Growth, Development, and Community Benefit

Communities grow, and change is a constant in life. Most people recognize that.

A question that many residents ask is who does growth in Boulder primarily benefit? I agree with those who say the growth in Boulder ought to provide community benefit. That’s a reasonable standard to expect of development, at this point in Boulder’s evolution.

So I support the efforts through the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, and elsewhere, to define community benefit. I believe it’s going to be one of our most important tasks in the near future, and I believe I can play a vital role in facilitating these conversations.

I straddle multiple segments and perspectives within Boulder’s population – as a younger resident, an alumnus of Thistle Affordable Housing who was able to save and subsequently buy a house with my husband, as a business person, and as a firefighter who’s very familiar with service-oriented emergency responders (one of the segments of the population Boulder is most concerned about). In addition, I’m a resident of the City portion of Gunbarrel. I think it’s important to bring Gunbarrel more into the conversation about growth, too.

One of the major factors in my decision to run for Council was my realization that Boulder rarely has candidates that straddle this many different stakeholder groups, and that this would put me in an excellent position to be able to facilitate important conversations like community benefit. I feel I can really serve the greater good of Boulder in this area.

The concerns I’ve heard from some residents have to do with how much we grow, how fast we grow, and the type and scale of that growth. Others ask who does growth in Boulder primarily benefit? These are valid questions and concerns. If elected to Council, I would work very hard to ensure that the growth we have, provides significant community benefit.

I believe that using Sub-Community plans and Neighborhood plans will greatly benefit the current discussion. I don’t believe neighborhood residents are opposed to any and all change. I believe that they want to have a say, and a role, in planning how their neighborhoods evolve. More granular planning efforts and documents provide a great opportunity for neighborhood residents to participate in the future of their neighborhoods. I believe this is healthy.

It’s also important that growth must carry with it, mitigation for increased impacts such as traffic and other City infrastructure. Growth should not diminish or adversely impact elements that have made Boulder such a desirable place for decades: Open Space, views of the mountains, and quality of life.

A particularly concerning point is that Boulder has the zoning capacity for approximately 45,000 additional jobs, and only 6,750 additional housing units. The mismatch concerns me. I’m concerned that this will add more in-commuters to our current number of 60,000+. This is why I support re-zoning of some of Boulder’s commercial and industrial areas, into residential and mixed use zoning. Actions such as this would help to create a better jobs-population balance.

I believe that residential growth in Boulder ought to mainly come in the form of affordable housing, broadly defined as housing that helps low-income, low-middle income, and middle-income residents. These are the areas in which we have the greatest gaps. So it’s important to ensure that the growth we have solves problems, rather than making them worse. This is a good example of community benefit. But there are other types of community benefit as well. On Council, I would look forward to being able to steer the conversations about community benefit in positive ways that bring together residents from the multiple perspectives I’ve heard from, and lived myself.

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