“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:
MEANINGLESS PLATITUDES AND OTHER NONSENSE
VOTE YES ON 300 AND 301
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.