Please take a moment to read my thoughts about the following issues & topics in the paragraphs below.
- Growth, Population & Housing Costs
- Open Space
- Ballot Initiatives
I’ve devoted much of my adult life to unpaid public service and have twice been elected by Boulder voters. In 1985 I was elected to a four year term on the Boulder City Council. While on the City Council, I was selected, as a Gates Fellow, to attend the Kennedy School of Government. In 2002 I was elected to serve a six-year term on the University of Colorado Board of Regents, the governing body for the four campus CU system. If elected again, I will remember, as I have in past elected office terms, that I am a representative of the people of Boulder – all of them – not just subsets of them. We need to ensure that the Council is acting on behalf of all the citizens. To this end, I’ll strongly advocate for the use of statistically accurate surveys of all Boulder residents and would let these results—and citizen meetings–guide our decision-making as a City. I believe that the City Council members should continue to be elected at large. Our community is still small enough that all council members should be able to fairly represent all interests.
Boulder now has many more jobs than residents. Our addressing the jobs/population imbalance will help with both traffic congestion and soaring rental and housing prices. Boulder’s inelastic housing demand means that we cannot add enough units to meet demand sufficiently to reduce prices.
Boulder is land constrained; the city can’t grow forever in terms of quantity without becoming “a traffic-ridden, urbanized, up-scale enclave choking on its own prosperity.” Our population is at the “magic” number of roughly 100,000. When population begins exceeding 100,000, the cost of providing services is harder to meet without excessive tax hikes. The question is how competitive we can be economically and, equally important, what kind of quality of life do we want? Economic vitality isn’t dependent on numerical population growth and density to the max, but on the diverse mix of people here, drawn here for different reasons and influenced by diverse stimuli—artistic, scientific, cultural, environmental. This diversity allows Boulder to be a catalyst where new businesses can start and succeed, and that is our economic strength, not just adding more population and densification and congestion which detract from quality of life.
The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan & The City’s Growth Policy
Most of the important issues facing the city are growth related: traffic congestion, lack of affordable housing, escalating costs generally, overuse of Open Space and Mountain Parks and civic areas like the Farmers Market, growth pressures creating polarized communities, an influx of ultra-affluent residents, and escalating corporate out of town real estate investments. The 2015-16 Comprehensive Plan update must include deliberations regarding how big Boulder should be and how fast our town should build out. These decisions must be made through intensely integrated citizen involvement. A community-wide discussion should determine the big picture vision for Boulder, and our growth policy should stem from that.
Boulder’s planning is best when looked at holistically, rather than in silos. With population pressures facing the entire Boulder area and Front Range in general, we need to look broadly rather than narrowly and plan with a big, rather than constrained, vision. Underlying the holistic planning assumption is citizen formulation: citizen involvement in forming policy rather than citizens being in a reactive mode. Following citizen involvement is proper execution of said plans over time. If plans are to be updated, convene the group again, so again, no surprises.
Neighborhoods are important – after all, they are where we live! And residents must be given a voice in decisions regarding neighborhood character and given due respect by city planners. North Boulder’s sub-community plan exemplifies a process that brought everyone – residents, businesses, developers – to the table beforehand and engaged them in hammering out something that most agree with.
Jobs & New Development
An imbalance exists in the jobs/population ratio when we have 60,000 in-commuters swelling our 103,840 population base every work day, causing massive congestion and traffic jams. And I worry that Boulder’s local businesses and job base are in jeopardy—local retailers, service and industrial people who can no longer afford the land/office/retail space costs to do business here.
Since the 1977 Comp Plan, we’ve had a vision of new development paying its own way, but that has never been fully implemented. Google type jobs come to town and they pay a lot in fees and taxes, but do they pay enough to offset their impacts? Who pays to offset these impacts? Local citizens pay more while losing a good quality of life.
What policy changes would do the most to increase affordable housing in Boulder? The ballot initiative New Development Shall Pay Its Own Way provides that the city does what it legally can to capture fees to help address the affordable housing issue as well as traffic congestion and other impacts. Pass that initiative. Increase the formula for inclusionary zoning so that a larger percentage of affordable housing units are included in new developments. There’s no silver bullet for this issue but it calls for immediate attention to stop it from becoming worse.
We need to consider using a variety of additional tools to enable those in middle and low income jobs to afford to live here: building some low-cost, high density residences; lobbying state government for statewide rent control; preserving mobile home park options; registering and properly regulating cooperative housing; getting the universities to accelerate plans for providing student housing. In addition, we must continue to provide as much assistance as possible to immigrant families and the homeless, including Ready to Work programs.
Middle and lower income residents are the glue that keeps Boulder together day to day. We need to engage neighborhoods in planning for the future and foster progressive policies to enable diverse residents to live here.
On Council, I will champion an inclusive process to formulate and implement the community’s vision for the next 25 years through the Boulder Valley Comp Plan process, including sub-community planning that grapples with the way infill is handled. And by putting some teeth into the current Comp Plan’s aspirational vision of having new development pay its own way, I will push the city to achieve a greater number of permanently affordable housing units in Boulder.
I support the municipalization of Boulder’s electric utility. For operating and maintaining a municipal energy utility, I prefer a blend of city and contractor.
Carbon Tax proceeds
I believe the following are the most important investments of the carbon tax proceeds: The EnergySmart programs have had huge positive impacts on residential and commercial buildings, while the SmartRegs program wins for both the landlord–less carbon impact– and the renter by lowering heating and cooling costs. I’m in favor of the proposed Building Performance Ordinance and I applaud the tracking, reporting, and evaluation procedures being used and developed. I think people like to know measurable success of programs they fund.
Getting to a zero-carbon electricity supply
As I understand it, getting to a really low level of CO2 output is one thing, getting to zero another. Generating electricity is not the issue; storage is the issue. In Colorado solar and wind complement each other; wind farms in eastern Colorado and Wyoming generate wind energy that’s competitive with coal and the price of solar is dropping fast. Batteries are a short term solution, good for storing maybe a day or so worth of energy, but for longer term storage like a week or more, electricity can be used to make liquid or gaseous fuel which is then burned to produce electricity or using pumped storage, which, for example, Boulder is looking into at Barker Dam.
Plans and programs to increase the use of solar energy in Boulder
I would 1) maintain net metering which Xcel has threatened to cut 2)increase availability of solar gardens and 3) allow multiple buildings to share single installations and 4) if the city were to create a Muni, use the what Excel would have as profit to plow back into solar programs, services and innovation The most challenging issue for the city to achieve our commitment of an 80% carbon reduction below 2005 levels by 2050: The biggest challenge is Xcel with its coal power. If we can create a Muni, we can achieve our goals because we’ll be controlling our future. If we’re stuck with Xcel, we’ll need to go to the legislature and get them to require Xcel to retire these plants, which will cost some money, but is cheaper than continuing to heat up the planet.
Yes, I support a city wide Ecopass. It could be funded by new Development paying its way and being responsible for its part of congestion. Thinking outside the box regarding negotiations with RTD could be a component of citywide Ecopasses. Regardless of whether people have an Ecopass or not, the transit systems need be improved–shorter headways, smaller vehicles– like vans– so that people actually have incentive to use their passes.
Solution to the tens of thousands of in-commuters that could be implemented in the near term
In the near term, we can try three things: 1) negotiate harder with RTD for better service 2) implement the building “pause” that was put forward to the Council in September 2014 (and failed on a 5-4 vote). The “pause” would allow the city to look at what’s in the pipeline so we could figure out how much is happening when and re-examine the jobs/population imbalance and better ways to address it rather than saying it doesn’t exist and 3) we could borrow successful programs from other communities: In the early 2000’s Stanford wanted to add 2,000,000 square feet of buildings and 3,000 residential units. Santa Clara County said, Stanford must mitigate traffic congestion/numbers by either funding intersection improvements or cutting peak demand. Stanford used a carrot and stick approach: pay employees not to drive and free transit passes; at the same time the university raised parking fees for employees to forcefully discourage single occupant vehicles. The results were that commuter SOV use went down from 64.4% to 39.3% (a 39% reduction), and peak hours were reduced, even with increased population.
Making low-cost, low-carbon transportation, including biking, walking, and transit, safer and more accessible to low income families
Site any new housing near major transit corridors, near shopping, schools, so walking, and biking are reasonable. Go to low income people, ask them what their needs are. Have transit/shuttles regularly visit places, go to housing then to places where residents travel. Have some kind of demand management transportation available. Have community wide Ecopasses and better service from RTD so that transit is regular, predictable, including on weekends. The response here depends on how integrated “low income” is with rest of community. –
Right-sizing on Folsom
I support the city’s Climate Action Plan, but don’t think we should continue the right-sizing project on Folsom. The right-sizing Folsom project’s biggest mistake was that citizens weren’t included upfront in the conversation, so people from across the spectrum are unhappy, whether they ride bikes, use cars, are business owners, or are folks just trying to travel around the city. A close second to the lack of inclusion was insufficient data analysis and poor consideration of alternatives.
I’ve talked with a fair number of bike commuters who think the project unwise and unsafe for them, who say that it won’t put another single bike commuter on the road. Given the city’s climate goals, other proposed methods exist to shift people out of cars without creating unnecessary congestion, like a city wide Ecopass program or incentives such as those implemented by Stanford University’s transportation demand management in the early 2000’s.
Our Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) system defines, to a large extent, what Boulder is. For the last 48 years, we’ve invested the tax monies we’ve imposed upon ourselves to purchase land that
* preserves habitat for the wild creatures,
*preserves water resources and agricultural lands, and shapes our city’s boundaries,
*prevents encroachment on floodplains, and
*preserves land for its aesthetic value, its passive recreational value and its contribution to our quality of life.
Our open space contributes to a healthy environment, to our overall quality of life, and to the economic vitality of our community.
We’ve been so successful in growing the program that we now have more than 70 square miles of land and 145 miles of trail – so much that we can’t keep up with needed maintenance. Almost all of us love walking, hiking, and riding on these trails, but so do thousands of others from throughout the Metro area and afar. We’ve got to figure out how to sustain this wonderful system – to decide how we will pay for the regular maintenance that’s needed and how to get literally millions of visitors to use it in a way that sustains the valuable habitat that we’ve bought to preserve.
To enable future generations to enjoy the same qualities of open space that we do, we will need to address the issue of carrying capacity. How many people can use our system without degrading it? I look forward to tackling this overarching issue in 2016.
As human population pressures grow, Open Space habitat and ecosystem preservation is central to the continuation of imperiled species, including migrant bird species and those quickly becoming extirpated from Boulder such as the Northern Harrier and the Burrowing Owl.
I support continued open space acquisition, including acquisition of trail easements to develop trail connections between the city and open space recreation destinations. I’d like to reopen discussions about a trail along the “Feeder Canal” linking Boulder to Lyons.
What about dogs? The new Voice and Sight blue-tag program for dogs, with regulations requiring dog guardians to go to classes, have heightened awareness about what “voice and sight control” is. However, the numbers of dog-related violations have not decreased. Compliance is essential for dogs and their guardians to use trails without impacting our natural areas and the valuable OSMP habitat that supports highly diverse populations of wildlife, ranging from mammals and birds to bees.
Mountain bikers and equestrians go faster and farther than the majority of OSMP users – pedestrians. I support the city’s role in linking the OSMP system to county and U.S. Forest Service lands, allowing access to regional trails.
Allowing use of trails by mountain bikers and pedestrians/equestrians on alternating days will enable users to have access to more trail options and improve the quality of their recreational experiences.
I am a huge supporter of recycling. In my first term on Council, we did many things to strengthen recycling in the city of Boulder.
I support developing a local public composting facility in Boulder County that supports all haulers.
I also support the expansion of commercial recycling. We are doing a good job of recycling in the residential waste stream. But this is only about one-third of the overall municipal solid waste stream. We need to do better at recycling in the commercial and industrial waste streams.
I also support efforts to increase the demand for products made from secondary (recycled) resources. This means encouraging the purchasing of everything from recycled paper to plastic lumber, etc.
Do I support 2N, a tax on short-term rentals? Yes
Do I support 2O, the Utility Occupation tax renewal? Yes
Do I support 2P, the Climate Action Plan tax renewal? Yes
Do I support 2Q, the Library Commission charter amendment? Yes
Do I support 2R, the City Council compensation increase charter amendment? No
Do I support 300, the Neighborhoods’ Right to Vote charter amendment? Yes
Do I support 301, the New Development Shall Pay Its Own Way charter amendment? Yes
I approved this message. Paid for by Cindy Carlisle for Council. A copy of our report is on file with the City Clerk of the City of Boulder, CO.