Addressing the Amenity Trap

While many rural places around the US are struggling, a number of communities have the opposite problem:  they are being loved to death.  Places like Bend OR, Jackson WY, Asheville, NC and NY’s Hudson Valley have seen a massive influx of new residents, attracted by each area’s natural beauty and in-demand amenities. Dealing with this influx can be challenging for planners, economic developers, and elected officials, who must develop policies that support full-time residents while also recognizing the economic importance of visitors and second home buyers. 

These towns face what is referred to as an amenity trap. As they attract new residents and visitors, costs for housing and other services go up, often pushing out long-time residents and changing the nature of the community. An excellent new guide, The Amenity Trap:  How High-Amenity Communities can avoid being loved to death,” from Headwaters Economics, offers tips on how to deal with issues related to housing, infrastructure, and emergency services in these high-amenity regions.  There is no silver bullet solutions for dealing with challenges like affordable housing supply, but this report offers many useful tips for addressing these problems and reducing their severity before things get out of hand.  Highly recommended!