Boulder skipping an important step — Cathy Conery

POSTED:   02/03/2015 06:49:37 PM MST
Daily Camera, Boulder, CO

These comments regarding community planning may shed light on recent contentiousness and may provide some direction in future planning.

According to the American Planning Association, “Planners help the community and its various groups identify their goals and form a particular vision. In the creation of a plan, planners identify the strategies by which the community can reach its goals and vision.” Boulder’s approach to development seems to go directly to strategies, without defined end-game targets or goals in terms of population, traffic, daily in-commuters, etc.

In comprehensive planning, according to Wikipedia, “Goals are community visions. They establish priorities for communities and help community leaders make future decisions which will affect the city. Stating goals is not always an easy process and it requires the active participation of all people in the community.”

It’s critical that Boulder planners include all citizens in the community.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notes, “Ideally, all government programs should have goals and objectives explicitly stated as part of the program planning process. In reality, very few government programs have explicit, meaningful goal and objective statements. This poses a problem in program evaluation, since there is no clearly stated direction with which actual performance can be compared.”

Boulder seems to lack a community-defined goal for maximum population. Is it 110,000 residents? 150,000? 250,000? The same could be said for the city’s quest for more companies locating here and the resultant increases in daily in-commuters. Is the threshold of acceptability 80,000 in-commuters, 100,000? How many more Boulder corporations do we seek and what length of traffic jams on U.S. 36?

If Boulder lacks defined goals in these areas, but plunges ahead with policies, we’re likely to arrive at accidental and unintended results — many of which we’re likely to regret.

Cathy Conery  Boulder