Dear Governor Hickenlooper,
I’m writing today is because it’s fun to type your name, getting a lot of finger exercise. But besides that, I have a great idea I’d like to share with you, an idea that builds upon one of your own. Actually, I think the idea is an import from California, but you’re the one taking the lead in Colorado by appointing the tax force, excuse me, the task force for the Wildland-Urban Interface.
The task force has explained that the Wildland-Urban Interface, or WUI, (or Wooee) is just about any area where homes are built on, or near, lands prone to fire. That description fits the Front Range foothills and most of western Colorado. Their report will be issued at the end of this month, and one recommendation that has been frequently floated aloft, is to tax forest-dwellers for living in a place where an unexpected disaster could occur, noting that it is both dangerous and expensive to fight fires. Why should the rest of the state pay for such expenses through their insurance premiums when they’re not the ones exposed to the risk?
Being a Wooee myself, I can see that it’s a troubling problem: thrill-seeking people daring to live in a place with trees. Well, that’s actually not the problem so much as them wanting to build homes there. And really, that wouldn’t be a problem at all if trees and the homes weren’t flammable. But nature has chosen to confound us in many ways and the truth is that too often the silence of the wilderness is shattered by slurry bombers on their way to work.
Why do people want to live in the woods? Well, in many of the mountain communities, and almost all the resort mountain communities, most of the people who actually do live in the woods are the bartenders and housekeepers that serve the second/third/fourth homeowners who only pretend to live in the woods. They clear the forest to bring in imported logs to build their own personal Ponderosa where they’ll spend two or three weeks the first year, but fall off after that.
WUI task force chairwoman Barbara Kelley said, “Given the fact that these properties present a fairly unique risk profile, it might be a reasonable basis to have them share a little bit more in the cost of addressing and mitigating those risks.”
Governor, I’m sure you know that the Denver metro area lays inside Hail Alley, the most damaging hail region in the U.S. I don’t need to remind you that property damage in this region is responsible for half of Colorado homeowners insurance premiu, but I can’t recall the Wooees ever complaining. So I’m sure it won’t be long before you create a task force to look at the fairly unique risk profile of people living in the Hail-Urban Interface, or the Hooee.
Now, of course, we’ve got floods in places we couldn’t imagine, so I’m sure you’ll soon call a task force on the Flood-Urban Interface, or the Fooee.
Or maybe we’ve just gotten into an insane situation where so-called “insurance” companies get to pick, choose and limit what risks they will cover, taking their profit at the expense of human misery and personal financial disaster.
Jon de Vos