Dear Friends -
The election is over (finally) and I thank you for your interest, support and encouragement !
Boulder has now elected (and re-elected) some great folks to the City Council - and congratulations are in order, because they had terrific campaigns and will do a great job.
I am not among those elected to the Council. That is disappointing - but - on the positive side - this means that I will have my Tuesday evenings free for other adventures !
There are teams out today picking up campaign signs, so we can expect our neighborhoods to resume their normal orderly appearance soon. If, by tomorrow, you see any signs that need to be picked up, please let us know.
So - congratulations to our new City Council - and thanks again for your help and encouragement over the last several months !
Professional – led environmental study teams for water resource projects in Laos, Tanzania, Burma, Yemen – resulting in cancellation of several reservoir and hydropower projects, included identification and establishment of protected breeding areas and captive breeding program for previously unknown toad species in Tanzania (Kihansi Spray Toad). As advisor to Royal Govt. of Bhutan from 1985-88, helped to establish very “pro-conservation” policies for land use and forest protection. As United Nations Himalayan Region Advisor on Environment 1988-1990, had key role in improving governmental environmental review procedures for Nepal and Bhutan. In Colorado and the western US, I have provided expert testimony in judicial trials and administrative proceedings that resulted in limits on water diversions and speculation, enabling increased instream conservation flows and protection of riparian and aquatic habitat, and establishing setback requirements for oil and gas development from rivers and watercourses.
Appointed – served as Member/Chair of Boulder County Planning Commission 2006-13, Member/Chair of Boulder Planning Board 2014-2017, Member of Boulder County Mosquito Advisory Board, 2008-2011. My participation and advocacy resulted in limiting use of pesticides for mosquito control significantly, and has also resulted in County and City planning and land use decisions which require additional energy efficiency for new and remodeled buildings, required parking facilities to be “unbundled”, diminished space allocated for parking, and increases in requirements for public access, pedestrian and bike paths, and continued strict limits for open space land uses. I have advocated for continued strong City-County cooperation and partnership in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, oil and gas drilling control and regulation, land use, Open Space and transportation matters.
I attach great importance to the completion of Boulder’s Muni project and I support an outcome which includes municipal ownership of Boulder’s electric utility, leading to major decreases in fossil fuel use and associated carbon emissions. As a consultant involved in large-scale power negotiations and contracts for transmission and generation projects, my experience may be useful in Boulder’s municipalization process, and in dealings with Xcel and the Colorado PUC.
Although natural gas production has many significant environmental impacts and costs, including continued carbon emissions and severe impacts on the land and water in production areas, leaked natural gas which is itself a major threat to the atmosphere, I regard natural gas as an important (but temporary) element in the transformation to a truly renewable energy generation system. The impacts listed above related to even the temporary use of natural gas are significant and must be mitigated. It is very important to note that natural gas should be used only temporarily for the shortest possible term during the change to permanently renewable energy sources.
The OSMP Master Plan must address a variety of issues if it is to serve its objective. Key among these issues are questions of access, carrying capacity, recreational use, wildlife conservation, funding and institutional arrangements. I believe that Boulder will need to make clear and objective determinations of carrying capacity and indicators of unacceptable stress at various locations and implement appropriate management. If this is not done, we will destroy some of the most important aspects of our open space resources.
We have several examples of effective management strategies which have succeeded in satisfying both recreation and conservation concerns. For example, the practice of seasonal closure of raptor nesting areas to climbing activity, and other areas to protect ground-nesting birds, are generally regarded as successful by most knowledgeable parties. Similarly, areas in which off-leash dogs are allowed are very clearly defined and limited, and these limits are generally well accepted and the policy is successful. Other examples include trails designated for off-road biking on some days, and designated for walkers on other days. There are some limits which must be absolute if our Open Space is to succeed with its objectives dealing with maintenance of wildlife and conservation values. Because some conservation values and concerns have requirements which are absolute (e.g. minimum protected area size and boundaries, no human disturbances or interaction) – once the associated requirements have been established, it should be clear that these may not be changed or diminished in connection with negotiations for changes in Open Space management practices.
The City has done a great job to encourage bicycling and walking. I think greater and safer use could best be encouraged by establishing more bike lanes (and more protection from auto traffic in existing bike lanes) and requiring the greatest possible public permeability for pedestrians and bike during the permitting and planning of new developments in areas with sparsely laid out roads, paths and bikeways. Using existing corridors associated with ditches, creeks and transmission lines as multi-use paths should also take place as opportunities arise. Ensuring that all residents have Ecopasses will result in greater bicycle and pedestrian use because residents will have better access to public transportation, resulting in greater willingness to walk or bike to their destination if they know that they have the option of using public transport for their return journey if there is bad weather, or some other problem.
Boulder should do whatever it can to diminish driving – by offering reasonable alternatives, by making bike and pedestrian paths better options, and by ensuring that residential, commercial and job-related parking require payment, which will serve as a disincentive to driving. Boulder should also improve the bus system and implement a city-wide Ecopass to encourage public transit use. Boulder should also encourage switching from gas and diesel to electric cars, to diminish exhaust fumes - and it should move ahead with municipalization to ensure that electricity is generated from renewable, non-polluting sources for electric autos.
I believe that Boulder should enact far more stringent regulations regarding the sale, use and disposal of pesticides. During my service on the Boulder County Mosquito Control Advisory Board, I advocated strongly to diminish pesticide use in the County’s mosquito control program, and, together with other Board members, was successful in persuading the County Health Department to change the techniques used, application criteria, amounts of pesticide, and the overall use of integrated control approaches in dealing with mosquito issues. I also believe that Boulder should require permits for all use of pesticides on privately owned land, because of off-site health-related impacts which are recently becoming apparent. The permits are necessary to ensure proper application techniques and doses, and will help to safeguard both those doing the pesticide application, as well as neighbors who could be affected.
There are a number of issues associated with potential CU South annexation which must be addressed either before, or as a condition of annexation. These include road and traffic connections, the flood control and management considerations both for the CU South property and the downstream areas which could be affected, the manner in which undeveloped CU South areas will be managed, conditions of public access to the area, the types of development (e.g. residential, office, teaching facilities, laboratory, sports, support facilities, etc.) and the size/design characteristics.
I understand the City will be carrying out a review by consultants of its decision to move ahead with the “Option D” proposal for flood mitigation and protection. I believe that a competent, comprehensive and objective review will recommend major changes to the “Option D” proposal, and that it would therefore be premature to enter into any annexation-related negotiations until completion of that review.
I would seek to ensure that, as has already been identified by the Planning Board and the City Council, that building be kept out of the 500-year flood plain, that residential development be focused on affordable housing, that public access to the area and its public open space surroundings be guaranteed, that as much area as possible remain naturally vegetated and undeveloped.
I do not believe that the recent changes to the BVCP review process are desirable. The Four-body review process has served the City and County well for decades. It has allowed thoughtful review and opportunity for public input, and its credibility has never been in question. Four-body review deals with issues that affect both County and City, and it is appropriate for the relevant agencies of both governments to consider these matters.
To some degree, Boulder has become a victim of its own success- it has enacted very successful policies which make Boulder a very desirable place to live and work. Boulder must be careful, therefore, not to diminish its successes in an attempt to deal with the housing affordability and supply issues. I think that the most obvious immediate action to address this matter is to decrease efforts to attract new employers and employment in Boulder, as this greatly exacerbates the housing supply/demand problem. Secondly, new development should provide much greater support (e.g via linkage fees, etc) for additional affordable low and middle-income housubg. Additionally, Boulder should enact a “head tax” to provide additional support for housing, transportation and other support and infrastructure development needs.
I also believe that the City must become much more active in various aspects of housing ownership and deed-restricted ownership arrangements to provide additional permanent low and middle-income affordable housing. I would support a significant increase in the linkage fee for new commercial office development - to the $50.50 adjusted level per square foot, based on consultant recommendations.