Reviews & Comments
Boulder, COBoulder, not so great anymore
I moved to Boulder in the late 90's and I have seen a lot of changes. For one, over the last two decades, land-use policies have helped shaped Boulder into what it is today. In the past, Boulder had a quaint downtown surrounded by a suburban environment. It had an urban growth boundary with a vast amount of open space. In wanting to keep that character, residents voiced concern over the densification of neighborhoods as population and job growth grew. Instead of allowing for infill development that would include apartments, duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes, around the downtown area, residents insisted that single-family homes stay in place, or be replaced with even larger single-family homes. This practice artificially raised the value of homes in Boulder to what it is now. The average single-family home was $1,207,403 in 2018. Of course, local wages did not keep up with the cost of living. This has forced low and middle-income residents out of Boulder, who now commute in every day from areas like Longmont, Superior, Westminster, Lafayette, Weld County, and Denver. Boulder now sees 45-65K in commuters a day, which has created intense traffic and an F rating in air quality. According to Environment Colorado, Boulder had 143 days of poor air quality in 2018. No longer can you see the Flatirons clearly, most days there is smog.
The ironic part of Boulder is that residents claim to be especially concerned about the environment. Yet at the last meeting with Mayor Sam Weaver over environmental concerns, I would say that at least 95% of the participants drove to the meeting, somehow conveniently overlooking the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are caused by car exhaust. There seems to be a disconnect between transportation problems and land-use policies. Cars are the single largest contributor to air pollution in the United States. Last year was the third year on record that transportation has led our country in emissions. In a country where eight in 10 citizens believe that human activity is fueling climate change, it’s baffling that Boulder "climate advocates" aren't starting with policies to reduce automobile emissions.
Let's not overlook the number of Boulderites who drive hybrids and electric cars like Teslas with license plates that say things like "BEGREEN". Let's be clear, there is nothing "green" about cars, electric or not. From the metals used in batteries to tire plastics degrading our water systems, cars are an environmental disaster. But, look no further and you will see plenty of Subarus with "green slogans" slapped on their bumpers. These are the same people who drive to the mountains every weekend to go skiing. Do they think about their contributions to GHG emissions? Many residents still drive to the grocery store and to run errands, even if it's only three or four blocks away. I currently live in a new development that is supposed to be walkable, but the 6 lanes of traffic in front of the apartment make it very unpleasant. The crosswalks take forever to change for pedestrians, clearly favoring single-use occupancy car traffic. It feels like we live on an island, far from downtown, even though we are less than a mile away. Instead of taking drastic steps to improve Boulder, single-family homeowners, who have seen their home values skyrocket, control what happens in local government. You can expect that is not going to change. Additionally, most local government employees drive in to work from the more affordable bedroom communities surrounding Boulder, because they can't afford to live here. I'm not sure how invested they are in changing a community they don't live in.
In the future, affordable housing will only be built on the outskirts of town, (due to residents not wanting density in close proximity to downtown) where traffic makes walking to places uncomfortable and the pollution is unbearable.