Shay Castle Profile picture
Feb 10, 2023 101 tweets 13 min read Read on X
Next up: Boulder's state lobbying agenda. This is a public hearing, and given that the 2 main changes are around land use/ housing, I might expect some Thoughts™ from folks.

Read more about those here:…
Basically, for the first time, Boulder is really beefing up its position regarding housing density, saying it will support state legislation that, among other things
- Requires minimum density along transit corridors
- Reduces parking minimums
- Removes barriers to ADUs and MF
ADUs = accessory dwelling units
MF = multi-family. Actually referred to as "mutliplexes" in the text. It means duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, etc. — anything that's not a single-family home
To be clear, Boulder is not doing these things themselves. They're just stating their intent to support any state legislation that will do these things. And a few bills related to these things are planned, according to lobbyists.
That's a big deal, bc in the past, Boulder has always been about local control. But, as the text notes, we have a housing crisis, and we need regional action.
"The General Assembly is expected to consider a series of bills over multiple sessions that would result in the state assuming some level of authority or oversight on zoning and land use matters currently under the exclusive control of local governments. "
Adam Eichberg, one of the city's lobbyists, going over bills Boulder is watching/working on, including lots of gun reform, EV rebates, rent control, etc.
Will Coyne, another lobbyist, explaining the rent control bill: It would allow local gov't to do that. "Obviously with historically large Democratic majorities in both chambers, it has a chance at moving, but it will have tremendous opposition ...
... realtors and more conservative factions." But progressives have more power than at any point in decades, so it has its best shot of passing this year, Coyne says.
Speer: Will the EV rebates include e-bikes or e-scooters?
Yes to bikes, Eichberg says. They're working on how to make those available at point of sale. No discussion of scooters.
Benjamin: There's a bill about letting employers contribute to down payment assistance programs. Have you heard of that? Is it real?
Eichberg: I have not heard anything in that space, and "there's a lot of convo around affordable housing and renters rights" right now.
Coyne: "With 600 bills and all the related ideas around it, we can find out. We can figure out whether that's a real thing and let you know."

Benjamin: I ask bc of Boulder's own proposed down payment assistance program.
City's in-house lobbyist (Eichberg and Coyne are contracted) Carl Castillo going over Boulder's policy position statement: It's basically what we want to achieve, which we then use to support or oppose specific bills.
Castillo: "If the city wants to be a player and have an impact at the capitol, we need to be able to respond quickly." Toward the ends of sessions, things can be proposed and pass in 3 days. That doesn't work with council's schedule.
Going over Boulder's position on rent control: We're for it. We support overturning the state's ban on local rent control. So Boulder is supporting that bill this year, and Folkerts will be testifying about it in committee next Thursday.
RE: the land use stuff we were talking about earlier: "This is perhaps the most important priority for the governor," Castillo says, and we expect his administration will go forward "with full force."
"The notion of conceding local control is usually anathema to cities," Castillo says. "By and large, that is the policy principle that we have. That being the case, it's important to know, this council in particular" is interested in ceding control on bigger issues that need....
... larger cooperation. For example, Castillo says, we've deferred to the state on energy codes. We want to reduce greenhouse gases, and we need other cities to come along with us.
"It doesn't guarantee a blank check to support state bills," Castillo says. "It gives them as examples."

It's "conceptually in support of these, with qualifications" and of course subject to the actual details of the bills themselves.
"I think we would be the first city" to conceptually support these things, Castillo says, which I think is a big public statement.

We should do this, he says, bc right now "municipalities, local gov't are not at the table."
BUT it's important to remember that "one size may not fit all, and that's clearly the case with zoning," Castillo says, going over the pros and cons. And it might be difficult to translate council's position to specific bills.
"Frankly, there's enough division over this that I've seen early on" that it might not result in a coherent position, Castillo says.

Lastly, once you cede local control, it's ceded — no matter who is in the legislature.
Honestly worth checking out the full text of the position, which you can see on slide 5 of this presentation (and slides 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11)…
Second recommended, related change: Boulder has long opposed any bills that would outlaw local camping bans.

The proposal is to change that position to qualify it: Boulder *would* support allowing camping bans in cities that provide a minimum level of service.
Basically, our camping ban is OK bc we're providing services, but places that don't provide any services shouldn't be allowed to ban camping.

And by camping, we really mean people living outside. And the ban really means, can we ticket and jail people for it?
This is all academic: There is no expected state action on this issue.
But, Castillo says, it could send a powerful statement to other cities that they should be providing services.
On the other hand, how would we define "minimum services?" Boulder, for instance, despite its many services, doesn't actually have enough emergency beds for all the unhoused folks who live here.

So it really depends on how you define it.
Castillo: "With these two positions, I can already tell there is enough division in the community" that I would bring any proposed bill to the Intergovernmental Affairs Committee to ask what our position should be.
Yates: What happens when you have a 6-3 or 5-4 split on council, but none of the members of the majority are on that committee? How do you check in with those folks? How have you done that in the past?
Castillo: It's v rare that we've amended the policy statement to have less than unanimous, or less than 8-1 agreement. So I can't say how I've done that in the past.
Castillo: "My tendency, if there was any doubt, would be to" take a neutral position.

So even if a majority of elected officials in Boulder want something, the city will likely not take that position.
Friend: We had a diversity of viewpoints on that committee until about a month ago, when we "spun the wheel" on assignments.

Idk who is on it, actually. Let me find out.
Speer: Didn't I hear you say that you'd come to council when you're unsure on taking a position? That it wouldn't be the committee making the call?
Correct, Castillo says. But if we bring it to the full council, we probably won't end up taking a position, bc it will already have happened.
Speer: I just want to be crystal clear that the changes we are proposing will NOT impact our city's camping ban.

Castillo: It would make absolutely no sense for the city that is maybe No. 1 in terms of services per capita to not meet the definition of minimum services.
Friend: So we're not set in stone by saying we'd support something like this?

Castillo: Correct.
Reminder: This is all theoretical. There are no state bills planned about camping bans or homeless services requirements.
Benjamin: I think I'm hearing that when we support legislation, we have more say in shaping it. Is that accurate?
Castillo: When we support, we're on the inner team. We work on the bill. "When one believes a bill is going to pass anyway, it becomes tactically in your interest to .... indicate to the sponsors that you could eventually be of help to them."
Winer: "I don't feel part of the inner team of the intergovernmental agency. ... I want to talk about whether we think it's fair for that committee to not have one particular view on it, and whether we should work to change it."
Without that one side, or third side, "you've already made a lot of decisions without us," Winer says.
Friend: "You can have my spot, Tara. We can all say thumbs up and missioned accomplished."
NRV: There is a process for committee assignments.
Sandra Llanes, city attorney: And this ain't it.

That's a paraphrase. She actually said we need to "take a step back."
God, democracy is messy. Get a majority, and all the sudden you need unanimity.

There were issues with the lobbying agenda last year, even with a "diversity of views" on this committee.
I've been watching the lobbying agenda for... 6(?) years now, and it's only been an issue the last two — once the progressives got a majority.

Of course, that could be bc Boulder didn't pursue substantive changes to its policy statement in that time.
Moving to our public hearing. Just a reminder, all of these changes are what Boulder *might* support at the state level... not changes we're actually making in the city.

But, as Castillo said, land use bills are expected.
Ryan Harwood: "The proposed language implies that camping bans can have a neutral or positive impact on homelessness, but this is contradicted by virtually all the academic research."

He's reading from them now.
Rosie Fivian: Supports the land use policy change.

"I see this as a critical moment in Boulder's history. We've learned by now that the status quo simply isn't sustainable, and that single-family zoning was created to keep people out."
Darren O'Connor also wants the camping ban language eliminated: "I do not believe the solution to homelessness is allowing people to camp anywhere and everywhere. Neither is Boulder's camping ban."
"Boulder has increased enforcement," O'Connor says. "The evidence is in front of your very faces every week that this does not work. It's a failed policy, and not a policy Boulder should lobby to become a state policy."
Rebecca Davies, member of TAB, supports land use policy statement: "It is not possible for Boulder to meet transportation objectives without changing its land use policies."
For example, the goal that 80% of Boulderites live in walkable neighborhoods by 2030. That number was 43% in 2019 — we're not going to get there with current land use, Davies says.
Davies: Transportation policy can build safer sidewalks and bike lanes, but we can't create housing that is close to jobs, stores and services that people need.
David Ensign, also supporting the land use policy: I have witnessed the intense challenges our most vulnerable residents face in meeting their housing needs. We owe it to them to use all the tools we can.
Aidan Reed (Disclosure: member of Boulder Beat Opinion Panel) also opposed to the camping ban language: Camping bans are "superficially effective" and criminalize homelessness; they do nothing to solve it. "It worsens it."
Lisa Spalding, opposed to the land use policy changes: Polis' plan doesn't require housing to be affordable. It will only give developers more say in our community, and exacerbate gentrification. Please consider the merits of preserving local control over land use.
Kurt Nordback: Land use planning began 100 years ago, and the power has remained with cities. That doesn't work. Increasingly restrictive local zoning has fueled "a full-blown national housing crisis. It's hurting our economy and hurting our environment."
Boulder has done a lot for affordable housing, but we need other cities to come along, Nordback says. We need to all be pulling in the same direction.

He supports the land use policy statement, if you can't tell.
Claudia Hansen Thiem: My experience of tracking policy is watching Boulder spin and thinker, while best practice moves on.

Thinker should be tinker* in the above
And gd it my computer always auto-correcting Hanson's last name to Hansen. My b.
She's supporting changes to the land use policy statement: Local control is neither inherently good nor bad. I can guard against an overzealous state, but we know from history that it can also be a means to stifle progress.
Kathleen Hancock: What other local decision making with the state come for next? People not elected by us will be making decisions for us.
Martha Roskowski: There's a broad coalition of environmental and housing folks working on a land use bill. "Boulder should be at the table. It's crucial that this works for cities."
Daniel Howard, speaking in favor of the policy as well, and repping an urban environmentalist org: This is an affordability issue and an environmental one. My colleagues at NCAR have been forced into longer commutes, and sometimes move into the wildland-urban interface.
SarahDawn Haynes, from the local Sierra Club chapter: When housing is restricted, the inevitable consequences are sprawl and air pollution. The Denver metro has horrible air quality. We support these policies — over 200 cities have already removed parking minimums.
Haynes: "It's delightful after 10 years of asking for the state to take leadership, the finally are."
Paul Givens, also supporting: "Working ppl's living conditions have degraded over the decades. People are struggling to survive. As Boulder refuses to grow, working people are pushed further and further from the core of our city."
"We are forcing the ppl who make our world better to live outside the city we hold most dear," Givens says.

Does not support the camping ban language. "Unhoused ppl are neighbors. We should treat them as such."
Mike Whelan: a low-income landlord against rent control for vague and unspecified reasons.
Joey Siracusa does not support camping ban language: You could simply walk outside and see how these policies work, or don't. My rent was raised 33% last year. You want to work on homelessness? Focus on making housing more affordable.
Paul Hamilton: The Legislature is largely controlled by Denver citizens and city voters. Their priorities may not align with ours. Think of the light rail! A failed regional effort. Don't give away control. Do not abdicate your responsibility.
Chase Cromwell, from CU student gov't: We urge you to continue to take action to increase housing access. The state is acting; we need to be part of those conversations. "Boulder cannot solve issues without the state; the state cannot solve issues without the city."
Quin Fellows, also from CU, also supporting the land use policy statement: As the negative impacts from our existing land use policies worsen, so will calls for action. Restricting housing has endangered our future as a livable city.
Joseph, who is also a state rep, is recusing herself, "not from a conflict of interest, but out of an abundance of caution." Since this is a state legislative agenda. "I hope council will make the right decision for the community."
Friend: Our job is listening to our community members, and I didn't hear any support from the community. I proposed that language; I recommend that we send that back to the subcommittee. There's no coming legislation anyway.
Straw poll sends that back to be worked on.
So the only change to the policy statement is now the land use piece.
Speer making a pre-comment before her comment
Now onto her comment: Our housing policies over the years have been geared toward the wealthy, even back in 1886 when plots of land cost $1,000. In 2023 dollars, that's $3.6M

"Whatever our intention was, we know where we are in 2023."
Benjamin: We've done a lot on housing locally. "We're trying, but there's a futility here. It can only go so far unless our cities along the Front Range join us."
"It's not accurate to say Denver runs the show," Benjamin says. We need to leverage Boulder's outsized control and do what's best for our community, and the Front Range, on these state and national issues.
Brockett: Our housing issues are not unique to Boulder; we're seeing this across the country. Other states have stepped up with statewide solutions. I'm glad the governor took this up.

Anti-displacement and anti-gentrification are being considered, he says.
"This gives us a seat at the table so we can guide those discussions," Brockett says. Any changes we would support would need to be in line with the comp plan — that's a guardrail.
Winer: I have been consistently voting for more housing. It's one of our No. 1 issues BUT "this is a city that loves local control." We wanted gun control; now the state is following us. We wanted rent control, but we couldn't bc of state law.
I'm a big fan of Gov Polis, Winer says. I almost always support him BUT "we have to be really careful about gentrification."

"When the bills come our way, I want to tread carefully."
Folkerts: "Boulder is not an island. What we do in terms of our housing and zoning rules affect communities around us, as do their rules affect ours. I don't take lightly ceding any of our home rule authority, but this is a regional issue."
"We need to be taking a bigger bite out of this," Folkerts says.
Wallach: Some version of this will and should pass, but — Carl, I love you, don't take offense — but this is badly drafted. Something along these lines is doable and should be done. But it's "relatively incoherent" and "ready, fire, aim government."
4 days is not enough time for the community to look at it, he says.
Friend: This isn't the end. It's us telling our lobbyist, hey let's get involved in these bills. There will be more opportunity to weigh in. "This is not the U.S. Constitution; it's a breathing document."
Benjamin: "There's a weird aura around local control. I think we have to be careful, bc we get to a place where we're not taken seriously. ... If our attitude (on local control) is 'from my cold dead hands' that's not a serious position." This is a regional issue.
I'll just leave this list here of most expensive MSAs in America, in which Boulder County is No. 8... we've actually improved from No. 6 most expensive as in past years, so ... yay?…
Yates is with Wallach and Winer in opposing these changes: I fully support Governor Polis BUT "Boulder does more than nearly every other city in the state" for affordable housing. This proposes that Boulder give up its rights "as a symbolic gesture to prove that we're serious."
Boulder does not need to give up its authority to the state in order to make changes, Yates says. Our local rules reflects our community values.
"At best, it is extremely arrogant. At worst, it is extremely dangerous. Land use is the most precious" control we have, Yates says, calling this proposal "a plunge into the abyss."
Correction to Speer's earlier math on what $1,000 in 1886 is equal to today: $36,000, which is a big fucking difference! Apparently her decimal was in the wrong place.
Vote to pass this policy statement: 5-3, with Winer, Wallach and Yates opposed. So it passes.
Again, this is just policy direction for what state bills Boulder may support. And it's just the land use one; they dropped the camping ban thing.
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More from @shayshinecastle

Oct 6, 2023
We've still got one more item: A nod of 5 (informal vote) on safe outdoor spaces
Council is confused (and so am I) about whether it's directing staff to actually DO one, or just to keep exploring the potential.
Friend clears things up: Let's propose a pilot for a 25-person sanctioned encampment, as bare bones as it can be done (but with 24/7 staff and services). To be paid for with $$ not going to the day center that is not happening this year.
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I'm at Boulder City Counicl because it's BUDGET NIGHT!!
Folkerts: More $$ for parks + rec, paid for by repurposing $$ for encampment removals

Friend + Winer: More $$ for potholes /road maintenance. They did not ID a funding source.
Winer also asked for more $$ for underpass lighting. Again, no suggestion where it's coming from.
Speer: More $$ for emergency assistance, shelters and encampment cleaning (not removal) + public bathrooms, paid for by repurposing $$ for encampment removals.

Also more $$ for community connectors, paid for by cutting council's travel budget
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Sep 29, 2023
I have so little energy for this homelessness update. I'll tweet what's new and in addition to this story:…
"Homelessness is on the rise, particularly unsheltered homelessness," Megan Newton says. Colorado has the 14th highest rate of homelessness in the U.S. 18 homeless people per 1,000 residents.
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Sep 29, 2023
Next: Boulder Police quarterly update…
We just did the Reimagining Policing Plan, so I'm not sure how much of this will be new. But I'll tweet what is.
Crime up in 2023: violent and property crimes
Less robberies, tho, Chief Herold says. And fewer car thefts.

"Society crimes" or quality of life, like drugs, are up.
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Sep 28, 2023
Hey, all. I'm watching the Boulder City Council study session tonight. We've got updates from the municipal court, Boulder Police Dept and a discussion of homeless services.
I'll tweet what I can; it's a lot of info. All these issues are big topics in the upcoming election, so prob a good meeting to pay attention to.
First up: Our quarterly update from the municipal court. It looks like we're covering staffing and structural changes to the court (ho-hum) and then diversion programs for CU students and unhoused individuals.…
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Benjamin: On Monday, county commissioners gave $700K to Boulder Shelter for the Homeless to expand services.

(City of Boulder gave $300K; City of Longmont gave $50K)
He's discussing a letter to county commissioners asking that, if the affordable housing tax on this year's ballot passes, the county set aside $$ for housing + services specifically for homelessness.
City council has to give an informal vote (called a Nod of Five) in order to send the letter on its behalf.
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