Omar M. Campbell: Public vote needed
April 19, 2009
Steamboat Springs — For the third time since the Steamboat 700 growth gorilla came over the horizon from Las Vegas in March of 2007, the semi-anonymous Editorial Board has posited it on “Our View,” the most recent being “Council should decide on 700” (Steamboat Pilot & Today, April 12). That is his, her or their right, of course. And it is my right of free speech to use the bully pulpit of the press to respond and disagree publicly.
The anonymous author(s) uses the curious argument that the planners of the flawed West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan and the Steamboat Springs Area Community Plan worked hard and long on the plans, and that justifies the City Council to take an “up or down” vote to annex the 508-acre, high-density project.
It seems to me that I read in Civics 101 that “We the people” are the government. We elect representatives to do the routines of governance – not to determine our futures for us, particularly on quality of life and growth.
Growth, as an economic goal, was stated concisely by a past president of the Chamber Resort Association in the late 1990s: “Grow or die. Perish.” Ridiculous, of course, since we already had, and still have, a sustainable economy. There is no need to keep running on the treadmill of more people, more development, more problems, more infrastructure, ad infinitum.
Speaking of problems, it seems that the annexation and growth advocates demurely ignore the inevitable and intolerable traffic that would be generated through Old Town and its approaches, and the possible shortage of water some day.
What we do need is to preserve what few amenities we have left, as Buck Buckland so ably described in his recent letter to the editor.
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The 700 LLC prospectus candidly admits that the plan is to get annexation approved, then to flip, or sell, the doing job to another high roller. Profit expected is 20 percent, and then it’s “We’re outta here!” So much for ties to, or concern for, the community.
Because the 700 proposal affects the future of everyone in Routt County, the City Council and County Commissioners need to voluntarily and cooperatively put the issue to all registered city and county voters in November.
The editorial did not mention the difference between initiative and referendum. The former is to petition for a public vote before an elected body acts; the latter is to petition for a vote after an elected body has acted – a protest vote, so to speak.
The editorial says that we all should study the WSSAP and the SSACP. Well and good – they are on the Internet. Then the public might become aware that the real intent of these plans is to cleverly assure future growth and sprawl rather than just to “direct growth to a suitable location.”
Affordable housing, per se, is all right as long as it is not dangled as a carrot in front of elected officials by developers to help get annexation approvals. Affordable housing is a growth promoter of itself, and again a treadmill situation. The affordable housing issue, important as it is, should not dictate our future.
Would a public vote be for or against annexation? I would not bet the family farm either way. Danny Mulcahy says a Steamboat 700 vote would win “hands down,” and that 700 has no objection to a vote. Either way, a public vote would be a plebiscite on quality of life versus wholesale growth. Approval would be another step toward Anytown, USA.
Omar M. Campbell