The city of Boulder is headed down a slippery slope known as “the end justifies the means.” The end in this case is the creation of more affordable housing units in Boulder, even if it includes the taking of lands dedicated for public use as in the case of Twin Lakes and Palo Park. Be aware: although this may not be happening in your neighborhood, there are many who are currently arguing for the taking of our public lands for private development, and there is no telling where this slippery slope will lead.
An attorney for the Twin Lakes Action Group has sent a formal cease-and-desist letter to Boulder Housing Partners, the Boulder Valley School District, Boulder and Boulder County demanding a stop to development at a proposed affordable housing development. The group contends two sales of the property where the proposed Palo Park is located were not legal or valid and argue that work on the development must stop until the title on the property is cleared, according to a demand letter.
Sara Toole lives in Northfield Commons, near the proposed development, said … “We should not have had to resort to a lawsuit for the city to follow its own laws regarding dedications,” she said. “The city could have simply listened to us and lowered the density for this development and increased the affordable ownership ratio.”
Boulder’s Planning Board recently approved a 44-unit development at 4525 Palo Parkway over a multi-stakeholder solution seeking 35 units and additional preserved riparian zone. The public should understand the special treatment afforded to the developer on this particular project.
Also known as “Dedicated Outlot E,” 4525 Palo Parkway was sold in 1986 for $10 by Pinecrest Homes Inc. to Boulder Valley School District for school purposes to serve the local community. For 29 years, the land remained platted under this dedication for school use only. Despite clear county code (both current and 1984 applicable code) the land was passed ultimately to Boulder Housing Partners without public hearings or formal vacation proceedings required for dedicated school lands. Both Planning Commission and Parks and Open Space Advisory Board were required to review the sale. Colorado Open Records Act requests show these reviews were never held. Despite a formal objection filed by the community, the city and county have declined to provide any material analysis or code legitimizing this taking of public lands and its subsequent transfer to a residential real estate developer.