Housing in Boulder is unaffordable. My friends who want to start families are forced to move out to find housing that meets their needs, then commute back in for their jobs. Our schools are losing students; our roads are clogged with traffic and contributing to climate change; and we are losing economic diversity.
Boulder contributed to these problems with zoning and land-use codes that restricted the supply of housing while encouraging commercial development. We can’t house all 60,000 in-commuters but we can stop making the problem worse. If Boulder is fully built out according to current zoning, we will create 45,000 more jobs and only 6,500 more housing units.
We will not dig ourselves out of this hole by continuing to demonize developers or disrupting established neighborhoods. We can create new healthy, sustainable neighborhoods and more attainable housing options if we encourage redevelopment in areas with lower land costs that aren’t currently zoned to deliver the housing our community needs. We know from surveys of in-commuters that people are willing to pay more and accept less space, if they are able to live in Boulder and eliminate their car commute. However, they will not choose a one-bedroom rental. In order to make a dent in our jobs/housing imbalance, reduce our climate impact, and cultivate a cohesive, diverse city, we need to create diverse housing options that serve our community.
We need to leverage Federal dollars to create and preserve affordable housing while also strengthening our programs to promote long-term affordability. We also need to pivot from our current approach of adding layers of punitive regulations which perversely raise the cost of living and move us further away from our goals. Instead, our zoning should incentivize the diverse mix of affordable and market-rate housing we need, not merely what feeds the appetites of national institutional capital. I have the experience and expertise to move us in the right direction on this critical issue to Boulder’s future.