Is it just me, or was last night a new low in city government’s public engagement? The second half of the marathon planning and zoning meeting featured an application from a private developer to significantly modify the land-use code to allow dense, multi-unit development on small lots in the RMF zone district.

As part of the applicant’s required public outreach, a survey presented by their consultant, Chris Bendon, indicated 85% of respondents did not support the amendment to increase density. And the public comment phase featured numerous speakers, all of whom were against the idea. Next, in a sad display of bullying, Phillip Supino, the city of Aspen community development director, personally rebuked several members of the public for their observations. And of course, no citizens were permitted to respond to Mr. Supino. Despite the overwhelming public sentiment against the proposal, city staff completely ignored their required public outreach and in typical “we know better” fashion prepared a resolution to recommend approval of the amendment to city council. But when the P&Z commissioners couldn’t agree on a motion put forward by Commissioner Carver to deny the proposal, they effectively punted and sent the proposal to city council without making a recommendation. Is this what representative government looks like?

Michael Smith