News in brief

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Draft CU South annexation agreement released 

On Monday, July 12, the City of Boulder and University of Colorado released a draft annexation agreement regarding 308 acres of CU-owned property, known as CU South, at the junction of U.S. 36 and Table Mesa Drive. If approved, the annexation would move the City one step closer to building a flood mitigation project to protect people and homes in the South Boulder Creek floodplain from historic flooding like what occurred in 2013. 

For years, various parties have gone back and forth about potential design concepts that would impact the area differently, and the process has been complicated, involving a wide variety of stakeholders with competing priorities. (See News, “The controversy surrounding CU South explained,” May 14, 2020). 

In the newly released draft annexation agreement, CU commits to transfer 155 acres to the City for flood protection and open space uses, including continued public access to the site, as well as transfer water rights needed for habitat restoration and a phased housing and development plan that includes binding covenants setting height, size, and location limits for buildings and locations for a multimodal traffic plan. It also dedicates 5 acres for permanently affordable housing. 

The agreement has not been finalized, however, and there are plenty of upcoming opportunities for public review and comment from July 14 through Aug. 13. Feedback can be given on key agreement topics through a City questionnaire at beheardboulder.org. Additionally, the agreement will be discussed by a variety of board and commissions, as well as City Council, which is expected to make a final decision by September. The CU Board of Regents are expected to discuss its approval of the agreement by the end of the summer. If annexation is approved, CU still needs to go through a master planning process before any development begins, which will not occur until after the City’s flood protection project is complete.  

What everyone is talking about: affordable housing

Boulder Weekly may be in the middle of a series on affordability solutions (check out (un)affordable), but we’re not the only ones talking about affordable housing in Boulder County and beyond. 

At the Longmont’s City Council’s annual retreat, talks about addressing affordability dominated the conversation on July 9, with Mayor Brian Bagley telling the Time’s Call he was shocked to hear that the majority of Longmont renters are housing burdened. On Tuesday, July 13, Congressman Joe Neguse hosted U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge in Boulder for an affordable housing tour and roundtable to share the state’s priorities for addressing the affordable housing crisis with the Biden-Harris Administration. 

“Across the Front Range and northern Colorado, as our communities expand and grow, families are being priced out of the communities they love and forced to live farther away from where they work,” Neguse said in a press release announcing his Housing Our Communities plan, which includes legislative solutions to preserve the federal government’s commitment to affordable housing. “In our mountain towns the affordable housing stock is limited, locals are being displaced and workers can’t find affordable rental properties. We are at an inflection point for affordable housing, and it’s critical that we find creative solutions that meet this moment.”

The night before, on July 12, East County Housing Opportunity Coalition (ECHO) and Together Colorado released a report of community-based recommendations to create more affordable housing with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, otherwise known as the COVID-19 Stimulus package.  

“There are some things that we must do now if we want our next generations to have hope; if we want our communities to thrive,” Hermine Ngnomire, founder of County Collectives and participant in the coalition said in a press release. “We must provide and build affordable housing for the least of us.” 

Recommendations include developing a Housing Trust Fund to provide grants to local communities, nonprofit organization and housing authorities; provide cash assistance to individuals; pursue regulatory changes like local planning and zoning codes; and improve community outreach. 

Colorado interfaith advocates join national effort to secure citizenship for all 

After the U.S. House passed bills that allow farmworkers and people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to apply for permanent legal status on a bipartisan basis in March, interfaith leaders around the country are now calling on the Senate and the Biden administration to follow suit this summer. 

In Colorado, more than 900 individuals and 195 faith-based organizations sent a letter to Congress calling for a path to citizenship by any means necessary. Recent polling from Data For Progress shows that 74% of Coloradans polled support legislation that would create a path to citizenship for essential workers and other undocumented immigrants. As part of the effort, faith leaders, immigrants and activists from Together Colorado kicked off a #FastForFreedom to demand citizenship for all.

DACA “offers no pathway to citizenship and is constantly under attack,” Laura Peniche, community leader for Together Colorado and Faith in Action, said in a press release. “Living in this limbo, wondering if the next court date will be the end of DACA and my ability to work, is anxiety producing and unjust. Not only for myself, but also for my three children who were born in this country.” 

Although past legislative attempts have repeatedly failed, the groups are urging Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper to help pass comprehensive immigration reform this year. Both have already pledged their support of Biden’s proposed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which would provide Dreamers (DACA), TPS holders and some farmworkers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship, and give all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes with an eight-year path to citizenship without fear of deportation. 

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