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Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to Kirby Perschbacher’s letter to the editor.  As a founder of BETCH, which loudly represents, supports, and includes much of Salida’s workforce, I disagree with his claim that the workforce doesn’t support the Salida Bottle Company project. Representatives from BETCH have been consistently and proactively attending council meetings to advocate for our workers since last December and we use that venue to speak for ourselves.

BETCH representatives have attended every meeting on the Salida Bottling Company. Originally, we spoke against it, but after reading hundreds of pages of plans and participating in hours of conversation, our opinion has changed. We worked hard to get those four, income-qualified units and BETCH is in full support of the project.

I disagree with Mr. Perschbacher’s choice to speak on behalf of the workforce as well as to challenge the project’s code deviations that were made publicly and were hashed out over months of discussion with the planning commission and city council. It is impossible to fit it all onto a one page “fact sheet” to properly inform petition signers.

I’m happy to say that BETCH’s experience with city council has been positive. They have listened to and worked with us.

I invite Mr. Perschbacher and his peers to start participating in the process of providing attainable housing solutions, by continuing to attend council meetings, attending BETCH fundraisers, and donating to housing causes. We are in a housing crisis. It is time to lead, follow, or get out of the way. There is no one size fits all solution.

I also disagree with Mr. Perschbacher’s perspective that the four deed restricted units proposed at the Salida Bottling Company are not affordable. They are below market rate.

As a restaurant worker, I could afford one. Any member of the BETCH board of directors could buy one. Teachers, police officers, service industry, fire fighters, and nurses could all qualify for those units. They are downtown and a millionaire would not be able to outbid us, due to income restrictions. These four units are not perfect for everyone. But, they will be perfect for four households.

These condos are merely a drop in the bucket. We need 500 more housing units to slow this crisis. We already fought for the four at Salida Bottling Company. This project guarantees at least four households would no longer be vulnerable to massive rent increases and would no longer be subject to housing instability

Salty Riggs

BETCH President, Salida