Letters: 8/30/18

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Hill Hotel: Bad idea for Boulderites

The Hill Hotel is not a done deal. City Council will make a determination whether this project will move forward on Sept. 4. I urge every citizen of Boulder who has an interest to contact the Council about this project before then.

There have been many ideas presented as to how to make the Hill a more desirable place, especially for the sake of businesses in the area. The most recent feedback can be found in the University Hill Reinvestment Strategy Survey results from January 2017. Respondents’ largest concerns were parking and cleanliness — both reasonable concerns that should be addressed to fit Boulder’s plan to sustain small, local businesses. The path to accomplishing this doesn’t include destroying existing small businesses to make room for a hotel that caters exclusively to wealthy tourists.

This hotel would displace nearly 20 businesses, many run by long-time members of our community, including the only laundromat and one of the few small grocery stores remaining in the area. About one-third of these businesses would be replaced if the hotel is built. Rent on the new properties will likely be considerably higher, and favor businesses that cater primarily to hotel guests, not Boulder or Hill residents. I can think of few ideas that would be less beneficial to small business, despite the fact that Council has stated on several occasions that maintaining and supporting affordable small businesses is a priority.

While parking is a problem on the Hill, Boulder is supposed to be steering toward reducing traffic, congestion and emissions. Encouraging more people to drive to the Hill only compounds the issues we have. The cost incurred for the new spaces will be about $20 million in public money from the general fund (about $250,000 per new parking space) using certificates of participation, which don’t allow the public to participate in a vote for their use. It is a waste of valuable city resources to help a luxury hotel get parking spaces, especially during a tax shortfall.

The Hill needs revitalization, but Council needs a better plan. The plan should be for the benefit of Boulderites, and not at the cost of long-standing businesses that service our community. Tell Council to find a better plan for the Hill on Sept. 4.

Adam Swetlik/Boulder

Market environmentalism and pollution tax

Last week, Lafayette City Council passed a resolution referring a pollution tax to the voters. The proposed tax, paid by drillers not consumers, copies a pollution tax referendum proposed by the City of Boulder.

The sustainability “experts” at the city of Boulder set the tax using EPA’s estimate of the social costs of carbon and methane. Here’s the going rate for breathing benzene and other hydrocarbons and contributing to species and environmental extinction: up to $6.90 a barrel of oil and $.88 per thousand cubic feet of gas. According to Lafayette’s city attorney, the tax won’t apply to oil and gas extracted from shale located in the City limits of Lafayette, only to oil and gas extracted from a well pad located in the City limits. So if Lafayette residents are counting on pollution tax revenue to help pay for their kids’ asthma or cancer treatments, none will be collected from Extraction Oil and Gas’s future wellpad in Erie’s Parkdale development.

Boulder experts also say the true social cost of the two fossil fuels is actually much, much higher — 40 and 480 percent of the sale price of oil and gas, respectively. But that rate is way too high [for the drillers to keep on drilling] so they proposed a scaling factor to reduce the tax. Thoughtful.

Here in Boulder County, we’re awash in market environmentalists including the Boulder Democrats, politicians, candidates and local City Councilors. Keep the indebted drillers drilling so they can pay off Wall Street while quelling any looming rebellion by hapless local residents. Pollution taxes, carbon taxes, cap and trade, and 200 species are going extinct every day. Where’s the Invisible Hand when you need it? Or are we not sending the right “market signal”?

All these schemes put a price tag on global environmental destruction and let the pollution roll on. If you pay up, it’s OK to destroy our children’s future. The market über alles!

Real environmentalists have said all along: stop the bullshit and fight like our like our lives and children’s futures depend on it. 

Merrily Mazza/Lafayette City Council member