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.