An Open Letter to Jan Burton


Ms. Burton,

At last night’s council meeting you equated the suggestion of a neighborhood notification process to profiling. Judging by this comment as well as others you’ve made, I now believe I can easily make that same claim considering that you have “profiled” our neighborhoods for these co-op ordinances because they are not located in affluent sections of town, much like your own home on the hill is.

Your section of the hill will never be subject to co-ops Ms. Burton. How do I know this? Because I visited the Assessors website to see where your home is located. Over 6,000 square ft….well, technically over 7,000 if you include all the appurtenances like that large garage that, btw is over half the size of my own home here in Martin Acres. Why that garage alone is larger than that spacious (and largest) 320 ft. “Cube” offered on your tiny home website Rhinocubed, that you think other people should be happy living in.

In addition to that, you have been quoted as saying, ” I don’t believe living in an upper class white city supports Boulder’s progressive values.”

I guess it depends with whom you’re speaking when it comes to “values” here in Boulder, Ms. Burton. I believe I’m far from alone here when I say that this progressive is sick and tired of being equated with upper class people that suffer from the white liberal guilt complex of owning a home in the 6000 square ft range or over and feeling the need to foist that guilt-ridden mentality on the ever shrinking, modest, middle class here in Boulder that simply wish to live in peace and quiet, that purposefully chose low density neighborhoods to live in so they wouldn’t have to live next to 15 or more people.

I would venture a guess that here in my neighborhood, we see more nuisance violations in a week than your “upper class” section of town sees in a year. Parties at all hours of the night during the warmer months, over-occupied rentals with a constant turnover of people that the city refuses to enforce, parking, trash and noise violations that are ignored by the city’s lone enforcement officer.

So now you and the majority of council brand us lower middle class folk as NIMBIES, elitists and now profilers because we don’t want co-ops added to the already overburdened mix of craziness here in Martin Acres and other neighborhoods near the University and elsewhere?

You also mention in your “take” that 75% of Boulder is zoned for single family homes. That means that 25% is zoned for high density. Council has pointed out more than once that only a small demographic of people wish to live the co-op lifestyle. Well then doesn’t it make sense that this small demographic of people wishing to live in large occupancy situations be directed to higher density locations since 25% is more than enough to accommodate them? It also brings up the question of why legalize 15 of these a year if the demand will be so low?

You have all this wonderful commercial property in eastern Boulder that could be converted into mixed use. I ride my bicycle regularly on the creek path in east Boulder and there’s plenty of room for mixed use zoning out there. It could be built from the ground up with input from the co-op folk or converted as is.

What about that hospital property the city just purchased? Plenty of room for co-op style living there as well as offices for the city. It’s very close to Pearl and close to many jobs here in Boulder as well as the downtown bus station.

Imagine the inclusiveness, sustainability, resilience and diversity Boulder officials could reflect since they’re so concerned with what Minneapolis, Portland and other cities with 4x or more the population of Boulder are doing. However, instead of choosing the best alternative to the problem, you would rather take the most conflict-ridden solution out there by opting for the de facto up-zoning of our single family neighborhoods.

Speaking of inclusiveness, (1)why weren’t people in single family neighborhoods invited to take part in this process from the very beginning? (2) Why do you only consider input from such a tiny demographic of the city and not from the majority? (3) Why did council turn down a facilitated citizens panel last night when you have absolutely no problem spending $10,000 on mediation regarding the subject of Nablus, an issue that technically has nothing to do with Boulder?

You do realize this conversation would not even be taking place if Boulder hadn’t created more jobs than housing and didn’t allow developers to buy out of affordable housing, right? After all, Isn’t this really what it’s about? Kicking the affordable housing can right down the road into our not-so-affluent neighborhoods?


Jan Trussell