative approach.”

The audio from the full two-hour panel discussion is attached to the right side of this webpage.