The Washington Village Petition

by Osman Parvez

They're everywhere. On street corners waving signs, canvassing neighborhoods door to door. Their goal? Collect enough signatures to force a referendum on the Washington Village development. If you're a reader of this blog or participate in a neighborhood email list (highly recommended), you've already heard some of the debate.

On Sunday, the developer was granted an audience via an opinion piece in the Daily Camera. I've already presented the views of the neighborhood association. Here's what Jim Leach thinks (an excerpt, trimmed):

These neighbors ask you to sign in order to "allow the people to be heard and ultimately allow the people's reasoned voices to prevail." What is it they criticize? "

The proposal is too dense." — The project density is within the limits of zoning [snip].

"Our voices were falling on deaf ears." — Their voices have been heard over a two-year-long exhaustive process [snip].

"The plan relies on numerous exceptions to established codes." — False. What we have proposed is within the means, the guidelines, and the spirit of the Land Use Code. [snip]

"There is a lack of community benefit." — We wholeheartedly disagree with their assessment. The neighbors focus on losing their park and open space and minimize what is offered [snip].

"This proposal is not respectful of the site or of the community that has enjoyed over a century of continuous public access and use." — And this is the crux of the criticism, the change from a public to a more private use. We have developed an excellent and appropriate project design under extremely difficult constraints, and have addressed our neighbors' concerns as reasonably as possible, while working within the parameters and processes set by the school district and city. [snip]
Should you sign the petition? That is clearly up to you. [snip]

Here's what I think. On one hand, I admire the neighbors for getting organized and mobilizing. They're passionate and driven to stop the project. But at the same time, they don't seem to have a reasonable alternative plan (yet). I agree with Jim on one thing. Signing the petition is up to you. However, given their efforts I believe they will get the required number of signatures to force a referendum on the issue.

I understand that the organizers can refute Jim's points, line by line. I look forward to their response.

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  1. Jim Leach's points have been refuted ad-nauseum time and again by WSNA and can be found at the WSNA website link provided on the blog.

    It is frustrating to once again see a demand that the neighbors have "an alternative". First, any alternative from us at this point would have zero standing and it's already taking a ton of effort just to get people to understand the massive shortcomings of the alternative that IS on the table. Unfortunately, we don't have yet another ton of potential effort stashed away to give the people who still don't understand the common sense shortcomings of Wonderland's plan an alternative to hang their hats on.

    Also, it's likely that no good alternative can emerge under the assumption that the underlying parameters now in place must remain. If BVSD wants to get into the real estate business, they might want to first understand the difference between a market price and an arbitrary price.

    It has escaped almost everyone's notice, but just one month ago BVSD, City, County, and Polis foundation all entered an agreement to study turning Mapleton School into an early childhood development center - Not sell it off for houses as was contemplated from the moment Washington went on the block. So I guess there are things that still CAN change at BVSD.

    Next, the City needs to tighten up its definition of community benefits, and perhaps even conform to the multiple Comp Plan policies insisting that no commercial uses should be allowed on this site and that "neighborhood sensitivity" is more than just a coupling of two warm and fuzzy words.

    The Wonderland plan is based on an unrealistic, illegal (spot zoning), and massively insensitive set of parameters. WSNA has now recognized that the only way to change the parameters, thus allowing a good proposal to emerge (with WSNA involvement this time) is by getting the current proposal to go away.

    John Gless

  2. Last I checked, houses benefited the community as shelter from weather, cold, and sun- Places to eat and sleep and raise families. There are members of your community who rent who would love to invest their time,money ,and live in Boulder on a more permanent basis. Why not housing? Boulder has a shortage of housing. Why shouldn't housing be built in your neighborhood? NIMBY-ism pure and simple. Call a spade a spade.


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