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Zac Smith: Where’s my 15 Minute Neighborhood?

Submitted to City Council and the Boulder Daily Camera in advance of Council’s September 2nd, 2014 meeting.

Raymond Bridge’s recent guest opinion titled “Council Should Pause Growth” concerned me. A moratorium on development — while serving the interests of wealthy and long-time, established Boulder residents — would prevent the city from becoming a vital, interesting, attractive place for those of us who are in the early part of our working life. I found myself wondering ‘Where can a guy live if he wants to live near downtown Boulder and he’s making a decent (but not outrageous) salary?’

I studied Aerospace engineering at CU fifteen years ago, but rather than getting a tech job after graduation I decided to work for a non-profit. This means I can’t afford one of the fancy new condos downtown—but I love my work and and I love my lifestyle. I like walking to meet friends downtown, to go grocery shopping, and to go to the Farmer’s Market.

But it seems the only way you can live near downtown Boulder on a non-profit salary is to live in an housing aimed at serving students. Where in Boulder is the space for people who want something other than a party neighborhood or a quiet suburban street?

I’ve seen this neighborhood in other cities, so I know it’s possible. I don’t think we’ve yet built this space, but I think we should. I don’t think I’m alone. I think there are lots of people like me who’d like to live in an affordable, walkable, lively and urban part of town.

If City Council puts a “pause” on development, I fear that Boulder shall become increasingly less accessible to all but the lucky families that happened to buy in decades ago. And the rich. Please, let’s not get stuck on fear of development. Instead, let’s build at least a few smart, living, walkable, safe, beautiful, high-density, affordable neighborhoods.

Sincerely,
Zac Smith

2016-12-17T13:17:14+00:00