BNA Town Hall Meeting with Planning Staff

Attending our Town Hall meeting will be senior City of Boulder staff, including Susan Richstone, deputy planning director. The meeting’s focus will be BNA members’ overall feelings about growth in Boulder, and the blueprint for it known as the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, or “Comp Plan” for short. But one does not need to be an expert on the Comp Plan, in order to communicate basic feelings about growth and development!

So we encourage all BNA folks to attend. This is an unprecedented chance to have senior city planners listen to us, in a Town Hall format of our design, rather than the City’s. We hope for an incredibly strong turnout from all BNA participants. The City can’t deny the numbers BNA will muster (if everyone shows up)!

Every BNA participant who wishes to, will have a chance to communicate their concerns to the senior city planners. Here are some key talking points:

Talking Points for September 29th

  • The City must approve only Policy Option D (out of the four Comp Plan scenarios), because only it limits growth, specifically, commercial growth.
  • The Comp Plan currently mentions “large area planning” like sub community plans, but makes no mention of neighborhood plans.  We should ask our city planners to specifically include neighborhood plans (by name) in this revision of the Comp Plan.  Madison, WI bases its city planning heavily on neighborhood plans, written by the actual residents of neighborhoods.  It is the perspective of BNA’s Neighborhood Plan Committee that Boulder neighborhoods would be better off if the actual residents of neighborhoods – the people who best know their neighborhoods – were more heavily involved in writing neighborhood plans.  We’ll bring some copies of neighborhood plans from Madison.
  • The City needs to finally define in the Comp Plan the “community benefit” that is required of developers of new growth.  Then, it needs to require developers to provide this.  Currently, since it’s not defined, all developers claim that they’ve met the community benefit clause.
  • The City needs to really honor Section 1.30 of the Comp Plan that says new growth must pay its way with regard to infrastructure and maintaining present levels of service (cross-town traffic times, rec centers, libraries, parks, etc.)  Right now, that’s a joke.  The impact fees (growth mitigation fees) paid by developers are a small fraction of what it actually costs the City.  So existing residents have to make up a significant part of the difference, through property taxes.
  • We disagree with many of the newly-inserted Comp Plan clauses from Staff, including ones that say environmental protection shall be done “when practical,” and “to the extent possible.
Other key Comp Plan sections to address:
1.18 Growth Requirements

“The overall effect of urban growth must add significant value to the community, improving quality of life. The city will require development and redevelopment as a whole to provide significant community benefits.” (We need to say, such as what?  What are significant community benefits?  And for whom?  1/3 of the population?  Let’s have a community-wide conversation about what are community benefits, and start actually requiring development to provide it, rather than just the current lip service that’s paid to “community benefit.”)

1.19 Jobs/Housing Balance

“Boulder is a major employment center, with more jobs than housing for people who work here.”  (What we need to say here is that the answer is NOT increasing Boulder’s population….it’s reducing the frenzied pace by which Boulder courts new employers and businesses to come to Boulder.  If we don’t say this, Boulder is likely to say the cure is to just grow Boulder’s population.)

2.10 Preservation and Support for Residential Neighborhoods

“The city will work with neighborhoods to protect and enhance neighborhood character and livability.” (We need to demand that the City start enforcing this clause.  Currently, it’s a joke.)

2.13 Protection of Residential Neighborhoods Adjacent to Non-residential Zones

“The city and county will take appropriate actions to ensure that the character and livability of established residential neighborhoods will not be undermined by spill-over impacts from adjacent regional or community business zones or by incremental expansion of business activities into residential areas. The city and county will protect residential neighborhoods from intrusion of non-residential uses by protecting edges and regulating the impacts of these uses on neighborhoods.”  (We need to say, well, the best way of protecting neighborhoods under this clause is for the City to take its foot off the accelerator of more commercial growth).