Council Seeks 9 Month Ban on Building Permits [Aspenization]

by Osman Parvez

Heads Up.     Boulder City Council is preparing to vote on another emergency ordinance on Tuesday. 

The proposed ordinance is below.   Links and bold text are my additions.  The proposal is from Council Member Sam Weaver and of course, Plan Boulder supports the measure.


(a) the City Manager be directed to not accept applications for any Site Review as defined under BRC 9-2-14, or any review where land use intensity modifications or height modifications are requested, nor issue building permits for structures not already approved under such reviews except as provided in (c) below, and not accept applications for rezoning, as of tomorrow September 17, 2014, except as required by state or Federal law;

(b) the City Attorney be directed to prepare and present to the Council at its next regular meeting the text of an ordinance to impose a temporary stay on the acceptance by the City of such applications and on issuance of such permits as noted in (a) above, and on any further action on those applications which have not already been approved as of this date, except as provided in section (c) below, from tomorrow September 17, 2014 until June 30, 2015, or until the measures referred to below are deemed adequately advanced (even if not fully complete) to lift the stay with a majority vote of Council, whichever occurs earlier;

What to Do During an Emergency Ordinance
(c) the City Attorney be directed to include measures in the ordinance that provide that any project that has already applied for Site Review or other review as mentioned in Section (a) above, and has received a Concept Plan review from the Planning Board, but that has not been previously approved through the regular process, may apply once through an appeal process for consideration prior to the end of the period mentioned in Section (b) above, and after demonstration of inclusion of all required affordable housing generated by the project on-site and after demonstrating exceptional community benefit and with the approval of 4 Planning Board member and 5 Council members at a subsequent regular meeting of each body, may be allowed to be processed through the currently established development review processes.

(d) the City Manager be directed to undertake a robust public process to create a Comprehensive Development Strategy using surveys, public meetings, consultation with neighborhood organizations, community organizations, and other stakeholder groups, and other appropriate means to test alternative growth outcomes and scenarios, and thereby determine the amount of future residential, commercial, and industrial development, and other factors, quantities, and qualities related to such development, to be identified during the process, that Council determines a majority - or at least the largest plurality - of the citizens of the City believe to be in the City’s best interests;

(e) this comprehensive public process be initiated, designed, developed, managed, and reviewed on an on-going basis by a committee of Council members selected by the Council, Planning and other Board and Commission members and citizens as designated by the Council, and city staff members as designated by the city manager and city attorney, and the design be approved by the Council before the process is initiated;

(f) the City Manager work with the Community Planning and Sustainability Department to make any legislative, process, or code adjustments that are determined to be needed in the process described in (c) above;

(g) the outcome of this process be reflected in the upcoming five-year update of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan;

(h) the outcome of this process be used as the basis of an ordinance or ordinances regulating development in the City; and

(i) the City Manager be directed to suspend activity on any long-term planning processes that the City Manager determines could be substantially negatively impacted by the Comprehensive Development Strategy effort, until the time such process is completed.”


A Few Thoughts

Council Responds to an Emergency
1.  Site Review is the trigger.  Not every building permit requires Site Review.   The majority of homeowner improvements and even additions, if strictly within code, don't trigger Site Review.

2. This ordinance is primarily aimed at multi-family building permits and where variances are being requested for height limits, zoning, or intensity standards.  See table 2-2 in BRC 9-2-14.   Think Boulder Junction, Violet Crossing, The Residences at 29th Street, and many other recent and currently underway developments.   Landlords and homeowners rejoice, lower supply = higher prices.   The Aspenization of Boulder accelerates. 

3. The city's density limits and affordable housing goals are inherently conflicted.   We do need a comprehensive review of occupancy rules, density limits, and affordability.   I'm strongly in favor

4. Intense review of larger scale projects is a good idea.  Here's the thing. We already do that.   It's wrong to use so called emergency ordinances as a policy tool.  It's dishonest.  There is no emergency but I'm still in favor of comprehensive review of our city's housing policies.   

5. City Council says they would like to hear from you, but honestly, they're not listening.  If you've ever attended a City Council meeting and seen the bored looks on Council Member faces as citizens waste their two minutes of precious allotted time, you know what I'm talking about. 

6.  Compatible development ordinances began in the same fashion - with an emergency ordinance.   When it became clear that enough citizens were concerned, Council spent hundreds of thousands of your tax payer money on consultants to supposedly help the community reach consensus.   I attended those meetings.  It was obvious from the start that the consultant's surveys and other materials had planned outcomes.   Council's version of public process is an expensive smokescreen and they voted the way they had planned from the beginning.  

7. The meeting begins at 5pm tomorrow, Tuesday September 16 at 1777 Broadway.  The first two hours are a study session so sorry, you won't be allowed to talk.  At the regular Council meeting, from 7pm to 9pm, Council may decide to vote on the matter and if you want, you can sign up for a 2 minute speaking slot.    Sign up to be ignored by clicking HERE or email the members at 

images:  Mo Riza,  Annie Mole, and the U.S. Army
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