The six million dollar question on co-ops

by Jan Trussell


It’s becoming quite clear co-op advocates can’t come up with better arguments other than referring to those of us who disagree with their proposals as rich, white, wealthy, privileged NIMBY classists. The Daily Camera has been full of guest opinions and letters to the editor on co-ops lately. Recently, we have been accused of not being progressive enough and the new favorite, “nefariously financially motivated.”

I would like to remind supporters of co-ops that the wealthy here in Boulder don’t have to worry about large co-op rentals moving in next to them. Co-ops activists are specifically targeting the most affordable low-to-medium density neighborhoods in Boulder located on the Hill, Goss Grove, Martin Acres, among others.

Yes I’m afraid it’s true despite all the rumors to the contrary. Most of us living here in Boulder purchased our homes to live in them, not to make a killing on the market. We poured our life savings into them because we wished to put down roots here in Boulder. One of the primary motivators people like myself chose detached homes in areas zoned for low to medium density use was because we wanted to get away from the sheer numbers of people in high-density zones.

I suppose one could make the argument that large numbers of people cramming themselves into small homes would affect property values. But it certainly isn’t about anyone not being progressive enough. After all, this is Boulder. However, for most of us, it’s about the increase in noise, traffic and parking problems brought on by high occupancy situations. That’s really what it’s about and all that it’s ever been about.

Co-op enthusiasts claim they only wish to put down roots and build a community here in Boulder. I wonder if that assessment includes the infamous, recently relocated Picklebric co-op on the Hill with it’s revolving door of former occupants living in other states who have written the Daily Camera in support of co-ops?

Perhaps it’s determined by renting out your room on Airbnb so you can travel for multiple months at a time here and abroad as exampled by some of the most outspoken co-op advocates?

If this small vocal group of “social justice warriors” living in glorified crash pads are asking the people of Boulder to subsidize co-ops, they should at least be honest with the community as to what it’s really about. Seeking out the least expensive homes so they can live as cheaply as possible, work as little as possible and pursue their hobbies of travel and leisure with the option of moving on, essentially enjoying a modern nomadic lifestyle.

Here’s the thing, most of us have already done our time living in high-occupancy situations. Now we’ve decided we want something different. We made the decision to opt for the choice of living in quiet single family neighborhoods. I would venture a guess that most of us living here in Boulder have nothing against cooperative or co-housing style living.

We want everyone living in our community to find nirvana, happiness and bliss. We just believe it shouldn’t be at the expense of those of us that have made lifestyle choices different from those of co-op supporters, nor should it be at the expense of people that are truly struggling financially and are seeking a legitimate co-op, co-housing living situation.

Co-op enthusiasts often refer to themselves as an “intentional community.” Policy ought to consider, and respect, the fact that “intention” exists in neighborhoods too, not just co-ops. We could potentially see an argument for co-ops in RH zonings (high density), because existing residents there have already made a choice to live in a high-density setting.

The six million dollar question is why are co-op advocates so adverse to living in high-density, mixed-use or converted industrial/commercial/office zones, where high-density co-op situations would actually be expected? Why are they against rural environments where plentiful space for gardening and multiple vehicles wouldn’t be an issue as well as an acre or more of space between properties?

There’s an appropriate place for everything. The lowest density neighborhoods with small side setbacks in an area full of people who purposely wanted to avoid high concentrations of people, are not the place.”

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.