Will the next move by the mayor of Ketchum be a call for a “local” emergency to secure approval and funding for affordable housing? The mayor and City Council and the P&Z are not getting what they want the way they want it.

Pros and cons are flowing (as well as lawsuits) from those involved in the LI 1, 2 and 3 zoning districts. There are commercial and light-industrial businesses that don’t want any affordable housing, residential units or live-work throughout all LI 1, 2 and 3. Then there are commercial businesses that favor live-work for themselves or their employees. There is so much finger-pointing and absolutely no one willing to compromise. And here we are, still months or longer without any resolutions that can provide affordable housing and legal live-work in the light-industrial zones.

I have been to a P&Z meeting where I sat and heard these commissioners oppose live-work on the ground floor, for fear of fires and toxic fumes endangering the residential above. Those comments left me speechless. Why would they oppose live-work on the ground floor of a toxic industrial use, but still allow housing above a toxic industrial use?

I am an advocate of more live-work in the Light Industrial, including the ground floor. Retail and other businesses usually want to be on the ground floor. Providing a business with a two-for-one option where they can live and work in the same space will bring new businesses to Ketchum. It will cut their costs to have to pay for housing (which doesn’t exist) and pay to lease a space for their business. No commuting means less traffic congestion. They will spend money in Ketchum and stimulate the economy.

I propose a solution. I’ve been told that the P&Z is committed to maintaining the Light Industrial in its perpetuity. So, separate light-industrial buildings from buildings that include residential or live-work. No living allowed in a building that is light industrial (manufacturing, noise, all-night deliveries) or on any floor that has toxic fumes or potential fire endangerment. Existing and new commercial buildings in the LI 1, 2 and 3 with no industrial uses and or toxic fumes, etc. can be mixed use, including affordable housing and live-work. A simple solution: industrial only, with no residential; nontoxic commercial; mixed use with affordable housing above; live-work allowed in all commercial nontoxic buildings, single story and higher.

Mary Rolland lives in Ketchum, where she operates an artist’s studio.

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