John Gerstle and Pat Shanks: Don’t compromise the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan

The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) is an agreement that guides land use in the Boulder County area that surrounds the city of Boulder (about 12,000 residents and 44,000 acres of land) and within the city (about 104,000 residents and 16,000 acres). Recent comments from several Boulder City Council members indicate some frustration with implementation of the BVCP using a process called “four-body review.” Under these time-honored and effective procedures, some BVCP changes of policy and land-use designation must be approved by majority votes of the four bodies with expertise in land-use decisions: City Council, Planning Board, county commissioners, and county Planning Commission.As former members and chairs of the county Planning Commission (both of us) and the city Planning Board (one of us), we believe we have a thorough understanding of BVCP processes. The four-body approval process ensures both responsiveness to the electoral process (all those formally involved in the approval process are either elected or appointed by elected officials) and long-term stability necessary for BVCP implementation, providing residents and local government a clear indication of how their neighborhoods and lands are to be managed in the coming years. Because of the BVCP’s important role in coordinating city and county actions and decisions, representing the interests of both city and county residents, and its generally acknowledged success over the past four decades, changes to the process by which the BVCP is adopted should be considered only with great care.

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