Monthly Archives: October 2005

Taking traffic congestion solutions to a higher level :-)

The French may have come up with a solution to all that traffic clogging up our highways in the U.S. The costs my be prohibative, but the views would be spectacular. (Thanks to Randy Russell for photo)


Will bigger be better?

With the opening of a new 125,000 sq. ft. Target this month, Glenwood Springs becomes one of the smallest communities in the U.S. with the three retail giants duking it out over the region’s retail purchases. Glewnood’s population is only 8,500.

Both Wal-Mart and Kmart have been in town longer: the 40,318 sq. ft. Kmart store opened in 1982, followed by Wal-Mart in 1987. Wal Mart doubled the size of its original store to 111,000 sq. ft. a few years later. Now comes a bigger Target store, which is part of the Glenwood Meadows development – a commercial and residential development that effectively doubles commercial space than the town.

Located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers, Glenwood Springs is the service and shopping center for resorts such as Aspen and Vail, and a tourist destination in its own right.

Eagle County adopts 9 month moratorium on new subdivisions

Eagle County Commissioners adopted a temporary moratorium on new subdivision and zoning changes in the county by a 2-1 vote. The nine-month halt stops new subdivisions or zoning changes that would increase the already-allowed number of homes on a piece of property. However, the moratorium more a of a way to slow things down rather than bring construction to a halt.

People can still apply for, and receive, building permits on already-zoned property and there are built in exemptions for “hardship case” and re-zoning property for employee housing, either rentals or for-sale units that have restrictions on how much they can increase in value. There are already close to 16,000 approved but un-built units in Eagle County.

Commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon want to give staff time to complete work on new or revised regulations governing building in wildlife habitat, building on ridges and hillsides, and requiring water conservation and “environmentally friendly” building materials for new construction.

Making health care more like public education

Imagine taking all the money a state spends on Medicare and Medicaid and spreading it out to provide basic health insurance to all the residents in the state? Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, architect of the Oregon Health Plan, wants to see his home state take such an approach.

He likens his approach to public education, in which all children 5 to 18 are entitled to a pubilcly financed eduction. We believe public education is a public good that benefits not just inidivuals by society as a whole – no one is left out.

Kitzhaber believe the same should be true for health care and health insurance – everyone get a basic benefit. Individuals can always purchase more (just like they do in attending private schools and private universities), but this approach creates a baseline of services and coverage rather than the implicit “rationing” of coverage we have today.

Tax breaks for organic farmers

The tax system can play a key role in private economic decisionmaking. Some economists have argued that we would do better to tax waste (inefficient resource use (energy land and water, garbage, etc.) and things we don’t want (pollution) than the current approach of taxing such things as income, work, and investment (which we want to encourage).

Woodbury County, Iowa believes that offering tax breaks to local farmers willing to make their farms organic could boost their ailling economy, encourage more young people to enter farming, and improve the local environment at the same time. The County Commissioners might be on to something.

Free Community Wi-Fi ?

The world of municipal wi-fi got has gotten more interesting. Despite the Colorado Legislature’s effort to minimize local government competition in the world of internet services (last year they passed a bill last year forcing local governments to hold an election before offering such services), municipal wireless might happen anyway — for free. Google and Earthlink may provide wireless serivices to San Francisco and Philladelphia for free, or much cheaper that many people imagined, to anyone with wireless modem.

Read more . . .