Howdy, #Boulder. Got the bandwidth for a city council study session? Maybe not; don't worry, I save these threads, so you can read it whenever you're ready.
Tonight is all about planning for the 2021 retreat, so it should be pretty mellow. Boards/commissions are also giving their feedback, which always has the potential for blowback from council. They've been pretty harsh in years past.
A couple themes always emerge in these annual check-ins. This year's was homelessness:…
Tonight's session is being led by professional facilitator Heather Bergman, who is always a good time.

Tonight is no exception: She's using Zoom's new filters and is currently sporting pig ears and nose.
Seriously, this woman is so damn chipper. I thought a pandemic might put a damper in that, but apparently not.
Requisite COVID vaccine info reminder. Here's where you can go for that and to sign up to be notified when it's your turn:…
Bergman has dispensed with her Zoom filter pig ears and is starting things.
Reminder: Council retreat is Jan. 22 and 23
Starting with board/commission feedback, and Jane Sykes Wilson from the Library Commission is up first.
Their letter to council focused on the budget and service cuts this year, and the need to check back in on the library district discussion from last year.
A March discussion was postponed due to COVID.…
"Our greatest sadness comes from the cuts the library has faced: 17% of the budget," Wilson says, reading from that letter. "At the very least, we'd like to see the restoration of the collections budget" reduced by 13% "from an already inadequate amount."
Kathleen McCormick from the Arts Commission up now. Their letter was about a few things, including the challenges of finding housing and art space for artists, and also the red tape involved in permitting public art, a carryover from last year.
"Lack of a clear and predictable process for public art permitting and unplanned-for city fees are impacting the schedules and quality of public art projects. For multiple projects, this has caused extensive delays, budget increases, project adjustments, and even cancellation..."
"Designed in 2018-2019 by a CU/ENVD class, Oculus, a community-supported art and ”community living room” project for Beach Park on University Hill, is now threatened because the permitting process (including review as an ADU) took so long...
...that the students who planned to build it have graduated, and the rising costs of materials and hiring workers to build it means project-cancelling cost overruns of 35 to 50 percent.”
That's from the letter.
Council asked that boards/commissions all answer the same three questions in their letters:
What made your group happy in 2020?
What made your group sad in 2020?
What is your group looking forward to in 2021?
Lots of murals went up this year. Here's how to find them:…
"It's increasingly difficult for artists and arts and culture organizations to survive in Boulder" because of the rising cost of housing and art space, McCormick says. That was only exacerbated by COVID.
Some of the arts budget was restored for 2021, but the Commission is asking for the rest of it. Match 2020 funding, McCormick asks, so we can keep supporting artists and organizations.
"This is aspirational, inspirational, but as the economy bounces back, we'd like city council to think about funding artists more," she says.
I feel like she's going over time, but maybe that's just me.
She's touching on the permitting for public art now. This was a big theme last year as well; a citywide look at reducing bureaucracy WAS underway before COVID. No idea its status now.…
Jerry Shapins, repping the Downtown Management Commission. They're one of a half-dozen boards who touched on homelessness.... very briefly.
The group wrote that it “remains concerned by or would seek … ongoing City response to and/or ability to address encampment and crime-related safety concerns as they relate to perceived district safety.”
Much praise from Shapins for the city's COVID response for businesses and the downtown area.
"We think there could have been a lot more, but we loved some of the improvements" RE: road closures on West Pearl, Shapins says.
Encampments and crime are still an issue, Shapins says. "We wish there would be more activity and actions to make the downtown area ... safer for people."
Matt Schexnyder is here from Design Advisory Board. They also touched on homelessness, and several other things — NEWR, Bedrooms Are for People, housing — which are pretty far outside DAB's scope.
Chair Lauren Folkerts said DAB felt council's three questions felt more personal and emotional. And that DAB members are driven by the belief that the built environment can be part of the solutions to existing problems.
She actually said this, which I loved and made me hopeful in an otherwise shit time. "We know that any problem created by people can be solved by people."
Schexnyder building on that: "We do live in a built environment with people. The overlap of those issues do affect our conversations."
Related to its official work, DAB wants to reduce the bureaucratic burden on projects and give the board a little more responsibility.
Forgot to say the boards are being broken up into groups, and council will ask questions about every 3-4 boards.
Young: "I have a q for Schexnyder (from DAB)"

Oh, boy, here it comes....
Oh, nvm, this is about DAB's interactions with Planning Board, not them stepping outside their lane. I thought for sure a smackdown was coming.
Schexnyder: "We would love to be engaged with concept review. ... We often find that when projects come to us after multiple rounds" of Planning Board, council, "we thought there were opportunities for us to engage sooner."
DAB is industry professionals. Council's reasoning for having ZERO industry professionals on Planning Board — which reviews development projects — was that DAB could work with Planning Board to provide that.
OK, no rebuke of DAB's feedback. Surprising, but the most critical boards are yet to come...
Tila Duhaime from Transportation Advisory Board is here.
TAB's letter said that a focus on big projects leaves little $$, time for impactful, low-cost changes; also thinks staff’s assessment of costs are overblown
Example: “In 2019 Council inquired of staff about the cost to construct protected bike lanes on Folsom from Spruce to Valmont, and were told it would be $250k-$300k to study, and “at a minimum” $5.3M to construct. ...
... This year TAB initiated an effort to include some of the desired improvements during an upcoming resurfacing. We identified relatively low- cost options that will be implemented north of Pine for only $150k total.”
Duhaime saying new Transportation head Erika Vandenbrande has really changed the culture; references the Tipton Report.…
That was a "high point" along with Boulder lowering residential speed limits to 20 mph.
RE: the focus on big projects. Duhaime says these are "expensive and underwhelming." TAB recommended focusing on residential streets, where most of the serious-injury crashes occur.
"Where are the problems? Where are the opportunities for changing them that don't have to be huge corridor studies that are tens of millions of dollars?" she asks.
"We have confidence that with this new leadership, we can be better heading in that direction."
The Boulder Junction Access District boards (there are two) didn't have much to say this year. They are concerned about RTD funding, which is not really in Boulder's control. (They know that, but still are concerned)
Boulder has been considering for many years how to fund transit locally. The county was supposed to do a transportation/affordable housing tax in 2020 but... COVID. There's a chance it will be renewed for 2021.
Cheryl Liguori is from the University Hill Commercial Area Management Commission. They also mentioned homelessness with one word: "Transients"
As in, they want to reinstate a working group to revisit/update a "transient strategy."
That working group would also tackle non-homelessness issues like cleanliness, tenant recruitment/retention, aging infrastructure, alleys
There are currently 10 vacant storefronts on the Hill, Liguori says — a lot for such a small commercial district.
Yates q for TAB: Will the board be weighing in on potential post-COVID closure of West Pearl? (Council to consider this spring)
Duhaime: I've been working on increasing TAB's interaction with Community Vitality (the city dept. in charge of biz/economics) "I'll continue to press (them) to check in with TAB," she says.
Yates suggests a joint meeting with TAB, the Downtown Management Commission.
Duhamie: "I would be very supportive of that."
Swetlik jumping in to assuage the other boards "the ones we're not asking questions of. It's not because we're not interested."
I think I may dub him Sweetheart Swetlik or something similar bc he is just a big softie. Always checking on people's feelings.
The Beverage Licensing Authority had some of the funniest and most succinct feedback.

Things that made them sad: the “Longest March ever”
Things they were hopeful for in 2021: "vaccine"
Alyssa Lundgren presenting. This board has slides!…
You can see how succinct they were in that presentation. It's all one word answers. Legendary.
Lundgren: City staff usually processes 5-6 licenses a year for outdoor liquor consumption. This year, they did 84.
Fun fact: There are 253 liquor licenses in Boulder (assuming I heard her correctly)
Charlotte Pitts from the Housing Advisory Board. HAB's letter talked (again) about how they feel council isn't utilizing the board.
“Despite the Board’s intended role, the majority of the Board feels that the City Council has not adequately utilized the Board’s passions, skills, and expertise in pursuit of research, ideas and policy solutions. …
" ... In 2020, there was little communication between Council and HAB, which left us to devise suggestions and approaches for Council to consider without formal solicitation. ...
" ... We are concerned that the council is neither utilizing nor communicating with HAB because of political consideration; happenings at City Council meetings in 2020 illustrate how certain politically active groups received more attention than HAB ..."
"Even though we are tasked with advising city council, we feel marginalized bc of political considerations. Our board offers perspectives that may differ from traditional or privileged members of the community," Pitts says. That's why we're important to council.
HAB has some big short- and long-term priorities.

2021 goals: Extension of Colorado eviction moratorium, re-examination of occupancy limits, safe parking lots
Long-term goals: Tiny homes, simplify permitting for residential projects, reallocating some police spending to housing-first homeless initiatives
Safe parking IS coming to Boulder this year, as I reported last week:…
Board of Zoning Adjustment also has issues with council's relationship to the board.

From its letter: “We appreciate that council’s time is limited. However, BOZA members request a council response to provide our comments and insights. This has not happened in the past.”
BOZA wants an expedited process for minor projects and clear council direction on ADUs, including an analysis of what is working and what's not since the 2018 code changes. (That's on the dept. workplan for 2021, btw)
Jill Lester is representing BOZA. I *knew* I remembered that name. I wrote about her purchase of a HUD home in 2017.…
Tom Kuntsman is presenting on behalf of the new Cannabis Licensing / Advisory Board. Their letter talked a lot about the dysfunction/disagreements on CLAB.
From letter: “Discussions have remained meaningful and deliberate even though sometimes polarized. ... Many of the issues have been particularly divisive, which was not apparent to some board members prior to our meetings."
It also referenced "public comments expressing lack of trust of board because of conflicts of interest of members employed in industry which calls into question integrity of Board members" and "Mischaracterization and misconception expressed by public related to industry.”
Council just added two non-voting members to that board in an attempt to better balance perspectives and help the group function more smoothly.
"We're looking forward to hearing city council's perspective on some of the more difficult topics we've been facing," Kuntsman says, including delivery of recreational marijuana and cannabis hospitality sites (where you can consume on-site)
The latter has been OK'd by the state, but not in Boulder.
Yates q for BOZA: You mentioned ADUS. "You're absolutely right" on the need to revisit how the new rules are working. "Does your board have a list of recommendations on that?"
Lester: "There probably are a few things. We were looking for feedback to find out what people are experiencing as well as what we've observed." Will take it back to the board.
Brockett q for HAB: "I hear your request for HAB to be involved more often in consideration of housing issues. Do you have any specific recommendations for the best way we could loop you in?"
Pitts: We've discussed potentially engaging with a council member as a liaison. "There seems to be an opportunity for HAB to be more proactive when council is looking at housing issues rather than ... discussing what was discussed at the council meeting."
Yeah, discussing what was already discussed seems kind of pointless.
Friend also wants "tips" or "further thoughts" on how to improve the relationship between HAB and council. Pitts says HAB will follow up.
Young q for CLAB: What kind of direction or specific issues are you looking at for rec delivery, hospitality sites that council can be useful for?
Kuntsman: "The world of cannabis is changing ... it's becoming more accepted, more approved. Boulder has historically led the way ... Do we want to continue to do that or let other places try something first and learn from the experience of others?"
Correction to spelling of his name: Kunstman. (I always mess that up)
"Do we want to put some breaks on or be a leader" on these emerging issues, he asks.
Young: It might be helpful to get more specifics. What are the pros and cons? That would be helpful.
Kunstman: We'll produce that and move that for council to discuss.
Swetlik to HAB: "I may suggest that you get a copy of the council agenda committee minutes from your board liaison .... as that usually has the most up-to-date info on what issues are coming up."
Pitts: "We look forward to collaboration with council."
Wallach: "You made the comment on marginalization about HAB. Is that based entirely on the perceived lack of coordination with council or are there other elements to that we need to be aware of?"
Pitts: "That comment goes back to the fact that ... HAB may have approached issues differently than council should be welcomes as part of a rich conversation of potential policy solutions. ... As a board, we unanimously agreed we have not been utilized by council."
Tiny homes, safe parking, etc. ... "All these issues have been brought to council's plate in one way or another this year. ... We just want to be brought to the table," Pitts says.
Justin Brant is from the Environmental Advisory Board. Their letter was comprehensive. Talked about the Xcel/Boulder partnership and update of the city's climate action plan. (That's on staff/council workplan as well)
EAB wants the city to put together a smoke management plan, and address the urban heat islands and air quality in general
Brant: "As we all saw this summer, the impacts of wildfire smoke can be huge in our community and we expect them to get worse in the coming decades with the impacts of climate change."
Curt Brown from the Open Space Board of Trustees starts by thanking staff. OSBT highlighted increased visitation, prairie dog management, CU South and wildfires in its letter.
These were not exactly fun facts, but v interesting:
150 miles of designated trails on OSMP and 180 miles of social trails.
7M yearly visits to OSMP, doubled over the past 20 years. As we learned in the Wonderland Lake story, visits does NOT equal people: Sometimes, someone is counted more than once.…
And, as we know, $40M in deferred maintenance, which is why Boulder passed a sales tax extension in 2019.…
I intend to follow up on some OSMP issues this year, just FYI. It's on the list after Homelessness 101 is done and I launch the Beat's Reader 101 video series. So maybe March...?
Raj Seymour is repping Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. After the Human Relations Commission, PRAB spent the most time on homelessness.
PRAB noted concerns “arising from the un-housed (sic) and encampments situation,” including hazardous and human waste, environmental degradation and threatening behavior.
There has been an “increase in the number of community members who are reluctant to visit some of our parks or facilities” because of these things, PRAB wrote.
“While we recognize that this issue is extremely complex and challenging, and that the city’s approach will take a sustained effort to make progress, it is clear from the input we have received that the current conditions are not acceptable to a broad swath of the community."
"In short, allowing unregulated camping on public park property is not a policy PRAB can support.”
Oh, yeah, PRAB also touched on how difficult and costly it was to clean up all the downed branches from the September snowstorm. It took more than 2 months!…
Seymour touching on homelessness now, reading from the letter. There are needles, glass and human waste in parks. Waterways and other public spaces are being degraded, he says.
Seymour finishing up with some happy accomplishments, including the rehab and reopening of Scott Carpenter Pool and the redone Boulder Rez facilities (which includes the restaurant we've heard so much about lately)
Water Resources Advisory Board, in its letter, noted slow progress on CU South and “continued attacks on staff” that made WRAB sad.
On a happy note, there was supposedly “no emergency repair of infrastructure impacted any customer this year.” (I will be following up on this)
WRAB member Kirk Vincent is talking a bit about why water utilities bills keep going up. There's a lot of infrastructure that needs repaired/replaced. (I've reported on this before but will follow up in more depth later this year)
"Inflation is one reason" rates keep going up, Vincent says as he goes over the history of water in Boulder.
I should make the distinction between BILLS and RATES. Boulder has reduced its per-capita water consumption quite a bit in the last 20 years, so overall bills might be going down or staying the same even as rates go up, bc we're using less. But I can't say for sure yet.
Weaver qs for EAB, referencing San Francisco regulations requiring NO fossil fuels for new construction; buildings have to be all electric. Has EAB discussed that?
Brant: All the modeling I've seen shows we need to electrify everything we can and then run electricity on renewables. I can't speak for the board, but I would support the city moving toward that.
Weaver: That's an issue EAB might want to look at. Equity and costs are big considerations.
Brant: I'll take that back to the board.
Yates to PRAB: Your comments on keeping parks clean is pretty timely since we're discussing that next week.

Parks and rec staff suggests bringing more cleaning in house. Has PRAB looked at that?
Seymour: We haven't but we could. But it's not regular cleanup: it's hazardous waste, needles, etc. "Depending on funding, it's definitely something we'd consider."
Yates came to council from PRAB, in case you forgot.
Planning Board went pretty hard on land use and housing policies, as well as the working environment for staff/board members.
Land use updates have been too slow, they wrote, and workplace morale continues to be an issue.
“Recent turnover in staff is evidence of a work environment that needs improvement. Supporting and appreciating staff should be prioritized.”
Every item in Planning Board's letter was equity or innovation themed.
“There is a lack of housing diversity under current market and regulatory conditions. Boulder must incentivize preservation and development of affordable and non-luxury housing ...
... , including smaller and medium-sized single- family homes, townhouses and duplexes, cottages for seniors, singles or couples, housing for multi-generational living, etc.”
"We need to do the hard work to confront and dismantle racism and other inequities, which are often codified at the local level. By identifying these codified inequities, we can begin to address them.”
Planning Board's specific suggestions were: notifications of land use changes should include renters, owners and biz, not just property owners

City should procure more goods and services from local, women and minority-owned biz and “disadvantaged” biz enterprises, they wrote
Harmon Zuckerman is presenting. "One negative that stands out ... is staff morale." (I think he's still reading from the letter, tho)
The Landmarks Board did a video instead of a letter!…
Surprisingly innovative from a board that's all about preserving the past.
Anyway, Landmarks wants to conduct a survey of mid-century homes in Boulder to create updated guidelines
I hope that someday in the distant future, we aren't landmarking all the giant faux-farmhouses popping up now.
Landmarks Board also really excited about the landmarking of the Teahouse this year, the city's first interior landmark.…
Lindsey Loberg is representing the Human Relations Commission, who was highly critical of the city's handling of homelessness.
Or, as HRC put it, Boulder's “anti-homeless sentiment (that) directs policy decisions away from basic human rights”
In a separate resolution in November, they suggested council establish an oversight board and investigate possible human rights violations related to homeless policies.
Councilman Mark Wallach did NOT like that and wrote a truly scathing response, reminiscent of some of his old opinion pieces in the Daily Camera. He compared HRC to Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists who believe that the election was rigged.
Back to HRC: They took issue with the inclusion of Safer Boulder's petition/recommendations in official city council presentations, when HAB/HRC's were left out.
“Consider​ putting in place transparency and accountability standards for groups whose platforms are elevated through City communications. It’s inappropriate that Safer Boulder, an anonymous interest group, was lifted up in City communications and held to no account ...
... when what appears to be their internal hate speech surfaced in public.”
HRC also wants Boulder to “Reconsider​ the camping ban. It is a human rights issue when not all people can access shelter and are also prevented from sheltering themselves.”
Loberg: "It's going to be unpopular when we find a lot of our policies ... (are) actually racially inequitable. What are we going to do about that in 2021?"
That's in reference to the city's racial equity work, which has already hit its first bump and a plan hasn't even been adopted yet.…
If council is going to rebuke any boards tonight, it will happen now.
Joseph starts first: "You mention racial equity is hard. I was wondering, what does that mean? I just wanted to hear your perspective on how is it hard, as a member of the board?"
Loberg: "It seems to be a thing that ostensibly everybody wants to do. The action steps and policy changes that are going to get us there are going to be really difficult for people to come to terms with and accept."
"I think they're really going to come up for you in housing, land use management and policing," Loberg says.
Joseph: "Your colleague in HAB mentioned how she's not heard. I think part of it is working within the constraints and regulations we have. ... It's so easy to draft a policy and proposal and send it to council."
"It's so crucial to work with these different bodies to come with a strategy that is ... that will get you closer to where you need to be," Joseph says.
This is something Young said at last week's council scheduling meeting, that she was "working with" HRC on its resolution to only bring forward things that were likely to be accepted by council.
I spoke with Loberg about this, who said she understands and accepts Young's guidance and advice. She also said HRC will also continue to fulfill its mission and recommend things that council may not like.
Joseph: I've seen HRC/HAB report on safe camping and tiny homes. Bring forward funding ideas with those.

"We have a council that is very progressive. Nonetheless, some council members are thinking about the cost as well."
No other council questions... hmmm. Council took it easy on the boards this year.
REMINDER: Applications for boards and commissions are open now.…
Learn more about them here:…
And attend a training on Jan. 18 about them:…
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More from @shayshinecastle

13 Jan
OK, gonna start a new thread for this one: A look at council's priorities, what's been achieved so far and what's coming up this year.
This will also include a look at Department work plans for 2021. Only 1 dept reported having capacity for additional work items: The municipal court.
Read 84 tweets
13 Jan
Next item: Checking in on changes to council appointments. Like subcommittees and things.
Here are those 2020 assignments:…
I don't really report much on these bc they're kinda boring.
Read 12 tweets
6 Jan
Another big issue (always) is traffic. Transportation study projects a 1,542 reduction in daily vehicle trips (91 more in the morning rush hour but 93 less in the evening rush hour; less throughout the day) when this changes from primarily retail.
Forgot to say the retail on-site will be a marketplace, a la Avanti or Rosetta Hall, called Marketplace @ 29th.

And there will be below-market commercial space
Staff is recommending that council approve the project, with conditions. Planning Board's conditions were: submission of more detailed plans related to outdoor lighting, paying for employee eco-passes, utilities, landscaping, shadow analysis, etc.
Read 146 tweets
6 Jan
OK, Macy's. This got moved from Dec. 1 bc not all the council members were here, and a tie vote may have meant a disapproval of the project (and potentially a lawsuit)…
A tie vote is definitely a possibility. Planning Board OK'd it 4-3.
Reminder on what's being proposed:
1900 28th Street
Adaptive reuse and redesign
11,746 sq ft addition plus outdoor space, landscaping and public amenities
Want to increase building height from 38 feet to 51 feet (two to three stories)
Read 15 tweets
6 Jan
This project went significantly over budget, mostly due to land costs. But apologies; I don't know the final numbers! It's been. along time since I reported on this.
Thanks to Wallach for asking cost info: $675 per sq ft, says Adam Goldstone. $20M in construction costs ... that doesn't include what the city paid for land, which I believe is what put them over budget.
Which was $9M (I wrote this for the Camera in 2018)…
Read 7 tweets
6 Jan
Lots of new (to me) names on open comment tonight. Generally a good sign. I like a little variety in public participation.…
Oh, it's more Boulder Rez people.
"Unless you live in a fantasy land, there will be intoxicated drivers" and deaths, says Roger Pioszak.

(The new restaurant/bar there has applied for a liquor license.)
Read 26 tweets

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