By Ken Hotard
If you love your city, why not be welcoming to people who feel the same way about Boulder as you do?
While we all want access to flourishing cities like Boulder for the opportunity to work good jobs, enjoy the city’s unique culture and experience an unmatched quality of life; the future of a welcoming and economically thriving Boulder relies on creative problem-solvers tackling difficult problems. Unfortunately, as a recent Daily Camera by Stacey Goldfarb illustrates, members of our community appear to be afraid of facing that future and are painting local advocacy groups, including Better Boulder, in a negative light.
Better Boulder believes we have a responsibility to support the city’s younger generation, who will inherit this place, and allow their opinion about their community needs to be heard. Moreover, we should contribute to helping our community achieve its environmental, transportation and land use goals to address the city’s very real housing crisis, ultimately improving the lives of everyone who lives, works, studies or plays in our city.
Expansive open space and stunning views of the Flatirons are part of what make Boulder so special. Let’s be clear — no “pro-smart growth groups” are trying to abolish Boulder’s height limit, block your mountain views or sell off open space for development. The only way we can support the great transit and bike path system we desire is through a bit more density, much of it in what is today’s parking lots. Again, we don’t want to build on open space. We do want to build on some of the vast acres of empty parking lots in town and on transit corridors. We’re championing smart and sustainable development that offers more people more opportunities to fall in love with Boulder.
We support the urban growth boundary, but it limits the types of additional housing we can provide, because we cannot significantly increase the supply of detached single-family homes. And, unlike some of our neighbors, we understand the extreme consequences surrounding regional suburban sprawl.
An eye-opening recent shows 60% of jobs in Boulder are held by nonresidents, and 77% of the 63,900 non-resident employees in the city commute to work alone in a personal vehicle, amounting to 245 million more miles driven each year than if those employees lived within city limits, emitting nearly 100,000 tons of additional carbon dioxide.
Boulder’s planning efforts hold us back from capturing the benefits that smart development could bring, such as more affordable housing and less dependence on gas-guzzling cars. Low-density, single-use developments promote more traffic congestion and longer commutes while smart growth allows the convenience of living locally while providing us friendly neighborhoods.
Creating sustainable, walkable neighborhoods that not only reduce our impact on the climate but ensure our community remains the warm and vibrant place that we all love will not be simple, but we cannot afford to disregard environmental and economic sustainability, social equity opportunities to build a truly effective transit system or overlook the needed development that will make doing so possible.
We need leadership that isn’t afraid to face the future and will work to answer our community’s most pressing challenges. When your ballot arrives, vote for environmental sustainability and an inclusive community.
Ken Hotard lives in Boulder and is co-chair of Better Boulder.