Monthly Archives: June 2006

Basalt becoming millionaires’ club


The red-hot real estate market has sent the median price of single family homes for sale in and around Basalt above the $1 million barrier.

The median price of the 27 single-family homes that sold in and around Basalt through mid-May was $695,000. The median price of 19 homes currently under contract in that same area is $899,000. The median asking price for the 19 homes currently listed for sale is $1,195,000.

While the appreciation is welcome news for sellers and most people who already own property, it also pushes the Basalt area out of the realm of affordability for workers.

At a recent public meeting, Garfield County Commissioner Tresi Houpt had this observation: "Aspen has the billionaires, Basalt has the millionaires, and we've got the working stiffs" in Garfield County.

Read the full article in the Vail Daily . . .


Oh, Canada! You’re healthier too!

US vs CanadaFirst is was the Brits, now its those people with the funny accents up in the Great White North that are healthier than we Americans.

The way things are going, I’ve put money on the table that Cuba will be the next comparison and they will also be healthier that we are (would that be three strikes against the U.S. health care system?)

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) physicians, who teach at Harvard Medical School (HMS), authored a study in the July, 2006 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Their news release states, “The study finds that U.S. residents are less healthy than Canadians, and despite spending nearly twice as much per capita for health care, U.S. residents have more problems getting care and experience more unmet health needs.”

The authors found that U.S. residents were less healthy than Canadians.Canadians had better access to most types of medical care (with the single exception of pap smears). Race and income disparities, although present in both countries, were larger in the U.S. Non-whites were more likely than whites to have an unmet health need in the U.S.

In the U.S., cost was the largest barrier to care. More than seven times as many U.S. residents reported going without needed care due to cost as Canadians (7.0% of U.S. respondents vs. 0.8% of Canadians). Uninsured U.S. residents were particularly vulnerable; 30.4% reported having an unmet health need due to cost.

A copy of the study is available at:

Money can’t but U.S. health

flagsHot off the presses is a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which compares the health of residents of the United States and the United Kingdom.

One of the key findings in the comparison is the differences between the two countries. The United States spends $5274 per person, per year, on health care and the United Kingdom spends $2164

The study made sure to have 'apple to apple' comparisons given the different demographics in the two counties, so the comparison is between 45-55 year old non-Hispanic white men and women.

The findings are brutal. By basically every standard, Americans are sicker than the Brits. Diabetes, for instance is roughly double in the US than it is in the UK. The rates of other common ailments – hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, stroke, lung disease and cancer – are also all higher in the United States. And oftern a lot higher, despite the fact that the Brits smoke about the same amount and drink twice as much as Americans. So much for the best health system money can buy.

See the full article in the JAMA . . .

Aspen bus lane to get crunch time test

rfta bus laneAspen began its effort to get buses out of town faster by testing the new bus lane on Main Street heading out of town. The city will restricting parking along Main Street from 3-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, to create the new bus lane.

The new lane is working as expected, but the real test comes in another week or two, when high season really kicks into gear. During the offseason, roughly 21,000 cars drive in and out of Aspen on a given day. In July and August, that number jumps to 29,000, which can translate into cars backed up for six or seven blocks.

Although city officials are grateful for the chance to move buses through town faster, they know the new bus lane isn't a solution to the city's traffic problem. The hope is that anything that improves the bus-riding experience will encourage more people to get out of their cars and onto the bus.

"[The new lane] wasn't intended to solve traffic congestion at all," City Transportation Director John Krueger said. "It's to help buses that have 40, 50, 60 people on them get out of town quicker."

Read the full article in the Aspen Times . . .

Optimism about Cdale’s Marketplace after design charrette

Citizens reviewing new conceptual plans for the controversial 22 acre Crystal River Marketplace development site were a lot more positive than they have been in a long time.

The "draft conceptual program" has yet to receive the blessing of the town's board of trustees, but even opponents of the development proposals were upbeat about the current planning effort.

The new plan calls for a total of between 160,000 and 175,000 square feet of retail space, including a 60,000-square-foot space for the "anchor" store; between 150 and 175 housing units (15 percent of which must be "affordable" under town codes); three "junior anchors" at about 20,000 square feet apiece, and a mix of commercial and office space scattered around the site.

An earlier proposal, defeated in a referendum in 2003, called for 252,000 square feet of commercial space, anchored by a 125,000-square-foot site for a big-box retailer.

The next public meetings about the Marketplace plans will be a Community Open House, with "completed drawings and economic information," from 6-9 p.m. on July 5. Town trustees and the planning and zoning commission have scheduled a joint meeting to take a first formal look at the plans at 6:30 p.m. on July 19.

The design charrette idea grew out of Carbondale's Economic Road Map process, which has focused on better understanding and directing the town's future toward a more "diverse and sustainable economy."

Read the full article in the Post Independent . . .

Garco study finds housing values only temporarily reduced from gas drilling


Ford Frick of BBC Research in Denver recently presented the results of a land values study commissioned by Garfield County. The study looked at the factors that drive land values and the the impacts of “rural industrialization” including gas well drilling and gravel pit operations in the county.

Frick and his team analyzed 7,600 property transactions from 1987 to 2004 as well as drilling data. There are 5,010 well drilling permits currently held in the county and 2,675 operating gas wells.

The gas industry ultimatley contributes to housing appreciation. The value lost during initial drilling activity is more than recaptured a few years later by the increasing demand for housing so don't sell your property at the first site of a drilling rig!

Read the full article in the Post Independent . . .