The world is run by the people who show up.
In the past 30 years, the majority of people who showed up and spoke at Ketchum public hearings opposed the locations of housing developments intended to be affordable for local workers.
They spoke passionately about the developments being in the “wrong” places.
They did so despite the fact that Blaine County and its cities agreed more than 40 years ago to put high-density development in the cities in order to prevent suburban sprawl from wrecking the area.
One wrong place was behind a three-story Main Street building. Another was a triangle-shaped lot on Second Avenue and Sixth Street. Another was a site above the Ketchum Cemetery. Another was a lot on Leadville that has remained a parking lot. Another was a lot in the light industrial district on Saddle Road.
When a condominium project that included a few price-controlled units was developed on the site of an old hotel on Warm Springs Road, comments were made in public hearings to the effect that it would be the beginning of the end of the world.
Public hearings on workforce housing developments are always rigged in favor of opponents. It’s not by design. No one blocks the doors of government chambers.
It’s just a fact of life that people who need affordable housing are often too shy to stand up and say so. Or, they are too busy working to pay the rent and take care of the family to be able to show up. Or, they think their comments won’t matter.
Business owners don’t show up or write letters in support of housing either because they know that some customers, whose business is important to their company’s survival, oppose housing. Employees fear for their jobs if they testify.
Ketchum’s housing shortage is now threatening the ability of businesses to keep their doors open. They can’t find employees because employees can’t find a place to live that they can afford.
Comments already filed with the city of Ketchum on the proposed Bluebird Village community housing development show that the weight of the opposition could sink it along with all of the other “not-the-right-place” projects.
Official consideration will begin next Wed., Aug. 10, at 4:30 p.m. when the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission will review the building’s design and take comments on it in a public hearing at City Hall. The meeting will also stream online with comments accepted.
If Ketchum is ever to say, “This is the place for affordable housing,” a lot more people are going to have to take time off work, lock their cynicism in a vault, leave their fear of public speaking at home—and show up.
“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to email@example.com.