Having attended the first YIMBY conference in Boulder, I’m here to tell you that we were NOT volunteering “everyone’s yard” for development. We were, instead, intent on embracing positive change somewhere, in the right place, for the right reasons, to begin reconfiguring the dysfunctional land use patterns created post-WWII almost everywhere in the U.S. Our auto-dependent experiment has run its course. It is an environmental and societal failure.
If demand persists, personal wealth as a residency requirement is unwise, and sprawl is no longer an option, then building near someone who already lives here is inevitable.
I must concede that public land use hearings are generally not good theater, lacking in the sort of entertainment value attractive to neutral listeners interested in learning more, or even the supporters of projects with potential to make the quality of our lives better, not worse. An organized and vocal few opposed to change will nevertheless be willing to attend. Fear and loathing are strong motivators.
Elected council members and appointed board members are left in the unenviable position of having to account for missing segments of our community’s DNA (families with children, young professionals, non-resident employees, etc.). Accused of “not listening” by the disappointed people in the room, representing stakeholders deserving to be “heard,” but not there, is no defense.
The YIMBY movement is an attempt to organize and energize urban optimists to engage in the public process. I hope it has legs.
Correction of 8/11/2013 City Council Candidate Article
August 11, 2013
In Sunday’s story on the city council race, Erica Metzger wrote, “(Byrne) said he strongly supports the city’s pursuit of a municipal utility.” Well, not exactly. If forced to choose between the City’s proposed charter amendment and the one from muni opponents, I support the City’s because it allows the staff’s analysis to be completed. When all the facts are in, I want Boulder’s citizens to have one last chance to vote on whether to proceed. That day is years and a few off ramps away. Both of these competing ballot issues are premature, but we may have to vote on them anyway. More’s the pity.
Continue reading Correction of Daily Camera article, 8/11/2013
May 17, 2013
Because you can, does not mean that you should. Today, Xcel fessed up: they’re behind the “vote to vote” initiative. No surprise there. My question: how many electors are willing to sign it? DON’T! After carefully poll-testing the ballot language, we’ll be voting, again, about issues that will still not be fully vetted – the City’s efforts to complete its approved homework assignments are ongoing. The vote comes before the results will all be in.
Continue reading Municipalization Vote-to-Vote Initiative
April 6, 2013
Shortly after the first settlers arrived in Colorado, water started flowing towards money. In many ways, it was a brilliant scheme for a region west of the 100th meridian, where long periods of drought are to be expected. The people who contributed their sweat and toil to divert water that would otherwise rush unimpeded to the Arkansas, Colorado and Missouri rivers, derived profit from their labor. 150 years later, we struggle with the monetization of this critical human resource, but the concept of “highest and best use,” coupled with capital markets that flex enough to reward efficiency, may yet save the day.
Continue reading Water Shortages in 2013
January 12, 2013
First, do no harm. Second, starve the trivial, feed the significant. Third,. the enemy of good is perfect. Fourth, water flows towards money. Fifth, government must know its limitations. For Colorado governance, that about sums it up. We don’t need to starve our beast, it’s already on life support. No one wants to pay more taxes, but should we consider doing so to secure our own future? To avoid squandering our children’s?
Continue reading Colorado Legislative Priorities
December 29, 2012
It is the year 2100. Residents of Boulder County and their regional neighbors are 90 years into their pattern-changing experiment in sustainable community development. Guided by practical wisdom, sound science and an entrepreneurial spirit, they have evolved new land use and development patterns that reconnect them to thriving ecosystems and agricultural zones, support a variety of dense, walkable village centers and nurture a diverse population of young and old, low-income and affluent, and people of all races and creeds.
Continue reading Boulder County 2100 (ca. 2012)
December 15, 2012
Climate change is real. The evidence is all around us. It is irrefutable. It hardly matters whether it’s human-caused, if, by our actions, we can slow it down. We need time to adapt. Our hydrocarbon-dependent lifestyles will not be sustainable long term. We may not run out of such fuels soon, but if we burn them too quickly, accelerating climate change, it won’t matter. The earth will survive, but we won’t.
Continue reading Climate Change Divestment Strategy
November 3, 2012
Tuesday’s Daily Camera cartoon, in which “Frankenstorm” welcomed the candidates to “our presidential debate on science and global warming,” nailed the haunting lack of any mention of climate change during the three other debates. New York’s Governor Cuomo noted with irony that the new normal includes 100-year storms every two years. Nobody’s laughing.
Continue reading Frankenstorm? Meet Climate Change Deniers
May 19, 2012
Following the October study session, council told staff to focus initially on two waste-related ordinances, disposable bags and styrofoam takeout containers. In typical fashion, the presumptive tool is a hammer (municipal fees or an outright ban). What if the problem is not a nail? Is the cost of enforcement – heck, the cost of analyzing the cost of enforcement – worth the ultimate benefit?
Continue reading Paper or Plastic? Wrong Question
February 18, 2012
Boulder’s great, but it could be better. Drive through most older neighborhoods in Boulder and one can’t help but wonder why we don’t have “affordable” housing. More than 50% of Boulder’s dwelling units are for rent. Many owners have little incentive to upgrade while their tenants slowly buy their properties for them. Selling the lot as a scrape-off yields a reliable return.
Continue reading State of the City of Boulder