By Allen Best
More dog-gone penalties
TELLURIDE, Colo. – Dog-owners can get their snoots into plenty of trouble in Telluride for letting their pooches run free.
New penalties will be $100 and four hours of mandatory community service on first offense. Failure to remove pet poop from public places is worth $250 and another four hours of community service. Repeat offenses escalate the punishment.
The Telluride Watch says town council members weren’t unanimous about upping the ante. Speakers from the public were likewise divided. “I think these fines are awful, but that’s the point,’ said one person in support. “You’re casting a big net out,” warned another.
No evidence of exodus
VAIL, Colo. – When will the exodus begin? That was the immediate question posed when the real-estate economy began its freefall two years ago in Vail and the Eagle Valley. But there’s still no clear evidence of a massive exodus.
School enrollment provides hard numbers, and there the numbers have stayed flat, reports the Vail Daily.
This is in contrast with the economic slowdown after 9/11. At that time, enrollment in most mountain valleys showed a decline, although it wasn’t entirely clear what caused it. One theory of the time was that Gen X families were leaving mountain towns for cities, which they found more affordable.
The two high schools in the area between Winter Park and Steamboat Springs have also reported enrollment dips this year, according to Granby’s Sky-Hi News.
In the Vail area, if school enrollment doesn’t show outward migration, anecdotal reports do.
“What I’ve noticed is all of those people that were construction workers – drywallers, framers, roofers – those guys are no longer in town, and it’s notable,” said Dr. Stephen Warren, a veterinarian. “I’ve talk to a lot of those guys over the last few years who have been leaving town. There’s just not work.
The Vail Valley Salvation Army reports delivering food to 200 to 300 families every month, compared to 30 or 40 in former days.
Vail embraces social media
BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Vail Resorts this winter will introduce a new technology called EpicMix for use at all of the 89 chairlifts at its four resorts in Colorado and also Heavenly, at Lake Tahoe.
The technology allows skiers and riders to monitor their lift rides, vertical feet skied and number of ski days with chips embedded in their season passes and lift tickets. This information will be collected with radio-frequency scanners at each of the 89 lifts at the company’s five resorts.
The Denver Post explains that skiers, using smartphones or personal computers, can track their runs – sharing their information on Facebook and Twitter, if they want.
The technology also will alert skiers if their Facebook friends are skiing and show their locaton on the mountain.
“Talking about the day becomes a big part of the ski vacation and the ski experience,” Rob Katz, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, told the Vail Daily “We’ve been trying to find ways to let people engage in that dialogue, but not interfere with the experience.”
He presents EpicMix as a way to extend the ski experience beyond the ski day, but also beyond the ski vacation. “People will be able to look at the runs they did weeks later, just like looking at photographs,” Katz added.
Doing versus watching
WHISTLER, B.C. – Some 4,000 people in Lycra spandex and similar attire will assemble in Whistler in September for what will be the first large-scale road cycling event of its kind in British Columbia. But Pique Newsmagazine notes that it’s part of a trend.
The old style of tourism promotion was exemplified by the Olympics, which were held partly at Whistler in February. The municipality paid $6 million to help put that on. Most people were spectators.
But instead of paying athletes to visit Whistler, the community has begun to stage events where the athletes pay their own way — and become large-scale customers. Such events include the Whistler Half Marathon, the X-Terra Triathlon and the B.C. Bicycle Race.
The bicycle race in September, called Gran Fondo, is expected to grow from 4,000 to 10,000 cyclists in a few years.
“I do think there is a trend toward more participation, and it fits very well with the type of people who come to Whistler. They’re active, they want to get involved in these types of activities,” said Arlene Schieven, Vice President of Tourism Whistler.
Aspen real estate hits bump
ASPEN, Colo. – Aspen, always the bellwether for high-end real estate in mountain towns, hit a bump in July. Sales volume dropped by 41 percent as compared with last year. In stark contrast to that figure, however, dollar volume for the year remains up by 8 percent as compared to last year.
The Aspen Times reports that many real estate agents earlier this summer were cautiously optimistic that the Aspen-area market was slowly turning around. That still might be the case, as there were plenty of shoppers — just not as many sales.
Exurbs continue price decline
JACKSON, Wyo. – Studying statistics from the Idaho side of the Teton Range, Jackson Hole News & Guide economics columnist Jonathan Schechter finds the economy of Idaho’s Teton Valley to be a wreck. Even in the last year, while home prices have dropped 5 percent, the average price of an undeveloped lot has dropped 39 percent.
The two valleys that share a common border of the Tetons are both wondrously beautiful, but Jackson Hole has the national parks and a stronger economy. In the last 60 years, that economy blossomed from an agricultural base into tourism and then second-home and other real estate development.
Until recently, Idaho’s Teton Valley remained primarily a place of farms and ranches, if also increasingly becoming a bedroom community for workers in Jackson Hole who were willing to have long commutes for single-family homes they could afford and sometimes the exurban large-lot living.
In the last decade, when the real-estate market began getting feverish. landowners wanted to subdivide. And the conservative county commissioners liberally allowed subdivisions, the number of lots more than doubling in the last nine years. This fast outpaced population growth. .
Real estate sales and dollar volume have both fallen about 80 percent from the 2007 peak.
“This, of course, is classic boom-bust, a cycle that would have been mitigated – not avoided, but mitigated – had the county shown some restraint in approving subdivisions during the last decade,” Schechter writes.