The Nov. 7 election for the Boulder City Council will be one of the most important in the city’s history. There, I said it. Sound like hyperbole? Then consider this: The results will determine who will decide policy surrounding the extremely important planning issues of growth, housing and zoning/density — the NIMBYs (Not in My Backyard) or the YIMBYs (Yes in My Backyard).It’s going to be a very contentious race, based on candidates’ stands on these issues facing the city in the next few years.
Will new council members, YIMBYs, increase density and encourage the building of more housing to attract more people to move here and ease pressure on ever-climbing home costs? If we do increase density, will the housing supply ever keep pace with the demand in Boulder, which is becoming an even more desirable place to live because of its beauty and a rising high-tech presence?
Or will they, NIMBYs, leave density laws untouched? That would discourage, for example, the relaxing of the present regulation that limits the number of unrelated people that may live in one dwelling.
In advancing a framework for the future of the CU South parcel, the Boulder City Council stressed a desire to study flood risk and mitigation on the site before solidifying annexation and development plans there.
On Tuesday night, after a long-awaited deliberation on the controversial property — 308 acres of University of Colorado-owned land in the southeast Boulder floodplain — the council voted 8-1 to approve a new land-use designation for CU South that allows for potential new development.
Over decades to come, the university hopes to build 1,125 housing units for students and employees, athletic fields and academic buildings on that acreage, and, for CU, the council’s vote represents the clearing of a significant hurdle to fulfillment of those ambitions.
My husband and I share a 492-square-foot apartment in Cambridge, Mass. We inhabit a “micro apartment,” or what is sometimes called a tiny house. This label is usually proudly applied to dwellings under 500 square feet, according to Wikipedia. We are unwittingly on a very small bandwagon, part of a growing international movement. But deep inside the expensive custom closets and under the New Age Murphy beds, the pro-petite propaganda has hidden some unseemly truths about how the other half lives.
No one writes about the little white lies that help sell this new, very small American dream.
Here, on the inside, we have found small not so beautiful after all. Like the silent majority of other middling or poor urban dwellers in expensive cities, we are residents of tiny homes not by design, but because it is all our money can rent.
Boulder is the most expensive city in the region. With average single-family home prices near one million dollars, and many apartments renting for thousands of dollars a month, it is not affordable for most middle-, median- and low-income households. The City of Boulder has implemented a variety of affordable housing policies to address the issue, yet we continue to lose ground. Job growth continues to outpace residential growth causing upward pressure on housing prices, the local real estate market continues to skyrocket, and existing housing that is still relatively affordable is being redeveloped as high-end. If the current development trends continue, Boulder will be a place for mostly the very wealthy and a few lower income people in subsidized units.
When I heard about the Attention Homes project at 1440 Pine, now under review by the Planning Board, something about the large size and high number of at-risk young adults that would be housed there didn’t ring true to me. Then I learned that this was the result of a “density transfer.” I couldn’t remember ever hearing that term in my 10 years on the City Council, so I inquired as to what was being proposed. What I learned was, frankly, pretty bizarre.
Chloe Pachovas’ May 11 letter suggested that ultra high occupancy co-ops are necessary for there to be artists and innovators in Boulder. Actually, Boulder’s low-density neighborhoods are filled with artists and innovators who abide by the zoning regulations. If Pachovas attended an “Open Studios” tour, she might be surprised at the number of participating artists in low-density neighborhoods.