Sierra Club Indian Peaks - My Q&A

August 26, 2019

 The Sierra Club allowed 100 words per answer.

Sierra Club of Boulder, City Council Candidate Q&A - Mark McIntyre

What are your major environmental achievements either as an elected/appointed official, or in a work or volunteer capacity?

As a Transportation Advisory Board Member, I was driving force behind changing the North Broadway reconstruction project from enshrining the auto-centric status-quo in concrete for 40 years, to what we will have: a pedestrian/bike design that is safe, aligns with our vision zero goals, and our carbon reduction goals.  I also can claim to have heavily influenced our TMP update by ensuring that goals that are memorable, repeatable, and hold us accountable, are featured in the plan (page 10). I am also responsible for installing one of the largest privately owned solar systems in Boulder County (50,000kwh/year) on a commercial building we own.

 

If elected, what are two achievable environmental goals that you would champion in the next two years?

Why only two? 

  1. Income-based subsidies of ebike purchases and solar installations. Too much of our GHG reduction strategies involve subsidies for the rich. See below.

  2. A commitment to transit improvements beyond RTD. Work with the county and the L towns to create our own transit district.  

  3. Eco-passes for all. Free ridership is a proven technique to get people out of cars.

  4. Participate in direct local renewable strategies like Jack’s Solar Gardens

  5. Negotiate with Xcel to achieve higher GHG reductions in exchange for ending the muni.

  6. Use OSMP properties for soil based carbon sequestration.

Do you support the formation and construction of a local Light and Power utility? Do you support taking the issue to voters in an election for a final decision in 2020 or 2021 after the likely costs are known clearly?

First, I think that an electrical utility is a fine role for city government. I wish we had formed one 100 years ago. We didn’t. We must decide is a utility the goal or is GHG reduction the goal? For me it’s the latter. Boulderites have been given the false choice of a muni or failure to reach or GHG goals. 

 

Yes, I support giving the voters a choice of paths: muni at X dollars and X GHG reduction in X time, or no muni and X dollars and X GHG reduction in X time. We should do this as early as possible.

 

Given the costs of the energy transition away from carbon, how would you equitably address the impact on lower-income residents?

We must move away from our regressive methods of funding everything via sales or other taxes that don’t have a progressive element. Here’s a note I sent to council about this.

 

We often fail to recognize tax credits / deductions as spending money -  it is. We spend this money subsidizing the rich to buy luxury EVs. While not inherently bad, it is inherently inequitable.  We should spend equal amounts of money subsidizing the lower/middle income amongst us, those that don’t have the resources to take advantage of a tax credits. We should subsidize solar, solar gardens for renters, ebikes and home efficiency improvements.

 

What changes, if any, should council make to its current Oil and Gas land use and extraction regulations in the context of SB 181 to better position itself to protect residents and manage any future permit applications from the industry?

Unlike the county, the city is not inherently threatened by oil and gas development. We have a moratorium in place and so far it has not been challenged. This is due to the unattractive nature of drilling in the city.  

 

SB181 was the right move for the state. In fact it is superior to the  ballot measure 112. 

 

As long as our moratorium goes unchallenged, there seems little use in spending more city resources on modifying or changing our current regulations.

 

Because of reassignment and expiration of dedicated Open Space taxes, the OSMP program budget will be reduced by about 30% by the end of this year. Do you support restoring some or all of this funding, possibly through a tax initiative this year? Please explain. *

Expenditures by OSMP really need to be separated into bond payments/debt service for the properties we have already acquired and ongoing operations.  Funds for repaying debt are already committed and budgeted. 

 

I would support extending our current taxation rate with a portion going to general fund and portion going to OSMP operations if they are committed to visitor infrastructure, education, and field maintenance operations. 

 

We could supplement OSMP funding, help our carbon goals, and reduce traffic by expanding and increasing rates with our out-of-city parking program.

What are your thoughts regarding the Open Space and Mountain Parks Master Plan and how it addresses the most important issues OSMP is facing? *

The plan does a pretty good job of addressing what I believe are the most pressing issues facing OSMP lands:

  1. We need to honor and preserve our Open Spaces by maintaining them properly rather than restricting access with a heavy hand.

  2. Staff needs to be rebalanced. Fewer administrators and scientists, more year-round maintenance and trail staff and a crew of unarmed ranger ambassadors that help educate and enforce existing policy and good behaviour by all visitors. It is rare that I see OSMP personnel actually out in the field interacting with users or performing maintenance. 

How can the City create policies or regulations that provide greater and safer use of the transportation network by bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users? 

It’s pretty simple. We need political leadership willing to lead and direct staff in some radical change. It will never happen if we wait for our city manager or staff. Our policies and expenditures must make our system:

  • Safe for all users - rigorous implementation of Vision Zero with cycling and pedestrian facilities for those 8-80. 

  • We cannot remake 100 years of auto based infrastructure without change and some inconvenience to motorists. 

  • Improve choices. If people have no choice but to drive then that is what they do. Look at the success of the AB1/FF1/FF2. These are successful because they are real alternatives to cars.

  • Parking reform. There is no free parking, only subsidized parking. 

 

 

What would you do to continue the City’s efforts to protect pollinators from pesticides on public and private lands, including agricultural lands? What additional steps can be taken to improve and expand pollinator habitat throughout the city? *

The best thing we can do is control what we can control best - lands that we own as a city. These would include our OSMP properties in the city and in the county as well as all of our city parks and recreational facilities. Soil restoration and pollinator crops and habitat mixed with solar gardens would be a way for the city to realize many current goals that get little real support. Again, see Jack’s Solar Garden.  

 

City Council is currently negotiating the framework for an annexation agreement with CU for development and flood control on the CU South property. Do you support the proposed dam on CU South that would protect downstream residents from a 500-yr flood? What environmental conditions would you include in the annexation agreement and why? *

I support continued work on Variant 2 and negotiating in good faith with CU and CDOT.

 

Many wish we bought CU south when we had the chance; we didn’t.  So, it is not what conditions we can demand, it is what we can negotiate. CU has been a good partner and we should live up to that standard. Citizen safety is our first priority, followed closely by being good stewards of our budget and our environmental concerns.

 

We should not underestimate the possibility of us ending up with zero and CU developing a water supply from other sources. Negotiate for the greatest good. Period. 

 

What are your views on affordable housing, density, and equitable development within the city? What are your ideas to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions related to Boulder’s built environment, including new development and retrofitting existing structures? *

100 words? Not possible.

 

We must act on our existing goals by:

Allowing compact development, built sustainably, that puts people first and cars last. Built where people work and shop creating 15 minute neighborhoods, along transit corridors. Check out the possibilities at Alpine Balsam.

 

In short I support the national Sierra Club set of policies as outlined here in the Building More and Doing Better article by Michael Brune. As a 45 year SC member, I am deeply disappointed that the local chapter seems to be an outlier in your opposition to these policies.

How would you apply an equity lens (particularly racial equity) on decisions you anticipate related to environmental issues? *

 

I am running for council because I have a lifelong interest in equity and social justice, environmental improvement, and democracy and the strengthening of democratic institutions.  I strive to view every activity in my personal life and every action I take and policy I support in my public life, through this lens.

 

Environmental injustices, and there are many, are best rectified by fair and progressive economic policies that create positive effects for the greatest number of people and the greatest overall environmental health. Boulder’s racial diversity is actually decreasing. We can reverse this by increasing economic diversity. See question above.

 

What are the concrete steps that your campaign will take to engage communities of color? What ideas do you have to welcome and engage communities of color into decision-making conversations in Boulder?

I’m very engaged in the Boulder Progressives. This is one of the more racially diverse groups in Boulder. But I certainly need to do more. I will be attending the next meeting of the Boulder NAACP chapter to listen and learn.

 

The economic disparity that plagues us nationally is made clear here in Boulder and this disparity is a key problem in bringing POC onto our decision making bodies. We can’t have a more diverse set of boards, commissions, or city council until we address our wealth inequality. Housing, transportation, and environmental policy are tied to racial equity and justice at every step.

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