On Sept. 17 I ended up the first to address the Boulder City Council during citizen participation. Several council members were nodding their heads by the end of the first sentence … but soon they stopped. Here’s what I said, prettied up for print.
Crises bring some opportunities. If and where the creek path needs reconstruction, it should be widened and straightened to accommodate the increase in biking and electric biking that Boulder will have to accomplish to avoid the coming “hockey stick” of congestion that the Transportation Master Plan predicts. You just can’t jam more 3/4- empty cars and 6/7-empty big-city buses onto our narrow roads, especially with all the traffic circles, medians, neckdowns, chicanes and other obstructions the city has installed in the last 20 years. I suggest perhaps an 8-foot-wide bike path and a 6-footwide pedestrian path.
[I analyzed RTD’s “Ride Check” records in 1994, 2007 and 2009 to get the current 6/7 figure. The only non-PR response by RTD to such stats was in the early ‘90s to start using tinted windows to disguise the vast emptiness!] You also have the opportunity to get serious about pretty much all the official city goals by at least suspending the occupancy ordinance that limits most housing units to three unrelated people, and keeps hundreds or thousands of rooms unused or underused. Here are the city goals the ordinance thwarts:
1. Affordable housing: Less supply of rental rooms means higher prices.
2. Reducing traffic: less rentals and higher prices mean more people must commute into Boulder and drive farther.
3. Urban density. Obviously, emptiness is the opposite of density!
4. Diversity: Obviously, poorer minorities can’t afford Boulder rents.
5. Reducing our carbon footprint. Obviously, if we’re heating empty rooms and driving more.
6. Better relations with students: Not a chance, with students the biggest victim of the ordinance.
So you have the opportunity to make this a really green town. As you know, for years I’ve been saying Boulder is a world center for greenwashing. I’d say Mother Nature hasn’t indicated approval, if there’s any meaning to what’s happened to us.
It’s the empty rooms, empty car and bus seats and especially the empty mansions of Boulder and America that are sucking the planet dry. There’s no “Boulder exceptionalism” here. Don’t forget the empty hearts of the people who made and keep it this way.
“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surrounds it, it shines clear.” — Gandhi
I hope this flood sweeps clean.
Evan Ravitz was Evan from Heaven, a tightrope artist on the Pearl Street Mall, from 1978 to 1998. He’s now a wilderness guide and freelance editor. He started the Ebike petition: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/legalize-ebikes-on-boulder.
This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.