A livable Boulder? — Jane Angulo

POSTED:   02/10/2015 06:59:27 PM MST
Daily Camera, Boulder, CO

A recent guest opinion (“Will Boulder embrace change?” Daily Camera, Feb. 1), asked, “Could you afford to move to Boulder today”? That’s the wrong question. The right question is, would you want to move to Boulder tomorrow? The author said younger people are “much more likely to forgo car ownership, ride bikes everywhere and use transit.”

I ask, are they really going to want to live in up-zoned, crowded neighborhoods or tiny apartments or condos when they get older? How about hiking on overcrowded trails, and biking on our congested roads and mountain bike trails? And just try getting on a climbing route at Eldorado Springs Canyon (or anywhere else nearby) these days. It doesn’t matter what day of the week or what time of day it is, Boulder is just crowded! What’s truly funny is that the architect Michael Pyatok (the keynote speaker at the recent eTown Boulder Housing public forum) said that he didn’t like to use the term dense. He’d rather call dense “cozy.” Does Boulder Junction look cozy to anyone? Well that’s apparently what we’re getting told to believe.

Anyone who attempts to drive across Boulder these days can attest to the traffic congestion and delays we already have. (And yes, people chauffeuring children to activities, or tradesmen with their tools, etc. do have to drive). Imagine what it’s going to be like with the building of 24 major, new development projects (on the scale of Boulder Junction, 29 North and Reve) that are already in the planning board pipeline. On top of this, we have 60,000 commuters coming into Boulder every day. Are these people going to want to live in tiny houses? How about in neighborhoods without occupancy limits, (i.e., up-zoned so as to have no limits on the number of unrelated people per dwelling)? No they’re not. As people get older, get married, have kids, and a dog, they tend to want single family homes with yards. That’s why they live in the subdivisions east of town which they can better afford.

Does making Boulder denser really help reduce urban sprawl? I think that urban sprawl has already happened. Preserving a livable patch of habitat here is appropriate considering the out of control growth surrounding us.

Perhaps solutions will come from more frank discussions (?) that our council folk seem to be offering. But it’s up to us to decide what our future will be. Do we want a dense, overcrowded, congested city? Or are our city leaders forcing us to accept a paradigm that’s wrong for us? Boulder established the Blue Line and height and density restrictions long ago to prevent what our city planners are allowing to happen now. Are we going to keep chipping away at every open piece of land, building higher and wider and more cheaply to accommodate as many people as we can possibly pack in? Where does it end?

Many important issues are at stake. Protections and limits have made Boulder a great place to live. People who bought in long ago made many sacrifices to live here. And many more people desperately want to live here and grow old here who (quite frankly) can’t afford it. We can and do already provide much assistance for them and that’s a good thing. Perhaps we can do better. But this is our nest we’re soiling — for everyone and forever if we don’t get it right.

Jane Angulo lives in Boulder.