Now you know: Aug. 31, 2023

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Boulder helps middle-income residents buy homes 

A new pilot project launched by the City of Boulder aims to increase affordable housing stock for middle-income community members. 

The Middle Income Down Payment Assistance Pilot Program offers a zero-interest second mortgage up to $200,000 or 30% of the home’s sale price, whichever is less, for households with an income limited to 120% of area median income. 

“This is an excellent way for middle-income families to purchase a home in Boulder,” said Council member Bob Yates in a press release. “We have folks who work in Boulder, but who can’t afford to have their families live here. The voters overwhelmingly approved this down payment assistance program in 2019. I’m happy that we are finally able to launch the program, so that middle-income families can enjoy the benefits of living in Boulder.”

Applicants must complete the City’s orientation and homebuyer education class, occupy the home and repay the loan after 15 years. Houses must be market rate, within city limits and a maximum price of $1.3 million for a single-family home and nearly $550,000 for a condo or townhome. 

The average home in Boulder is $990,000, according to Zillow. Realtor.com reports a median sold-home price of $1.1 million.

New RTD program allows youth to ‘just hop on board’ 

All RTD services will be free for people ages 19 and younger from Sept. 1, 2023 through Aug. 31, 2024. 

No tickets are needed — just a valid student or government-issued ID. The yearlong Zero Fare for Youth program was approved after RTD’s most recent fare study and equity analysis recommended the program. 

“This pilot program inspires youth to be environmentally minded citizens at a young age — and it builds good transit habits that can be sustained for life,” RTD CEO Debra A. Johnson said in an Aug. 8 press release.

Common Boulder Municipal Airport FAQS: Answered

The city is holding community conversation sessions to understand residents’ visions for the nearly 100-year-old Boulder Municipal Airport. The conversation won’t result in a plan, rather a recommendation for City Council, which will then make a decision. 

The City has developed four scenarios that illustrate a “high-level view of possibilities for the future of the airport site” that range from minimal changes to decommissioning and developing a new neighborhood. 

There are still hoops to jump through before decisions are made, in-part because the City has to fulfill grant assurances from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next 20 years. Because of that, it’s unlikely anything drastic will happen to the airport for years. City staff recently answered questions to help Council consider its options. Here are some of the hot-button issues. 

On leaded fuel: Elimination of leaded aviation fuel seems to be imminent, but there’s still a question of when. The FAA wants to eliminate leaded gas by 2030, but the organization has made it clear that it’s illegal for local airports to ban leaded fuel on their own. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently investigating lead emissions from aircraft, the findings of which will likely turn the FAA’s 2030 elimination goal into a deadline. With this expectation in mind, the City of Boulder anticipates unleaded aviation fuel to arrive at the airport within five years. 

According to the FAA, more than 222,000 registered piston-engine aircraft operate on leaded avgas containing tetra-ethyl-lead, which prevents engine damage and is more than a dollar cheaper per gallon than unleaded aviation fuel. 

Aircraft at the Boulder airport mostly use 100 low-lead aviation fuel, but the World Health Organization says there is no known safe level of lead exposure. The City will have to work with the Colorado Department of Public Health, Boulder County Public Health and a consultant to test nearby residents’ lead exposure, a process not yet initiated.

On noise: Restraints on noise are elective through a Voluntary Noise Abatement Program. The City cannot enforce a noise abatement. While the City has no data on community members impacted by noise, it’s common to hear complaints from people living near the airport.

On revenue: All airport revenue, collected from lease payments and fuel sold, return to the airport fund for operations and maintenance. According to the City, the Boulder airport garners about $800,000 in lease payments and fuel sales annually. That dollar amount does not cover the full cost to operate the airport, so the City is reliant on state and federal grants. 

On repurposing the airport: The City has engaged in initial conversations with the FAA about repurposing or decommissioning the airport — the most extreme scenario for the facility. So how does the City proceed if retiring the facility is the best path forward? 

First, the City of Boulder must stop accepting Airport Improvement Program Grants (AIP). After that, it must maintain the airport, at its own expense, through the duration of federal obligations from previous grants received. The City has accepted about $12 million in AIP grants over the last 20 years. Two decades after the last accepted AIP, the City would file notice of closure of the airport. The timeline of the following litigation is uncertain.

The City doesn’t have a dollar amount for repaying land purchases to the FAA or grant obligations, which could be necessary for decommissioning the airport. City staff will bring that information to Council in early 2024. 


In case you missed it

It’s that time of year: the Buffs are back. And so is the traffic. But we love our collegiate residents. Students started classes on Aug. 28. ’Sko Buffs!

The first shipment of threatened and endangered Bird Wing butterflies from the Butterfly Pavilion’s (BP) farm in Sumatra, Indonesia, arrived at the Westminster facility last week. It’s the latest in BP’s work to uphold global biodiversity and conservation. Head to butterflies.org to plan a visit to the local insect zoo.

One of the butterflies from Sumatra. Photo courtesy Butterfly Pavilion.

Boulderites over 18: Register for the city’s second round ofe-bike vouchers: bit.ly/eBikeVouchers. Applications are open from Aug. 30 to Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. Discounts range from $300 to $1,400 depending on voucher. 

Several Boulder County orgs will receive state grant funding to develop clean energy transportation through the Colorado Electric School Bus Grant Program and the Clean Fleet Vehicle and Technology Grant Program. Recipients in the area include BVSD, CU Boulder, Western Disposal and the City of Boulder. 

Longmont City Council approved a series of ordinances in its Aug. 22 meeting:

Increasing the city’s budget for the seventh time for 2023 by appropriating an additional $11 million for six different funds. Longmont’s total 2023 budget is now more than $660.3 million. For comparison, Boulder’s 2023 budget is $513.5 million.

A ballot issue dealing with funding an arts and entertainment center.

Another ballot issue about financing city libraries, including a new branch. 

And a third ballot issue focused on capitalization for construction of a recreation center at Dry Creek Community Park and affordable housing in partnership with the YMCA.

Coming up 

The Longmont Green Party is hosting a meeting to strategize securing livable wages for Colorado workers. 

Economic Justice Call to Action. Sat. Sept., 2, 3-4 p.m. 

RSVP at longmontgreenparty@gmail.com

Kids ages 3-12 living within the city limits of Longmont are eligible for free swim lessons through the City’s recreation services. The program is sponsoring 200 beginner sessions. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis through December 2023.

Apply: bit.ly/LongmontSwimLessons