America’s Favorite Towns
No. 1 Aspen, CO
Beauty abounds in this tony ski town, from the 14,000-foot heights of the surrounding peaks to its residents, who won the No. 2 spot in the survey’s attractive people category—second only to the southern belles of Oxford, MS. (And looks aren’t everything: Aspenites also scored No. 3 for intelligence.) Victorian-era brick façades housing chic boutiques like Fendi and Prada lend an Old West–meets–Fifth Avenue appeal to the former mining town’s walkable streets, which encompass the No. 3–ranked Main Street and No. 1 town square.
For more towns go to http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/americas-favorite-towns-2013/1
In the wake of a month where consumers’ confidence in home prices remained strong even as mortgage rates leaped, more Americans may rush to buy in order to capitalize on still favorable market conditions, Fannie Mae’s chief economist said about the results of Fannie Mae’s June 2013 National Housing Survey.
“The spike in mortgage rate expectations this month seems to have had an impact on a number of the survey’s indicators and may increase housing activity in the near term by driving urgency to buy,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae.
“Consumers may recognize that today’s still favorable mortgage rates and homeownership affordability levels will recede over time. Given rising home and rental price expectations and improving personal financial attitudes, more prospective homebuyers may be deciding that now is the time to get off the fence.”
With the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rising by well over one percentage point from early May to the end of June, the share of consumers who believed mortgage rates will increase jumped by 11 percentage points to a record high of 57 percent in June, according to Fannie Mae’s survey.
But despite growing belief in a development that would chip away at affordability, the survey still found that the share of respondents who believed home prices will go up in the next year hit a survey high of 57 percent, while those who believed that home prices would go down remained flat at a survey low of 7 percent.
Still, the average 12-month home price change expectation fell marginally from last month’s survey high of 3.9 percent to 3.8 percent, Fannie Mae reported.
Likely reflecting a recognition that rising mortgage rates may erode affordability, the share of survey respondents who believe that now is a good time to buy fell from 76 to 72 percent, while the share who say now is a good time to sell dropped from 40 to 36 percent.
Though increasing rates could spur some buyers to pull the trigger, today’s inventory shortage could continue to hold back home sales, Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko recently tweeted.
“People might want to buy before rates rise, but tight inventory makes it hard to find what you want fast,” he said.
- See more at: http://www.inman.com/2013/07/08/rising-mortgage-rates-could-push-up-housing-demand/#sthash.Oq3ABT5Q.dpuf
The Aspen City Council on Tuesday decided it will make legal what many bicyclists already are doing: rolling through stop signs.
With little discussion, Mayor Steve Skadron and council members Ann Mullins and Adam Frisch agreed with Aspen police and other city staff members to create an ordinance that allows bicyclists to use stop signs in the same manner that motorists use a yield sign. Councilman Art Daily, who is traveling, was not present for Tuesday’s work session.
The new rule — heralded as a safety measure and a possible incentive for more people to use bikes — won’t become official until it goes through the council’s regular meeting cycle with an introduction at one meeting and a vote for or against final approval at another.
“I am ready to move forward with this,” Skadron said. “I think it’s safe, sensible and efficient bike transport.”
In February, the City Council discussed the issue after Aspen police brought information to them about the “stop-as-yield approach” which has worked in Idaho for many years. A 2008 study by the University of California at Berkeley showed that in Idaho, police and motorists have accepted the measure as public policy that makes sense.
Boise, a city with a large percentage of regular bicyclists compared with motorists, has become safer as a result of the change, the study indicated.
“The study determined that bicyclists are actually at greater risk when they stop at stop signs because of a few factors,” Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said in February. “One of them being that there is always an unknown element when a bicyclist comes to a stop sign to the motorists in the area. Is that bike going to stop or not?”
Proponents of “stop as yield” cite the difficulty some cyclists have in dealing with the bike’s inertia when coming to a hard stop and faulty gear that fails to allow them to stop on time.
Also at that February meeting, council members asked staffers to gather more community input. City Engineer Trish Aragon said Tuesday that local bike-shop owners aren’t against the rule change, expressing the general opinion that cyclists “were doing it already.”
Mullins suggested that Pitkin County government ought to be informed about the reasons behind the rule change in order to consider making the same decision so that cyclists aren’t confused as they ride in and out of city and county boundaries.
Frisch said he doesn’t see the need for extra signage next to standard stop signs that say “except for bicycles.”
“I think it’s a waste of money and clutter, and if people still slow and stop, they slow and stop,” he said.
The question arose as to whether the rule change will apply to Highway 82, a state thoroughfare.
“Both Breckenridge and Dillon have the same issue, and they have worked it out with (the Colorado Department of Transportation), and CDOT is allowing them to (let bicyclists) yield at stop signs on the state highway,” Aragon said. “I’m assuming that since Breckenridge and Dillon were able to do it that we would be able to do it, too.”
Frisch brought up the issue of the legalities of bicycling on sidewalks, which was a council topic last year that fell by the wayside after former Councilman Derek Johnson spoke out. He said he would go “ballistic” if one of his kids came home with a police citation for riding on a sidewalk.
“I read that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration doesn’t recommend that kids 10 or under ride on the streets,” Frisch said.
Linn reminded Frisch and others that riding a bicycle on an Aspen sidewalk still is illegal for everyone, young or old, and subject to a fine, although police rarely enforce the law anywhere except the downtown pedestrian malls, where they ask riders to get off and walk their bikes.
Some last-minute JAS tips
Not all of the music on hand for this weekend’s Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival will require a ticket to enjoy the tunes.
Jazz Aspen Snowmass will host a free lawn party on the Aspen Music Festival grounds near the Benedict Music Tent, where live music will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Two stages will include world jazz from Tizer and the Mezcla Afro-Cuban Allstars. Food booths will be on hand as well, along with full-service bars.
No parking will be available onsite, with the exception of patron/VIP ticket holders.
However, bus service to the music grounds, provided by the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, will be available.
Also, Jazz Aspen Snowmass has arranged shuttle service to and from Rubey Park Transit Center through Colorado Mountain Express, with shuttles running continuously from 7 to 11 p.m. today and Saturday, and from 6 to 11 p.m. Sunday. WE-cycle also will provide bicycles for those willing to pedal their way to and from the concerts.
Also, no camera, radio or recording devices are allowed inside the Benedict Music Tent. No cellphone photography is permitted either.
Tickets for today’s Jackson Browne performance are sold out, while they remain available for the Saturday performance featuring Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite as well as the Sunday performance by the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Naturally 7.
Tickets are available by calling 866-JAS-TIXX, visiting the Belly Up Aspen box office or visiting www.jazzaspensnowmass.org.
Colorado becomes first to fully regulate recreational ganja use
TROY HOOPER | Wed., May 29, 2013 @ 9:14 am
A marijuana rally on April 20, 2012, in Denver. (My 420 Tours)
DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a half dozen bills into law Tuesday that regulate how marijuana can be grown and sold in Colorado while also attempting to shield children from it and keep stoned drivers off of the road.
The legislation is in response to Amendment 64 — a law Coloradans approved in a statewide vote in November that legalizes the use and limited possession of recreational marijuana for adults.
Colorado is now the first place on Earth to fully regulate the recreational use of marijuana for people 21 and over. The smokeable plant, however, remains illegal under federal law, which puts it on par with heroin — a classification marijuana advocates, and many scientists, find laughable.
Ending the marijuana prohibition is expected to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue and take profits out of the black market. “Certainly, this industry will create jobs,” Hickenlooper said at the bills’ signing. “Whether it’s good for the brand of our state is still up in the air. But the voters passed Amendment 64 by a clear majority. That’s why we’re going to implement it as effectively as we possibly can.”
One of the laws the governor signed lays the framework for an excise tax — essentially a wholesale tax — that can be as much as 15 percent. The first $40 million in revenue from the excise tax will annually go to the Building Excellent Schools Today program. The law also lays the framework for a sales tax that will start at 10 percent, but is capped at 15 percent. Colorado voters, however, still must approve the taxes.
In an effort to curb interstate marijuana trafficking, one of Colorado’s new laws limits out-of-state residents from buying more than a quarter-ounce in a single sale, though they can possess an ounce.
Until September 2014, the pot trade will be limited to businesses already up and running that now sell medicinal marijuana. Sellers must also be Colorado residents for at least two years and pass a background check — rules designed to prevent the state from attracting drug cartels and other criminal elements.
If they so choose, communities can ban retail pot sales, similar to how some of them currently outlaw medicinal marijuana dispensaries. Marijuana is not allowed on school grounds, child care centers or in community residential homes and the new laws attempt to define what it means to be using marijuana “openly” and “publicly,” and specify how it may be stored. The new legislation also attempts to curtail communal smoking at marijuana clubs by not exempting them from indoor air laws like they do cigar clubs.
Although there is already a law on the books targeting drug-using drivers, a new one will go into effect that says motorists are too stoned to drive if their blood contains more than 5 nanograms of THC from marijuana. The law is controversial as tests have been all over the map with some showing some regular smokers might have enough THC in their bloodstream even if they hadn’t inhaled the drug for 24 hours.
There is a deadline of July 1 for the Colorado Department of Revenue to implement the legislation Hickenlooper signed and by October it must begin accepting applications for marijuana stores.
Federal officials have remained mum on Amendment 64 — as well as a similar law passed in Washington state — but Hickenlooper said that he expects the U.S. Department of Justice to weigh in soon.
U.S. Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., introduced a bill in February that would exempt states like Colorado from federal marijuana laws. The bill has been assigned to committee.
CFMA is an association of independent farmers markets in Colorado. Our organization does not operate any farmers markets. If you are interested in being a vendor at one of our member markets, or if you would like more information about a specific market, you should contact that market directly. Markets marked “EBT” accept Colorado Quest card Food Stamp benefits.
What does it mean to be a Colorado Proud Farmers Market?
Farmers Markets who meet the Colorado Proud labeling guidelines and have been approved by the Colorado Department of Agriculture Marketing Division, are eligible to use the Colorado Proud Logo.
The COLORADO PROUD logo maybe used to promote any food or agricultural product that has been grown, raised or processed in Colorado. Fresh produce, herbs, grains and horticultural products must be grown in Colorado. Livestock must be raised in Colorado. Value-added consumer foods (jams, salsas, sauces, chips, dairy, sausage, jerky, etc.) must be manufactured in Colorado and companies are encouraged to use ingredients that are grown or raised in Colorado. Non-food items must be at least 50 percent agricultural origin by weight, and that agricultural base must have been grown, raised or processed in Colorado
Supporting Colorado Proud Farmers Markets strengthens agriculture, local communities and local economies. For more information about the Colorado Proud Program, visit their website: www.coloradoproud.org OR click on the link below
The effort to clear snow to the summit of Independence Pass was in the final stretch Monday after a helicopter crew dropped bombs into avalanche chutes that posed a threat to equipment operators.
A helicopter hired by the Colorado Department of Transportation dropped 36 bombs on the east side of the summit and five charges in the Roaring Fork West and Roaring Fork East slide areas about two miles from the summit on the Aspen side.
From a safe site a short distance east of the Independence ghost town, highway maintenance supervisor Don Poole and two members of his crew, Adam Wano and Jeff Lewis, watched the helicopter hover over the Continental Divide and drop the 33-pound charges. After a lengthy delay, the explosions sounded like rifle blasts, reverberating off the high peaks. Other times, the sound was muffled, depending on the direction of the chute that was targeted.
When a CDOT avalanche expert examined the control work from the air and deemed it a success, the ground crew fired up a snowblower the size of an SUV and started eating into the 5-foot-high wall of snow that covers the final two miles of the road. By late Monday, the crew was close to the Upper Lost Man Loop parking area — where Highway 82 forms a big horseshoe before heading up the steep, long grade to the summit.
“It is the toughest two miles from this point, for sure,” Poole said.
“It’ll probably take us as long to clear that out as it did the whole rest of the danged road,” said Jeff Lewis, a highway maintenance worker who is driving some of the equipment to clear the pass.
The crew started working the last week of April, preferring to get started early in the day, when temperatures are lower. Wet, heavy snow clogs the snowblower.
While the winter was mild, the snowpack caught up in April. It’s left behind a 5-foot blanket that covers the roadway and surrounding terrain, making it tricky for an equipment operator to know exactly where the road is located.
“It’s like a brick wall,” Lewis said of the remaining snowbank. “Once you start breaking it up, it melts like crazy.”
CDOT records indicate that the west approach to Independence Pass has about 90 percent of its average snowpack. The east side of the pass is about 100 percent of average, Poole said, but the Aspen side gets a higher amount of snow than the Twin Lakes side because of the mountain dynamics.
Poole expressed confidence that the crew will have the road cleared to the summit by the scheduled opening May 23.
“If we do get it (cleared) before then, we’ll be opening it up,” he said.
Cyclists in Saturday’s Ride for the Pass have clear sailing from the closure gate to Independence, where the official, timed course ends. Many riders continue up the road after the event. They shouldn’t expect to make it to the summit. Poole said the crew would be roughly halfway up the steep, long grade by Saturday.
The avalanche-control work didn’t bring down much snow on the Aspen side of the pass Monday, but CDOT won’t take any risks with its employees. It errs on the side of caution. The recent warm weather has increased the chances of “wet” avalanches, Poole said.
Each member of the maintenance crew has an avalanche beacon, a probe and a shovel. They take mandatory snow-safety training.
Lewis said there is more peace of mind for him as an equipment operator after the avalanche-control work is performed. Still, he said, the crew keeps an eye on the slopes for any developing danger. A spotter works with the equipment operators on the final stretch.
The crew is using one heavy-duty loader with chains wrapped around the 6-foot-diameter tires to push the oversized snowblower along. It chews an 8-foot-wide swath through the snow with rotors and spits it out in a large arc to the side of the road. The snowblower clears the left half of the road. A second loader trails behind to scoop the snow off the right lane.
The crew expects to cover less than a quarter mile per day while clearing snow. The snowblower creeps along despite its size and power. There is more to opening the highway than clearing the snowbanks. The crew must clear rocks that continually pepper the road at this time of year. Guardrails beat up by the snow must be repaired, potholes will be patched, and erosion on the shoulder will be filled.
While waiting for the avalanche-control work, the maintenance-crew members said working in the solitude of the pass is a treat compared with their usual duties. The only sounds were water rushing beneath the snow and birds in the forest. The staff is responsible for maintenance of Highway 82 from mile marker 14 near Carbondale to the summit of Independence Pass and Highway 133 to the south side of McClure Pass. Lewis said the other Highway 82 crew was sweeping the road through Snowmass Canyon. That’s in contrast to the work on the pass, where traffic isn’t an issue right now.
A different crew is working to open the road from the Twin Lakes side.
“It’s kind of a competition to see who gets to the top (first),” Poole said. Radio communication is tough between the east and west sides, so it’s a guessing game on how the opposing crew is doing.
Pitkin County real estate market shows signs of life
The total dollar volume of all sales in the county in April was $111,269,029, according to a review by The Aspen Times of all deeds filed with the Pitkin County clerk and recorder for the month. That is an increase of 12 percent from the $99,180,781 in sales for the same month in the prior year.
After a torrid end to 2012, the real estate market had a tepid start to 2013. January sales were down 17.36 percent. Sales were off 15.37 percent in February and another 30 percent in March, according to a report by Land Title Guarantee Co.
For the first quarter of the year, sales were at $191.35 million. That was down nearly 22.5 percent from the 2012 first-quarter mark of $246.70 million, the title company’s report showed.
April improved those numbers a little bit. Total sales dollar volume from January through April was $345.88 million this year. That is a deficit of 12.5 percent, or $43.3 million, compared with the year-to-date figure through April 2012.
There were 72 transactions in April, according to deeds filed with the county clerk. They ranged from the large deals, such as the $8.5 million sale of the Windstar property in Old Snowmass, to affordable-housing sales in Aspen. The total number of transactions was up slightly from 64 last year.
April was the strongest sales month of the year so far. Sales totaled $79.87 million in January, $38.39 million in February and $73.08 million in March.
Last year also started slow, but the real estate market was on fire for most of the second half. It was punctuated by a December that rivaled the industry’s strong months before the recession. December sales were so strong because of tax changes implemented this year.