Below are Boulder Weekly's five questions for Boulder City Council candidates, and their answers.
Question 1: What are three achievable goals that you would champion in the next two years?
Creating programs and policies that will result in significant reductions in energy use, particularly in the commercial building sector. Perhaps not "achievable" due to dependence on regional consensus and perhaps voter approval, but creation of a funded, definitive plan to greatly increase transit mobility in Boulder and the northwest corridor. Embarking on new approaches to maintaining diversity in Boulder with creation/preservation of (at least "relatively") affordable housing via zoning, density, housing regulations, etc.
1. Revitalization of the Subcommunity plan concept.
2. Require evaluation of public/private partnership alternatives to ordinance and regulatory proposals, whenever substantial voluntary progress is being made
3. Identification of customer service moments of truth for all city departments, particularly those with regulatory enforcement authority.
1. Assess flood damage and set new priorities for the Stormwater/Flood Management Utility, based on what we learned from the recent flood.
2. Form a municipal utility.
3. Reduce carbon emissions of tenant occupied commercial buildings.
Community Eco Passes, increased use of public transit, biking and walking in commuting, and restoration of proposed cuts to Human Services funding.
1. Decrease in carbon emissions related to electric power generation, by moving ahead with municipalization.
2. Agreement between the City and the County regarding the continuation of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan to ensure continued cooperation for effective land use arrangements
3. A city-wide ecopass program — to promote bus ridership and diminish car miles for local residents.
1. Transfer the city vehicle fleet to carshare. This model has been proven to save cities money, reduce environmental impact, and provide new transportation options for low-income residents.
2. Transform "Transit Center" dreams into "Tech Center" success. Our critical housing and office shortages won't be solved by building the same old boxes around a non-existent train. I've proposed that we breathe new life into this industrial neighborhood by allowing heights up to 165'. This would create a true center of commerce for Boulder and simultaneously protect the character of the rest of the city.
3. Repeal one dim-witted law. Over the past two decades, Council has imposed countless new laws ... but has never once seen fit to roll one back. I intend to make history by finding a law that was a mistake and then returning that freedom to the people of Boulder.
1) Develop a sustainable local food system - do the analysis necessary and put policies in place to set us on this path (examples and reasoning previously discussed).
2) Create an affordable and reliable local electric utility that uses at least 50% renewable energy.
3) Finance and implement a Community-wide Eco-pass.
(1) Reduce traffic and fuel consumption and emissions within the City by removing all barriers (such as fares or even EcoPasses) for certain high frequency intra-city routes (e.g., Skip and Hop), like the 16th Street Mall in Denver. Additionally, the City and RTD should begin working on a community-wide EcoPass and significant incremental progress on regional transportation plans.
(2) Develop a viable regional housing plan/proposal in Boulder County to address the needs of our growing senior demographic with fixed incomes, as well as the inability of health, safety, educational, and other public servants to live in or near Boulder. This ties into our significant transportation problem.
(3) Immediately address behavioral problems in the Boulder Creek Path, downtown, and other public areas, while at the same time increasing our support and focus on assisting at-risk youth and homeless families and transitional individuals.
Greatful Fred Smith
Implementation of a
1. City Income Tax,
2. City Minimum Wage,
3. City 18 y/o Minimum Drinking Age
While these goals may not be completed in two years, I believe substantial progress can be made on each. Implement a municipal electric utility or a substantially restructured agreement with Xcel to perform a rapid switch to renewables in our electrical supply and 50% carbon emissions reductions within 5-7 years. I will champion keeping the process going to determine the final costs and likely benefits of a muni, maintaining forceful negotiations with Xcel to discuss alternate partnership structures in parallel. Adopt commercial energy codes. Begin with baseline measurements of all commercial buildings over a given size, then proceed to convene a public process about how to best have the commercial and industrial sector assist in meeting Climate Commitment goals. Begin a City and community process of integrated planning regarding how buildout will look with our current zoning plan, and if the current plan matches with the vision of the community.
1. Continue and make progress on the collaborative effort to create an effective policy for commercial and industrial energy users to invest in energy efficiency.
2. Direct city manager to direct staff to begin the process of amending our Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance.
3. Finding a way to pay for the Eco Pass.
Question 2: What are the most important policies Boulder needs to implement to ensure that it reaches and maintains sustainability?
Reductions of energy use in residential and commercial buildings via more education, incentives, building codes, and, as needed, regulation; a municipal electric utility or equivalent would help enormously by allowing us not only to procure renewable energy but to greatly improve incentives, rate structures and programs in this regard. Reductions in VMT via much increased provision of accessible alternatives - transit both local and regional (including completion of FasTracks), completion of the bike system and improvements for commuters, complete streets, parking districts, etc. Targeted density increases that may help provide more affordable housing, particularly for city workers. Significant improvements in waste management/recycling. Firm, long-term fiscal sustainability so that we can maintain the high level of services that attract creative peopl! e, ensure economic vitality, and allow pursuit of innovative programs. Continued vigilance on Open Space protections.
Reconfiguration of our human settlement patterns. Our 65-year experiment with auto-dependent planning must come to an end. We are part of a regional interdependent economy with workers and jobs scattered hither and yon. We need to create primarily self-sufficient subcommunities within Boulder and connect them efficiently to each other and to our regional neighbors, whose workers and jobs are part of our carbon footprint, whether or not we care to acknowledge it. Development of local agriculture is critical, as is economic resiliency — the need to identify potential supply chain disruptions like those created by the tsunami in Japan and the floods in Pakistan. Like a climax ecosystem, our region must optimize our use of natural resources, while minimizing our waste generation and energy consumption. Boulder may win lot of awards, but there's a lot of work left. Until we make significantly more progress, we're being swept downstream with everyone else.
1. All emissions must be accurately counted, because you cannot manage what you don't measure. 2. Take control of the electricity distribution system so as rapidly reduce carbon emissions while increasing the production of electricity through renewable energy. 3. Achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions of existing buildings by 2050. 4. Adopt land use regulations that transform residential areas into 15-minute neighborhoods, and that increase density appropriately to make the City more urban. 5. Adopt building codes so that new buildings will be net zero buildings by 2030. 6. Electrify most existing direct fuel uses, such as transportation and home heating and cooling.
As indicated in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, "Applying a sustainability framework to decision-making in Boulder means considering the issues of environment, economy and social equity together." We are well-positioned with regard to progressive environmental policies generally and with regard to Open Space, and mostly need to protect what we have in place while fostering economic vitality and social sustainability. An important area of potential environmental improvement rests with encouraging residents and commuters to use public transit more regularly, which I believe can be attained through making Eco Passes more readily available and providing greater outreach.
To reach and maintain sustainability, Boulder should: * move ahead with the municipalization of electric power utility, so that it can diminish carbon emissions related to its power supply and put the control of rates, incentives and programs in local hands. * diminish single person occupancy auto use, by providing and encouraging more environmentally sustainable transit alternatives, including bus, carpooling, bike riding, etc. * continue to diminish waste disposal impacts my increasing recycling levels - and by requiring businesses to have recycling programs to minimize waste disposal requirements and diminishing the waste being sent to landfill. * Establishing limits to waste production and pollution emissions - including the private use of pesticides and other substances which can impact neighbors adversely
This is primarily a design problem and will require many creative solutions. That said, there is one glaring flaw in Boulder's infrastructure that our city continually refuses to acknowledge: you cannot build a sustainable city if you freeze in place mid-century sprawl. Boulder has historic neighborhoods and iconic streets that we should diligently protect. We also have have expansive parking lots and blighted industrial areas east of 28th that are ripe for redevelopment. The city's one-size-fails-all zoning practices actually push construction out of this region and into the very places we had intended to protect. In order to achieve our energy, transportation, economic and social goals, we must take decisive action toward enabling high density redevelopment. By simply relaxing some of the onerous restrictions applied to underutilized properties, we can create real sustainability without impacting the rest of the city.
The impacts of climate change - from record wildfires to recent floods - are increasingly evident and devastating. Greenhouse gas neutrality and preparation for impacts should be top priorities. 1)Boulder electric utility - could quickly increase to 50% renewables and have equal or better rates and reliability. It's likely through this path we can achieve the most the quickest and demonstrate additional benefits. 2)Transportation - Boulderites ride the bus 2X, walk 3X, and bicycle 21X the national average. Still, transportation is 22% of Boulder's ghg emissions . Community-wide Eco-Passes, complete streets, bike paths and walkable neighborhoods should be priorities. 3)Sustainable Local Food Policy - to increase access to locally-grown, healthy food. 4)More water conservation policies and 5) preparation for more big floods - climate change will likely increase both droughts and floods regionally. 6)Local population growth - at some point systems and infrastructure limits are exceeded. We must accept limits.
During my tenure on the Planning Board, I assisted in the redraft of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP). "Sustainability" in the BVCP means "considering the issues of environment, economy and social equity together. An action or decision in any one of these areas will have consequences on the others." I agree that these three policy goals are the key to ensure "sustainability" in Boulder, and they should guide the City's decision-making.
Environmental, economic and social sustainability should be linked to a progressive income tax structure that evens out the taxation for Boulder citizens. Local communities should have more ability to make financial decisions about sustainability, so I would put efforts to have the state allow cities to implement an income tax.
There are eight major areas to focus on for sustainability: population, food, energy, water, land use, transportation, economy, social services. The manners of implementation of each area have impacts on environment and nature, but for 150 words, the most significant are population, energy, land use, and transportation. For preserving natural habitats and stabilizing population, land use planning is crucial, and maintaining a compact city and a vibrant open space system are required. Compact city form also enables lower-impact transportation systems in which transit within the city is more easily done by walking, biking, and buses. Low-impact public transit systems between compact cities are also more convenient (thus more often used) and easier to construct than in a sprawling urban area. Finally, energy systems must be as non-polluting as possible, an! d fossil fuel resources are unsustainable, finite, and damaging. Using them for power production, heating, and transportation must be phased out.
Policies that deal with Climate Change. Without addressing this overarching issue of our time, economic and social sustainability will become more and more difficult. City Council is currently considering a CO2 emissions reduction goal of 80% less than 1990 levels by 2050. If passed, in order to successfully implement this target we would need a set of results based policies to achieve the goal. For example, it could mean the establishment of accountability for predefined annually incremented reduction milestones that are evaluated in a timely manner and adjusted in a timely manner when not met. The advantage of this approach is that it is quadruple bottom line.
Question 3: Do you support increasing density in Boulder? If so, where? What would Boulder’s ideal population be?
Yes, but carefully. Density of course increases population and certain impacts, but done well can reduce our per capita environmental footprint, increase diversity, and help facilitate increased transit and other shared resources. Conventional wisdom naturally allocates density to transit corridors and "walkable" areas, and to places that can support various forms of mixed use. While that's generally good policy, I would note that allowing far more ADUs and/or relaxing occupancy limits would add density citywide. And we have horrible, suburban office parks that could clearly benefit from increases in commercial and/or residential densities, but such reconfiguration will require considerable analysis. (There is no simplistic response to the multiple choice question below re commercial development, hence my all-of-the-above answer.) For the foresee! able future, Boulder's population will continue to grow very slowly; future generations can and should define "ideal" relative to environmental (taken broadly) conditions we can't pretend to fully grasp now.
Yes, we need strategically located density in mixed use neighborhood centers serving the Euclidean (homogenous) residential and non-residential enclaves we have created during 60 years of auto-dependent planning. We're doing better, but we have much work left to be done. As noted earlier, the density should be located along transit corridors and at transit nodes already well-served by our existing and future proposed transit and multi-modal system. We should intensely focus our projects on building the kinds of mixed use neighborhoods our current in-commuting population might prefer. These 50-60,000 additional people are on our streets every workday now, but we don't count them in our population. Building projects that might encourage them to return to Boulder while it enlivens our subcommunities, makes sense. We could have 125,000 residents in Boulder by 2050 creating the sort of impacts associated with 50,000 residents in the 1950s, as a direct result of the behavioral adjustments and environmental policies for which Boulder is justifiably proud.
I favor increasing density along transit corridors and other areas that may be identified in the Sustainable Streets and Centers project that is in the work plan for 2014. I favor increasing density in some neighborhoods by permitting alley houses, granny flats and duplexes. However, I believe that such increases must be done carefully and in consultation with affected neighborhoods. Such consultation has resulted in a renaissance in the Whittier neighborhood, for example, which worked closely with City staff and developers with respect to increasing the density along East Pearl. This is a textbook example of successful outreach, partnership between businesses and residents and good planning that has made the East Pearl neighborhood one of the most desirable in the whole City.
I support some higher density building in new development, but not redeveloping older neighborhoods to have higher density. Boulder's ideal eventual population would probably be about 10,000 higher than current, to allow for more people who work here to live here and contribute to our local economy. Whether we reach that figure depends substantially on occupancy of existing housing stock.
I do support increased density for some neighborhoods in Boulder - including downtown in the central business district, Boulder Junction and the area north of 29th street mall development on 30th St. Lower and middle-income housing is one of our greatest needs, and new development of office space instead of housing should be critically reviewed. Boulder's ideal population is now close to ideal.
Every weekday, 60,000 people commute into Boulder. That's bad for the environment, bad for business and bad for the city tax-base. Some of these commuters have consciously chosen to live elsewhere, but many of them have been pushed out by the ever-increasing cost of housing. Boulder is suffering from a housing shortage. With CU planning to add 10,000 additional students, we are on the verge of a housing crisis. We must take decisive action to encourage development along the 28th and 30th Street corridors. I've proposed that transforming the Transit Center into a high-density Tech Center is the best way to solve our shortage of both housing and office space. P.S. Anyone who believes they can dictate an "ideal population" should probably be running for Supreme Leader, not City Council.
PLAN-Boulder County's publication "Does Dense Make Sense" suggests adding a little more density along transportation corridors. I agree with that and think that walkable mixed use neighborhoods with green space and community gardens in place of big box stores or underutilized shopping area sprawls would be preferable in many ways. One example of where I think that would have been preferable is Diagonal Plaza, and other possibility could be in the area of 55th and Arapahoe. As I mentioned in a previous answer, I think that we must accept that there are limits to the population that our infrastructure and systems can support and still be sustainable. The Planning Dept. expects 120K people at full build out. I think that our current population is pretty ideal and that 120K (allowing for more in-commuters to live here) should be seen as an upper limit.
I do not support increasing density for the sake of adding density. Boulder's population increases constantly through by-right redevelopment of properties in the City and through the expanding enrollment at CU. The City has developed maps showing where that density will occur. We need to be very careful in our neighborhoods, as the BVCP expressly calls for sensitive infill development and the protection of neighborhood character. On public transportation corridors, such as Broadway, some additional density is appropriate, and I would support such an increase in those areas in exchange for a community benefit such as affordable housing. In a perfect world, Boulder's population would hold constant at its current levels, and everyone who works in Boulder would live here. It is impossible to say, today, what Boulder's ideal population will be 10 years or 100 years from now. There are too many variables.
There is no ideal population. I am against the "no more than 3 people in the house rule." Boulder should not look for a "right" population. I think the people of Boulder should determine this themselves and not the city determine it for Boulder. I'm for in-fill and maximizing capacity in houses. Boulder should do what it needs to for its own population.
I support massive reduction in Boulder's greenhouse gas emissions, walkable city neighborhoods, complete streets, and great alternative transportation options. To the extent that sensible and sensitive density increases help achieve these goals, I support them as one tool among many. Dense environments benefit from better public transit, lower energy use per area, and an easier time walking and biking to destinations. Much of the City core is already dense, either through multi-family dwellings in traditionally single-family areas, or by OAUs and ADUs. Opportunity for densification exists in North, South, and East Boulder with traditional suburban layouts. I support neighborhood-by-neighborhood stakeholder engagement to explore additional density through zoning. I also support all growth paying its way towards public infrastructure. I am not sure there is an ideal population - that is for each generation to decide. I am sure there is an ideal Boulder footprint defined by open space and height limits.
Density: Yes, along the 28th and 30th Street corridors, as well as the 55th and Arapahoe corridor. Ideal population: It has been said that in order for people to have a genuine effect on local government, the unit being governed should be small enough to provide for the possibility of easily running into and knowing your elected officials. We are now at about 100,000 people with a build-out projection of 114,000 in 2035. Given our current representation, that would work out to about 12,600 people per city council member. That's more than the ideal number of 7,000 per councilor. If effective local government is our goal, we have already surpassed our ideal population.
Continued in Part 2.