No Surprise, Council Draws Legal Fire on Pops and Scrapes

by Osman Parvez
From the Daily Camera

...the law offices of Packard and Dierking has been retained to figure out how to "prevent or revoke any unfavorable actions" that the Boulder City Council might take to prevent so-called "pops and scrapes."
What did Council expect to happen?  Residents of Colorado traditionally hold a strong view on property rights.   

The council, for more than a year, has floated the idea of lowering the allowable floor-area ratio to curb redevelopments that are out of scale with established neighborhoods, prompting impassioned responses from residents on both sides of the contentious issue.
Floated the idea?   From practically their first meeting as elected officials, this Council has been plotting to enact severe house size limits.   Some even wanted heavy handed rules adopted as an emergency measure in their first 100 days in office.   Only in response to public outcry did Council agree to hire a consultant to study resident opinions and build concensus recommendations.   But then the hired consultant came back with recommendations that in Council's opinion,  didn't go far enough.  Council is now back to pushing heavier rules. 
Mayor Matt Appelbaum said he also wasn't aware of the behind-the-scenes effort that's apparently underway, but he isn't surprised there is one.

"It would be shocking if it weren't happening," Appelbaum said. "People always become ultra-conservative when it involves their property."

He said the council hasn't made up its mind about potential house-size regulations, but he expects at least some changes will be made this summer.

"There's a wide range of approaches we can take," Appelbaum said.
"Behind the scenes" is when Council predetermines that they will enact new restrictions on house sizes, ignoring public process, even over and beyond their own consultant's recommendations.     

Hasn't made up their mind?    Who is he kidding?    Appelbaum and City Council made up their minds a long time ago. 

Here's Matt Appelbaum's own words about his priorities (from the January 2008 City Council Retreat):
"Pops and Scrapes. Actually, the real issue is the construction of huge houses on relatively small lots, changing neighborhood character and reducing the diversity of housing sizes and types. No delusion here that regulations will notably reduce house prices, however. While this is being studied, we need to speed things up significantly – and make it clear we’re serious about changing the rules."

Here's the rub.  Boulder is running on a massive budget shortfall.  You'd think this alone would give pause to City Council.   You'd think that not getting pulled into expensive legal battle would be a priority.  Instead, Council is ignoring public opinion when they don't like it and rushing to enact heavy handed, poorly conceived rules that will impact residents' largest financial assets (not to mention one we live inside).   

Council is acting like a drunk surgeon, eager to operate on a healthy patient.   When told by the concerned patient that they're about to amputate the wrong leg,  Council is pompous and adamant.  They're almost begging to get sued.    It's time for City Council to sober up a bit.


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