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This week’s news in Boulder County and beyond


Candidates running for Boulder mayor

Boulder’s first rank-choice voting mayoral election is approaching and candidates began filing their paperwork to run earlier this month. 

Running for mayor are council members Nicole Speer and Bob Yates, and sitting mayor Aaron Brockett. 

Until now, Boulder’s mayor was appointed by City Council members. In the rank-choice voting system, a candidate who garners more than half of the first-choice votes wins. If no candidate receives more than 50%, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and the second-choice votes on those ballots will be counted. That process continues until a candidate has more than half the votes.

Any additional candidates must submit their bid for mayor by Aug. 28, which requires candidates to have 25 to 35 registered electors sign their petition. 

Candidates running for the other four open seats on City Council are current council member Tara Winer, Taishya Adams, Jennifer Robins, Waylon Lewis, Jacques Decalo, Terri Brncic, Tina Marquis, Ryan Shuchard and Silas Atkins.

Boulder County Chamber will hold a City Council Candidate Forum Aug. 29 from 5-8 p.m. PLAN-Boulder County will also hold a public discussion Aug. 29 at noon in the Boulder Public Library. 

Boulder occupancy limit raised 

Boulder City Council voted 6-3 to raise the occupancy limit to allow five unrelated people to live together, a move supporters say will increase access to affordable housing. 

The previous ordinance allowed three unrelated people to live together in low-density zoning districts and four in high-density zones. There are no limits on family members. 

Mayor Aaron Brockett, who voted in approval at the Aug. 17 City Council meeting, said the move was a step toward affordability and accessibility in Boulder “without building anything, without tearing anything down.”

The vote followed more than four hours of public comment. Supporters of increasing the occupancy limit pointed to inclusivity, affordable housing, environmental sustainability and the benefits of communal living. Opponents voiced concern about parking, nuisance complaints and whether the ordinance would actually make housing more affordable. 

“This is a small step for housing and for personal freedom and accountability, but it feels like a giant leap forward for inclusion and for community,” said council member Nicole Speer, who voted in favor of the change but said there was still work to be done in terms of “helping people stay in our community and slowing these housing [price] increases.”

Council member Bob Yates, who opposed the ordinance, called it a “missed opportunity to guarantee affordable housing.”

“I think we’re deceiving ourselves and our community if we think this law will magically make Boulder more affordable. It will not,” he said. 

Some, such as council member Mark Wallach, also took issue with City Council rather than voters approving the occupancy limit, citing the 2021 Bedrooms Are For People ballot measure that would have raised the occupancy limit to the number of bedrooms in a unit plus one, which lost by a vote of about 52% to 48%. 

“They were not voting against a formula calculating density. They were voting against the increase itself,” Wallach said. “You don’t have to like the result, but that was the community’s decision.”

Other council members pushed back on that assertion. 

“This was a unanimous 9-0 vote to add this to our work plan,” council member Rachel Friend said. “This is a democratic process; we are a representative form of government. We are not voting on the same thing that was rejected.”

Kanemoto conservation easement terminated 

The Kanemoto Estates parcel, where the county holds a 40-year-old conservation easement, and the Clover Creek subdivision. Photo by Will Matuska.

Boulder County Commissioners voted 2-1 to end a 41-year-old conservation easement on the edge of Longmont — answering one of the county’s many debates on affordability, housing, open space and conservation.

The termination allows for the 38-acre plot on the east side of Airport Road to be annexed into Longmont, and makes room for the construction of up to 426 “affordable” and “attainable” units in a development named Somerset Village. Commissioners also added conditions to compel the developer to commit to providing lower-cost housing in the development. 

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and another entity, such as a land trust or government agency, that restricts use on a parcel of land. The Kanemoto Estates easement was established in 1982 between the Kanemoto family who owned the property and Boulder County Parks and Open Space, but like more than 130 others across the county, the arrangement included language that allows for ending the easement to make way for development. 

The review process was initiated by the landowner and developer Lefthand Ranch LLC, requesting to terminate the easement, annex the land into Longmont and develop a residential neighborhood. 

Commissioners Clair Levy and Marta Loachamin voted in favor of the termination. Ashley Stolzmann was opposed. Read more about the Kanemoto conservation easement here.

Boulder wins Leadville  

Jacquie Mannhard pops champagne after winning the Leadville 100. Photo courtesy of Life Time.

Two Boulder-based runners dominated the Leadville 100 ultramarathon, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. 

Some 700 runners from 49 states and 30 countries started the 100-mile race across 15,000 feet of net elevation gain on Aug. 19. Only 44% of them finished. 

Jacquie Mannhard, who finished first in the women’s race, finished with a time of 21:24:55 — more than an hour and 45 minutes faster than the next fastest runner. JP Giblin, who finished first in the men’s race, finished with a time of 17:07:25. 

Free rides

Free bus rides on a fixed route between Ward and Rollinsville have relaunched to help connect residents to essential services along the Peak to Peak Highway.

The service, Mountain Rides, is intended to address transportation gaps for residents and stops at various human services, recreation and shopping sites including a food bank, trailhead and library.

Mountain Rides runs on Wednesday and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. No reservations or passes are required. The service connects to RTD northbound route between Nederland and Boulder at the downtown Nederland RTD Park-n-Ride. See the full route and more information here.

Revamped countywide chipping program

Boulder County residents now have access to free chipping services as part of an effort to reduce wildfire risk. 

The County-supported program aims to foster “a safer, cleaner, and more fire-resilient environment for all” through helping residents dispose of green branches and brush. 

The county has had a chipping program in place since 1993, but the new program increases the services provided, according to an Aug. 16 press release. 

To be eligible, one household must host “community chipping events” for at least five properties. More information on the application and scheduling process can be found here


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