Every argument in the book against housing for people with jobs is on the record somewhere within the Wood River Valley. No new or persuasive arguments have been put forth in decades.

They are always the same. They are trite, tiresome and hypocritical.

They have proven just one thing: People who work jobs that contribute to the local economy need affordable housing, and they should be able to find it everywhere they look.

Every subdivision in the area should contain housing that local wage-earners can afford. Developments with dazzling mansions should also have homes affordable to those with less than stratospheric incomes.

Every part of every city in the area, with the possible exception of those with operations detrimental to human health, should be open for development of affordable apartments, condominiums, townhouses and single-family homes.

It’s past time local elected leaders stood fast against the insidious economic tribalism that crept out of Sun Valley into Ketchum, and that today extends all the way to Timmerman Hill.

The influx of COVID refugees that arrived in the valley during the past year just added to pressures and attitudes that had already made housing scarce for hard-working citizens. Now prices for housing anywhere in the valley are entirely unaffordable to even high middle-income families.

The vocal and shortsighted have repeatedly defeated proposed housing for all levels of wage-earners. Dissenters claimed that development after development was in the wrong place, was too dense, would clog up parking, would generate too much traffic and drive down property values.

These arguments are wrong. Again and again, sites proposed for apartments have turned out to be just fine for townhouses or condos for residents who brought their incomes with them.

What is happening in the Wood River Valley is beyond mere gentrification. It is society at war with itself. In wealthy Sun Valley, billionaires oppose housing for millionaires. In Ketchum, one-percenters and equity-rich retirees oppose housing for nearly everyone else. Similar tensions exist in Hailey and Bellevue.

The situation is unhealthy. It threatens the heart and soul of our communities: our people.

Bald Mountain is the engine of the local economy. Without wage-earners, the lifts don’t run. Businesses and services—including medical services—don’t operate.

There is only one place for housing for the 99 percent: everywhere.


“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 editorialboard@mtexpress.com.

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