All posts by Livable Boulder

Ruth Wright: Vote for 301 for a Livable Boulder

Ruth Wright: Vote for 301 for a Livable Boulder

As a citizen activist for more years than I like to admit, here is my recommendation: vote for #301!

Affordable Housing and Diversity. The two go together. Everyone supports them. In my opinion #301 would raise more revenue for both low and moderate income housing for young people, teachers, new professors.

Representative Government. The argument is: if you don’t like what the City is doing, just elect different Council members. This would not have worked for these significant issues:

1. Stopping development on the mountain backdrop. A water pumping system was already being designed so that subdivisions could be built there! Citizens stopped this with the now-famous Blue Line (1959). The issue got on the ballot by petition (a basic democratic power authorized by the City Charter). Later, to buy the land, Boulder became the first community in the nation to tax itself for open space.

2. The 55-foot Height Limit. In 1971 Council allowed up to 50 new buildings 140 feet high ! But by petition citizens nipped them in the bud in the November election. This would have drastically changed Boulder forever: no pedestrian friendly mall in our historic downtown, and a sea of highrises creating a Denver-like environment.

#301. For 40 years the Comprehensive Plan has said “Growth to Pay Fair Share of New Facility Costs”, but largely ignored. #301 says, “we citizens really mean it”.

“Elitism, Gated Community?” Don’t be intimidated by these accusations. They have cropped up every time citizens have taken an issue into their own hands. We really just want sustainability, protection of our natural areas, not increasing traffic congestion, smart growth —- that is, a Livable Boulder!

Ruth Wright


Vote for 300 to avoid ‘heat island’ effect

Mary Eberle: Vote for 300 to avoid ‘heat island’ effect

Buildings that reach higher than trees not only block views but also increase a city’s “heat island” effect.

A city’s heat island is environmentally damaging in several ways. Baking streets and sidewalks make it unpleasant to be outdoors, which could encourage more summer driving instead of walking or biking. It may cause more building air conditioning use. Plants wilt and die or require more water.

Having buildings that are “tree sized” makes them human scale. That is how Boulder’s single-family neighborhoods and some of Boulder’s commercial areas are designed. I would like citizens to have the opportunity to preserve that human scale in existing neighborhoods. Supporting Question 300 is a vote to permit a neighborhood to petition to vote on any city-imposed zoning change in that neighborhood. For example, the height of buildings allowed in that neighborhood could be increased above the height of mature trees. Another possible change to a neighborhood would be replacing some single-family homes with buildings that cover several lots, previously separated by shade trees. Neighborhoods should be able to vote on such changes.

Please support city of Boulder Ballot Question 300, “Neighborhood Right to Vote on Land Use Regulation Changes” on the back of your ballot. Voting “Yes” on this question is the ultimate in “Think Globally, Act Locally.” What’s more local than keeping one’s neighborhood cool?

Mary Eberle


Ballot issues 300, 301 are in Boulder tradition

Ballot issues 300, 301 are in Boulder tradition
By Gwen Dooley

I support representative democracy, but when our representatives fail to act — as they did in September 2014 on growth and neighborhood planning efforts proposed by Councilman Sam Weaver — we citizens decided to petition our government.

Just as our U.S. Constitution has its amendments (our Bill of Rights), Boulder citizens have a long and distinguished record of action and petitions to amend our City Charter, making us the very unique and desirable community we are today. For example, in 1874 a handful of citizens guaranteed the necessary matching funds to purchase land for a state university. And in 1898, citizens acted to purchase the Chautauqua grounds. Can you imagine Boulder without CU or Chautauqua?

Later, two professors, Al Bartlett and Bob McKelvey, decided to protect our mountain backdrop from development; the result was the 1959 Blue Line Charter Amendment. But rather than “being set in stone,” Boulder citizens twice voted to grant water and sewer exceptions to NCAR and the Flagstaff House because of community benefit. Can you imagine Boulder without NCAR or the Flagstaff House?

Then, in 1967, PLAN-Boulder activists petitioned the Open Space Amendment onto the ballot. Can you imagine Boulder without our Open Space program? And in 1971, when the City Council had many 140-foot-tall buildings planned for downtown and base of Flagstaff, law student Ruth Wright wrote the 55-foot Height Amendment to the charter. Can you imagine not being able to see our mountain backdrop until you were actually up there?

Now we have 300 and 301 seeking to again amend our charter in ways totally consistent with prior amendments and 45 years of amending our Boulder Valley Comp Plan.

Please join me in voting for 300 and 301 and keeping Boulder a uniquely livable small city.

Gwen Dooley


A Planning View of Ballot Issue 300

A planning view of issue 300
By Crystal Gray

Issue 300, the Neighborhood Right to Vote on Land Use Regulation Changes, is really a very simple, and limited, concept despite all the aspirations for it or the hand-wringing against it.

It says very clearly in the ballot language that a neighborhood can only petition to have a vote if a land use regulation is being changed and if it pertains to a residential zone within that neighborhood.

So the first test is to determine if a land use regulation is being changed in a “residential zone.” That is relatively easy since the municipal code has a whole section, Title 9, that defines the zoning districts in the city as well as the regulations that govern those zones. Title 9 also outlines how you can ask for a modification, reduction or increase to a standard. Yes, if issue 300 passes you will still be able to ask for a height modification or a parking reduction or setback reduction because that is currently allowed in the code in most residential zones.

If there is a redevelopment project within a neighborhood that does not ask for a change to the land use regulations — even if it is requesting a height increase — it can not be called up for a vote because it is asking what is allowed in Title 9. Development projects in the city usually do not ask for land use regulation changes — they will ask for modifications that are allowed in the code and Title 9 outlines a process to do that.

Changing a zone within a neighborhood, changing the uses within a residential zone can be called up for a vote.

The second test is to see if the land use regulation change occurs within a neighborhood “reasonably demarcated by the city” that contains a residential zone. The residents would ask the city to reasonably demarcate their neighborhood. Determining a neighborhood is exactly what the City Council did on Oct. 20 when it passed an occupancy code enforcement ordinance and applied it to three neighborhoods. It took the council all of five minutes to define the three neighborhoods.

I served on the City Council for eight years and am currently on the Planning Board and have a well-used copy of Title 9, so if anyone has questions about issue 300 just give me a call at 303-449-9680. I am more than happy to talk about it over a cup of coffee!

Crystal Gray is a member of the Boulder Planning Board.

Don’t Believe Big Money Mailers

A Daily Camera article (10/23/15) greatly confused the implications of 301. Now, One Boulder is capitalizing on the mistruths contained in the article as to the reach of 301 as it pertains to home additions and renovations. The MAJOR FLAW in the article is that it gave more weight to an unofficial, off-line, almost casual email from a deputy city attorney to one Councilperson, compared to the OFFICIAL standing staff analysis memo of October 6 given by the head City Attorney Tom Carr.
Carr’s official memo states:
“The city will continue to accept applications for construction activities that do not constitute new development. This will include the following types of applications:
(a) Residential building permit applications that are related to additions, alterations, remodels, repairs or basement finishes to existing dwelling units.”
Note that Carr’s OFFICIAL analysis says that residential building permit applications for additions, alterations, remodels, repairs or basement finishes to existing dwelling units are NOT viewed by the City as constituting new development under # 301.

300 & 301, A battle for the future of our city

A battle for the future of our city
By Allyn Feinberg

Livable Boulder Steering Committee would like to publicly thank all our volunteers and supporters for all of their hard work on ballot initiatives 300 (Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote) and 301 (Development Shall Pay Its Own Way). They poured their hearts and souls into this effort, and that is no exaggeration. What started out as a small group of concerned citizens sitting around a dining room table discussing Boulder’s future, grew into a concentrated effort to write ballot initiatives that addressed the development concerns that the residents of our city faced. From there, it ballooned into a small army of around 90 petition gatherers who walked Boulder’s neighborhoods and stood in the parking lots of its shopping centers and libraries to get the signatures required to get on the ballot. New volunteers continued to join us as the campaign unfolded up to the very end. We continually invigorated each other with our unshakable belief in what we were doing, and not a single one of us did it for any financial gain whatsoever.

This is a battle for the future of the city we love, a battle to determine which vision should be handed down to future generations. Our opponents believe that Boulder should be a much denser city, with maxed-out, 55-foot-tall buildings everywhere in our commercial districts subsidized by taxpayer dollars. Eventually, the neighborhoods will be presented with a fait accompli and high-density buildings will be imposed on them as well, as is currently happening in Denver and Seattle. Their allies in this battle are the developers and corporations who benefit from the construction of these buildings, which is why these groups have donated so much money to One Boulder’s campaign. Our opponents have worked very hard on behalf of their vision for Boulder, and for that they deserve credit.

But their vision for our future is vastly different than the vision of Livable Boulder. We don’t believe that Boulder should be looked at as a place where making money is the most important thing, but instead a place where the quality of life for all of its residents remains the primary focus. Making money will always be necessary in our society, but when development degrades our way of life to the point where our city is filled with traffic congestion and pollution, views of the mountains are blotted out by concrete buildings, and resources are taxed beyond their carrying capacity, then it’s time for the citizens to step forward and say enough.

Both of my children have lived in, and moved from San Francisco. The same battle is going on there. People with high-paying jobs are arriving in San Francisco and forcing people out who have lived there for decades. Long-time residents can’t compete for housing with these high-paid employees. We all know that the same thing is happening and will continue to happen in Boulder, as our skyrocketing house prices and rents show. Livable Boulder would like to ask its citizens if that is the future that they want? Because make no mistake about it, if 300 and 301 do not pass, that is where we are headed. Expensive apartments and condominiums will continue to sprout up everywhere. Fifty-five-foot-tall, mixed-use office buildings will continue to replace all of the low-density shopping areas in Boulder. Middle-income people will continue to leave Boulder. There’s just too much money to be made for the situation to be otherwise.

Livable Boulder’s ballot initiatives are the next logical step after the Blue Line, Height Limits, Open Space and the Danish Plan for managed growth. We share the same vision for Boulder that those visionaries did. Our vision is one in which neighborhoods have a say in what happens in their future, not having that future imposed on them by a city council aligned with development interests. Our vision is one in which our quality of life will not be degraded by development, instead ensuring that development is done in a responsible and conscious manner. Our vision is one in which housing will be affordable to all income levels, not just to the very rich. It’s the vision that started many months ago around that dining room table, and it is a vision we want to hand down to future generations. We ask you to join us in that vision and vote yes for 300 and 301.

Allyn Feinberg is a member of the Livable Boulder steering committee.

Family Displacement in Central Austin

Boulder is having a lot of similar growth issues as Austin, Texas. Is this the future you want for Boulder?

In the last few years, a relatively new housing type has emerged in Austin: the High- Occupancy Unit (HOU). The HOU is not defined or regulated in any neighborhood plan, nor is it written in Austin’s Land Development Code. Yet the HOU has changed traditional patterns of residential life in Central Austin, and upset the balance of our complete urban community more than any code change or plan adoption ever has.
Central Austin has always valued the vitality the University of Texas at Austin provides to our area….But today, our community is losing a most important component of that diversity: its families. This loss is already complete in areas zoned and thought protected for single-family use.
It may be irreversible, and many areas have reached the tipping point. The trend began near the campus, but there is evidence that HOU’s are spreading elsewhere in the City of Austin….”

“The proximity to the University of Texas at Austin campus plays a large part in the proliferation of HOU’s. The units are attractive to many students, but at the same time, they have become one of the costlier housing options.”

Susan Osborne: In defense of neighborhoods

Susan Osborne: In defense of neighborhoods

I was in city planning school in the late 1970s. Among the favorite planning books of the time were “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” by Jane Jacobs, and “After the Planners,” by Robert Goodman. Both books were written in reaction to a decade or more of “rational planning,” where the top-down big ideas of urban renewal, the interstate highway system and the grand plans of politicians laid waste to city neighborhoods across the country. In response came advocacy planning positing instead that a city planner’s job was to understand the needs and problems of neighborhoods, to work with neighborhood organizations to find solutions by bringing the resources of government to bear, and to approach each neighborhood with humbleness and an open mind. The general notion is that each neighborhood is unique, and that the art of city planning is to learn to listen, to apply political, organizing and design skills to solve problems, and to find the sweet spot where the good of the whole is realized by the betterment of neighborhoods and the individual.

Fast forward to this election cycle. Opponents of Initiative 300 can’t say a good word about neighborhoods. Instead of being an appropriate planning unit, neighborhoods are viewed as the enemy — uniformly selfish, narrow-minded, an ecological disaster with an aversion to change. Apparently, Boulder neighborhoods, if they had their way, would be “gated communities” and car-centric, homogenous places. As a council member in a recent email exchange said, “To think about Boulder is to take us out of ourselves. To think about neighborhoods invites us to think only about our block face — what is best for me, what I like, and screw the rest of you.”

In my more than two decades as a Boulder planner, the most rewarding part of my job was working with neighborhoods. It is delicate, time-consuming work, not done by beating folks over the head with one group or another’s theory of the good. Here’s the reality. Most of Boulder’s neighborhoods are already a mix of owners and renters and housing types. With a couple of notable exceptions, all recent residential development has been multi-family, attached units. Some Boulder neighborhoods are working hard on energy efficiency, and building a stronger community as they fight climate change. Many neighborhoods have joined together to fund EcoPasses as a group (with absolutely no help from RTD). Others struggle with how to co-exist with the ebb and flow of student renters, or the impact of an influx of VRBOs or downtown and trailhead parking. Our city’s resiliency efforts will only be successful if we encourage the strengthening of neighborhoods and the friendships they engender. Neighborhoods are not the enemy.

Many of us are not sure whether or not to vote for Initiative 300, but this I know. The infamous map showing 66 neighborhoods is the city’s own map. It is out-of-date and useless, and it is evidence of how little connected to its neighborhoods Boulder’s government has become. Should 300 pass and as directed in the initiative, the first city council task would be to assemble a more coherent map that “reasonably demarcates the neighborhoods,” presumably a much smaller number than now mapped.

There are incontrovertible differences among the city’s neighborhoods. For example, doing away with occupancy limits will have little effect in Keewadin Meadows, Mapleton Hill or most parts of North Boulder. But this land-use change could have a devastating impact on University Hill, Martin Acres, lower Table Mesa and other neighborhoods struggling to maintain a balance between long-term and short-term residents and who already deal with the impacts of over-occupancy. That this was a real proposal, not thought through with any neighborhood but promoted as an ideological good, is a partial motivation for the proposed initiative.

Boulder government has recently hired a neighborhood liaison and is working diligently on improving Uni-Hill. Many council candidates have spoken about reviving subcommunity planning. Good people in the planning department are beginning work on the next iteration of our Comprehensive Plan. But we must ignore the current anti-neighborhood rhetoric and return to the principle of neighborhood consultation and some measure of self-determination.

Susan Osborne is a former mayor of Boulder

Bill Karelis: Who holds Boulder’s vision now?

The Daily Camera has been performing a valuable service in promulgating varied views on matters of import — notably the rapid growth of the city. This reminds me of the 18th-century pamphleteer movement — including the Federalist papers, a small collection of essays which argued for creating the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution with its Bill of Rights has become a beacon in guiding nation states through the democratic process.

Typically, when such democratization and especially the freedom of the press arise, the driving force is some kind of oppression. There seems to be need for the strong enfranchisement of Boulder’s citizenry now in response to the forces of economic expansion which have Colorado under thrall.

I recall at a party about three years ago meeting a lobbyist for Xcel, who had been fighting municipalization of utilities in the city. She said she favored third-party adjudication over the City Council and could not understand why the people did not buy into that idea. I responded to her that I felt the people trusted the City Council more than they would an outside agency. These days I would not make the same response.

There has been a deluge of opinion pieces in the Camera, mostly in opposition to some of the council’s actions: for instance, the politically correct but foolish “right-sizing” of precious space on the city streets, overcrowding north-south traffic that is already headed for irreversible gridlock.

The truly monumental error in judgment has been to open the door to large-scale commercial development, bypassing the normal review processes which had guided the city for some decades.

To draw a comparison, the beautiful, spacious and nationally acclaimed St. Julien hotel project at 9th and Canyon took 15 years to gain citizen approval. The many developments of equal and greater size being constructed everywhere in the city from the downtown area east are being pushed through in months in some cases. The results reflect the two methods.

The St. Julien is a truly beautiful piece of architecture, incorporating open space on its grounds, with doorways accessible both north and south from early morning to late at night, inviting the citizenry to use the facilities for leisure activities, including dancing, socializing in the large lobby, and enjoying the outdoor patio.

Compare the block buildings on the north side of Canyon from the St. Julien to Broadway — a wall of impregnable fortresses which repel pedestrian traffic. Or compare the complex under construction on the old Daily Camera property between 9th and 11th and Pearl and Walnut, thoroughly obstructing the view on Pearl to the Flatirons — built, as are so many other buildings recently, too much like blocks and too close to the street. The tone of the city is being degraded by these ill-considered money-makers.

There really seems to be no one person who publicly holds the vision of the city at this time. However, a common sense, decent and moderate vision of the city’s growth is common to nearly everyone who regards Boulder as home, over and above a commercial opportunity.

There have been incursions in the past. The eruption of a few high-rises invoked the 55-foot height limit, and the residential sprawl has been contained by caps on new housing permits. The brilliantly conceived purchase of open space has for many decades given the city breathing space from the encroachment of development up the Route 36 corridor.

Now is another one of those times when a decent standard of life must be brought to the fore if we are not to end up with an urban nightmare in a once-idyllic landscape. Therefore, even though ballot issues 300 and 301 may be flawed, they have virtues as well — notably to slow down the commercial machine until such time as a truly inclusive process and cooler heads prevail in our governance. It is equally important to vote for individual candidates for City Council who clearly favor preserving the livability of our beloved city.

A caring citizenry must gather together now to gain strength for the battles that surely lie ahead.

Bill Karelis lives in Boulder.

The Gathering Storm By Paul Danish

The Gathering Storm
By Paul Danish

When it comes to protecting Boulder’s quality of life, the city council says “Trust Us.”

The Livable Boulder initiatives say “Trust but verify.”

…The reason the Livable Boulder initiatives take the form of charter amendments instead of city ordinances is to keep the council from gutting them when people aren’t paying attention — as it did with Boulder’s growth limitation ordinances. The result of that caper was the explosion of high density development in the 28th-30th street corridor, which turned the area into a noisy, smelly, congestion-choked nightmare that makes a mockery of the council’s claims that it is improving Boulder quality of life by decreasing the need to drive by densifying the city.

Jenny Devaud: History shows why 300 is needed

Goss-Grove, a small jewel of an historic neighborhood close to downtown, was finally downzoned (to lower density) after 35 years of neighborhood activism. Yep, 35 years. That’s a long time to work with council. Make that several generations of councils. I wouldn’t describe this downzoning as an example of the responsiveness of the city to neighborhood concerns, even though both Will Toor and Macon Cowles have publicly stated as much. I contest their statements with the facts, and ask you to carefully consider whether you can trust city council to preserve what is the essential character of your neighborhood, while also allowing evolution, growth and improvements.

The residents of Goss-Grove started working with the city in 1977. Over a period of three years, the neighborhood association (one of the oldest in Boulder) worked with city planners to propose a special zoning called “Pyramid,” which would preserve old houses and control the scale of development while allowing more extensive building next to bigger buildings. It would have been the first zoning change since 1928. On Nov. 30, 1978, the planning board rejected Goss-Grove’s proposal, encouraging us to try again; Highland Lawn and Whittier were recommended for downzoning. In 1983, there was another attempt by Goss-Grove to stop a wave of multi-unit development in Goss-Grove. That failed as well.

Over the course of those five years, longtime residents watched bulldozers and wrecking balls roll into the neighborhood to knock down dozens of smaller homes to make room for cheaply constructed multi-unit apartment buildings lacking any aesthetic value.
In 2008, as the city considered changes to the high density Goss-Grove zone (RH-2) which would further reduce parking requirements and further encourage the construction of multi-unit buildings, we rose up again. In this situation, there was no choice to stay in the same zone, because the zone was being redefined. We would either be upzoned with the new definition of RH-2, or we could seek to be downzoned to the same zoning as Whittier. After four years of meetings, organizing tours for city council members and planning staff, many of whom had never visited our neighborhood, we were finally rezoned to RMX-1, which is consistent with the historic core of Goss-Grove. The heroic and unflagging efforts of a core group of neighbors is the only reason we kept going over this length of time, finally finding strong support by planning staff and receiving unanimous support from city council in the final vote. Even Naropa backed down from directly opposing the rezoning by recognizing that the new zone only comprised the historic core of the neighborhood.

As one neighbor said during public comment at one of the interminable council/planning board meetings “When I moved to Goss-Grove in 1977, my daughter was five months old. She is now 35. The request before you tonight is not the same one as in 1978, but the spirit behind it is the same. Almost 35 years ago, you urged us to try again. Please recommend to council that Goss-Grove be rezoned RMX-1”. That same resident commented that Matt Appelbaum turned to the other members of council and said something like, “My gosh, they’re still here. We have to give them something…”

We waited 35 years to finally get zoning to preserve what remains of what is special in Goss-Grove. Don’t believe the Will Toor/Macon Cowles fairy tales that the current system is listening and responding to neighborhood concerns. If you care about preserving the unique essence of your neighborhood, then vote to protect it by voting “Yes” on the ballot initiative 300, “Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote.” It requires the city to notify neighborhoods of planned land-use (zoning) changes to their neighborhoods, then allow them, if they desire, 60 days to gather signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters in the neighborhood, which would then trigger a vote of all registered voters residing in the neighborhood. A yes vote on 300 will allow neighbors to unite and support each other in protecting what is precious and unique in their neighborhood. I can only imagine how much more wonderful Goss-Grove would be today if the city had listened to us 35 years ago.

Jenny Devaud lives in Boulder.

Don Barshay: Big money attempts to thwart 300 and 301

Don Barshay: Big money attempts to thwart 300 and 301

One Boulder, the group formed to fight ballot measures Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote (300) and Development Shall Pay Its Own Way (301), has raised $96,121 as of Oct. 6. In contrast, the issues committees for 300 and 301 have raised $25,953 as of the same date. What’s most disconcerting about this wide discrepancy in money raised is who supplied the money that One Boulder received. A group of 16 developers, realtors, architects, high-density zealots and other corporate interests have donated $72,500. They are as follows: National Association of Realtors, $16,000; LJD Enterprises (developer), $5,000; Boulder Area Realtors, $10,000; Phil Day (Realtor), $2,500; Bruce Dierking (Baseline Zero development), $2,500; Leanin’ Tree Inc., $2,000; Better Boulder (Will Toor’s group), $5,000; Lifestyle Publications, $3,000; Foundry Group, $5,000; Southern Land Co., $5,000; Tebo Properties, $5,000; West Baseline Investors, $2,000; Circle D Holdings, $500; Southern Lumber Company, $5,000; AIA (American Institute of Architects) Colorado, $2,000; and The Colorado Group Inc. (real estate company), $2,500.

Of those names, four out-of-state corporations donated $29,000: National Association of Realtors from Chicago, Southern Land Company from Tennessee, Sutherland Lumber Company from Missouri, and Lifestyle Publications from Kansas.

The Oct. 6 filing is the second filing after the initial filing, which was three days after the issue committees’ formation against 300 and 301. In other words, this represents just part of the corporate money that will pour into One Boulder’s bank accounts up through the election. Ironically, many of the leaders of One Boulder have stated they are appalled by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision allowing the Koch Brothers and other billionaires to buy our politicians. Yet, they are leading a campaign for corporate and business interests that is the equivalent of Citizens United on the local level. But instead of buying politicians at the federal level, they are buying the votes of Boulder citizens at the local level.

With a slush fund of money, One Boulder sows discord and fear in the citizens of Boulder. They wrongly claim that 300 pits citizen against citizen when it is their negative campaign that is creating citizen discord in our city. In fact, 300’s requirement that a majority have a vote on land-use regulation changes in a neighborhood does the opposite, bringing citizens together to discuss any changes. It’s called democracy. They claim that 300 and 301 will lead to lawsuits, yet when the city attorney gave an analysis of both initiatives to the City Council he did not mention potential lawsuits in his analysis. They claim that they want a united Boulder when in fact the corporate and business interests are a small segment of our population. They claim that we should trust the City Council because it will protect our interests. Trust City Council? We know how that’s turning out. Citizens’ charter amendments for the blue line and height limit have helped make Boulder what it is today. The open space tax approved by Boulder citizens cannot be rescinded per the charter. A long successful history exists of citizens actions such as 300 and 301.

So when you hear the attacks against 300 and 301 by One Boulder, an umbrella group for Open Boulder, Better Boulder and the Chamber, think of Citizens’ United coming to Boulder. All you have to do is follow the money. Just type Boulder Campaign Finance in Google, click on 2015 Election Information, scroll down to campaign information and filings and reports, click committee filings and you can see who is donating to whom. ( As a retiring councilman said in a recent interview, development’s “return on investment is high” in Boulder and developers do it because “they know the golden ring at the end is big.” No clearer explanation is needed as to why out-of-state developers and other big-money interest groups are bombarding Boulder.

We all remember the description of Goldman Sachs as the Vampire Squid that sucked the life out of the American economy. Well, we now have our own Vampire Squid in our city. It’s called One Boulder. One Boulder seeks to suck the life out of our city, filling the developers’ pockets with profits from what we have spent decades creating and protecting. Don’t let them. Vote yes on 300 and 301 and tell One Boulder we are not for sale!

Don Barshay lives in Boulder.

Mike Marsh: The brink of growth explosion
By Mike Marsh

Ecology science’s central precept is the notion of carrying capacity. It’s a law of nature. Nothing escapes it. It isn’t elitist. It’s science.

Every bioregion on Earth has a maximum carrying capacity. Among Boulder’s several limiting factors are water resources in this semi-arid climate.

In equilibrium theory, if somewhere is more desirable than elsewhere, more and more people will move there. Quality of life decreases as the place becomes more crowded, until it’s no more desirable than any other place. At that point, equilibrium is reached. Will this be Boulder?

In the man-made world, a city’s infrastructure also has a carrying capacity, which new growth and development frequently exceed. So either: 1) Services are degraded (traffic mitigation lags, traffic worsens, recreation centers don’t keep up, etc.), or, 2) More likely, the city’s infrastructure has to be improved. That costs big money. Those costs are inescapable. The question is who pays? Do developers of the new development, who profit from it, pay? Or do they profit, and all the rest of us pay?

All residents end up paying higher fees for traffic fixes, city rec centers, city services, etc. because growth doesn’t pay its way. And growth increases even more, because it’s being subsidized. It avoids true-cost pricing and enjoys an artificial cost environment. Any business flourishes in that scenario. Measure No. 301 rightly assigns the increased infrastructure costs to those who trigger the need for it, and who profit from it.

Colorado Springs’ population rose from 70,000 in 1960 to 416,000 in 2010 — a 600 percent increase in 50 years. A 600 percent increase for Boulder in 50 years would mean 615,795 Boulderites by 2065. These are the implications of unbridled growth. Boulder is heading there, which is why we need measures 300 and 301. They inject fairness to Boulder’s development arena. They also allow citizens a vote in their neighborhoods’ futures.

When 15 council candidates were recently asked for specific population numbers regarding how big they thought Boulder could grow, only three could give an actual number estimate. (If you don’t have at least a general concept in mind, you’re probably going to wind up somewhere you didn’t intend to go.)

No one’s asking (or answering) the hard questions about how big we’re going to grow. There’s little to keep Boulder from following Colorado Springs. Growth control advocates in the Springs were also called “anti-business NIMBYs.”

But some communities are waking up to Colorado’s growth explosion. Last March, Littleton voters passed two citizens’ growth management initiatives, because their local government wasn’t seriously addressing growth. As in Boulder, Littleton citizens backing the growth management initiatives were vastly out-funded by heavy hitting builders and realtor groups. The National Association Realtors’ (NAR) dropped nearly $20,000 on Littleton to try to defeat their citizen initiatives.

But Littleton citizens’ growth management initiatives passed. Voters there realized their community was getting played by Big Money. Will Boulder voters realize it?

NAR just donated $16,000 to conduct a Boulder “push poll” that wasn’t even a poll — it was a ruse for spreading misinformation and distortions about two reasonable, responsible, and fair initiatives. Out-of-state real estate investment companies are also donating thousands to defeat Boulder’s citizen initiatives.

Citizen initiatives created Boulder’s Blue Line and 55-foot height limit in the face of a recalcitrant city government. Those citizens were called every “anti-” name imaginable. Critics said they’d hurt the economy, stop Boulder from growing, etc.

Boulder is on the brink of “super-sized” mega-growth. Baseline Zero was my awakening. In measures 300 and 301, we citizens have an opportunity, to adopt sensible, fair growth management policies before it’s too late. If they pass, Boulder can stay a manageable, human-scale size.

Conversely, mega-growth interests will take rejection of 300 and 301 as a mandate for unbridled growth. After his second election, George W. Bush said, “I’ve earned political capital…now I intend to spend it.” Unfortunately, local developers will say this. There is momentum in elections. No on 300 and 301 will result in increased growth, more traffic, towering buildings blocking the mountains, and an exceeding of our semi-arid region’s carrying capacity. Politically, it will trigger years of mega-growth councils and mega-growth Planning Boards.

If 300 and 301 don’t pass, mega-growth momentum could lead to proposals to build on Open Space, doubling and quadrupling neighborhoods’ densities (without them having any say) and a rapid acceleration toward a Boulder population above 250,000 residents.

It’s our choice. Vote Yes on 300 and 301.

Mike Marsh lives in Boulder.

Better Boulder Said YES! to Baseline Zero

See what One Boulder/Better Boulder/Open Boulder are all about. The developer of Baseline Zero is also a supporter of the One Boulder Percent that is trying to defeat 300 & 301 so they can make a larger profit.
…”We believe that the Baseline Zero project has the potential to positively impact the Martin Acres community…”
Remember that they don’t want you to have a voice in your neighborhood. They want you to just take what they give you.
What do they have planned for your neighborhood?


“Who do you believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Jeff Flynn had to raise the ghost of Groucho Marx in this column he submitted to the Daily Camera:


In the recent guest opinion by Andy Schultheiss of Open Boulder, a new strategy has emerged from the opponents of the ballot initiatives Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote and Growth Shall Pay Its Own Way. Their previous strategy, the one that actually talked about what the initiatives say, apparently did not work. (Remember how they continually misrepresented that 10% of a neighborhood could stop a project until they were shown that the ballot language says that a majority would hold sway and then only on land use regulation changes, not on projects within the regulations?) Their new strategy appears to be to throw as many meaningless platitudes against the wall as possible and hope that they stick.

So let’s look at a couple of them. Mr. Schultheiss believes that if Neighborhoods have a right to vote on land use regulation changes, the vote “would divide neighborhood against neighborhood”. At the Plan Boulder debate, opponents kept calling this initiative “divisive”. I wonder what they think about our current democratic system of government, where we vote for the president, governor and, thank god, our city council members. Should we just scrap our system of government since neighbors don’t always agree on the above politicians and adopt a dictatorial form of government? Their argument makes no sense and, in a word, is nonsense. Our citizens make their voices heard in all kinds of votes, and after voting come together on whatever the majority chooses. It would be no different here.

What Open Boulder, Better Boulder and the Chamber, organizing under the umbrella group One Boulder, all fear is that a neighborhood vote would prevent them from packing all of our neighborhoods with high-density buildings. In his article, Mr. Schultheiss says that the neighborhood vote would be “placing a finger on the scale in favor of suburban-style, non-walkable, low-density housing”. In other words, he’s saying that our neighborhoods should have lots of high-density housing in them. Nothing could be clearer about the plans of the developers for whom Mr. Schultheiss speaks than this statement. They are coming for our neighborhoods. In Denver, they are already knocking down churches and replacing them with high-density developments in neighborhoods. Boulder is next. The Neighborhoods Right to Vote initiative will give you a say when the developers inevitably show up at your door. That’s why you should vote YES on Ballot Question 300 and ignore the misleading platitudes being thrown about by the initiatives’ opponents.

Other misinformation put forward in Mr. Schultheiss’ article is that the initiatives would make it difficult to “site community benefits” for “things like affordable housing” and “firehouses”. Apparently he never read the zoning code - Firehouses are currently allowed in residential neighborhoods after use review and affordable housing is permitted as long as it fits within the neighborhood zoning. Ironically, the initiative Growth Shall Pay Its Own Way creates funding for both affordable housing and firehouses, something the policies of Mr. Schultheiss do not. When developers pay an impact fee to provide affordable housing for their lower income employees living in the city, taxpayers no longer have to subsidize this housing for them. When development no longer overtaxes the level of services of our fire department, we’ll end up both with an increased number of firehouses and the fire personnel needed to service the new development.

Mr. Schultheiss’ words remind me of the famous Groucho Marx statement, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?” Take a look around and decide whether you think our housing is becoming more affordable. Take a look around and decide whether traffic is getting better. Take a look around at the massive buildings and decide whether you like the way Boulder is starting to look. After your brain confirms what your eyes have seen, not what Mr. Schultheiss wants you to believe, then you should vote YES on Ballot Question 301 and make the developers, not the taxpayers, pay for the impacts they are causing.

If you desire to live in an uber-dense city with massive buildings that blot out the Flatirons and be trapped in constant traffic jams, then Mr. Schultheiss’ policies are right for you. But if you want to have a say in Boulder’s future and help slow the development free for all, then a YES vote for the ballot initiatives will give you a voice, something the other side obviously does not want you to have.

Jeffrey Flynn

Response to Macon Cowles’ Guest Editorial

The major flaw in Macon Cowles analysis is that he actually believes Martin Acres turned back Baseline Zero.  It didn’t. That’s an urban myth and honestly, Cowles ought to know better.  Baseline Zero is likely to be back in as soon as 17 months, as soon as the City’s temporary height moratorium is lifted. The moratorium on building above 35’ is what stopped Baseline Zero.  It wasn’t the neighborhood.  The developer wanted to build up to 55′.  The City passed a two year moratorium on his ability to do that.  (Recall, Cowles voted against the Planning Board’s version of the height moratorium – the version without all the Swiss cheese loopholes.)

In and around the time that the Council’s height moratorium passed, the developer issued two year leases to his current retail tenants at Baseline Zero. Cowles knows nothing about the actual facts of Baseline Zero and the extent to which the neighborhood’s efforts did little but buy a “stay of sentencing.” Martin Acres will undoubtedly have to soon respond to another Baseline Zero proposal from the same developer. The neighborhood asked that the definition of the zoning be followed: “neighborhood-serving retail.” And the developer could have built neighborhood-serving retail under a 35’ cap – you don’t need more than two stories for retail. So the fact that he withdrew it under the height moratorium actually suggests that the neighborhood isn’t going to get anything that’s neighborhood-serving – only a 55’ office park and hotel. And Cowles calls this positive?

The even larger point is this is a classic “mis-direct” by an artful attorney. The point of the Neighborhood initiative was never to vote on projects. It’s to have an appeal vote in cases where an entire neighborhood is up-zoned or re-zoned by the City. So Cowles’ listing of 10 projects is nothing more than a list of 10 projects that would NOT be the subject of the Neighborhood initiative. It’s a total non-sequitur by one of the most development-friendly, pro-growth members of City Council, who is leaving office on a “scorched earth” policy and hovering very close to crossing the line as an elected official. Council said they would not take a position on the initiatives.

So we have….a broken Council agreement, a total non-sequitur mis-direct by an “artful” attorney, a total mis-representation of Martin Acres’ actual situation relative to Baseline Zero?  It’s worth considering these points when you read Cowles’ editorial.