Mountain News 

Second homes 12 per cent of sales

Page 5 of 6

In 2004, a host of other traditionally Republican counties – Steamboat’s Routt County and Winter Park’s Grand County among them – also went Democratic.

What is counterintuitive about this shift toward more liberal, more Democratic politicians is that the ski towns have become more wealthy places during this time. Instead of being driven by tourism, they have become amenity-rich lifestyle havens. We tend to think of higher incomes being more Republican, but that’s not the story here.

Continuing to probe these changes is Hole’s Jonathan Schechter, who heads something called the Charture Institute. A superb numbers-cruncher, clearly demonstrates this correlation toward Democratic voting trends and real estate wealth that have come to define the resort towns.

From 1990 to 2004, the median value of homes in the United States rose $40,500, he reports. During that same span the median value increased by $162,000 in only 10 counties: two on the East Coast, and eight in the Rocky Mountains.

The two on the East Coast were: New York City and Massachusetts’s Nantucket Island. Resort counties in the West were five in Colorado: Pitkin (Aspen/Snowmass); Eagle (Vail, Beaver Creek); San Miguel (Telluride), Summit (Breckenridge, Keystone, Copper); and Routt (Steamboat).

Also in the top 10 were: Wyoming’s Teton County (Jackson Hole), and Utah’s Summit County (Park City). Just outside the top 10 was Idaho’s Blaine County (Ketchum/Sun Valley).

In the case of Teton County, Republicans habitually triumphed, even going for Barry Goldwater in 1964. But beginning in 1990, as real estate prices began to rapidly escalate and more people arrived to live year round, it began moving briskly toward support of Democratic candidates.

The parking conundrum

KETCHUM, Idaho — Amid flooding of the Big Wood River and angered debate about wolves, Ketchum continues its more polite but still earnest discussion about what to do with its downtown.

The Idaho Mountain Express call the debate an "inherent conundrum."

"Residents want more affordable housing units to stem the exodus of their community, but many don't want increased density. They want more places to park, but fewer ugly parking lots. They want more hotels, but no tall buildings blocking views," reports the newspaper’s Rebecca Meany.

Among the perplexities is parking. While people want convenient parking, the fact is that on-site parking is expensive and ultimately annoying. "You’ve made parking a dominant feature," says consultant Tom Hudson. "In our view, this is an auto-dominated downtown." He questions whether the town owes everybody a $40,000 parking place.

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