Profit is not Boulder’s highest value — Dawn Taylor and C. J. Wires

Daily Camera, Boulder, CO
POSTED:   01/31/2015 03:00:09 PM MST

It’s not easy to characterize what makes Boulder so appealing and unique, but the Pearl Street Mall might be a paradigm case. For the most part, the buildings are different one from the next, with architectural details that provide a sense of place, on a human scale. What’s going up in Boulder in the recent development boom is nothing like that. To us, these projects are huge, monolithic, cheap-looking compounds that block out the sun and our view of the mountains.

A developer’s job is to maximize profits. If developers had their way, the whole town would be built up to 55 feet if that’s what would maximize profits. Boulder city planning and city council’s jobs are to maintain the unique and desirable characteristics of our town (among other things). We very much appreciate the director of community planning and sustainability/City Council’s responsiveness to the outcry of the citizens who are appalled by the direction Boulder’s landscape is taking.

To the developers who say, “Limiting growth will affect the economic climate,” we say we’ve heard that warning repeatedly in the 35 years we’ve lived here. People still want to live here; employers still want to set up shop here. If a company needs a six-story building with a footprint the size of a city block, they should perhaps go elsewhere. If developers feel they can’t make enough money doing a project in Boulder that stays within the code limits of 35 to 38 feet, maybe they should seek out projects in other areas.

When we moved here, buying a house in Boulder wasn’t easy. Relatives advised us to try surrounding areas to get a bigger, newer house for less money. But that’s not what we wanted. We wanted the awe-inspiring Boulder experience (like being able to look west and see the Flatirons from almost anywhere in town) and we sacrificed to get it. It’s not easy to live or build here. We would hate to see that unique Boulder character disappear because it’s easier (i.e. more profitable) to do maximum-height, massively out-of-scale projects. The unique character that is Boulder exists today solely because of the planning, foresight, and careful stewardship of previous generations of citizens. We can’t let a handful of individuals who are seeking to maximize profit capitalize on the efforts of others who have worked hard to create the Boulder that we all love.

Dawn Taylor and C.J. Wires live in Boulder.

… maintaining Boulder's quality of life