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公园业务日渐火爆,从业者为何会沦落至无家可归?

公园业务日渐火爆,从业者为何会沦落至无家可归?

K. Sophie Will 2021年11月24日
旅游业蓬勃发展,从业人员却因房价太高买不起房。

就在锡安国家公园(Zion National Park)外,一些当地旅游业员工被迫住在野外无家可归。

每年都有数百万游客穿过犹他州门户镇斯普林代尔,前往全美排名第三的国家公园,然而当地企业想找员工很困难,留住就更难,即使数百万美国人为躲避“新冠幽闭症”纷纷出行提振旅游业,也未见改善。

与全美其他很多知名社区一样,问题在于人们住得起的房子严重缺乏。

阿什利·加特曼今年28岁,是斯普林代尔颇受欢迎的比特和斯珀尔餐厅(Bit and Spur restaurant)服务员,目前她住在1976年款橙白相间的El Dorado面包车里,跟宿营地点土地管理局铁锈色的建筑颜色倒是相当一致。

加特曼只有一张床、小厨房,还有个不插电的窗式空调,她已经在车上住了四年,主要原因就是在镇上买不起房。

盖特曼说:“很快小镇就撑不下去了,因为没有足够的员工服务镇上的游客。”

因为买不起房,现在犹他州斯普林代尔比特和斯珀尔餐厅的服务员阿什利·加特曼住在面包车里。图片来源:Chris Caldwell—The Spectrum

在犹他州华盛顿县,工作岗位中七分之一跟旅游业挂钩,斯普林代尔的旅游业工作岗位占总数60%以上,但在人们工作所在地,这座三英里长一英里宽小镇上,很多人不管工资高低连小房子也买不起。

“有些外地人想来这工作。得到机会时挺兴奋,但最后都来不了,就是因为合适的房子太难找,甚至根本找不到,”镇商会锡安峡谷游客局(Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau)主席内特·威尔斯说。

随着全美劳动力短缺,之前隔绝的小镇纷纷发现面临增加劳动力的巨大压力,因为国家公园游客数量创下了历史新高。

一年前旅游业开始繁荣以来,各地公园和门户小镇损坏公物、乱丢垃圾、破坏资源以及工作人员、当地人和游客之间的冲突均急剧增加。

犹他州五座国家公园中的四座,阿契斯公园(Arches)、峡谷地公园( Canyonlands)、 圆顶礁公园(Capitol Reef)和锡安公园,今年6月都打破了单月游客人数的最高记录。这给从未在如此短时间内接待大批游客的小镇造成了不小压力。

正因如此,受可容纳人流和车流的限制,阿契斯公园不得不暂时推迟几个月开放。

美国各公园都出现了过度拥挤问题,甚至引起了联邦政府关注。今年夏天美国参议院能源和自然资源委员会(Committee on Energy and Natural Resources)议员召开会议,就游客过多及影响问题质询负责国家公园的官员。

管理联邦公园的官员表示,对锡安和当地社区应对游客的方式比较满意。7月官员们在会议上表示,从疫情初期强制购买班车车票,到向东边入口分流游客,锡安很多做法都可成为其他公园的榜样。

“跟锡安和周边地区交流后,我们很兴奋,” 美国国家公园管理局(National Park Service)区域主管迈克尔·雷诺兹表示。“负责人(杰夫)布拉迪博和非常优秀的团队在应对游客方面非常有创新精神,没出现什么问题,而且跟社区合作伙伴一路领先。”

然而,斯普林代尔当地雇主也很茫然,既要平衡旅游业利润,又要努力留住找不到栖身之所的员工,哪怕起薪创下新高也收效甚微。

“雇主从事的不是慈善业务。企业都要赚钱,”犹他州劳动力服务部(Department of Workforce Services)地区经济学家莱西亚·兰斯顿表示。他指的是,不断提升工资能解决住房负担问题,然而企业做不到。

犹他州斯普林代尔的锡安等国家公园里旅游业蓬勃发展,当地旅游业员工却因房价太高买不起房。图片来源:Getty Images

蓬勃发展的经济正是推升房价,导致当地员工无力购买的原因。

公园外的土地由于靠近国家公园,市场价值从每英亩25万美元到200万美元不等。再加上偏远地区建造成本高企,新冠病毒导致全球供应链延迟,房价一路飞涨。

“2020年木材(成本)增加了四倍,进一步(加大)了住房成本与中等收入家庭负担能力的差距,”2020年锡安公共财政部关于斯普林代尔住房战略的报告指出。

今年5月,木材价格创下历史新高,比疫情前高出300%,到现在全美价格仍然居高不下。

员工还感觉受到世代住在斯普林代尔的居民排挤,当地人不希望住宅密度过高,而且一直在抵制新一批有能力支付高价的远程办公移民。

“有大批腰包满满的人涌入小县城,出价能比挂牌价高出15万美元,而且直接付现金,”犹他州CBC Mortgage的首席多元化官泰·克里斯滕森说。他还指出,正是这些外来者把本地人挤出了市场。

最近哈佛大学一项研究表明,疫情爆发后很多知识工作者不必再通勤,很多人都在寻找远离办公密集区域的低成本住房。

可用住房存量中很大一部分在爱彼迎和类似平台上挂出,赚取短期租金。

根据犹他大学凯姆C.加德纳政策研究所(Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)估计,该县短期出租房屋数量从2017年的大约1300套增加到今年的3000多套,增加了约141%。

而且,新来者出的价格对于想搬到小镇居住的新员工来说简直遥不可及。加德纳政策研究所估计,华盛顿县休闲和酒店业员工月平均工资仅为1572美元,略高于每小时9美元,即每年约20000美元。

更偏远的地方住房可能更便宜,但要支付额外的通勤成本,对低收入工人造成了损失。

“斯普林代尔提供的大部分工作都是面向旅游的服务业,然而旅游员工想找到价格合适的住房更加困难,”斯普林代尔社区发展总监汤姆·丹西说。

根据住房战略报告,由于斯普林代尔住房短缺,每天有1000多名员工通勤。

“如果在斯普林代尔工作和生活的人下了班还要回自己家,对社区的投资就会减少,”丹西谈到员工不得不搬到远处的趋势时说。“我们不想要高密度住房;不想要大量公寓;不想感觉像城市一样,拥挤、密集又发达。”

布鲁斯·詹金斯是当地专门研究房东与租客法律和建筑缺陷的律师,他目睹了住房危机如何达到高潮。

詹金斯表示,围绕住房问题进行了长达数十年的诉讼之后,建造更多住房是保护犹他州占总面积三分之二的公共土地的唯一途径。

“不能再扩张了,”他说。“以后人们能住在哪?只能住得更远,再远,要开更久的车才能上班。”

犹他州一直高度关注无家可归问题,州长签署了法律,成立了无家可归问题办公室,3月还允许各城市捐赠房屋作为低价房。商会和县政府正推动政府进一步参与,协助缓解住房危机,但政府官员表示目前干预的选择有限。

“我们尽了最大努力,州政府能做的也只有这么多,”犹他州州长斯宾塞·考克斯说。

但当地人表示,在解决房地产危机的过程中,相互推诿的事时有发生。他们认为,现在应该共同寻找解决办法。

27岁曾担任斯普林代尔副规划师的索菲·弗兰肯堡也曾经无家可归,在贫瘠沙漠里当过加特曼的“邻居”。现在,她住在盐湖城。

弗兰肯堡说:“背后的故事太讽刺,我很关心社区,想找不关心的人也挺难,然而情况还是很糟。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

就在锡安国家公园(Zion National Park)外,一些当地旅游业员工被迫住在野外无家可归。

每年都有数百万游客穿过犹他州门户镇斯普林代尔,前往全美排名第三的国家公园,然而当地企业想找员工很困难,留住就更难,即使数百万美国人为躲避“新冠幽闭症”纷纷出行提振旅游业,也未见改善。

与全美其他很多知名社区一样,问题在于人们住得起的房子严重缺乏。

阿什利·加特曼今年28岁,是斯普林代尔颇受欢迎的比特和斯珀尔餐厅(Bit and Spur restaurant)服务员,目前她住在1976年款橙白相间的El Dorado面包车里,跟宿营地点土地管理局铁锈色的建筑颜色倒是相当一致。

加特曼只有一张床、小厨房,还有个不插电的窗式空调,她已经在车上住了四年,主要原因就是在镇上买不起房。

盖特曼说:“很快小镇就撑不下去了,因为没有足够的员工服务镇上的游客。”

在犹他州华盛顿县,工作岗位中七分之一跟旅游业挂钩,斯普林代尔的旅游业工作岗位占总数60%以上,但在人们工作所在地,这座三英里长一英里宽小镇上,很多人不管工资高低连小房子也买不起。

“有些外地人想来这工作。得到机会时挺兴奋,但最后都来不了,就是因为合适的房子太难找,甚至根本找不到,”镇商会锡安峡谷游客局(Zion Canyon Visitors Bureau)主席内特·威尔斯说。

随着全美劳动力短缺,之前隔绝的小镇纷纷发现面临增加劳动力的巨大压力,因为国家公园游客数量创下了历史新高。

一年前旅游业开始繁荣以来,各地公园和门户小镇损坏公物、乱丢垃圾、破坏资源以及工作人员、当地人和游客之间的冲突均急剧增加。

犹他州五座国家公园中的四座,阿契斯公园(Arches)、峡谷地公园( Canyonlands)、 圆顶礁公园(Capitol Reef)和锡安公园,今年6月都打破了单月游客人数的最高记录。这给从未在如此短时间内接待大批游客的小镇造成了不小压力。

正因如此,受可容纳人流和车流的限制,阿契斯公园不得不暂时推迟几个月开放。

美国各公园都出现了过度拥挤问题,甚至引起了联邦政府关注。今年夏天美国参议院能源和自然资源委员会(Committee on Energy and Natural Resources)议员召开会议,就游客过多及影响问题质询负责国家公园的官员。

管理联邦公园的官员表示,对锡安和当地社区应对游客的方式比较满意。7月官员们在会议上表示,从疫情初期强制购买班车车票,到向东边入口分流游客,锡安很多做法都可成为其他公园的榜样。

“跟锡安和周边地区交流后,我们很兴奋,” 美国国家公园管理局(National Park Service)区域主管迈克尔·雷诺兹表示。“负责人(杰夫)布拉迪博和非常优秀的团队在应对游客方面非常有创新精神,没出现什么问题,而且跟社区合作伙伴一路领先。”

然而,斯普林代尔当地雇主也很茫然,既要平衡旅游业利润,又要努力留住找不到栖身之所的员工,哪怕起薪创下新高也收效甚微。

“雇主从事的不是慈善业务。企业都要赚钱,”犹他州劳动力服务部(Department of Workforce Services)地区经济学家莱西亚·兰斯顿表示。他指的是,不断提升工资能解决住房负担问题,然而企业做不到。

蓬勃发展的经济正是推升房价,导致当地员工无力购买的原因。

公园外的土地由于靠近国家公园,市场价值从每英亩25万美元到200万美元不等。再加上偏远地区建造成本高企,新冠病毒导致全球供应链延迟,房价一路飞涨。

“2020年木材(成本)增加了四倍,进一步(加大)了住房成本与中等收入家庭负担能力的差距,”2020年锡安公共财政部关于斯普林代尔住房战略的报告指出。

今年5月,木材价格创下历史新高,比疫情前高出300%,到现在全美价格仍然居高不下。

员工还感觉受到世代住在斯普林代尔的居民排挤,当地人不希望住宅密度过高,而且一直在抵制新一批有能力支付高价的远程办公移民。

“有大批腰包满满的人涌入小县城,出价能比挂牌价高出15万美元,而且直接付现金,”犹他州CBC Mortgage的首席多元化官泰·克里斯滕森说。他还指出,正是这些外来者把本地人挤出了市场。

最近哈佛大学一项研究表明,疫情爆发后很多知识工作者不必再通勤,很多人都在寻找远离办公密集区域的低成本住房。

可用住房存量中很大一部分在爱彼迎和类似平台上挂出,赚取短期租金。

根据犹他大学凯姆C.加德纳政策研究所(Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute)估计,该县短期出租房屋数量从2017年的大约1300套增加到今年的3000多套,增加了约141%。

而且,新来者出的价格对于想搬到小镇居住的新员工来说简直遥不可及。加德纳政策研究所估计,华盛顿县休闲和酒店业员工月平均工资仅为1572美元,略高于每小时9美元,即每年约20000美元。

更偏远的地方住房可能更便宜,但要支付额外的通勤成本,对低收入工人造成了损失。

“斯普林代尔提供的大部分工作都是面向旅游的服务业,然而旅游员工想找到价格合适的住房更加困难,”斯普林代尔社区发展总监汤姆·丹西说。

根据住房战略报告,由于斯普林代尔住房短缺,每天有1000多名员工通勤。

“如果在斯普林代尔工作和生活的人下了班还要回自己家,对社区的投资就会减少,”丹西谈到员工不得不搬到远处的趋势时说。“我们不想要高密度住房;不想要大量公寓;不想感觉像城市一样,拥挤、密集又发达。”

布鲁斯·詹金斯是当地专门研究房东与租客法律和建筑缺陷的律师,他目睹了住房危机如何达到高潮。

詹金斯表示,围绕住房问题进行了长达数十年的诉讼之后,建造更多住房是保护犹他州占总面积三分之二的公共土地的唯一途径。

“不能再扩张了,”他说。“以后人们能住在哪?只能住得更远,再远,要开更久的车才能上班。”

犹他州一直高度关注无家可归问题,州长签署了法律,成立了无家可归问题办公室,3月还允许各城市捐赠房屋作为低价房。商会和县政府正推动政府进一步参与,协助缓解住房危机,但政府官员表示目前干预的选择有限。

“我们尽了最大努力,州政府能做的也只有这么多,”犹他州州长斯宾塞·考克斯说。

但当地人表示,在解决房地产危机的过程中,相互推诿的事时有发生。他们认为,现在应该共同寻找解决办法。

27岁曾担任斯普林代尔副规划师的索菲·弗兰肯堡也曾经无家可归,在贫瘠沙漠里当过加特曼的“邻居”。现在,她住在盐湖城。

弗兰肯堡说:“背后的故事太讽刺,我很关心社区,想找不关心的人也挺难,然而情况还是很糟。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校: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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