Boulder County Planning Commission would lose veto power on key parcels; County commissioners would not.
City Council members, a slight majority of whom would like to limit Boulder County’s control over future city expansion, appear to have come to some agreement on a proposed revision to the procedure by which city and county cooperate on long-range, land-use planning.
In an unofficial straw-poll vote taken late Tuesday night, the council supported a compromise that would let the Board of County Commissioners retain veto power over changes to parcels in categories known as Area II and the Area III-Planning Reserve.
However, the Boulder County Planning Commission would lose its voice in those two areas, under the straw-poll 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.
I recently scooped the Daily Camera when several pro-growth City Council members sat down with me to outline their thoughts surrounding density and subsidized housing programs.
First, I asked if they were aware that higher density has only driven up home prices, reduced quality of life, and has never, ever, solved affordability. “But it’s sustainable” was the response. I then asked: “Is there any data that shows sustainability will actually increase for the specific case of Boulder?” “Not really, but Will Toor said it would” was the reply.
This year, 118 of your neighbors carefully filled out extensive written boards and commissions applications. I applied for Landmarks and Planning Boards in 2016 and Planning Board in 2017. As applicants, we made ourselves available for group interviews. Many of us also met one-on-one with City Council members. Council filled vacancies at their March meeting, thanking all of us for applying and being willing to serve our community. All’s well, right?
Wrong. Boards and commissions are meant to be composed of members who represent the community as a whole, not those who represent the views of particular council members or organizations such as pro-growth and density Better Boulder (which does not have nonprofit status and does not reveal who funds it.)