People of #Boulder. The time is now. Only one item* on tonight's city council agenda: A decision on the CU South annexation. Catch yourself up here:…

*There are more, but I'm only tweeting about annexation.
There have been a few last-minute changes. We'll go over those tonight.
Nothing earth-shattering, from what I can tell.
Getting started now. Buckle the eff up.
Yates and Joseph both recused; Nagle has watched last week's public hearing, she confirms (she was absent for that meeting).
Staff presentation. It explains some things about emergency vs. non-emergency vote.…
City attorney Sandra Llanes starting out by thanking all the lawyers who worked on this. It's, like, everyone at the city plus 3 consultants.
Llanes sharing the reasons council can vote things on emergency, which means they need 2/3 votes. The charter says emergencies include "preservation of the public peace, health or property."
"Staff's recommendation is that the annexation be approved on an emergency basis. There are compelling life-safety issues," Llanes says.
Since this is about flood mitigation.
Staff last week testified that it would give them more certainty to continue flood work, pursue permitting and spend $$ while residents are trying to undo the annexation via referendum (which they've already promised to do).
I think this is the first time I've reported on something that's already being threatened with a referendum. I know it happens elsewhere; I just haven't seen it here yet.
Erin Poe going over the recent changes:
- Paragraph 14.a. - has been amended to add language regarding the IGA for the study of existing conditions in the state natural area;

- Paragraph 14.c. - the first sentence has been amended and moved to Paragraph 14.a.;
- Paragraph 20. - an intent statement has been added to explain the parties’ commitment to development of 15-minute neighborhoods; and

- Paragraph 24.d. - clarification that access to use the roadways will be rule-based, not role-based.
Those are a really good way to see just how in the weeds we are here.
Young asking some qs now. They've already been answered, but she wants them answered publicly since not everyone follows the council Hotline email thing-y. (You can learn about that here:…
Anyway, Young's first q was: When/how are we doing warning systems for floods/evacuation?

Joe Taddeucci, utilities director: We do have emergency warning systems in place, in coordination with larger agencies.
Early warning systems and evacuations "are not a substitute for flood mitigation," Taddeucci says. "This has been studied by a few generations of staff on this project."
Staff going over the environmental assessments that might be needed as part of the flood mitigation permitting. There are two sensitive species on the site: Ute Ladies' Tresses orchids and the Preble's meadow jumping mouse. U.S. Fish & Wildlife will look at that.
One of about 12 agencies that need to sign off on the flood mitigation plan. Reminder: If that doesn't happen, annexation gets un-done, per the agreement.
Young asking again about why council abandoned the 500-yr storm design for a 100-yr. That was way back in February 2020:…
As I understood it, the project has to maintain the current water flows under the U.S. 36 bridge. The 500-yr design didn't; the 100-yr did, Taddeucci says.

Projected flows were "a foot deeper than baseline conditions."
Young asked, bc an unnamed constituent emailed her and said they tried to CORA documents to prove that. The city said they didn't have any, according to Young / the unnamed consitutent.
Taddeucci: We're finding it's even difficult to maintain that criteria under the 100-yr design, as design work becomes more detailed. So we feel even more strongly that the 500-yr is not feasible.
Staff in 2020 thought they might be able to mitigate those flow impacts, but that has not proven to be true, Taddeucci says.
"My own opinion, having done this work" my whole career "and looking at all the constraints as a package, I just do not see a way to bring the 500-yr project to something that is feasible. And I could not in good concious suggest that the city" spend more $$ in pursuing it."
Doesn't really address that CORA claim, except to say that there are graphs and flow charts and apparently many records.
Weaver q: Have we ever done a 500-yr flood protection?
No, Taddeucci says. Gives an example of another project on Gregory Creek. The best we can do there is a 10-yr flood design, he says.
I know we've been over the 100-yr vs. 500-yr before, but basically, the 500-yr is for a bigger storm, with a less-likely chance of occurring (but perhaps more likely with climate change).

I have notes somewhere about what types of flows we saw where in 2013....
Weaver q: If we pursue a more expensive flood mitigation project here, would that impact the city's ability to do flood protection elsewhere in the city?

Yes, Taddeucci says. We can technically raise water rates as much as we need to, but that's not v practical.
I'm wondering if tonight is literally going to be 3 hrs of council answering every question we've already answered over the past 3 years but that opponents are still asking, just to prove a point. Then vote for it anyway.
I found my flood notes!
Largest flood on record: 1894 (6 in rain; Boulder Creek 100-yr flood conditions; 1 death)
September 2013: 19 in rain over 8 days (5-100-yr flows depending on location)

100-yr flood: 2.4-2.7 inches per hour of rain
Also this
500-yr: 0.2% chance of occurring in any given year

100-yr floodplain: 1% of being equaled or exceeded in any given year.
Young bringing up that the Army Corps of Engineers might not approve a project design if there was another design available that would have less impact.

Taddeucci responding. Again, we've already done this when council changed the design plans in 2020.…
I do not want to go over 3 years of decisions that have already been discussed and decided. I really do not.
In fact, I freaking refuse.
Should clarify that my earlier tweet was about *council* proving a point, not opponents. Really what it feels like tonight. Council justifying all their choices over 3 years (and tonight's ultimate vote).
Taddeucci: Staff needs a decision and clear direction on this (annexation) so we can move forward with flood mitigation.
Young asking about condemnation (city trying to forcefully take over the land from CU) and the land swap. It's all the greatest hits!
Llanes: We did research and reached out to a condemnation expert to see if we'd be able to take the land from a state institution (CU). "We'd be on unknown legal ground. Because of that uncertainty, we didn't move forward."
Wallach: I thought it might be possible on the basis of life, health and safety.
Llanes: I wasn't privy to that analysis, but I'm sure that was an issue that was raised, particularly knowing the circumstance we're in.
Also not sure if condemnation could go forward when there's a deal on the table and CU is literally offering the land for free (in exchange for annexation).
Phil Kleisler taking the land swap q. The proposed swap is the Area Planning Reserve, north of Boulder. Lots of parks land, some owned by BoCo and some by BHP.…
Council did in fact study this, but because of how long it would take to annex this property, plus the complication of having parks dispose of land, council decided they weren't interested in a land swap. It would delay flood work.
Plus CU was never entirely on board; they hadn't studied the land and had no idea if it would work for another campus. It's so far away from the other campuses.
Swetlik: Could we still do a land swap if the north property is annexed and CU hasn't built anything on the southern land yet?

Kleisler: I suppose anything has potential.
Reminder: CU has yet to do a master plan for this campus. It could be 10-15 yrs away from buildout. We're still a few years away from flood mitigation being built, and if that doesn't happen, annexation doesn't either.
Kleisler on the land swap: "It's not something that seemed like a viable option in 2021. ... If the parties can agree to an arrangement, it's certainly a possibility." A lot of planning would be needed first.
Weaver directing that q to CU: Would you ever consider a land swap?

Patrick O'Rourke from CU: "We would really need to be talking about annexed parcels of property in order for this to be a comparable conversation."
Llanes on the parks disposal of the planning reserve: That would require the approval of the parks board and council, and we'd have to pay parks back for what they spent on the land. (If we were to swap with CU.)
Wallach: If council wanted to, could we speed up the annexation process of that planning reserve? (That's in a study phase right now, but it takes a few years, like everything in Boulder)
Kleisler: We probably could. We'd have to ask Boulder County, bc we've agreed to certain timelines and updates of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
Young q: How is it OK for Weaver and Friend to negotiate on CU South and not have those meetings be public? (Like committees have to be)

Llanes: They didn't have authority to make decisions or give direction on behalf of council.
This is similar to what was done with the Xcel settlement, which some folks also didn't like.

This was a contract negotiation, right? Young asks.
"I don't know of any situation where we had public contract negotiations," Llanes says.
Friend: There would be net-zero standards that would apply to a private developer, if CU sells the property (after 10 yrs, which it agreed to in the annexation).

Yes, Kleisler confirms. Boulder set to require all new buildings be net zero by 2030.…
Swetlik asking about the possibility that CU could annex into Louisville or Superior instead. That's per an agreement with neighboring cities that expires in 2030.

But an extension or re-negotiation is likely, Kleisler says.
"It would depend on the parties and what is happening in several years from now," Kleisler says. "I would point to the history of Boulder County. They've provided a lot of leadership" in agreements like this. "They're pretty good at it. Our relationship is strong."
This really IS a greatest hits of CU South. Taking me back.
You'll notice I'm tweeting, despite my objections. Two followers guilted me into it.
Wallach: How often do we pass things on emergency?
Llanes: "It's something we do with definite frequency. I wouldn't be surprised if it's double digits."

An example of a recent emergency vote: Boulder's tent ban.…
Wallach: How legally defensible is an emergency vote?
Llanes: Most likely the judge will defer to the legislative body of the city, and the charter text on emergency votes. It's a relatively low bar.
"The threshold question should be whether there's a public safety/health issue," Llanes says.
If the measure is allowed to move forward and address the emergency bc of procedural considerations, that could be defensible, too, Llanes says. But the real consideration should be public health/safety.
Llanes answering Wallach's qs about disposal — since some of this land is Open Space, the Open Space Board of Trustees has to OK disposing that land. That decision is *also* subject to a referendum (a citizen petition to overturn a gov't decision or law).
However, it seems de-annexation might *not* occur if land is not disposed. That's bc disposal is in the city's control, Llanes says.
Friend: If we pass by emergency, does that somehow limit the ability for citizens to referendum this decision?
"Absolutely not," Llanes says. References Mayor Weaver's lovely graphic.
Citizens would be able to exercise their right to vote in either situation, Llanes says.
Young: Can you explain why this annexation isn't subject to a general election, when the Xcel settlement was?

Llanes: Annexations are legislative decisions, per our charter. Voters were asked to change that, but that measure failed.
A franchise IS required to go to a vote. That's what the Xcel vote was.
That was 2006, Young says. It failed 60% to 40%.

Weaver: "So the voters had an opportunity. It's not in our charter because people did vote on that."
Weaver: This council has passed 17 measures by emergency, including
- Tent ban
- E-scooter fees
- Dockless bike share
- Scooter moratorium
Which totally begs the question: Why are so many things emergencies in Boulder? I think the OZ moratorium was an emergency, too.
But that's a question I've been asking long before now.
If you were cool with an emergency vote for e-scooters, but not this... you might want to think about that.
Weaver: There are many opportunities for democracy and the public process. There's the 302 measure on ballots now; opponents have already promised a referendum on annexation. There's the disposal vote, also subject to a referendum.
And apparently the flood mitigation design could change as a part of those referenda...? Wallach asks.

Taddeucci: "I suppose" it could change. We've spent many years arriving at this design.
Weaver: If a referendum overturns disposal of open space land, couldn't we also scale back the flood mitigation project?

Taddeucci: "It's a wide, flat valley." Any flood mitigation would have to "span" the property between two high points: 36 and the west edge of the land.
Taddeucci: "We may have to revisit the master plan process and maybe start from scratch."
Reminder: The South Boulder Creek master plan process ID'd this area as the most effective/best for flood mitigation. That process wrapped (council OK'd) in 2015.
I have given the best years of my life to this issue.
I am now old and graying, and I know who to blame.
Yay! 5-min break!
Weaver kicking off discussion and (eventually) deliberation with "some history."
Weaver: This land was ID'd as a desirable annexation in the 1977 Boulder Valley Comp Plan — 45 years.
Then a gravel mining co. bought it. Then, in 1996, CU bought it. There's bad blood around that, Weaver says, but we need to move on.
"But all of that history is old. We must move on from the history dominating the conversation. We have to take it for what it is: A piece of land, owned by the university and in which we have interest for flood mitigation," Weaver says.
Weaver: 12 years ago, Boulder started studying where would be the best place for flood protection. That was decided in 2015, six years ago.
We all saw what a 100-yr flood looked like in 2013, Weaver says. We are in a climate emergency, "which magnifies the risk" of floods, and Boulder already has the highest risk for floods in the state.
Weaver: "Our responsibility as council, obvs our highest priority is protecting life and property. ... Had this project been in place in 2013, all those waters would have been contained. U.S. 36 would have remained open."
"There will be bigger events," Weaver says. "But 100-yr project will have many positive impacts. It will keep U.S. 36 open for longer; it will allow for more warning; it will allow more time to evacuate people."
Weaver: "The annexation of this property is the most clear and timely pathway to this protection. ... We need land for flood detention," but we also need land and water rights to restore habitat to its former wetland status, and as a mitigation bank.
This annexation is a "fair exchange," Weaver says. "And it's reversible" if our half of the deal (flood mitigation) doesn't come through.

"That is quite fair."
Stuff could still be built here if we don't annex, Weaver says: A large solar farm. 10 mansions. And Boulder wouldn't have any say.
Weaver: "The university has essentially given up 60% of this land to be either fields, undeveloped or used in our flood project." Only 40% is being built on, and they're building housing for students/staff/faculty, something Boulder has long asked for.
Weaver: "We have to act now. The peace, health and property of at least 2,600 people ... depend on us getting our flood protection in place. Idk how we could possibly do that without this annexation."
Weaver supports passing this on emergency bc "it doesn't disenfranchise voters in any way. It doesn't change timelines; it doesn't change outcomes."
That was the longest speech we've had from Weaver in a while.

Wallach promises to be briefer. We'll see.
Wallach: If you think flood mitigation is important, there's no option to achieve that but through annexation. If you don't, then it's perfectly reasonable to oppose annexation.

He does think flood protection is critical, so he supports annexation.
Is it perfect? Wallach says. No. It's a contract between two parties. You're never going to get everything you want unless the other party "is drunk and has no lawyer."
"Support for this annexation is where I thought the evidence led me," Wallach says, though it was a close call. If you don't like it, you can vote on the ballot measure and for city council candidates in the fall.

Wallach the only incumbent up for re-election, of course.
Young: "(Mayor Weaver) talked about is it fair? The question I asked myself is, is it just?"
The area downstream likely should never have been developed, Young says. Yet it was, because of a mapping area (it wasn't ID'd as being in a floodplain; that's since been fixed).

"We inadvertently put people in harm's way. They are in a high hazard zone."
The 2013 flood was "devastating," Young says. There were "mountains worth" of debris. "It's clearly to me an emergency." It will "provide some assurance" that we're moving forward with permits and "some measure of comfort."
"This annexation agreement is only for that reason," Young says. All the other benefits are icing on the cake. It's been a v collaborative process; everything was run by the full council and the community.
Friend supporting, obvs. Primarily for flood protection. 1/3 of ppl who will be protected are in affordable housing, including many formerly unhoused. Many downstream residents are older as well; some have passed away in the last 8 years.
"Some of them spent their last years advocating for this," Friend says.
Brockett: Flood protection is why we are doing this project. It is critical. "We've spent over a decade v carefully working through all the alternatives. We have arrived at this through v careful consideration."
We are not subverting democracy, Brockett says. The right of referendum still exists. Will support this on emergency, which the charter defines as preservation of public peace, health and property.

"There's every case for passing this by emergency."
So that's 5 for a yes to annexation on emergency, which is all they need tonight, given the 7 members present.
"This has been a struggle" to arrive at a decision, Swetlik says. "There are a lot of benefits to this agreement. There were countless hours dedicated to this."
Now addressing CU. "I've learned a lot about the city, about CU, but really about institutions."

Sounds like someone has been radicalized. Fight the power, Adam!
Asks CU to "look into a possible land swap with the other property, if that is indeed something that you would be agreeable to. I just fundamentally disagree with building next to a property that is going to be used for flood mitigation.'
Swetlik will also support. "This was a close decision, bc my idealism for what would be beneficial to the community has butted up against the reality of what we need. The health and safety won out."
Nagle: "I don't have much to say other than I appreciate all the time and effort that have gone into this. I do appreciate all the community's feedback. The countless hours... it prob does go unseen by many. We do appreciate it."
"I will not be supporting this tonight," Nagle says, "for my own reasons. A lot of it is values-based. This does not hit my ideals or values to the point where I can support this."
I know the value of life and property better than most as a volunteer firefighter, Nagle says. But this does not meet my values.
6-1 vote in favor of annexation, passed on emergency measure.
Jumped the gun a little bit, but that's happening now.
It will be true in about 30 seconds.
NOW annexation is approved 6-1 on an emergency measure.
Lots of back-slapping now. Nothing I need to tweet.
Except gratitude to the community from Mayor Weaver. "Your input shaped this project more than you could ever know. Now we need to look forward."
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More from @shayshinecastle

22 Sep
One item before CU South is about adding bus stops and a multi-use path along East Arapahoe. You can learn more here:…
As Brockett reminds us, Boulder got a lot of federal $$ for this, via DRCOG (Denver Regional Council of Governments) so yay!
This was a council call-up, but they ain't calling it up. So that's that for that.
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We'll be getting to our city attorney search update after a couple of declarations. Here's the staff presentation. Looks like we'll have a city attorney by Oct. 12.…
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A reminder that council reopened this search after we only got 12 applicants the first time, and they weren't impressed with the two finalists.…
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Well, we've arrived #Boulder. Tonight is the public hearing for the CU South annexation.

Oh, and a quick update on the city attorney search. Stay tuned. Coming to you soon.
A reminder that the vote is not tonight. That's next week.
But we will get some info from staff and CU, as is usual for annexations.

You can catch yourself up here:…
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10 Sep
Next up: Discussion of COVID biz recovery from the city regulation perspective, which mostly includes outdoor dining.

Staff presentation:…
I only have a few notes on this, bc the packet item on this was as dense as a pound cake.
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10 Sep
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This is like my fourth one I'm covering and the only notable difference is that so much stuff from the last one got done last year at the state level.
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Quick (or maybe not) call-up item for an older adult affordable housing community by BHP.

3485 Stanford Ct (Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church)
60 apartments for older adults
- 56 one-bedroom
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Slight height variance being requested, as well as a reduction in bike parking.

Planning Board OK’d 5-0
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