January 3, 2014

Boulder City Council
1777 Broadway Street
Boulder, CO 80302

Dear Members of Council,

We would like to congratulate the new and returning members of council on their election, and thank all of council for your service to the community. We would also like to provide input for the council retreat.

Better Boulder is a newly formed organization created to support sustainable urbanism in Boulder. We bring together members of the business community and environmental advocates to support changes to Boulder’s land use policies. We believe that more well-designed density, combined with a focus on sustainable transportation, can help Boulder to meet many of our community goals – reducing carbon emissions, sustaining a dynamic economy, providing affordable housing, and providing a welcoming community for our young people and our seniors. We plan to both weigh in on broad policy issues, and to be a voice for sustainable urbanism in the development review process.

With this perspective, we are excited about the potential outcomes and synergies of multiple projects that are on the city’s agenda, including the Access Management and Parking Strategy, Boulder Junction, the major update to the BVCP, the Comprehensive Housing Strategy, the North Boulder Subcommunity Plan, the East Arapahoe Corridor Plan, Sustainable Streets and Centers, and the TMP Update.

We would ask you to consider a number of perspectives as you set your 2014 policy agenda.

  1. As the city looks at issues like the sustainable streets and centers project, the East Arapahoe plans, and the future of Boulder Junction, be willing to think boldly about land use changes. This is an opportunity to look at both bringing additional housing and economic activity to the community, and to reshape areas into far more vibrant, pedestrian friendly areas.
  2. We support the suggestion that the city look at loosening code restrictions that have made it so difficult for people to share their houses, whether through cooperative housing or ADUs and OAUs. We would encourage you to be willing to experiment in this area . Don’t insist on rules that try to prevent every conceivable problem – instead create some reasonable rules, monitor how they work, and make adjustments if necessary.
  3. On the big scale, we need to make infill more attractive for development than sprawl. In order to achieve this, we need a process that does not add time, uncertainty and expense to the process for infill. We also need to capitalize on one of the great advantages of infill – that many needs can be met without driving, and we don’t need as much money spent on parking and roads. Let’s not let minimum parking requirements get in the way of valuable infill projects that could serve our community
  4. When looking at climate goals, remember that what really matters is how much we can reduce GHG emissions per capita. Diverting growth and associated emissions outside of the city does nothing for climate. GHGs are globally mixed gases – it does not matter whether they are emitted in Boulder or elsewhere. Denser land use will both reduce per capita transportation emissions, but also will lead to more people living in smaller units in multifamily housing, reducing building related emissions. And, concentrated, denser areas of employment lead to far higher alternative mode shares and lower per capita transportation emissions from employees.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment. We look forward to working with you in 2014.

Yours Sincerely,

The Better Boulder Steering Committee

Will Toor, co-chair
Ken Hotard, co-chair
Ed Byrne
Bill Holicky
Michael Leccesse
Mimi Mather
Gavin McMillan
Morgan Rogers McMillan
Mark Ruzzin
Zane Selvans
Adrian Sopher
Stephen Sparn
John Tayer