Selling out Boulder’s taxpayers


A Boulder Developer
Boulder Commercial Developer

John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber and Betsey Martens, executive director of Boulder Housing Partners, joined forces to write this guest opinion in the Daily Camera: John Tayer and Betsey Martens: Coming together for community – Boulder Daily Camera.

In it, they basically sell out the residents and taxpayers of Boulder in favor of their respective special interest groups – claiming a “reasonable compromise” was reached. One problem with their approach is that the biggest stakeholder in this discussion – the citizens of Boulder – did not have a seat at the table.

Their suggested “compromise” of increasing development linkage fees from $9.53 to $12 per square foot is trivial and irrelevant, given that the real cost of providing affordable housing for the new employees that need it is well over $100 per square foot, according to a study that was done for the city by consulting firm KMA (Note: some of the numbers in the final version of the KMA report were watered down by City staff before publication).

Furthermore, their sly comparison to Denver and other unnamed cities is intentionally deceptive and misleading. Boulder is nothing like a large city the size of Denver, or a depressed rust-belt city that needs to go out of its way to attract new development. Instead, they should be comparing Boulder to other high-demand cities like Palo Alto ($20.37 per square foot) or Mountain View ($25 per square foot). Here’s an article regarding Palo Alto looking into revising their linkage fees to as much as $60/sqft.

Boulder is in a unique position of high-demand and limited availability. More rational linkage fees will reduce demand slightly, but certainly not put a stop to it – commercial space in Boulder is just too lucrative.

Boulder Taxpayer
Boulder Taxpayer

Keeping fees as low as they are will serve only to fill the pockets of big developers, both local and out-of-town (while emptying our pockets).

In fact, neither the Chamber nor Boulder Housing Partners represent the best interests of the citizens of Boulder. That is the City Council’s job. Let’s hope they take it seriously – in fact, let’s all remind them: we suggest that everyone send the council an email requesting that the council pass a meaningful increase in the linkage fee. If the council is not willing to charge those who are creating the need what it costs to meet that need, then they should at least stop trying to extract more and more money from the citizens to do the same. And they should quit trying to impose their affordable housing schemes on our neighborhoods.