Why do you hate Pueblo West?
September 23, 2016
I’m teaching a real estate class this term at CSU-Pueblo and a couple weeks ago one of my students asked, “Why do you hate Pueblo West?”
I answered, “I don’t hate Pueblo West. What makes you think I do?”
He replied, “You say so on your blog.”
Well, I don’t think I’ve come right out and said explicitly “I hate Pueblo West” anywhere on my blog. But I acknowledge I’ve written a few blog posts that aren’t terribly flattering. One post in particular (Funding the City of Pueblo) in which I suggest setting up a toll booth for inbound traffic on Highway 50, later published by the Pueblo Chieftain, even generated some hate mail from PW residents. So, I guess my student has a point.
The truth is I don’t feel any hatred toward Pueblo West. And I understand the appeal of living there for people who want a more quiet, serene version of Pueblo. Thanks to the ridiculous costs involved in building within city limits (courtesy of the difficult-to-work-with Pueblo Regional Building Department) Pueblo West is also the only place where you can find a reasonable supply of newer housing with modern amenities. I get it.
The problem is Pueblo West has become too densely populated. I don’t know who was in charge of zoning decisions during the housing boom but at some point developers were given the green light to build on relatively small parcels. If we could go back in time and enact an urban growth boundary, forcing residential developers to build on a minimum lot size, say 2-5 acres, things would be completely different. And much better.
The result of loads of people relocating to Pueblo West is a smaller tax base in the City of Pueblo combined with an expansive and more expensive infrastructure. This is why we don’t have enough money to hire sufficient numbers of police officers. This is one of the reasons District 60 is struggling. This is why my idea to set up toll collection for inbound vehicle traffic from Pueblo West makes sense to me.
It probably also makes sense to Joe Minicozzi, the architect and urban planning expert from Asheville, North Carolina who addressed the Colorado Downtown Inc conference at the Pueblo Convention Center this week. He analyzed land use data in Pueblo County and pointed out the negative economic impact of the sprawl in Pueblo West.
Please read the story by Dennis Darrow published in today’s Pueblo Chieftain. The Chieftain buried it on page 5A but it should be above the fold on page 1, instead of the Von Miller story, for all Pueblo residents to read.
We must become more intelligent and data-driven when it comes to financing government in Pueblo. Our only solution to budget challenges seems to be a never-ending parade of sales tax initiatives. Sales tax increases are the wrong approach because they unfairly burden low income city residents and create incentive for many businesses to locate outside the city limits. We must be smart enough to reward businesses and residents for using existing infrastructure rather than stretching our already tapped public budgets.
There must be more incentive to invest in Downtown Pueblo. And, there should also be disincentives for increasing the footprint of our infrastructure.
I still like my idea for a toll booth.
I would like to comment anonymously.
A decade I knew someone intimately who worked in Pueblo West involved in its civil engineering. On a daily basis I felt like an unpaid psychotherapist for this person helping alleviate or displace copius amounts of irony, one might even say cubic-yards of irony. Once advertised as a Planned Community beneath the surface it seemed anything but sticking to a plan. Changing these as they had made for any number of hi-jinks that were either laughably temporary to permanently upsetting. I too in my trade also had to work out there as a painter.
I don’t get Pueblo West, I guess. It seemed so desolate at times. It’s just where I had to work. It seems such a contrived place, a bedroom community then, whatever that was. You had to drive quite a ways to the two places that had convinience stores. There weren’t any public spaces. So…the place seemed anti-social. It just followed that a certain kind of anti-social people wanted to live there. And of course it was cheaper for sales tax, plots to build a house.
Perhaps it’s the monoculture or lack of natural vegetation that really drives me insane about it too. People would plant Aspen or willow trees and water the heck out of them and try to transform it into something it is not. Why not just move to where the trees are located? The dust and wind also drive me bats. The shale made the place look like Mars in spots.
I don’t hate the place, but I sure don’t like it. I kinda can stand the all night long clanking noises of the steel mill. They become reassuring of enterprise and human continuity. So it costs more to live and build in Pueblo, so what? You get what you pay for.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It may cost less, short term, in PW for developers and home buyers but it costs all of Pueblo City and County more in the long run. Best, Justin