Political climate change hitting Boulder hard

The very features attracting newcomers can be undone quickly

| May 9, 2016

By PLAN-Boulder County
From group’s May newsletter

Although we were gratified to see Suzanne Jones and Lisa Morzel re-elected to the Boulder City Council, we have to acknowledge our disappointment in general with the results of the November, 2015, City elections.

A ballot initiative that would have required new development to pay the full cost of its impacts on City services and facilities was defeated, as was another that would have allowed residential neighborhoods a vote under certain conditions on changes to zoning regulations to increase residential densities. Moreover, the other City Council members who were elected appear likely to steer the City in a more pro-growth, pro-development direction.

GOOGLEPLEX: Architect's rendering of Google campus now under construction in Boulder. (Credit: Tryba Architects, photo courtesy Volley Studio)

GOOGLEPLEX: Architect’s rendering of Google campus now under construction in Boulder. (Credit: Tryba Architects, photo courtesy Volley Studio)

We have to recognize that the political climate in Boulder seems to be rapidly changing. In the near future it may no longer be the charming, somewhat anachronistic, slightly weird place to which many of us had become accustomed. A wave of new money is pouring in, as well as legions of highly paid workers in the technology industry and other sectors. Commercial interests have forged effective, de facto alliances with politically influential social services providers.

Many of the newcomers are attracted by the aspects of the town that past generations of citizens took decades to create. Unfortunately, most of those features can be undone relatively quickly. Wherever it dominates, the great global growth machine tends to produce a homogenous environment that prizes accelerated commercial activity, inflated prices, increased density, and congested traffic over human well-being and happiness.

This appears to be a precarious moment in Boulder’s recent history. PLAN-Boulder County remains the principal civic advocacy group whose positions are not primarily based on financial or other self-interests. Consequently, it is probably the most trustworthy vehicle for those who want to try to maintain a livable city that has a human scale, minimal environmental impacts, and a deep commitment to the preservation of the natural world.

Our critics claim that we are old and “out-of-touch.” They are undoubtedly correct that we are out-of-touch with the values they want to promote. They are also right that a lot of us are old. So let’s lubricate our wheelchairs, tune up our walkers, upgrade our canes, replace our creaking hips and knees, and replenish our youthful energy in the cause of minimizing the effects of political climate change. Let’s also encourage as many younger citizens as possible to join us in this critical struggle.

The rest of the PLAN-Boulder County May 2016 newsletter, including announcements of recent Board changes, is available online.

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