Although there is still time for other candidates to enter the race, the current candidates for Mayor of Aspen began their first debate in the media by sparring over the city’s affordable housing program. Candidate, and former City Council member, Tim Semaru recently suggested increasing the appreciation cap to 5% annually on deed restricted units . The current cap is 3 percent or the national rate of inflation, whichever is lower.
Candidates Mick Ireland and Torre both discarded the suggestion. Ireland, who lives in deed-restricted affordable housing, said Semaru’s suggestion would be a negation of the deal between the city and citizens more than 20 years ago. Torre commented that he didn’t think the change was neccessary since people “who are in employee housing aren’t using it to make money, just to get in the door.”
Tom McCabe, director of the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority, said he is worried that the Semaru’s plan would hurt local government’s ability to prevent the conversion of some 224 housing units into free-market condominiums in the future.