Rachel Oberly: Where’s the love for the locals? | SteamboatToday.com

Rachel Oberly: Where’s the love for the locals?

I’ve not been in Steamboat all that long, and I don’t have as much right as a longtime local or a family raising kids here to complain, but I am a young person trying to make a living in Steamboat, and I don’t think we young people, families or old timers are as welcome here as we once were.

I help run a business on Lincoln. I use the bus system. I drive and park my car in town. I have dogs and use the trail system and spend my money downtown and contribute to the economy and contribute to the vitality of this town. And I am certainly not the only one.

So why are we devalued and undermined by the city?

I can’t speak for those of you who work for the city, or are contracted by it, and I do believe that you— like the rest of us — are just trying your best to make a good living for yourselves and your families.

But I can speak for the locals who watch the streets torn up every mud season without fail, killing business operation. I can speak for the business owner who watches a parking lot close for six weeks instead of six days. I can speak for the local who gets on the free bus waiting for the day she is told she will have to pay for this commodity, and oh, by the way, she can’t drive to work because there’s nowhere to park.

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I can speak for the young woman in a bar, feeling unsafe and unsure if she will wake up with a stranger and no memory, watching the police choose to catch speeding tourists at Third instead of the rapist dropping something into a person’s drink.

I can speak for the bartender whose locals can’t afford to come in any more. I can speak for the barflies, too, whose favorite places can’t afford to operate.

I can speak for the renters, waiting for low-income housing, making less than a living wage, watching prices go up as the city argues about the threshold for “low income.” Fifty-thousand dollars a year? We have never seen money like that.

I can speak for the outdoor enthusiast, the dog lover just trying to enjoy a summer excursion, arguing with an officer about a leash law ticket. What happened to Dog Town USA?

We’re low key people. That’s why we live here. And we want to continue having an opportunity to live here.

The tourists that you’re so eager to take care of? We’re the ones feeding them, outfitting them, showing them everything we love about this town. We are the reason they want to come back every year.

We don’t need much. Just a place to live, a place to park, a place to feel welcome. No, we don’t have the money the winter out-of-town enthusiasts have. We don’t spend big like the summer vacationers do. But we take care of each other. We take care of the town. We take care of the land. We even take care of the visitors who want to experience this little slice of heaven with us.

All we ask the opportunity to continue doing so. We love Steamboat. We just want to be loved back.

Rachel Oberly

Steamboat Springs

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