OPINION: The Gentrification of Pagosa Springs

By Greg Giehl

After sitting through a so-called Property Assessment Appeal hearing and witnessing the panel ignore all evidence that was given to them and rush to uphold the Assessor’s 65% property value increase on a property in town, it became clear that the Gentrification of Pagosa Springs is taking place. Just like Telluride, Leadville, Aspen, Craig, and many other small towns in Colorado that have been invaded by wealthy investors, properties are selling at greatly inflated prices.

The people who have no desire to sell are having their properties revalued and being forced to pay the taxes on their private property as though they just sold it for a high price, even though it was never for sale. Inevitably this will lead to elderly and poor people being forced out of their homes because they will no longer be able to pay the higher taxes being demanded by their government employees. The properties will eventually be sold or stolen by the very government that is supposed to serve them.

Yes, I emphasize stolen because both the federal and state constitutions clearly say that private property shall not be taken without just compensation. Every year in the public notice section of this newspaper, we read about foreclosures and tax sales. In a foreclosure or tax sale, the property owner is never compensated for their interest in the property. The property is stolen from them using the police power of the state and the court to enforce the theft.

To witness gentrification just look at the main street running through downtown and the banks and ridge overlooking the San Juan river. Where small older houses and mobile homes once stood, the places hardworking members of the community lived, now stand huge condominiums and large houses with price tags that the Pagosa economy were never able to support. This is not a new phenomena, it is history repeating itself in a different location… some call it neighborhood cycling. Either way the Pagosa Springs many of us know and love is dying and being swept away.

I get a sense that evil moved in with some of this growth. Look at all fences and gates that have appeared in town. More and more fences are required by the Town. Yards used to be wide open and you could see around the houses. No trespassing signs and gated driveways are now across the top of the ridge where the new development is taking place.

Pagosa used to be more open, helpful and friendly.

The commissioners voted themselves a pay raise. Their push for a new court palace and jail are in the news. Somebody has to pay for it. The question of building a new jail is set for a vote of the people. The question of how to pay for the new jail is not set for a vote of the people. The politicians and unelected government employees want free reign to do as they please and need to be able to leverage everybody’s private property to get the money needed for all pet projects in the works. We the People, can demand a vote on the funding side of all capital investments.

Are the people going to wake up to what is in the works before it’s too late? We could eventually have taxes as high as they are in Texas.

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