Housing Board Needs Sense of Urgency

Our region’s Workforce Housing (WH) challenge is like climate change – Boulder’s Housing Board needs to act TODAY, not years from now, when whatever they do is likely to be too little, too late.

We must immediately create a housing and land trust, to acquire land and/or allow current homeowners to dedicate existing homes to WH (reserving a life estate, with property tax reductions consistent with deed-restricted future values).

Employers in industrial parks should be allowed to build workforce housing on this land they already own, reconfiguring these auto-dependent single use zone districts to create “complete neighborhoods” (including restaurants and retail). For similar reasons, BVSD should be allowed to build housing for their employees on school lands.

We can remix our sprawling residential subdivisions through joint ventures with well-located rental properties, assembling lots to create neighborhood and village centers with local retail and restaurant uses, plus WH dense enough to support the businesses.

Allow single family lots along transit corridors to be subdivided into two or three 2,500s.f. lots with constrained home sizes (Portland model), and permit ADUs wherever possible, sooner than later. Instead of surfing the internet to catch illegal dwelling units neighbors accept, or forcing unused ADUs to be decommissioned, make it a crime to REMOVE an existing dwelling unit, provided building code life safety regulations are met.

Looking long-term (and regionally), we should create new villages on regional transit corridors (complete neighborhoods in places like the McGuckin’s warehouse site at Neva Road between Boulder and Lyons), and strategically locate other complete neighborhoods along regional transit corridors and at the entry points to Boulder County’s urban areas. Such “capture zones” at the edge of town can let people drop their cars (or leave them at home) to use redesigned, more nimble transportation systems with innovative last-mile trip flexibility.

Ed Byrne, edbyrne@smartlanduse.com