Shay Castle Profile picture
Feb 16 114 tweets 15 min read
Now something that matters: ARPA spending.

We've got about $16M left to allocate. Here's what staff is proposing:…
Or this, if you want just the info without all the extra story. Some more detail in here, too.…
What is ARPA? The American Rescue Plan Act. It's COVID $$ from the feds. Boulder is getting about $20M; half in July 2021 and the rest in July 2022.
The $$ can only be spent on certain things related to COVID recovery. But that's super broad, from small biz stuff to recouping lost city staff and even, as we'll hear, direct cash assistance to low-income folks.
What we've allocated so far:
Sorry it's so small.
- $868,800 for restoring city services
- $88,400 for internet access at BHP
- $420K for small biz / economic recovery (including outdoor dining, tourism, arts support, etc.)
- $200K for direct human services stuff (rental assistance, childcare, etc.)
- $200K to support hybrid work at the city
- $1M in reserves for public health stuff, like incentivizing city staff to get vaccinated ($250 each for $350K total) and bulk mask purchases for downtown biz ($75K)
Here's the second set of recommendations
We're gonna dive into most of these. Here are my notes:

$500,000 for
- Direct financial assistance
- Emergency food assistance
- Childcare
- Transportation assistance
- Digital divide assistance
$620,000 for
- Small biz programming, grants
- Outdoor dining pilot
- Tourism promotion
- Workforce training

$191,000 for
- emergency response connectors = Community connectors program, specifically around COVID and public health
“The direct purpose of the ERC program is to ensure underrepresented community members in Boulder (e.g., Latinx, Nepali, low-income) experience response and recovery activities. Data suggests that most unrepresented communities experienced, and continue to experience ...
... disproportionate impacts due to COVID.”

This will pay for a part-time, fixed-term employee to oversee the program
$250,00 for
- guaranteed income pilot program (story linked above)
Staff recommending up to $2.75M be set aside for the whole life of the pilot project
$1.5M for
- Homeless Solutions: Building Home which is“daytime programming, peer support services, and in-home wellness services aimed at improving housing retention and building community within the cohort of people ready to be housed or recently housed."
This is a proposal that council will likely talk about tonight at some point. In a previous meeting, some CC members asked why we'd be doing day services for housed folks when there's nothing / nowhere for folks living outside.
Staff said this wouldn't be a centralized location, as some have advocated for in recent years so ppl living outside have somewhere to go. They would be offered at the Shelter and/or where ppl were recently housed.
Things like “structured daytime programming” (and) “tenant-related education (understanding leases, how to take care of a home, cooking, etc.) and a venue for job assistance (resume writing, computer searches, etc.)”

That would also allow for coordinated case management service
(Something else folks have been arguing folks that live outside need. Coordinated case management, in one place, can get ppl into services/housing faster.)
Anyway, back to the list
$50,000 for
- Fiber / Smart Cities Phase 2: Design work for fiber broadband buildout
Potential opportunity to leverage additional fed infrastructure $$ if design is complete by the time that funding is available
$100,000 to update economic sustainability strategy
“to better reflect the economic conditions the community faces coming out of the pandemic, strengthen economic resilience and help prepare for the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Update” in 2025

Last updated in 2013
$915,000 for arts workforce grants
That could include “a hiring incentive for nonprofits to employ Boulder-area visual, performing, and literary artists to perform or create new work. (and) an enhancement grant for recipients of operating support to rehire of arts administration positions that were eliminated.”
$300,000 to reestablish arts and culture programs
City arts dept will hire economic staff position
“Neighborhood art commissions will create social practice art projects for one year”
Second round of COVID 19 Work Projects
And that's all for this round. Now we're gonna get details about some proposals. Firstly: Guaranteed income.

There are currently 15 cities doing guaranteed income, where cities/orgs just give $$ to lower-earning folks.
60 more plan to launch similar programs this year, says Elizabeth Crowe. Louisville, KY, just did one:…
Given the amount, it would likely be v small. (Louisville's is 150 ppl).

Staff intentionally don't have details yet, Crowe says. The initial amount they're asking for is to set up a team and determine those.
Also TBD is how much $$ is given out each month. It could be $500 for 6 months.

"There's a lot of best practices already in development," Crowe says.
This could be up and running by the end of 2022, Crowe says.
Council will ask some qs later. Now we're moving back to something I mentioned earlier: Day programs/services for newly housed or soon-to-be-housed folks.
This helps folks stay housed. That's the thing about Permanent Supportive Housing: It's services + housing.

The county and city have said in the past that there is about an 80% retention rate when it comes to housing folks.
Unclear if that figure is still accurate.
Kurt Firnhaber: Many of the buildings where folks have been placed have community spaces. Using those for services will cost less and be easier for folks to access.
Again, council questions later. I anticipate many on this one. And there's a whole discussion scheduled later tonight on homelessness and 2022 priorities.
Next deep dive: The suggested $1.2M for arts

Arts were particularly hard hit by the pandemic, according to staff. Job loss undid decade of growth in the industry, a CSU study found. And there are a lot of "creative industry" folks in Boulder: About 10% of employees
The first proposal for $915K would give hiring incentives to nonprofits and other orgs to fill jobs lost during COVID.
$300,000 would be used for art itself, like a second round of Work Projects, creation of some interactive, resilience-themed installations, etc.…
Benjamin: I only see about $600K for biz support. Is that enough? We need to jumpstart it this year.
Mark Woulf: That's new spending, in addition to what we already allocated.

Yvette Bowden: "The last thing we want to do is put the brakes on a recovery economy. But our economy is complex, and there's a lot of things that need $$."
Most of this discussion is centering around outdoor dining, which the city is going to keep doing for a little bit

Outdoor dining expires April 30, 2022
Pilot would be seasonal (May 1 - Oct. 31) for 5 years (2022-2026) 9th to 20th Streets along Pearl between Walnut, Spruce
(A pending Pearl Street mall refresh may also eventually include extension of walking mall to West End)

City would need to “bulk purchase … modular parklet infrastructure to be placed in the public right of way"
Biz would pay an annual fee for right to put furniture in the right-of-way ($26-$38/sq ft)
Dependent on amount of city subsidy: $266,000 - $532,000
$38/sq ft would recoup all city costs over 5-yr pilot
$26/sq ft would not recoup any city costs, except ongoing costs
Biz could pay for approved infrastructure themselves, but would cost more and they would need to find their own solutions for storage

You may be asking: Why do we need to spend anything? Why can't biz just do what they're already doing?

Well, there are some issues.
Long-term, there is a need to maintain 10’ travel lane and have barriers that are crash-proof, and also need to consider weather / water flow and curb heights

Right-of-way needs maintained for ADA access

Umbrellas, coverings must be flight-proof and not impede view of other biz
Moving on: Wallach has questions about guaranteed income. Why don't we have more info on this? Why is it a preferable outcome to give $500/month to 152 people, instead of giving the $$ to orgs that help these populations?
"The request itself seems to include the conclusion that this is a program we want to enter into," Wallach says. "Idk that we can justifiably assume that conclusion."
Woulf: "It was not our intention for council to feel like you're supporting the creation of a guaranteed income program tonight." We're just trying to bring you info before you put $$ toward it.
"Are we sure that's something that requires a quarter-million $$ in consultant fees?" Wallach asks. We have a "highly talented staff" who can research what other cities are doing and "tell us how great it is."
Crowe: "We struggled with how much detail to provide at this point when so many other cities have engaged in this, and some pilots are complete. There's a lot of data and great examples."
"Many other cities" similar to Boulder "have made allocations from ARPA around $3M for a pilot," Crowe says. We provided a reasonable amount for council to consider.
Crowe: We don't know what the startup costs will be of hiring a coordinator, setting up a task force and hiring a researcher (potentially). It may be less than $250K.
"We wouldn't be replacing the financial assistance that we already provide to a number of different nonprofits," Crowe says. "All that stays. This would be value added onto that."
Wallach: The only issue is, should they get more? Is this a better use of $$ than giving EFAA more money? Or BHP more money?
Folkerts: "I'm struggling a little bit with understanding how many people... are being assisted vs. the overhead costs associated with creating a new program or service."
EFAA has done some guaranteed income work in the past. With phenomenal results. They've actually (gently) advocated for direct cash assistance to families:…
So Wallach / Folkerts points may be: Why hire someone to give $$ out? Why not have existing orgs do guaranteed income WITH the city's $$?

(But we'll have to hear more from them to know if that's their issue or direct cash transfer itself is)
Benajmin: The philosophical nature I'm struggling with is the timing. "We really pushed on transformational stuff. But we're missing some of that expeditiousness to have immediate impact now. How many more biz are we going to lose and in hindsight we held onto $$ too long."
I worry the same way we held onto reserves and lost staff... now we're dealing with the fallout of staff shortages, Benjamin says. Why aren't we moving more quickly to get $$ to people who need it?
Woulf: We've ID'd $1.1-$1.2M to support continued recovery. Those are the more immediate needs.
Woulf: We're also waiting for that other $10M that we don't have yet. And some of our issues may be better tackled by working with the county and combining efforts. That takes time.
The county has more than $60M in ARPA coming.

"We want to make sure our dollars are not duplicative," Woulf says.
Moving on to the third round of recommendations, for when we get that other $10M. These are more vague bc we have more time to plan for it; details will come later.
Up to $2.5M to strengthen behavioral health services
“Support professional mental health staff hiring and retention incentives and related capacity-building service”

Up to $50,000 for digital divide work
Solutions needed until fiber network is built out
Up to $1.5M for childcare
Provide training, resources to at-home childcare biz
Possible $$ to low-income families for childcare
Increase capacity at existing childcare biz

Up to $2.75M for guaranteed income, as already discussed
Up to $4M for San Lazaro mobile home park annexation
Will provide water, wastewater services
$1M for water connections, $2M for wastewater and $1M in fees
Typically paid by property owner
May not be eligible for ARPA w/o county help bc it’s technically not in the city
Up to $1.5M to support mobile home communities
Ponderosa Second Mortgage program, to help lower costs of replacing older mobile homes with new, fixed-foundation homes from Habitat
Up to $1.2M for economic recovery
Could help pay for training required for many jobs (CDL, CPR, de-escalation, etc)
Could help pay for / create space for commercial kitchens, labs, research
These proposals go a bit over the $$ Boulder will actually get, but again, this is just the idea stage.
For childcare and mental health, a big focus on trying to hire. Those industries (like most) suffering from staffing shortages.
"We want our ARPA investments to address the needs of the industry and residents," Crowe says. "Here, the need is urgent."
RE: The San Lazaro annexation, Woulf says "We're not suggesting the use of ARPA $$ yet. We're just saying they *could* be used there."
This seems like an odd one unless you consider how terrible mobile home park infrastructure is. Many of them are on private water and sewer systems that have not been updated in decades.
They are held by private owners who either lack the $$ to invest in fixing things, or who will pay for it but then jack the rents WAY up — v problematic when you consider that mobile home parks house our lowest-income folks (and disproportionately elderly and/or Latinx).
Two populations that were hard-hit by the pandemic, of course. I also believe water infrastructure is covered by ARPA. And it's wicked expensive, so this may be a good opportunity to fund that.…
Wallach: Wouldn't upcoming infrastructure $$ be more appropriate for San Lazaro?
Woulf: "There definitely are opportunities there."
Folkerts, touching back on day services for the newly housed: Why didn't you bring back a proposal for day shelter? "That's not quite the same" as what council said they wanted. (Or a majority of them).
Firnhaber: We don't quite understand what the scope of that will be. We've been working on these proposals since July. We looked at the resources we had. A building for day shelter is $5-$6M.
Moving on from council *questions* to feedback.

Winer up first: "In 2021, things were one way. Now in 2022, things are another way. There's no way you would have known about a pandemic, a labor shortage, a supply chain shortage, inflation, etc..."
"I've never seen so much instability," Winer says. "What is going on now with small biz community is an emergency. We'd like to save the businesses so they're still here."
"Is this a time for innovation when we just need to get through to the end of 2022?" Winer asks.

Her point is largely related to outdoor dining. Just keep doing what we're doing, seems to be the argument.
Wallach: "I'm quite shocked that in all of these proposals, I do not detect any that are intended to enhance community resilience against climate change."

These are COVID dollars, Mark. They can only be used for COVID recovery or resilience.
The Sigh-O-Meter is at 5.5 right now, btw.
Wallach regarding guaranteed income: Move those back to next year's spending, so we have time to get more info about it.

"I'd be happy to allocate those funds to EFAA, Community Foundation, BHP," he says. They could leverage that $$ and turn it into much more.
"I don't see as much leverage in the guaranteed income part of this as I would like," Wallach says.
Wallach: "I'd be more than happy to strengthen the behavioral health safety net" more than we're doing. "Does every child in Boulder have a home computer? Does every family have a home computer? If not, I'd be happy to spend on that."
"I'm not saying I can't ever support guaranteed income, but I don't have anywhere near the data I'd need to do that," Wallach says. To spend $3M seems premature "when it might not be the right program for us."
Yates on outdoor dining: "My sense is the allocation is too little or too much. I'm not sure which."
"I'd like to use ARPA funding to truly subsidize outdoor dining" and not make the biz pay *any* fees to the city, Yates says. Otherwise we're just paying ourselves.
"I think we're under-funding our business recovery," Yates says. "Time is of the essence. We have a lot of biz on the cusp of failing."
Wants to support hospitality industry more, which employs our lowest-paid workers. They will unfortunately be the recipients of guaranteed income, and that's not what we want. We want them earning wages and being successful.
Not against guaranteed income, but against spending $250K planning how to do it.

ARPA is the American *rescue* plan. "It's not rescue" if they're not getting $$ until 2023, Yates says. Let's dispense those funds more quickly.
Also concerns about this becoming a long-term welfare program, which is typically the purview of counties and states.
Benjamin on outdoor dining: "I'd like us to allocate perhaps more than we need" bc that's better than the alternative. If we have extra $$, we can move it somewhere else.
Agrees with more spending on biz recovery. We need folks coming to CO to come to Boulder first, he says.
Also proposes a voucher program for Community Cycles to buy bikes / parts or whatever. (He went through it quickly so I didn't catch details)
Brockett also wants more biz support, sooner.

"In addition to assisting biz themselves, I think the employees need that help as well," he says. This could save jobs.
Really glad to see childcare support on the list, Brockett says. So many people can't work bc of childcare cost and availability. That feeds into worker shortages.
Brockett: Supporting people in housing is great, but we also need to support people who aren't housed yet. "I want to make sure we don't 100% allocate funds in this area to folks who already have housing."
Speer: "I really really love this idea" of a guaranteed income program. But thinks existing orgs could launch this with less effort / money. The city might not need to reinvent this.
"If there are other groups that would be able to take the $$ and run with it, I'd be so supportive of that," Speer says. "If that doesn't exist, by all means keep investigating."
Friend also supportive of that program.
Friend: "We have a huge budget, and this is in some ways a drop in that bucket. ... I don't consider this to be the end-all repository for how our values are going to be reflected in how we spend our money.

"We don't have to try and accomplish all our goals through this."
Folkerts: "I think you've done a good job focusing on the people who have been hardest-hit by COVID in our community. The more we can partner with groups in our community who are already doing this work, I think we should do that."
$$ for arts, childcare, etc. "while they might not directly support businesses ... we need the ppl who work here and are here everyday to have the means to go out to restaurants and all that," Folkerts says.
Winer to staff: "I am looking forward to hearing more about" guaranteed income. "I just don't feel like I know enough. ... Is it worth the $$ when we have so many other needs?"
Loves the arts support, thanks staff for all their work.
Joseph: I think guaranteed income is a good idea. $250K is a lot of $$ to put toward figuring it out, "but it's really good to think about people who are struggling right now and giving them extra funding to help them."
It's occurring to me now that maybe most council members *didn't* receive federal stimulus checks bc they earned too much.

I loved my stimmies. They helped me so much! When you're poor, you
NRV: "When we started this work, there was more of a direction to focus on *people* specifically." This convo doesn't necessarily change that, but it does help give more direction.
"Staff really tried to balance how we support people and industry," NRV says.
"It will take us more than March 15 to come back to you" with recommendations, NRV says. (That was the original timeline)
Firnhaber: Last fall, we listened to community members a lot. Particularly those who were impacted by COVID. That's where these proposals came from.
RE: guaranteed income, we could put together a study session in 3-4 months, Firnhaber says. "There's been a lot of work done on this" in other places.
Woulf: We were planning on appropriating this $$ on March 15, but this feedback may change that.

Speer: If we can pull out proposals that can be funded quickly, where there's more agreement, let's do that. There is some urgency here.
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More from @shayshinecastle

Feb 16
Next: A discussion on what, exactly, the city's homelessness priorities are for 2022.

Friend requested this to clarify any confusion.
"We had different understandings of what we had greenlit for the workplan," Friend says.

You can view their Official work plan here:…
The confusion seems to be over hiring a facilitator of some sort... or possibly day shelter? I'm confused about the confusion.
Read 13 tweets
Feb 16
Next up: A (probably quick) discussion about the CU South referendum. That is, the vote to overturn annexation. A successful petition means that all the voters get to weigh in on that.…
Council has a couple options here. They can:
- Overturn the annexation themselves (not gonna happen)
- Schedule a special election for this (also not likely)
- Schedule a vote at the next regular election in November
Why no special election for this (probably)? Bc they cost more than just putting a question on the regular ballot, and turnout is WAY lower. Bad for democracy.

I'm sure there are Pros to this Pros/Cons list, but it's hard to think of one.
Read 13 tweets
Feb 16
Now and later, we're gonna talk a little about the Ball Aerospace expansion. It's going through site review right now, so council gets a crack at it.
I'm not particularly interested in this, but here's a staff presentation if you are.…
Here are my scant notes:
The site: 1600 Commerce St + 5001 Arapahoe Ave
26.67 acre campus

The project: 309,000 sq ft addition
- Two new administrative building
- New parking garage structure
- Pedestrian bridge

Asking for:
- 16.5% parking reduction
- Height mod (up to 55 ft)
Read 10 tweets
Feb 9
Next up: Gun control legislation that #Boulder (and I think other area municipalities) are considering.

Staff presentation:…
This is a redo of the city's 2018 ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines that was undone by the courts in March 2021. Now a new state law allows local control.
In addition to that redo, they're proposing a bunch of new stuff, including:
- Raising the age limit for purchasing firearms from 18 to 21
- Instituting a 10-day waiting period for purchases
- Disallowing open carry
- Disallowing concealed carry in "sensitive" areas
Read 56 tweets
Feb 9
Library district is up first. Tonight, council will be hearing recommendations from the advisory committee they put together last year.…
What is a library district? It's a self-governing entity that runs libraries. They're quite common: Colorado has 57.
Read 136 tweets
Feb 9
It's a Tuesday. I'm in #Boulder. You know what that means... city council meeting thread time.
I know I previewed that council would talk about its plans for ARPA $$, including a guaranteed income program, but they moved that to next week.

Tonight we've got: Gun control and library district.…
It has not been a great mental health day for me, so I'm not sure how coherent my tweets will be. And tbh, I may give up altogether if I need to. But we'll see.
Read 4 tweets

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