Boulder City Council candidate questions and answers Part 1

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Below are Boulder Weekly’s five questions for Boulder City Council candidates, and their answers. 

Question 1: What are three achievable goals that you
would champion in the next two years?

Matt Appelbaum

Creating programs
and policies that will result in significant reductions in energy use,
particularly in the commercial building sector. Perhaps not
“achievable” due to dependence on regional consensus and perhaps
voter approval, but creation of a funded, definitive plan to greatly increase
transit mobility in Boulder and the northwest corridor. Embarking on new
approaches to maintaining diversity in Boulder with creation/preservation of
(at least “relatively”) affordable housing via zoning, density,
housing regulations, etc.

Ed Byrne

1. Revitalization of
the Subcommunity plan concept.

2. Require evaluation of public/private
partnership alternatives to ordinance and regulatory proposals, whenever
substantial voluntary progress is being made

3. Identification of customer
service moments of truth for all city departments, particularly those with
regulatory enforcement authority.

Macon Cowles

1. Assess flood
damage and set new priorities for the Stormwater/Flood Management Utility,
based on what we learned from the recent flood.

2. Form a municipal utility.

3.
Reduce carbon emissions of tenant occupied commercial buildings.

Jonathan Dings

Community Eco
Passes, increased use of public transit, biking and walking in commuting, and
restoration of proposed cuts to Human Services funding.

John Gerstle

1. Decrease in
carbon emissions related to electric power generation, by moving ahead with
municipalization.

2. Agreement between the City and the County regarding the
continuation of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan to ensure continued
cooperation for effective land use arrangements

3. A city-wide ecopass program —
to promote bus ridership and diminish car miles for local residents.

Kevin Hotaling

1. Transfer the city
vehicle fleet to carshare. This model has been proven to save cities money,
reduce environmental impact, and provide new transportation options for
low-income residents.

2. Transform “Transit Center” dreams into
“Tech Center” success. Our critical housing and office shortages
won’t be solved by building the same old boxes around a non-existent train.
I’ve proposed that we breathe new life into this industrial neighborhood by
allowing heights up to 165′. This would create a true center of commerce for
Boulder and simultaneously protect the character of the rest of the city.

3.
Repeal one dim-witted law. Over the past two decades, Council has imposed
countless new laws … but has never once seen fit to roll one back. I intend
to make history by finding a law that was a mistake and then returning that
freedom to the people of Boulder.

Micah Parkin

1) Develop a
sustainable local food system – do the analysis necessary and put policies in
place to set us on this path (examples and reasoning previously discussed).

2) Create
an affordable and reliable local electric utility that uses at least 50%
renewable energy.

3) Finance and implement a Community-wide Eco-pass.

Andrew Shoemaker

(1) Reduce traffic
and fuel consumption and emissions within the City by removing all barriers
(such as fares or even EcoPasses) for certain high frequency intra-city routes
(e.g., Skip and Hop), like the 16th Street Mall in Denver. Additionally, the
City and RTD should begin working on a community-wide EcoPass and significant
incremental progress on regional transportation plans.

(2) Develop a viable
regional housing plan/proposal in Boulder County to address the needs of our
growing senior demographic with fixed incomes, as well as the inability of
health, safety, educational, and other public servants to live in or near
Boulder. This ties into our significant transportation problem.

(3) Immediately
address behavioral problems in the Boulder Creek Path, downtown, and other
public areas, while at the same time increasing our support and focus on
assisting at-risk youth and homeless families and transitional individuals.

Greatful Fred Smith

Implementation of a

1. City Income Tax,

2. City Minimum Wage,

3. City 18 y/o Minimum Drinking Age

Sam Weaver

While these goals
may not be completed in two years, I believe substantial progress can be made
on each. Implement a municipal electric utility or a substantially restructured
agreement with Xcel to perform a rapid switch to renewables in our electrical
supply and 50% carbon emissions reductions within 5-7 years. I will champion
keeping the process going to determine the final costs and likely benefits of a
muni, maintaining forceful negotiations with Xcel to discuss alternate
partnership structures in parallel. Adopt commercial energy codes. Begin with
baseline measurements of all commercial buildings over a given size, then
proceed to convene a public process about how to best have the commercial and
industrial sector assist in meeting Climate Commitment goals. Begin a City and
community process of integrated planning regarding how buildout will look with
our current zoning plan, and if the current plan matches with the vision of the
community.

Mary Young

1. Continue and make
progress on the collaborative effort to create an effective policy for
commercial and industrial energy users to invest in energy efficiency.

2.
Direct city manager to direct staff to begin the process of amending our
Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance.

3. Finding a way to pay for the Eco Pass.

Question 2: What are the most important policies Boulder
needs to implement to ensure that it reaches and maintains sustainability?

Matt Appelbaum

Reductions of energy
use in residential and commercial buildings via more education, incentives,
building codes, and, as needed, regulation; a municipal electric utility or
equivalent would help enormously by allowing us not only to procure renewable
energy but to greatly improve incentives, rate structures and programs in this
regard. Reductions in VMT via much increased provision of accessible
alternatives – transit both local and regional (including completion of
FasTracks), completion of the bike system and improvements for commuters,
complete streets, parking districts, etc. Targeted density increases that may
help provide more affordable housing, particularly for city workers.
Significant improvements in waste management/recycling. Firm, long-term fiscal
sustainability so that we can maintain the high level of services that attract
creative peopl! e, ensure economic vitality, and allow pursuit of innovative
programs. Continued vigilance on Open Space protections.

Ed Byrne

Reconfiguration of
our human settlement patterns. Our 65-year experiment with auto-dependent
planning must come to an end. We are part of a regional interdependent economy
with workers and jobs scattered hither and yon. We need to create primarily
self-sufficient subcommunities within Boulder and connect them efficiently to
each other and to our regional neighbors, whose workers and jobs are part of
our carbon footprint, whether or not we care to acknowledge it. Development of
local agriculture is critical, as is economic resiliency — the need to identify
potential supply chain disruptions like those created by the tsunami in Japan
and the floods in Pakistan. Like a climax ecosystem, our region must optimize
our use of natural resources, while minimizing our waste generation and energy
consumption. Boulder may win lot of awards, but there’s a lot of work left.
Until we make significantly more progress, we’re being swept downstream with
everyone else.

Macon Cowles

1. All emissions
must be accurately counted, because you cannot manage what you don’t measure.
2. Take control of the electricity distribution system so as rapidly reduce
carbon emissions while increasing the production of electricity through
renewable energy. 3. Achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions of existing
buildings by 2050. 4. Adopt land use regulations that transform residential
areas into 15-minute neighborhoods, and that increase density appropriately to
make the City more urban. 5. Adopt building codes so that new buildings will be
net zero buildings by 2030. 6. Electrify most existing direct fuel uses, such
as transportation and home heating and cooling.

Jonathan Dings

As indicated in the
Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, “Applying a sustainability framework to
decision-making in Boulder means considering the issues of environment, economy
and social equity together.” We are well-positioned with regard to progressive
environmental policies generally and with regard to Open Space, and mostly need
to protect what we have in place while fostering economic vitality and social
sustainability. An important area of potential environmental improvement rests
with encouraging residents and commuters to use public transit more regularly,
which I believe can be attained through making Eco Passes more readily
available and providing greater outreach.

John Gerstle

To reach and
maintain sustainability, Boulder should: * move ahead with the municipalization
of electric power utility, so that it can diminish carbon emissions related to
its power supply and put the control of rates, incentives and programs in local
hands. * diminish single person occupancy auto use, by providing and
encouraging more environmentally sustainable transit alternatives, including
bus, carpooling, bike riding, etc. * continue to diminish waste disposal
impacts my increasing recycling levels – and by requiring businesses to have
recycling programs to minimize waste disposal requirements and diminishing the
waste being sent to landfill. * Establishing limits to waste production and
pollution emissions – including the private use of pesticides and other
substances which can impact neighbors adversely

Kevin Hotaling

This is primarily a
design problem and will require many creative solutions. That said, there is
one glaring flaw in Boulder’s infrastructure that our city continually refuses
to acknowledge: you cannot build a sustainable city if you freeze in place
mid-century sprawl. Boulder has historic neighborhoods and iconic streets that
we should diligently protect. We also have have expansive parking lots and
blighted industrial areas east of 28th that are ripe for redevelopment. The
city’s one-size-fails-all zoning practices actually push construction out of
this region and into the very places we had intended to protect. In order to
achieve our energy, transportation, economic and social goals, we must take
decisive action toward enabling high density redevelopment. By simply relaxing
some of the onerous restrictions applied to underutilized properties, we can
create real sustainability without impacting the rest of the city.

Micah Parkin

The impacts of
climate change – from record wildfires to recent floods – are increasingly
evident and devastating. Greenhouse gas neutrality and preparation for impacts
should be top priorities. 1)Boulder electric utility – could quickly increase
to 50% renewables and have equal or better rates and reliability. It’s likely
through this path we can achieve the most the quickest and demonstrate
additional benefits. 2)Transportation – Boulderites ride the bus 2X, walk 3X,
and bicycle 21X the national average. Still, transportation is 22% of Boulder’s
ghg emissions . Community-wide Eco-Passes, complete streets, bike paths and
walkable neighborhoods should be priorities. 3)Sustainable Local Food Policy –
to increase access to locally-grown, healthy food. 4)More water conservation
policies and 5) preparation for more big floods – climate change will likely
increase both droughts and floods regionally. 6)Local population growth – at
some point systems and infrastructure limits are exceeded. We must accept
limits.

Andrew Shoemaker

During my tenure on
the Planning Board, I assisted in the redraft of the Boulder Valley
Comprehensive Plan (BVCP). “Sustainability” in the BVCP means
“considering the issues of environment, economy and social equity
together. An action or decision in any one of these areas will have consequences
on the others.” I agree that these three policy goals are the key to
ensure “sustainability” in Boulder, and they should guide the City’s
decision-making.

Fred Smith

Environmental,
economic and social sustainability should be linked to a progressive income tax
structure that evens out the taxation for Boulder citizens. Local communities
should have more ability to make financial decisions about sustainability, so I
would put efforts to have the state allow cities to implement an income tax.

Sam Weaver

There are eight
major areas to focus on for sustainability: population, food, energy, water,
land use, transportation, economy, social services. The manners of
implementation of each area have impacts on environment and nature, but for 150
words, the most significant are population, energy, land use, and
transportation. For preserving natural habitats and stabilizing population,
land use planning is crucial, and maintaining a compact city and a vibrant open
space system are required. Compact city form also enables lower-impact
transportation systems in which transit within the city is more easily done by
walking, biking, and buses. Low-impact public transit systems between compact
cities are also more convenient (thus more often used) and easier to construct
than in a sprawling urban area. Finally, energy systems must be as
non-polluting as possible, an! d fossil fuel resources are unsustainable,
finite, and damaging. Using them for power production, heating, and
transportation must be phased out.

Mary Young

Policies that deal
with Climate Change. Without addressing this overarching issue of our time,
economic and social sustainability will become more and more difficult. City
Council is currently considering a CO2 emissions reduction goal of 80% less
than 1990 levels by 2050. If passed, in order to successfully implement this
target we would need a set of results based policies to achieve the goal. For
example, it could mean the establishment of accountability for predefined
annually incremented reduction milestones that are evaluated in a timely manner
and adjusted in a timely manner when not met. The advantage of this approach is
that it is quadruple bottom line.

Question 3: Do you support increasing density in Boulder?
If so, where? What would Boulder’s ideal population be?

Matt Appelbaum

Yes, but carefully.
Density of course increases population and certain impacts, but done well can
reduce our per capita environmental footprint, increase diversity, and help
facilitate increased transit and other shared resources. Conventional wisdom
naturally allocates density to transit corridors and “walkable”
areas, and to places that can support various forms of mixed use. While that’s
generally good policy, I would note that allowing far more ADUs and/or relaxing
occupancy limits would add density citywide. And we have horrible, suburban
office parks that could clearly benefit from increases in commercial and/or
residential densities, but such reconfiguration will require considerable
analysis. (There is no simplistic response to the multiple choice question
below re commercial development, hence my all-of-the-above answer.) For the
foresee! able future, Boulder’s population will continue to grow very slowly;
future generations can and should define “ideal” relative to environmental
(taken broadly) conditions we can’t pretend to fully grasp now.

Ed Byrne

Yes, we need
strategically located density in mixed use neighborhood centers serving the
Euclidean (homogenous) residential and non-residential enclaves we have created
during 60 years of auto-dependent planning. We’re doing better, but we have
much work left to be done. As noted earlier, the density should be located
along transit corridors and at transit nodes already well-served by our
existing and future proposed transit and multi-modal system. We should
intensely focus our projects on building the kinds of mixed use neighborhoods
our current in-commuting population might prefer. These 50-60,000 additional
people are on our streets every workday now, but we don’t count them in our
population. Building projects that might encourage them to return to Boulder
while it enlivens our subcommunities, makes sense. We could have 125,000
residents in Boulder by 2050 creating the sort of impacts associated with
50,000 residents in the 1950s, as a direct result of the behavioral adjustments
and environmental policies for which Boulder is justifiably proud.

Macon Cowles

I favor increasing
density along transit corridors and other areas that may be identified in the
Sustainable Streets and Centers project that is in the work plan for 2014. I
favor increasing density in some neighborhoods by permitting alley houses,
granny flats and duplexes. However, I believe that such increases must be done
carefully and in consultation with affected neighborhoods. Such consultation
has resulted in a renaissance in the Whittier neighborhood, for example, which
worked closely with City staff and developers with respect to increasing the
density along East Pearl. This is a textbook example of successful outreach,
partnership between businesses and residents and good planning that has made
the East Pearl neighborhood one of the most desirable in the whole City.

Jonathan Dings

I support some
higher density building in new development, but not redeveloping older
neighborhoods to have higher density. Boulder’s ideal eventual population would
probably be about 10,000 higher than current, to allow for more people who work
here to live here and contribute to our local economy. Whether we reach that
figure depends substantially on occupancy of existing housing stock.

John Gerstle

I do support
increased density for some neighborhoods in Boulder – including downtown in the
central business district, Boulder Junction and the area north of 29th street
mall development on 30th St. Lower and middle-income housing is one of our
greatest needs, and new development of office space instead of housing should
be critically reviewed. Boulder’s ideal population is now close to ideal.

Kevin Hotaling

Every weekday,
60,000 people commute into Boulder. That’s bad for the environment, bad for
business and bad for the city tax-base. Some of these commuters have
consciously chosen to live elsewhere, but many of them have been pushed out by
the ever-increasing cost of housing. Boulder is suffering from a housing
shortage. With CU planning to add 10,000 additional students, we are on the
verge of a housing crisis. We must take decisive action to encourage
development along the 28th and 30th Street corridors. I’ve proposed that
transforming the Transit Center into a high-density Tech Center is the best way
to solve our shortage of both housing and office space. P.S. Anyone who
believes they can dictate an “ideal population” should probably be
running for Supreme Leader, not City Council.

Micah Parkin

PLAN-Boulder
County’s publication “Does Dense Make Sense” suggests adding a little
more density along transportation corridors. I agree with that and think that
walkable mixed use neighborhoods with green space and community gardens in
place of big box stores or underutilized shopping area sprawls would be preferable
in many ways. One example of where I think that would have been preferable is
Diagonal Plaza, and other possibility could be in the area of 55th and
Arapahoe. As I mentioned in a previous answer, I think that we must
accept that there are limits to the population that our infrastructure and
systems can support and still be sustainable. The Planning Dept. expects 120K
people at full build out. I think that our current population is pretty ideal
and that 120K (allowing for more in-commuters to live here) should be seen as
an upper limit.

Andrew Shoemaker

I do not support
increasing density for the sake of adding density. Boulder’s population
increases constantly through by-right redevelopment of properties in the City
and through the expanding enrollment at CU. The City has developed maps showing
where that density will occur. We need to be very careful in our neighborhoods,
as the BVCP expressly calls for sensitive infill development and the protection
of neighborhood character. On public transportation corridors, such as
Broadway, some additional density is appropriate, and I would support such an
increase in those areas in exchange for a community benefit such as affordable
housing. In a perfect world, Boulder’s population would hold constant at its
current levels, and everyone who works in Boulder would live here. It is
impossible to say, today, what Boulder’s ideal population will be 10 years or
100 years from now. There are too many variables.

Fred Smith

There is no ideal
population. I am against the “no more than 3 people in the house
rule.” Boulder should not look for a “right” population. I think
the people of Boulder should determine this themselves and not the city
determine it for Boulder. I’m for in-fill and maximizing capacity in houses.
Boulder should do what it needs to for its own population.

Sam Weaver

I support massive
reduction in Boulder’s greenhouse gas emissions, walkable city neighborhoods,
complete streets, and great alternative transportation options. To the extent
that sensible and sensitive density increases help achieve these goals, I
support them as one tool among many. Dense environments benefit from better
public transit, lower energy use per area, and an easier time walking and
biking to destinations. Much of the City core is already dense, either through
multi-family dwellings in traditionally single-family areas, or by OAUs and
ADUs. Opportunity for densification exists in North, South, and East Boulder
with traditional suburban layouts. I support neighborhood-by-neighborhood
stakeholder engagement to explore additional density through zoning. I also
support all growth paying its way towards public infrastructure. I am not sure
there is an ideal population – that is for each generation to decide. I am sure
there is an ideal Boulder footprint defined by open space and height limits.

Mary Young

Density: Yes, along
the 28th and 30th Street corridors, as well as the 55th and Arapahoe corridor.
Ideal population: It has been said that in order for people to have a genuine
effect on local government, the unit being governed should be small enough to
provide for the possibility of easily running into and knowing your elected
officials. We are now at about 100,000 people with a build-out projection of
114,000 in 2035. Given our current representation, that would work out to about
12,600 people per city council member. That’s more than the ideal number of
7,000 per councilor. If effective local government is our goal, we have already
surpassed our ideal population.

Continued in Part 2.

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