THE PEOPLE’S ADVOCATE
A Monthly Review of Politics and Local Government
In Boulder, Colorado
Produced by PLAN-Boulder County
July 1, 2009
Council Considers Development Taxes and Fees
The Boulder City Council discussed various options regarding development related taxes and fees at its June 2 meeting. The taxes under consideration included the existing development excise taxes, the educational excise tax and possible new impact fees and a housing excise tax.
The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan has as two of its underlying policies that growth should pay its way and that taxes and fees paid by existing residents should not subsidize development. One of the major changes discussed on June 2 was reducing some development excise taxes and creating in their place impact fees. In particular, the new fees would cover capital costs for police, fire, libraries, parks and recreation. Transportation facilities would remain under the development excise tax.
After a long debate Mayor Matt Appelbaum moved to instruct City staff to bring back an ordinance that would address three primary issues:
; Initiate impact fees for residential development, amend or eliminate
development excise taxes and eliminate the educational excise tax.
; Initiate impact fees for commercial and industrial development, but with a
development excise tax for transportation.
; Analysis of a housing excise tax for inclusion on the November 2009 ballot. Appelbaum’s motion was approved on a 6 to 2 vote, with Council members Suzy Ageton and Angelique Espinoza in opposition. Council members Macon Cowles, Crystal Gray, Lisa Morzel, Susan Osborne and Ken Wilson joined Appelbaum in support.
Boulder Amends Inclusionary Zoning
The Boulder City Council advanced proposals to amend the City’s inclusionary zoning requirements for affordable housing at its June 2 meeting. City staff offered several options for how to improve the program, mainly involving goals and policies and changes to cash-in-lieu payments by developers.
Crystal Gray offered a motion to retain the current 10% goal for very low, low and moderate income buyers and renters and to extend the program to cover middle income persons. Macon Cowles disagreed with the expansion of eligibility and offered an amendment to strike that provision. His amendment was defeated 5 to 3, with Suzy Ageton and Lisa Morzel in support and Matt Appelbaum, Angelique Espinoza, Gray, Susan Osborne and Ken Wilson opposed. Gray’s original motion was then approved unanimously.
Gray then moved to instruct City staff to prepare specific changes for the cash-in-lieu formula and to extend inclusionary zoning to redevelopment projects of five units or more. That motion was approved unanimously.
Council May Submit November Ballot Issues
Boulder voters may be asked to decide several issues on the November ballot. At their June 2 meeting Council members unanimously approved (with Macon Cowles temporarily out of the chamber) a motion by Suzy Ageton to instruct City staff to develop, and bring back to Council in July, ballot language for three issues:
; Extension of an existing .15 cent sales tax for health and human services
agencies which is due to expire on December 31, 2012.
; Authorize transfer of certain open space bonds from revenue bonds to
general obligation bonds to allow more favorable interest rates.
; Authorize minor housekeeping language changes relating to the City of
Boulder’s employee pension obligation bonds.
Voters may also be asked to approve a new housing excise tax for affordable housing but Council has not yet authorized placing that on the November ballot.
Climate Tax to Increase
Boulder’s climate action plan tax will be increased due to a City Council vote on June 4. The tax was approved by voters in 2006 but the City Council subsequently set the tax at the lowest rate allowed in the referendum. The Council vote on June 4 will generate about $800,000 in additional funding to help meet Boulder’s Kyoto greenhouse gas reduction goal in 2012.
Council approved the increase on a motion by Council member Crystal Gray. The vote was unanimous, with Council members Macon Cowles and Susan Osborne absent. City staff will use the additional funding for a variety of energy conservation programs, including education, installation of energy-saving equipment and features and collaboration with Boulder County, the State of Colorado and the federal government to capitalize on other funding and loan programs.
The City of Boulder is also in line to receive about $1,000,000 from the Obama Administration’s stimulus program. The City is considering various additional
programs, including energy conservation at municipal buildings and a possible bike-share program similar to those operating in Amsterdam, Vancouver, Portland, and soon in Denver.
Western Disposal Annexation Approved
Two parcels of land in east Boulder were annexed into the City by a Council vote on June 4. The sites at 5880 and 6032 Butte Mill Road are owned by Western Disposal, which ultimately plans to construct a new 100,000 square foot
rdheadquarters on 63 Street, just south of Butte Mill Road.
Council approved the annexation and initial rezoning to Industrial-General on a motion by Council member Lisa Morzel. The vote was unanimous, with Council members Macon Cowles and Susan Osborne absent.
Western Disposal plans to sell part of the land to Boulder Special Transit for that non-profit organization’s new headquarters. Some of the property at 6032 Butte Mill Road may also become the site for the proposed Recycle Row but the City of Boulder is not obligated to select that location. City staff is currently investigating alternative sites.
Two concerns were raised about the annexation agreement to which City staff had entered into with Western Disposal. A restrictive covenant may limit EcoCycle’s future recycling programs if Recycle Row is built on the Butte Mill Road location. The staff also waived the City’s normal site review requirements for the future Western Disposal building. In neither case, however, were the concerns grave enough to deter Council from approving the annexation.
City’s June Break Begins
Boulder’s municipal leadership traditionally takes a break in June. City Council usually holds just one meeting early in the month, adjourning until July. This year, however, a large agenda of pending items caused Council to hold two meetings before the June break, a regular gathering on June 2 and a special meeting two days later.
The break allows Council members to schedule time off. It also permits City staff members who frequently must attend each Council meeting to schedule vacations. The next scheduled regular meeting of City Council is July 7 unless an emergency arises.
Annual Boulder Development Update
The hiatus in municipal affairs provides a break in the Peoples Advocate’s coverage of Council meetings. We use the June break to annually update our readers on residential and commercial development activity in Boulder. Due to the nationwide recession and the difficulty in obtaining credit, many developers have drastically reduced their construction activity and plans. Although Boulder’s economy has not suffered as badly as that in many other cities, the effects are still being felt here in terms of reduced construction of all types of real estate.
The following table shows the number of building permits issued by the City of Boulder, by type, in recent years and for 2009 through May. SF detached denotes typical single family houses. The SF attached category is townhouse and duplexes. MF indicates multi-family units, such as apartments and condominiums. Demos are full-structure demolitions.
We continue to urge our readers to use the building permits report with a grain of salt since the City of Boulder’s permit reporting system has errors and duplications. While we have attempted to correct those for the Peoples Advocate we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the data we receive from the City of Boulder website.
SF SF Mobile Demos Demos Net
Detached Attached MF Homes SF MF Total
2000 106 16 10 0 21 7 104
2001 71 55 246 1 30 5 338
2002 61 4 195 0 23 12 225
2003 78 38 155 0 34 6 231
2004 83 33 425 0 19 0 522
2005 77 16 108 2 42 0 161
2006 108 25 160 0 38 14 241
2007 108 20 510 0 57 2 579
2008 101 33 304 0 39 5 394
2009 17 8 58 0 8 0 75
Most of the construction activity currently underway in Boulder is in projects started in 2008. The multi-family units started in 2009 are mainly in the Northfield
thCommons mixed-use neighborhood on Kalmia Avenue east of 28 Street and in
Uptown Broadway on Broadway at Rosewood Avenue.
The following residential and/or commercial projects are currently under
construction in Boulder:
; The Arete, 1095 Canyon Boulevard, 25 condominium units and 19,225
square feet of commercial space.
; 3120 Broadway, 26 new affordable apartment units and the renovation of
existing units by Boulder Housing Partners.
th; Flatirons Village, 900 28 Street, the addition of 59 residential units (seven
of which have been permitted) in and adjacent to the renovated Lotus
Center office building.
; Landmark Lofts Phase I, 2810-2870 College Avenue, 103 residential units,
soon to be completed.
th; One Penn Place, 1280 28 Street, 16 residential units, soon to be completed.
; Springleaf, 12 residential units at Broadway and Poplar Avenue.
th; Vojte Farm, a 141-lot single family subdivision at Jay Road and 47 Street,
with infrastructure being installed but no units yet permitted.
; Walnut Creek, 2044 Walnut Street, six townhouses, four single family
detached houses and the renovation of the existing historic house on the site. The economic uncertainties affecting real estate development have caused many proposed projects to be dropped or postponed. The following proposed projects
are those most likely to start construction during the next twelve months (though not assured):
; Boulder Mobile Manor, Valmont Road east of Folsom Street, the
redevelopment of a former mobile home park by Boulder Housing Partners
into 79 affordable residential units and a 3,800 square foot retail building.
; The Eldridge Building, 915 Pearl Street, three large condominium units
and 21,524 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
; Granary Townhouses, ten units at 4051 Broadway.
; Gunbarrel Gateway, 6333 Lookout Road, a 101 room hotel and 25,093
square feet of retail space on the site of the former Hugh M. Woods store.
; Harper Hollow, 3015 Kalmia Avenue, 57 residential units in a mix of
single family detached, attached and multi-family buildings.
thth; The Residences at 29 Street, northwest corner of 30 and Walnut streets,
240 apartment units.
; Table Mesa Housing, 4640 Table Mesa Drive, 40 residential units at the
site of the vacant US Army Reserve Center.
; Washington Village, 1205 Cedar Avenue, 27 co-housing units, six detached
single family houses and 2,950 square feet of office space, including the
renovation of the vacant Washington Elementary School.
Pass It On
At a time when many local media are reducing or eliminating their coverage of local government PLAN-Boulder County feels it is important to let the public know what is occurring at the City and County levels in our community.
We encourage the readers of the People’s Advocate to forward it on to their
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Advocate is Eric Karnes.
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