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        公園業務日漸火爆,從業者為何會淪落至無家可歸?

        公園業務日漸火爆,從業者為何會淪落至無家可歸?

        K. Sophie Will 2021年11月24日
        旅游業蓬勃發展,從業人員卻因房價太高買不起房。

        就在錫安國家公園(Zion National Park)外,一些當地旅游業員工被迫住在野外無家可歸。

        每年都有數百萬游客穿過猶他州門戶鎮斯普林代爾,前往全美排名第三的國家公園,然而當地企業想找員工很困難,留住就更難,即使數百萬美國人為躲避“新冠幽閉癥”紛紛出行提振旅游業,也未見改善。

        與全美其他很多知名社區一樣,問題在于人們住得起的房子嚴重缺乏。

        阿什利·加特曼今年28歲,是斯普林代爾頗受歡迎的比特和斯珀爾餐廳(Bit and Spur restaurant)服務員,目前她住在1976年款橙白相間的El Dorado面包車里,跟宿營地點土地管理局鐵銹色的建筑顏色倒是相當一致。

        加特曼只有一張床、小廚房,還有個不插電的窗式空調,她已經在車上住了四年,主要原因就是在鎮上買不起房。

        蓋特曼說:“很快小鎮就撐不下去了,因為沒有足夠的員工服務鎮上的游客?!?/p>

        因為買不起房,現在猶他州斯普林代爾比特和斯珀爾餐廳的服務員阿什利·加特曼住在面包車里。圖片來源:Chris Caldwell—The Spectrum

        在猶他州華盛頓縣,工作崗位中七分之一跟旅游業掛鉤,斯普林代爾的旅游業工作崗位占總數60%以上,但在人們工作所在地,這座三英里長一英里寬小鎮上,很多人不管工資高低連小房子也買不起。

        “有些外地人想來這工作。得到機會時挺興奮,但最后都來不了,就是因為合適的房子太難找,甚至根本找不到,”鎮商會錫安峽谷游客局(Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau)主席內特·威爾斯說。

        隨著全美勞動力短缺,之前隔絕的小鎮紛紛發現面臨增加勞動力的巨大壓力,因為國家公園游客數量創下了歷史新高。

        一年前旅游業開始繁榮以來,各地公園和門戶小鎮損壞公物、亂丟垃圾、破壞資源以及工作人員、當地人和游客之間的沖突均急劇增加。

        猶他州五座國家公園中的四座,阿契斯公園(Arches)、峽谷地公園( Canyonlands)、 圓頂礁公園(Capitol Reef)和錫安公園,今年6月都打破了單月游客人數的最高記錄。這給從未在如此短時間內接待大批游客的小鎮造成了不小壓力。

        正因如此,受可容納人流和車流的限制,阿契斯公園不得不暫時推遲幾個月開放。

        美國各公園都出現了過度擁擠問題,甚至引起了聯邦政府關注。今年夏天美國參議院能源和自然資源委員會(Committee on Energy and Natural Resources)議員召開會議,就游客過多及影響問題質詢負責國家公園的官員。

        管理聯邦公園的官員表示,對錫安和當地社區應對游客的方式比較滿意。7月官員們在會議上表示,從疫情初期強制購買班車車票,到向東邊入口分流游客,錫安很多做法都可成為其他公園的榜樣。

        “跟錫安和周邊地區交流后,我們很興奮,” 美國國家公園管理局(National Park Service)區域主管邁克爾·雷諾茲表示?!柏撠熑耍ń芊颍┎祭喜┖头浅炐愕膱F隊在應對游客方面非常有創新精神,沒出現什么問題,而且跟社區合作伙伴一路領先?!?/p>

        然而,斯普林代爾當地雇主也很茫然,既要平衡旅游業利潤,又要努力留住找不到棲身之所的員工,哪怕起薪創下新高也收效甚微。

        “雇主從事的不是慈善業務。企業都要賺錢,”猶他州勞動力服務部(Department of Workforce Services)地區經濟學家萊西亞·蘭斯頓表示。他指的是,不斷提升工資能解決住房負擔問題,然而企業做不到。

        猶他州斯普林代爾的錫安等國家公園里旅游業蓬勃發展,當地旅游業員工卻因房價太高買不起房。圖片來源:Getty Images

        蓬勃發展的經濟正是推升房價,導致當地員工無力購買的原因。

        公園外的土地由于靠近國家公園,市場價值從每英畝25萬美元到200萬美元不等。再加上偏遠地區建造成本高企,新冠病毒導致全球供應鏈延遲,房價一路飛漲。

        “2020年木材(成本)增加了四倍,進一步(加大)了住房成本與中等收入家庭負擔能力的差距,”2020年錫安公共財政部關于斯普林代爾住房戰略的報告指出。

        今年5月,木材價格創下歷史新高,比疫情前高出300%,到現在全美價格仍然居高不下。

        員工還感覺受到世代住在斯普林代爾的居民排擠,當地人不希望住宅密度過高,而且一直在抵制新一批有能力支付高價的遠程辦公移民。

        “有大批腰包滿滿的人涌入小縣城,出價能比掛牌價高出15萬美元,而且直接付現金,”猶他州CBC Mortgage的首席多元化官泰·克里斯滕森說。他還指出,正是這些外來者把本地人擠出了市場。

        最近哈佛大學一項研究表明,疫情爆發后很多知識工作者不必再通勤,很多人都在尋找遠離辦公密集區域的低成本住房。

        可用住房存量中很大一部分在愛彼迎和類似平臺上掛出,賺取短期租金。

        根據猶他大學凱姆C.加德納政策研究所(Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)估計,該縣短期出租房屋數量從2017年的大約1300套增加到今年的3000多套,增加了約141%。

        而且,新來者出的價格對于想搬到小鎮居住的新員工來說簡直遙不可及。加德納政策研究所估計,華盛頓縣休閑和酒店業員工月平均工資僅為1572美元,略高于每小時9美元,即每年約20000美元。

        更偏遠的地方住房可能更便宜,但要支付額外的通勤成本,對低收入工人造成了損失。

        “斯普林代爾提供的大部分工作都是面向旅游的服務業,然而旅游員工想找到價格合適的住房更加困難,”斯普林代爾社區發展總監湯姆·丹西說。

        根據住房戰略報告,由于斯普林代爾住房短缺,每天有1000多名員工通勤。

        “如果在斯普林代爾工作和生活的人下了班還要回自己家,對社區的投資就會減少,”丹西談到員工不得不搬到遠處的趨勢時說?!拔覀儾幌胍呙芏茸》?;不想要大量公寓;不想感覺像城市一樣,擁擠、密集又發達?!?/p>

        布魯斯·詹金斯是當地專門研究房東與租客法律和建筑缺陷的律師,他目睹了住房危機如何達到高潮。

        詹金斯表示,圍繞住房問題進行了長達數十年的訴訟之后,建造更多住房是保護猶他州占總面積三分之二的公共土地的唯一途徑。

        “不能再擴張了,”他說?!耙院笕藗兡茏≡谀??只能住得更遠,再遠,要開更久的車才能上班?!?/p>

        猶他州一直高度關注無家可歸問題,州長簽署了法律,成立了無家可歸問題辦公室,3月還允許各城市捐贈房屋作為低價房。商會和縣政府正推動政府進一步參與,協助緩解住房危機,但政府官員表示目前干預的選擇有限。

        “我們盡了最大努力,州政府能做的也只有這么多,”猶他州州長斯賓塞·考克斯說。

        但當地人表示,在解決房地產危機的過程中,相互推諉的事時有發生。他們認為,現在應該共同尋找解決辦法。

        27歲曾擔任斯普林代爾副規劃師的索菲·弗蘭肯堡也曾經無家可歸,在貧瘠沙漠里當過加特曼的“鄰居”?,F在,她住在鹽湖城。

        弗蘭肯堡說:“背后的故事太諷刺,我很關心社區,想找不關心的人也挺難,然而情況還是很糟?!保ㄘ敻恢形木W)

        譯者:馮豐

        審校:夏林

        就在錫安國家公園(Zion National Park)外,一些當地旅游業員工被迫住在野外無家可歸。

        每年都有數百萬游客穿過猶他州門戶鎮斯普林代爾,前往全美排名第三的國家公園,然而當地企業想找員工很困難,留住就更難,即使數百萬美國人為躲避“新冠幽閉癥”紛紛出行提振旅游業,也未見改善。

        與全美其他很多知名社區一樣,問題在于人們住得起的房子嚴重缺乏。

        阿什利·加特曼今年28歲,是斯普林代爾頗受歡迎的比特和斯珀爾餐廳(Bit and Spur restaurant)服務員,目前她住在1976年款橙白相間的El Dorado面包車里,跟宿營地點土地管理局鐵銹色的建筑顏色倒是相當一致。

        加特曼只有一張床、小廚房,還有個不插電的窗式空調,她已經在車上住了四年,主要原因就是在鎮上買不起房。

        蓋特曼說:“很快小鎮就撐不下去了,因為沒有足夠的員工服務鎮上的游客?!?/p>

        在猶他州華盛頓縣,工作崗位中七分之一跟旅游業掛鉤,斯普林代爾的旅游業工作崗位占總數60%以上,但在人們工作所在地,這座三英里長一英里寬小鎮上,很多人不管工資高低連小房子也買不起。

        “有些外地人想來這工作。得到機會時挺興奮,但最后都來不了,就是因為合適的房子太難找,甚至根本找不到,”鎮商會錫安峽谷游客局(Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau)主席內特·威爾斯說。

        隨著全美勞動力短缺,之前隔絕的小鎮紛紛發現面臨增加勞動力的巨大壓力,因為國家公園游客數量創下了歷史新高。

        一年前旅游業開始繁榮以來,各地公園和門戶小鎮損壞公物、亂丟垃圾、破壞資源以及工作人員、當地人和游客之間的沖突均急劇增加。

        猶他州五座國家公園中的四座,阿契斯公園(Arches)、峽谷地公園( Canyonlands)、 圓頂礁公園(Capitol Reef)和錫安公園,今年6月都打破了單月游客人數的最高記錄。這給從未在如此短時間內接待大批游客的小鎮造成了不小壓力。

        正因如此,受可容納人流和車流的限制,阿契斯公園不得不暫時推遲幾個月開放。

        美國各公園都出現了過度擁擠問題,甚至引起了聯邦政府關注。今年夏天美國參議院能源和自然資源委員會(Committee on Energy and Natural Resources)議員召開會議,就游客過多及影響問題質詢負責國家公園的官員。

        管理聯邦公園的官員表示,對錫安和當地社區應對游客的方式比較滿意。7月官員們在會議上表示,從疫情初期強制購買班車車票,到向東邊入口分流游客,錫安很多做法都可成為其他公園的榜樣。

        “跟錫安和周邊地區交流后,我們很興奮,” 美國國家公園管理局(National Park Service)區域主管邁克爾·雷諾茲表示?!柏撠熑耍ń芊颍┎祭喜┖头浅炐愕膱F隊在應對游客方面非常有創新精神,沒出現什么問題,而且跟社區合作伙伴一路領先?!?/p>

        然而,斯普林代爾當地雇主也很茫然,既要平衡旅游業利潤,又要努力留住找不到棲身之所的員工,哪怕起薪創下新高也收效甚微。

        “雇主從事的不是慈善業務。企業都要賺錢,”猶他州勞動力服務部(Department of Workforce Services)地區經濟學家萊西亞·蘭斯頓表示。他指的是,不斷提升工資能解決住房負擔問題,然而企業做不到。

        蓬勃發展的經濟正是推升房價,導致當地員工無力購買的原因。

        公園外的土地由于靠近國家公園,市場價值從每英畝25萬美元到200萬美元不等。再加上偏遠地區建造成本高企,新冠病毒導致全球供應鏈延遲,房價一路飛漲。

        “2020年木材(成本)增加了四倍,進一步(加大)了住房成本與中等收入家庭負擔能力的差距,”2020年錫安公共財政部關于斯普林代爾住房戰略的報告指出。

        今年5月,木材價格創下歷史新高,比疫情前高出300%,到現在全美價格仍然居高不下。

        員工還感覺受到世代住在斯普林代爾的居民排擠,當地人不希望住宅密度過高,而且一直在抵制新一批有能力支付高價的遠程辦公移民。

        “有大批腰包滿滿的人涌入小縣城,出價能比掛牌價高出15萬美元,而且直接付現金,”猶他州CBC Mortgage的首席多元化官泰·克里斯滕森說。他還指出,正是這些外來者把本地人擠出了市場。

        最近哈佛大學一項研究表明,疫情爆發后很多知識工作者不必再通勤,很多人都在尋找遠離辦公密集區域的低成本住房。

        可用住房存量中很大一部分在愛彼迎和類似平臺上掛出,賺取短期租金。

        根據猶他大學凱姆C.加德納政策研究所(Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)估計,該縣短期出租房屋數量從2017年的大約1300套增加到今年的3000多套,增加了約141%。

        而且,新來者出的價格對于想搬到小鎮居住的新員工來說簡直遙不可及。加德納政策研究所估計,華盛頓縣休閑和酒店業員工月平均工資僅為1572美元,略高于每小時9美元,即每年約20000美元。

        更偏遠的地方住房可能更便宜,但要支付額外的通勤成本,對低收入工人造成了損失。

        “斯普林代爾提供的大部分工作都是面向旅游的服務業,然而旅游員工想找到價格合適的住房更加困難,”斯普林代爾社區發展總監湯姆·丹西說。

        根據住房戰略報告,由于斯普林代爾住房短缺,每天有1000多名員工通勤。

        “如果在斯普林代爾工作和生活的人下了班還要回自己家,對社區的投資就會減少,”丹西談到員工不得不搬到遠處的趨勢時說?!拔覀儾幌胍呙芏茸》?;不想要大量公寓;不想感覺像城市一樣,擁擠、密集又發達?!?/p>

        布魯斯·詹金斯是當地專門研究房東與租客法律和建筑缺陷的律師,他目睹了住房危機如何達到高潮。

        詹金斯表示,圍繞住房問題進行了長達數十年的訴訟之后,建造更多住房是保護猶他州占總面積三分之二的公共土地的唯一途徑。

        “不能再擴張了,”他說?!耙院笕藗兡茏≡谀??只能住得更遠,再遠,要開更久的車才能上班?!?/p>

        猶他州一直高度關注無家可歸問題,州長簽署了法律,成立了無家可歸問題辦公室,3月還允許各城市捐贈房屋作為低價房。商會和縣政府正推動政府進一步參與,協助緩解住房危機,但政府官員表示目前干預的選擇有限。

        “我們盡了最大努力,州政府能做的也只有這么多,”猶他州州長斯賓塞·考克斯說。

        但當地人表示,在解決房地產危機的過程中,相互推諉的事時有發生。他們認為,現在應該共同尋找解決辦法。

        27歲曾擔任斯普林代爾副規劃師的索菲·弗蘭肯堡也曾經無家可歸,在貧瘠沙漠里當過加特曼的“鄰居”?,F在,她住在鹽湖城。

        弗蘭肯堡說:“背后的故事太諷刺,我很關心社區,想找不關心的人也挺難,然而情況還是很糟?!保ㄘ敻恢形木W)

        譯者:馮豐

        審校:夏林

        Just outside Zion National Park, a community of local tourism industry workers is forced to live off the land, homeless.

        While millions of tourists annually push through the gateway town of Springdale, Utah, at the mouth of the nation’s third most popular national park, businesses can barely find, let alone keep, employees, even during a pandemic-prompted tourism boom, as millions of Americans escaped “COVID cabin fever.”

        The problem, as in many other gateway communities across the country, is a severe lack of housing that workers can afford.

        Ashley Gathman, a 28-year-old server at the popular Bit and Spur restaurant in Springdale, lives in a 1976 orange and white El Dorado van that blends in with the scorching rust-colored Bureau of Land Management land on which she camps.

        Equipped with only a bed, a small kitchenette, and an unplugged window air conditioning unit, Gathman has been living the van life for four years, mostly owing to the lack of affordable housing in the town.

        “You know, pretty soon you’re not gonna have a town,” Gathman said. “You’re not gonna have workers to cater to all of these tourists that you want to come into town.”

        Employees who support the tourism industry hold one out of every seven jobs in Utah’s Washington County, and more than 60% of jobs in Springdale, but many cannot afford what little housing might be available in the three mile–long, one mile–wide town where they work, no matter what they’re paid.

        “We’ve had several from outside of the area who have wanted to come and work for us. They were excited about the opportunity, and it ended up not working out because housing was so difficult to find or even impossible to find,” said Nate Wells, president of the Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau, the town’s chamber of commerce.

        During a nationwide labor shortage, small and previously secluded gateway towns across the country are feeling the pressure to provide more workers as national parks experience a record-breaking number of tourists.

        Parks and gateway towns everywhere have reported a drastic increase in vandalism, litter, resource damage, and conflict among staff, locals, and visitors since the tourism boom started a year ago.

        Four out of Utah’s five national parks—Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion—broke records for the most visitors ever recorded in a single month this June, putting pressure on towns that have never hosted that many people in such a short time.

        Because of this, Arches had to temporarily delay entry for months this year, unable to accommodate the masses of crowds and cars.

        Overcrowding is a problem in parks across the country that has caught the attention of national leaders, with legislators on the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources meeting this summer to question national park officials about overtourism and its effects.

        Federal park officials said they were happy with how Zion and the local community are handling visitation. From mandating shuttle tickets during the early pandemic to an initiative to distribute more visitors to the east entrance, officials said in the July meeting that Zion could be a model for other parks.

        “We’re pretty excited about the conversations happening in and around Zion,” National Park Service regional director Michael Reynolds said. “Superintendent [Jeff] Bradybaugh and his very good team are really innovative about how to handle those visitors without a lot of problems and are leading the way along with the partners in that community.”

        However, employers on the ground in Springdale are at a loss when it comes to balancing the promise of tourism profits while retaining employees who can’t find a place to live, even with starting wages at new highs.

        “You know, employers aren’t in the business of being charitable organizations. They want to make a profit,” said Lecia Langston, regional economist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services, referring to how businesses can’t keep paying higher wages even if that’s seen as the solution to the affordability problem.

        The booming economy is precisely what is putting the area’s housing market out of reach for workers.

        The market value of the land outside the park is worth anywhere from $250,000 to $2 million per acre because of its proximity to the national park. Add in the cost to build in a remote area with COVID-caused delays in the global supply chain, and the price skyrockets.

        “Lumber [cost] has increased fourfold in 2020, and this has further [exacerbated] the gap between housing costs and what a median income–earning household can afford,” a 2020 Springdale housing strategy report by Zions Public Finance noted.

        Lumber costs hit an all-time high this May, spiking at 300% above pre-pandemic prices, and they remain high nationally.

        Employees also feel pushed out by the rooted residents of Springdale who don’t want high-density housing and have fought the migration of newly remote workers who are able to pay top dollar for available local homes.

        “We’ve now had an influx of people with massive resources coming into this little tiny county offering $150,000 above asking price and paying cash,” said Tai Christensen, chief diversity officer at Utah-based CBC Mortgage, who also noted that these outsiders are pricing out local community members.

        With the pandemic eliminating a commute for a lot of knowledge workers, many more will look for lower-cost housing away from employment centers, according to a recent study from Harvard University.

        A significant portion of the available housing stock has also been repurposed as short-term rentals on Airbnb and similar services.

        The number of short-term rental units in the county jumped around 141%, from about 1,300 in 2017 to more than 3,000 this year, according to an estimate from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

        And they are priced out of reach for new workers trying to move into these towns. The Gardner Policy Institute estimates that the monthly wage for leisure and hospitality employees in Washington County is only $1,572, just over $9 an hour or nearly $20,000 annually.

        But while housing might be cheaper farther away, the added cost of commuting takes a toll on low-income workers.

        “The majority of jobs available in Springdale are tourism-oriented service sector jobs, which makes it even more difficult to find adequate housing that’s affordable for people who are employed in those jobs,” Springdale director of community development Tom Dansie said.

        But with scarce local housing, more than 1,000 workers commute into Springdale on a daily basis, according to the housing strategy report.

        “If all the people who live and work in Springdale at the end of their shift go home, they’re less invested in the community,” Dansie said about the trend in workers having to commute to houses farther away. “We don’t want high-density housing; we don’t want a lot of apartments; we don’t want to feel urban and crammed and dense and developed.”

        Bruce Jenkins, a local attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law and construction defects, has seen the current housing crisis come to a boil.

        After decades of litigation around housing issues, Jenkins said that building up is the only way to preserve Utah’s public lands, which make up two-thirds of the state.

        “We can’t sprawl much longer,” he said. “Where is the workforce going to live? They’re going to be pushed farther out, farther away, and have to drive farther to come into work.”

        The state has focused heavily on statewide homelessness, with the governor signing state legislation creating the Utah Office of Homelessness and allowing cities to donate property for affordable housing units in March. The chambers of commerce and the county are pushing for more government involvement to help temper the housing crisis, but government officials said there are limited options for intervention at this point.

        “We’re doing as much as we can. There’s only so much the state can do,” Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said.

        But locals said they hear a lot of blame-shifting for the housing crisis. Now is the time to come together to find a solution, they noted.

        Sophie Frankenburg, 27, was Springdale’s former associate town planner and essentially homeless, being Gathman’s “neighbor” in the barren desert. Now, she lives in Salt Lake City.

        “There was a lot of irony behind that,” Frankenburg said. “I cared a lot about that community, and it was really hard to see maybe some people that didn’t care enough.”

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