Balance in Boulder’s development
“Can Boulder meet own ideals?” Dec. 11 guest commentary.
Eric Budd’s guest commentary indicated that Boulder struggles to meet its affordability goals, citing a mixeduse project’s rejection and a battle over a co-op ordinance.
Concerning the 50-unit mixed-use development, the planning department staff in a rare event recommended that the planning board reject the project, which it did. With minimal green space, the project ignored the character of the surrounding neighborhood, a Boulder Valley’s Comprehensive Plan requirement. It failed to meet almost all of Boulder’s planning standards, creating a traffic nightmare at a busy intersection. It attempted to change the zoning of the parcel from public to high density without one unit being designated as permanently affordable.
Mostly 400-square-foot units priced around $1,250 a unit, each would cost about $3.10 a square foot. If this square-foot number is multiplied by 1,200 square feet; a modest two-bedroom apartment, these units effectively cost over $3,720 without utilities. Hardly affordable when examined from this perspective. It’s like we now see with food products. The bag is bigger but the food in it is less, and the prices are going up. The rush to build microunits is a bait and switch by developers to maximize profits while claiming to be affordable, at the same time excluding families due to their tiny size.
Concerning the co-op ordinance Budd mentioned, it currently proposes allowing 12 unrelated people to move into a 2,000-square foot house in a low-density neighborhood. People live in low-density neighborhoods because they chose the quiet neighborhood lifestyle. Many have spent 20-30 years paying off the mortgage on their house, which is their retirement. A coop next door with 12 people would drive the value of their house down, making them work longer before retiring. Many favor co-ops in higherdensity areas where they cause less of an impact. Instead of going from three unrelated people in a house in a low-density neighborhood to 12, how about a number in between?
Boulder, like Denver, is undergoing enormous change. The pendulum has now swung too far in the direction of development. A balance has to be restored where development and change work together. We share the same concerns in this regard. Affordable housing can be in neighborhoods in a way that respects everyone’s needs. Let’s work on that goal together.