Quality of life means different things to different people

Save Historic Jackson Hole appreciates the ink from Planet JH with this week’s feature: “Saving the Real Jackson Hole: Without housing and a workforce, there is no quality of life in Teton County.”

While we can’t quite see eye-to-eye with the journalist who wrote the piece (Angelica Leicht), we embrace the dialogue, always, that it launches. We as a community need to air out this kind of stuff. What does quality of life mean to you? What is the “Old West” anymore, anyways? And is housing here a crisis that needs emergency government intervention?

SHJH is a voice to those who feel their community is being ripped away from them by decisions that spur us hurtling toward a big city future.

  • Tenement housing, government-sponsored apartment projects built with taxpayers’ mortgage money.
  • Mass transit busing ‘solutions’ that are little more than an illusion propped up and subsidized in order to justify even more development.
  • The destruction of quaint neighborhood character as a result of the reckless pursuit of evermore density.

SHJH also serves as an educational resource for those like the author of this news story. We so desperately want newcomers to know what it is we cherish about our small town western character and why we fight for it with a passion.

Leicht writes: “I’m admittedly a relative newby to JH — just under three months and counting — and Jackson is certainly more rural than many of the other cities I’ve lived in. Still, I’m not entirely sure I understand what’s left of the Old West to protect.”

Well, Angelica, as a recent transplant who worked in cities like Dallas and Houston, Jackson may seem small by comparison but it is quickly becoming host to all those undesirable blights besetting big cities—crime, traffic, and over-crowding.

What’s left to protect? Every elk, bison, and mule deer from careless motorists unaware of how to drive in the ‘country’ because they are from a land of freeways, stoplights and onramps. We want to protect our clean air and water.

We fight for the family that saves every penny to make a mortgage on a quiet lot in east Jackson only to watch a towering high-rise hotel go up next door and blot out the sun on their backyard swingset. As an added insult, they are being asked to pay a tax to provide housing and transportation for this hotel’s employees because Jackson has a “housing crisis.”

Taxpayers (your fellow Americans and Jackson Hole neighbors) should not be obligated to house you or anyone else as you suggest in your opinion piece. (“…it seems laughable that there shouldn’t be a responsibility among taxpayers to help fund affordable housing.”) No one should be responsible for building you (or any one else) a home. Not another citizen (wealthier or poorer) and not a business.

However, because commercial developers are the main reason we have such a demand for workers here (and thusly a place for them to live), it is hardly unfair to ask they make sure every employee they will need is housed instead of tiny portion of them. This is 100% mitigation.

SHJH is not unaware of nor unaffected by the lack of housing in Teton County. We are not unsympathetic to people paying outrageous rents, families barely getting by, and others choosing to move away to a more affordable place. The freedom to move on. The hard work it takes to stick. These are basic tenets of democracy and capitalism at work. Housing is a real issue here. But it is not a crisis or an emergency like a natural disaster that needs immediate government intervention to fix.

At any rate, again, we appreciate the dialogue. Thank you, Planet JH and Angelica Leicht for keeping this in the news and sharing your perspective. We all make up the threads of the fabric of this community.