If our public servants want to make budget cuts that do the most long-term good for this valley, they should cut all four subsidies they hand to realty tourism. Realty tourism drives up the cost of everything, for everybody. Besides, subsidies are notorious for promoting complacency, mediocrity and an overriding concern for self-perpetuation.
A) Stop paying the airline bribe. If the realtors want more prospects, or Telski wants help flying in its ski ticket customers, let the private sector figure it out. The newspaper said last year that realtor Lucarelli, for instance, got about some $350,000 for flipping some carbon-wasting mansion (a one-fourth share on that deal; it puts TAR’s paltry $24,000 bribe payment this year in perspective: what’s that, a half-hour of work?). Let these ingrates pay for the bribe. Remember, before the developer takeover (The Awakening Giant, 1981ish), we were a media darling, and airlines favored us. Since it was the land speculators who perverted our brand, let them pay to lure the airlines back. And how about holding Telski to its word for once: remember when this realtor promised that once it reached 300,000 skier days it would no longer “need” support? It’s now 450,000! Why does council let the pro-grwothers so use and abuse us? Town is not a newspaper, which the realtors can boycott and run out of business.
Moreover, since one person flying round trip from London to Sydney, for instance, consumes the same amount of carbon the average human uses in a year, how can our elected officials in good conscience force caring, thinking Telluriders to partake in this planet-destroying airline bribe?
B) Apply Telluride’s business license fees towards diversifying the economy, not paying for land speculator advertising. “Come for a Night, Stay a Lifetime” is not just the 8-year ad headline of these subsidies’ chief benefactor, it has been the principle strategy of TCRA/TVS/TMI for 24 years, when Benchmark usurped Telluride’s marketing. No longer were repeat summer visitors Telluride’s target audience. Instead, our money is used to target indoorsy, newly rich second home buyer prospects. At swear-in, our councilpeople pledge to promote a “diverse and sustainable” economy. With these realty tourism subsidies, they’re doing the exact opposite.
C) End the 2 percent retail tax. The realty tourism industry just uses our money to lure investor types to town, pitch them at check-in (perhaps 90 percent of regional beds are owned or managed or partnered with a real estate operation), and then sell them some piece of something at inflated prices. Realtors work 40 hours a week driving up home prices, forcing out good Telluriders, cutting down our already imperiled aspen and evergreens, and erecting (and flipping) planet-destroying mega-houses. They add not one cent to the value of anything. The foks who champion luring more humans here to live such carbon-spewing lifestyles must all be barren—why would they bring children onto a planet their daily work is destroying? Fact: if all people consumed on the pace of Americans, we would need the natural resources of four planets right now. If all people consumed on the pace of MVers, that’s probably ten planets right now. Twenty, thirty? Moral Telluriders must not be forced to partner-up with this value structure.
[Though it seems to me a death sentence, Mountain Village appears determined to go for the opulence niche. For things that burn carbon, worldwide scorn today is a fraction of what it soon will be. Heck, even Al Gore’s house has been called out in national media for consuming “50 percent more electricity every month than the average American does in a year.”]
D) End the 2 percent lodging tax. Miramonte’s Lodging Panel just dedicates it, with no strings attached, to the realtors who own and/or run virtually all the lodges, whose outreach targets home buyers and spa users, not the sophisticated, affluent adventurers who flocked to Telluride before the dentist came here with his strange notion of what’s classy. When we hand the real estate folks this extra $800,000-odd each year, they’ve got that much more money to advertise their wasteful mansions. So by subsidizing realtor tourism, our commissioners make good Telluriders guilty, too, for disasters like ozone holes and the dismantling of the northern boreal forest, which is cut up for realtor-type mailings.
Besides eliminating these damaging subsidies (totaling about $2,300,000/year), we trim our budgets if we simply make growth pay its own way. Unless Pryor/Fraser/Betts, Inc., rewrote Telluride history when I wasn’t looking, we voters have insisted that growth pay its own way. A mandate is a mandate. So when will our 10 public servants step up and show some backbone? No more subsidies of private industry; huge road impact fees on all pro-development trucking use of the spur; bigger development fees to cover staff time; fewer staffers to handle these developers, so it will take longer for them to chop down our imperiled forest, erode community, etc. Bigger employee housing requirements for new condo projects. Anything and everything. Mandatory solarizing everything, no grandfathering. House sizes down to 6,000 sq. ft. Moratoria on job creation, housing starts, population increases. Mandatory carbon offsetting credit purchases.
Telluriders claim two core values: environment and community. Both values have as their chief threat additional growth. We must insist our governors fight to keep Telluride smaller longer. Telluriders have defined “quality of life,” and it’s about community fiber and connection with the natural world, not about money or fancy stuff. And certainly not about propping up a morally bankrupt private industry.