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Topic: Politics & Policy     Department: Letters

Ich bin ein stupid-zoner

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In Ed Quillen's article "Change We Could Believe In," the term "stupid zones" is defined as "an area that is stupid to build in on account of predictable dangers -- avalanches, forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides, floods, etc." (HCN, 12/22/08). A quick search on the Web site for the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association reveals that hailstorms are the most frequent and expensive (in terms of insurance payouts) catastrophes in the Rockies, accounting for 12 of the 16 most costly events. The single most expensive catastrophe is a hailstorm that hit the Denver metro area in July 1990 ($996 million in 2007 dollars).

The reality is that we all live in stupid zones. No location on the landscape is immune. No one has the high ground to be pointing the finger at others. We all end up paying. The more of us on the landscape, the greater the damages.

Dave Hallock
Payson, Arizona

Some zones stupider than others
Adam Guilford
Adam Guilford
Feb 26, 2009 01:12 PM
Dave , I appreciate your desire to spread the blame for stupidity.....but the truth is some places are stupider than others, building in forested areas without adequate space around a home as a buffer against fires is very irresponsible, but the danger can be mitigated if mountain homeowners are willing to clear brush and trees. I do not believe that is a good comparison to equate the danger of hail (unpreventable and unpredictable) with the danger of Mountain homes burning (preventable). It is also the height of stupidity to build in avalanche zones, or flood zones.... the stupidest zone of all may be when federal flood insurance subzidizes rebuilding of homes in dangerous flood or storm zones after they have been destroyed. Please be sure you are comparing apples and oranges in the future as not all building locations are equally dangerous. I believe Ed is correct that there are places that are not appropriate for construction, and others that are not. No place is completely perfect or risk free of course, but there are places that are more sensible than others pretending that all places are the same is disingenuous

Adam Guilford.... Aurora Colorado

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