Common-sense Solutions for a More Livable Boulder
The following policy statements are intended as guiding principles for the organization to support proposed policy changes, to endorse candidates for elected leadership, and to help us craft the detailed, solution-focused policies we want to see in our city, county, and state. Boulder Elevated prioritizes open discussion and cooperation to enable our leaders to develop the solutions that fulfill these principles and want to give our leaders flexibility in how they propose to align with the BE principles.
Boulder Elevated supports:
- Permanently affordable housing for both low- and middle-income individuals and families through imposed market regulation;
- Solutions to homelessness that include transitional housing with on site, wrap around mental health and addiction treatment services, and job training programs;
- The continuance of our camping ban and prioritization of safety for all Boulderites; and
- Climate action with a focus on sustainability and support for Open Space
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Make Boulder attainable for more people and maintain its unique character by embracing affordable housing with an emphasis on sustainability, neighborhood character, and planning decisions at the local, not state, level.
- Safe, stable, and affordable shelter is essential to the well-being of all people. Boulder should continue to move forward, in collaboration with all relevant government agencies, to plan, finance, and build more permanently affordable housing for low-income populations and more attainable housing for middle-income households. Much of the current affordable housing stock is rentals and Boulder needs to expand permanently affordable homeownership to ensure Boulder maintains a diverse and balanced range of residents in all stages of life. Boulder must deliver a variety of housing types that meet the divergent needs of this population.
- City expansion in Boulder has long been limited by our devotion to the beauty of our natural surroundings and a commitment to conservation. In 1959, Boulder voters created the Blueline to protect the mountain backdrop from development; in 1967, they voted for the first locally-funded greenbelt in the country; and in 1971, they voted to cap building height to protect the mountain views. As a consequence, growth in Boulder has focused on redevelopment, renovation, and limited annexation, all balanced by a strong commitment to historic preservation. Infill, including the repurposing of industrial or commercial areas to include housing, has been hugely successful when planned with robust community input. Mixed-use infill, which creates purposely designed, walkable neighborhoods, is Boulder’s future.
- In the United States, our strongest connections are to family, our country as a whole, and then to neighborhoods. Residents’ commitment to and intimate knowledge of their neighborhoods often produces constructive insights into the substantive issues of gentrification, displacement, local environment, and the impacts of development on current residents. From a historical perspective, our community has evolved over time and will continue to do so. For change to be accepted by most people, it should be discussed openly and the community benefit from the change should be emphasized. Sub-community plans, with strong community involvement, allow staff to introduce neighbors to models that increase housing affordability, community connectivity, and climate response.
- Municipal zoning and planning must be considered within the context of ongoing regional planning because regional action is necessary to achieve Boulder’s climate, transportation, and housing affordability goals in an equitable manner. However, while strongly supporting regional planning, Boulder should maintain substantial local control of land use as a home rule city. The leaders of Boulder bear a responsibility to the residents of Boulder to protect the interests of the city, which may differ from other cities in the region and the state. Colorado law has long been structured to provide a great deal of authority to local governments, particularly cities like Boulder that have adopted ‘home rule.’ Boulder has an exceptional record of well-managed development, and should retain its current full authority to regulate its own land use practices. If the balance of development decisions are not to the liking of some residents of the city, the solution is to alter the city laws and practices, not appeal to an outside authority for coercive legislation.
Help people get back on their feet by providing additional housing opportunities and supportive services, including addiction, mental health, and job-training programs.
- Stable and secure shelter are necessary for people to build strong foundations from which to grow. Boulder has pursued a Housing First strategy as a federally-supported sheltering approach which functions well for many individuals and families. While this is a needed and helpful component of a system of sheltering support, it does not always sufficiently address the needs of people struggling with mental health or substance abuse disorders. The city and county must explore and invest in not only affordable housing, but fully supportive and transitional housing.
- Colorado residents deserve world-class mental and behavioral health services. These services are necessary for lifting people out of homelessness, and should extend to anyone who is struggling in our community. Colorado routinely falls at the bottom of states when ranked in mental health measures. This is unacceptable. The state of Colorado and Boulder County have identified mental and behavioral health improvements as priorities in their strategic planning, but have made minimal progress. Boulder should lead by example and drive accountability for the county and state in improving mental and behavioral health programs and policies.
- Job training is a pivotal component to gaining self-sufficiency and confidence. Boulder should continue to support and increase investment in job training programs with proven success.
- We support the Coordinated Entry program and acknowledge that we have a high number of individuals with short-term connections to Boulder that may be best served though Diversion and Reunification services. People need the support of friends and family in order to do the hard work of rebuilding their lives and are often best served by returning to the community in which they have deeper connections.
Ensure our public spaces and neighborhoods are safe and clean for all and expand behavioral health supports for those in need; increase preparedness in the face of climate change and other disasters.
- Public safety, health, and well-being are the foundation of government; it is the primary purpose of government.
- The ban on tents, propane tanks, and overnight camping in Boulder public spaces is a necessary element of protecting public safety and equitable community access to those spaces. Those who are enforcing its provisions deserve support and encouragement as they protect public safety.
- Public spaces are for all to use equitably, and where specific uses inflict undue community harms or degradation of public safety, those uses should be appropriately and safely regulated and enforced.
- Within bounds of appropriate legal respect for individual civil liberties, equitable regulation of behavior in the name of public safety is understood to be not only called-for but encouraged.
- It is a legitimate function of city government to ensure that the law is administered equitably and impartially. Policing policy should reflect community values of fairness and justice, beginning with public safety for all, racial, gender and religious equality, and respect for individual civil liberties.
- Development of just and sustainable policing policy must include outreach to all stakeholders in community policing outcomes, with particular focus on outreach to historically underserved populations.
- We expect the municipal employees who are sworn officers of the law in Boulder, including police, judges, and prosecutors, to be dedicated public servants who deserve the respect and support their work requires. If any officer of the law violates their oath of service, their claim on such community respect is forfeited.
- Natural disasters can cause widespread human suffering, and preparing for them is an important method of protecting public safety. Climate change is real and is causing increasing natural disaster risk. Municipal efforts to mitigate climate risk and prepare for natural disasters of increasing severity are important actions to protect public safety and need to be weighed in balance with other important community values.
Conservation and Climate
Protect and preserve our environment for future generations with forward-looking conservation and sustainability efforts that are equitable, effective, and build on Boulder’s leadership in addressing our climate crisis.
- The impending climate crisis is going to have substantial and multi-generational impacts on humanity and all planetary residents and systems. Many of these impacts will be negative for human health, and all levels of government must act with urgency and prudence to minimize climate damage.
- All economic and regulatory incentives that Boulder uses to support building and transportation energy outcomes must lead to neutral or lowered greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per capita, with the goal of a GHG-emissions-free energy system.
- The reduction of carbon emissions must be equitable, and not impose disproportionate costs to unfairly burdened groups. The local principles of a just transition must be defined and used to govern Boulder’s actions. Implementing a just energy transition should be a priority for all Boulder leaders and an engaged citizenry.
- Regulatory and programmatic actions must be taken by Boulder which encourage end-use energy efficiency and GHG-free electricity generation and building energy systems. The transition work to cleaner electrified buildings and transportation will be decades long and must be approached with a continuous-improvement mindset.
- Protecting natural systems through habitat management and natural carbon sequestration should be a priority of all Boulder actions. Access to city, county, and Federal open spaces is a priority for many, probably most, of the members of the community. Balancing uses and preservation of Boulder open spaces should be a priority of all Boulder leaders.
- The Boulder Open Space system is one critical part of the regional fabric of natural and agricultural lands that support appreciation and enjoyment of the outdoor environment. Land which is undeveloped as well as land under many forms of agricultural cultivation serves to support natural systems, sequester carbon dioxide, and provide recreation and relaxation for Boulder residents. Boulder’s representatives should steward city open space with great respect and care for the multiple Charter purposes for which open space is so steadfastly supported by its taxpayers.
- For families with children in Boulder there are multiple sources of economic stress, with the escalating costs of food, housing, education, and child care at the top of the list. Support for lack of food, housing, and education are addressed by established government and non-profits in the community, but child care appears to be a substantial and widening gap in the Boulder social support system. More attention should be given to city government options to support those in need of child care in collaboration with support and services provided by other levels of government. Similar to mental health system deficiencies, gaps in child support systems have significant human costs that are easier to prevent than to repair.
- Arts, music, and cultural events enrich the lives of Boulder community members in a multitude of ways, and deserve support from the city. While the appropriate amount of support is a matter of community discussion, the current approach of city grants to artists and arts organizations decided by a panel of arts commissioners and city staff is commendable and should continue. Public support of the arts is a major benefit to the community as a whole.