The Boulder Chamber of Commerce along with
some great community organizations asked some tough but very relevant questions. Here are my answers.
Boulder Chamber of Commerce -- Mark McIntyre Q&A
The Boulder Chamber: What do you see as the vital components to the future of Boulder’s economic vitality and what specific strategies would you support as a City Councilmember to maintain a vibrant economy?
Boulder is unique because of our: Open Space system, Downtown Mall, Chautauqua, CU, federal labs, a culture of sport and health, and our creek paths, etc… These components bring us visitors that make up a significant portion of our sales tax revenue (more than 30% from non-residents) and allow us to enjoy a budget much larger per capita than many of our peer cities. We must build on our success with:
Far more maintenance and better visitor infrastructure for our Open Space System.
More car free spaces. The world is experiencing the benefits of temporary or permanent car free spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. Boulder needs to catch-up to other world-class destinations.
Event programming outside of downtown. Our downtown rocks but the rest of town needs some love too. The Hill, NOBO Arts district, and Boulder Junction need good programming to help keep Boulder Bolder.
Downtown Boulder Partnership: Our neighboring communities have flourished over time and have captured or retained sales tax revenues that in the past sustained Boulder’s economy. As competition continues to increase, what is your vision to keep our downtown vibrant in order for our local businesses to succeed in this ever-changing and increasingly competitive environment?
Like I said above, let’s expand on our Downtown success with more car-free outdoor events. Our Downtown alleys should be considered for additional store fronts creating lower cost opportunities for smaller merchants to locate downtown. The 13th street Green Street should receive additional engineering treatments that make it even more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists. All shoppers are pedestrians before they walk into a store. Studies show that merchant sales go up when pedestrian accommodation goes up. Our Downtown Mall is the best example.
More people arriving downtown without driving their own cars, mean more space for people. Spread the success of the mall to a broader geographic area.
Make some specific curb positions dedicated loading zones for transportation companies to stop the haphazard loading that is taking place on Broadway now.
The Community Foundation of Boulder County: How would you make housing attainable for those who live or work in Boulder?
By building more.
We need to make homes for people that are truly and permanently affordable. Let’s make homes using beautiful design and elegant density. Let’s build homes looking forward to a future that will be different from our present and past. Build it for people who want to share assets, cars, bikes, gardens, and community spaces.
Let’s build homes designed for singles and working families, on transportation corridors, that offers real choices for how to get to work.
Diversity in design and diversity in economics will lead to the diversity that Boulder says we want.
We will never sprawl our way into affordability; let’s acknowledge that. We will never house every incommuter; let’s acknowledge that too. Most importantly let us do what we can to accommodate those that teach our children, fight our fires, police our streets, staff our city offices; these people are integral to our community. Let’s do all that we can to have them be our neighbors.
Urban Land Institute of Colorado: A recent report from the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project and CoPIRG Colorado suggested that Boulder’s slow-growth policies are not consistent with its carbon reduction and climate policies. Do you feel that in Boulder “dense makes sense” to help achieve carbon reduction? If so, how would you support affordability with density?
The SWEEP/COPIRG report, the Sierra Club National Committee, and myriad other national environmental organizations have all concluded that continued auto based sprawl is moving us away from our greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.
Rather than focus on density, let’s focus on sharing. Sharing walls, gardens, transportation options, and community assets as described above, help us move forward, away from our reliance on single occupancy vehicles. Sharing transit means reducing congestion. Sharing also means stronger communities with stronger ties to each other.
Boulder loves to travel to European cities that have narrow streets, outdoor dining street side, and walkable neighborhoods. Let’s bring some of that home and stop fighting what we actually love.
Community Cycles: To improve safety, cities around the world have been reducing vehicle speed limits. Studies show that speed reduction has an impact in both reducing speed and normalizing driving slower. Boulder has been very reluctant to reduce traffic speeds. Community Cycles is asking the next council to pass an ordinance that will reduce the speed limit on residential streets from 25 mph to 20 mph. Will you champion this speed limit reduction? If so, how? What other ways do you think we can make our streets safer for all users?
As a member of the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB), I have been a vocal champion of implementing a 20 MPH speed limit on our newly christened “Bartlet Green Street” , 13th st. between Arapahoe and Iris. I have been asking for us to use this street as a clear example of how we can not only live with slower, safer speeds, but thrive and save lives with slower speeds.
Our transportation staff correctly says that this will require a community conversation using our community engagement processes. However, I think the process would be so much easier if we had demonstrable results backed up by data from a few locations such as 13th St. to show that it can be done and done without perfect engineering treatments everywhere all at once. We will never see change to our transportation methods and we will never reach our carbon goals without trying and experimenting, and course correcting.
Boulder Area Realtor Association: What strategies do you support regarding land use, housing and transportation policies and programs to address the impacts of our in-commuting workforce?
We must be:
Flexible and welcoming of compact development along transit corridors
Ready to build a range of affordable housing for singles and families across the city and focus on areas where people work, shop, and go to school.
I support the work of BHP and I appreciate how they have been able to leverage monies from the Cash-In_Lieu option and build more units than what would have resulted by building on-site.
RTD is a reluctant partner in solving our transportation problems. A partnership between the city, the county, and major employers should be explored to create new commuting solutions systems separate from RTD. Businesses need to contribute. I will work for:
EcoPasses for all of Boulder.
A transit system that is responsive to our needs vs. the RTD agenda.
A convenient and frequent system that accommodates in/out commuters to major employment centers.
Creative first/last mile solutions.
The Human Services Alliance of Boulder County: The Human Service Alliance’s non-profit human service agencies provide the bulk of the human service safety net in Boulder. What are your top concerns about the safety net in Boulder and how do you plan to address these concerns?
HSA-BC does great work. My greatest concern is, all of these agencies are needed and their services are required in a community as rich as Boulder. One of the most important tasks of our next council will be to focus on new ways of funding our city via less regressive methods. Our state legislature is mostly to blame for restricting us from using progressive tools that don’t inflict more pain on those already struggling. We need to use our lobbying power to change that.
We need leadership on council that is willing to champion land-use, housing, and transportation policies that benefit everyone with special emphasis on those working in our community and struggling. We often offer tax credits, or other incentives to those that need it least. Let’s make sure that we our actions and policies do all that they can to keep our citizens from falling into the safety net that HSA-BC offers.