Until the world has a vaccine against COVID-19 and until the people of the world are vaccinated, every newspaper editorial, every opinion column and every news broadcast should start with the words “Wear a mask in public places and practice social distancing.”

Unless that message sinks in, the Sun Valley area, Idaho and the rest of the U.S. risk repeated business shutdowns or massive numbers of deaths. The time is past for arguing about it. The key to everyone’s continued good health is to do it.

Only then will citizens be able to return to dealing with important public issues.

In the Sun Valley area, one of the most persistent is the scarcity of workforce housing. Generations of elected officials have said they want to increase the supply of housing—or they’ve said nothing.

Some of the latter placed faith in the “marketplace” to build homes that ordinary people with ordinary local incomes could afford. Some said the people who can’t afford homes didn’t deserve to live here. Others believed it was a failure of local workers or employers that people were unable to afford high prices.

Efforts to build workforce housing were defeated again and again by fears that if local workers occupy homes nearby property values will fall. The fear is patently false, yet fiction has trumped fact again and again.

Such “wins” never take place in public. Projects are scuttled with backroom maneuvers that defeat funding for housing, by threats of frivolous lawsuits or through the use of ordinances that allow large developments to buy out of providing workforce housing by paying in-lieu fees that go nowhere.

Instead of workforce housing, parks, new city facilities and public employee housing allowances get the nod. Development of quiet parks and housing for emergency service workers isn’t controversial. Housing for everyone else is another matter.

So it was no surprise this week that first-term Ketchum City Councilwoman Courtney Hamilton said, “We haven’t done anything on affordable housing, and it’s driving me crazy.”

Longtime Councilman Michael David said the city needs to be more “aggressive.”

Those were nice words, but they’re meaningless. Ketchum’s priorities are clear. Construction on a new $11.5 million fire station will start soon. Then, the city will overhaul another building for a new City Hall that it bought for $3.1 million.

Housing is Ketchum’s version of the movie “Groundhog Day.” Same script, different day, sleep, repeat. It’s a tiresome rerun when no one is seriously crafting a happy ending.

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