For his part, Aslan said while he agreed that affordable housing was a significant issue in the city and one that the council should address, he had several problems with the resolution. He worried that declaring such a resolution, especially if they included language calling the situation an emergency, could diminish the weight of the climate emergency declaration.
The council declared a climate emergency over the summer when it also committed to making drastic reductions in Flagstaff’s carbon emissions.
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“A climate emergency to me was a very, very loud call that we made; it was something that we did that carried an enormous amount of weight above and beyond our normal business,” Aslan said. “A housing crisis — while I agree that it is urgent, that it is something that we need to address and something that we can address if we put our minds to it — it is not the same thing.”
Councilmember Jamie Whelan disagreed and said in her view, the issue of housing affordability was an emergency and the council should refer to it as such.
Vice mayor Adam Shimoni said based on his experience on Council trying to address the issue of affordable housing, such a resolution was critical. He said it was an important statement to all parts of the community that the council needed to take action.
“The NIMBYism in Flagstaff, it is really bugging me, it really is, and I used to understand that perspective more so. But now, being an elected (official) and representing the entire 75,000 population of Flagstaff — I mean, we need to address this because the status quo is not working,” Shimoni said. “Being someone who is a renter and not a homeowner and seeing the prices go up during this pandemic and more recently because of the market, because of the demand — I mean, houses are being bought in Flagstaff at cash prices, above listings again and again, and how am I ever supposed to live here?”