January 25, 2014
When asked how to find out what in-commuters would buy or rent in order to live in Boulder and avoid their daily commute, I suggested that we should ASK them. Radical notion, but I’m glad the City has finally decided to do it.
At what point does the daily cost and hassle of commuting override the current price of Boulder’s housing? Quality matters, and many of the homes built here many years ago simply don’t measure up.
Markets will adapt, if we let them. More than 50% of Boulder’s current dwelling units are rental. Most rental owners (landlords) are in it for the cashflow. The greatest challenge facing those who want to create neighborhood centers within our current commercial and residential zoning districts is land assembly – how do we put Humpty-Dumpty back together again in order to build something cool?
Strategically located overlay zones, tied carefully into our existing (and potential future) transit corridors and nodes, may create opportunity sites which current land owners can embrace. The individual returns on 5-10 single family rentals may be eclipsed by the potential returns on walkable, mixed use, higher density neighborhood centers built upon parcels comprised of half a dozen or more individual lots. Quality of life improvements for the entire surrounding neighborhood may also create housing units that appeal to people who currently commute into Boulder from Longmont, Lyons, Niwot, Lafayette, Louisville and Superior.
It works elsewhere. Why not here?