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Ballot initiative 300 neighborhoods’ right to vote

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Description of and ballot language for Boulder Initiative 300

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Ballot initiative 300 neighborhoods’ right to vote

  1. 1. What 300 applies to: • It pertains to widespread, wholesale re-zonings of neighborhoods. • Example: if they were going to change your neighborhood from low density to high density. • Then your neighborhood could petition for an appeal vote. • That’s all. Nothing more.
  2. 2. What 300 does not apply to: o It WON’T allow a neighborhood, or all of any neighborhood, to decide for any other neighborhood(s) o Fact: a neighborhood’s vote only applies to itself. o It exempts projects additions and renovations to existing residential structures that don’t add entirely new, separate dwelling units (very few residential remodels do). o It WON’T affect anyone’s ability to request, and receive, any variances allowed under our regulatory system. o 300 is an incredibly limited initiative but opponents are painting it otherwise.
  3. 3. What 300 does not apply to: o Individual , specific commercial or residential projects that are allowed under current zoning. o The community-wide benefiting projects, that opponents have brought up, would never have been the subject of neighborhood votes. o The north Boulder homeless shelter? Not subject to 300. o The Bridge House project in my neighborhood? Not subject to 300. o Individual projects? Not subject to 300. o Projects or re-zonings in another zoning? Not subject to 300. o 300 is a very limited initiative. But opponents are painting it otherwise.
  4. 4. More about 300, correcting myths: • 300 provides neighborhoods the right to an appeal vote, nothing more. The right to appeal is common in our society. • The neighborhood vote would be decided by a majority (51%) of registered voters residing in the neighborhood. • It’s democracy, it’s not divisive. If opponents believe democracy or citizens referendum measures are divisive, Boulder is in real trouble… • Citizens’ referendum initiatives established the Blue Line, the 55’ height limit, and women’s right to vote (nationally)
  5. 5. More about 300, correcting myths: • 300 doesn’t “carve up” the City into 66 neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods exist, with or without 300. The initiative simply refers to them, using the City’s own map of neighborhoods, on the Comprehensive Plan Update. • As an alternative, 300 also empowers City Council to “reasonably combine” neighborhoods and add new ones. • Madison, WI uses neighborhood plans, with defined zones. No one there says it’s divisive. Defining an area is inherent in working with a specific area. • Question: what exactly do they want to do to neighborhoods, that they think the majority of the neighborhood will not want? Why do they fear neighborhood residents having a vote? • Understand that theirs is a pessimistic view of Boulderites, that assumes the worst, most selfish attributes of you and your neighbors. • In contrast, 300 has faith in you and your neighbors. The opposition doesn’t. Those against 300 don’t trust neighborhoods and neighbors.
  6. 6. The voting process defined: • And in the text of Initiative 300 (lines 41-43, see full text of initiative at end of this presentation), it defines electors as the “registered voters that use an address in that neighborhood as their residence for voter registration purposes.” • Initiative 300 refers (and defers) to Boulder Revised Code Sec. 47, which defines referendum elections, and emphasize a majority vote:
  7. 7. Timing and cost of voting: • Boulder Revised Code Sec. 47 also defines the timing of referendum elections: • Council can defer the matter to the next general local election. o Cost: minimal. It costs very little to add one more question to ballots that are being mailed to all the registered voters in a neighborhood, anyway. • Or Council can hold a special election of the neighborhood. Cost: minimal. It costs very little to add one more question to ballots that are being mailed to all the registered voters in a neighborhood, anyway. o Cost (only in the case of a special election): Election officials say $1 to $3 per voter. So, for a neighborhood with 1,000 registered voters, it would cost $1000 to $3000.
  8. 8. Reasons for NRTV initiative: • City of Boulder Planning Dept. has developed an aggressive neighborhood densification agenda. • City recently hired planning staff from other cities - many of them, outspoken proponents of density. (“minimum density formulas” for all neighborhoods, etc.) • Remember how staff “right-sized” Folsom St. Remember how that worked out. Imagine if City staff carrying out the same, on the basic structure of Boulder’s neighborhoods. • The City created a list of policies of radical density increases for Boulder’s neighborhoods. Then they convened a “policy recommendation group,” of hand-picked members of the public who agreed with them. • Many leaders from neighborhood associations applied to be on that group, but were denied. Neighborhood concerns had very little seat at the table.
  9. 9. Reasons for NRTV initiative, cont. • One group’s mission statement was to “create multi-units, up to four-plexes, on (existing lots) in all single-family neighborhoods.” • Comment: that would require re-zoning, i.e., a land use regulation change. That’s what NRTV addresses: wholesale re- zonings of neighborhoods. • Other recommendations included: repealing 55’ height limit, building on Open Space, and repealing occupancy limits, zoning chances, etc. • Remember: impacts are not evenly divided among Boulder neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods are under major pressure as it is. (Martin Acres, Goss Grove, East Aurora, Uni Hill) • Actual neighborhood residents understand, in a way City stand don’t, current levels of impact and what upzoning would mean.
  10. 10. Reasons for NRTV initiative, cont. • City Council vaulted these aggressive neighborhood policies ahead of the Comprehensive Plan update. The Comp Plan is supposed to inform housing and residential growth strategies, not the other way around. The Comp Plan includes widespread, democratic surveying of the citizens, These aggressive neighborhood policies don’t. • One City housing mission statement was to “create multi-units, up to four-plexes, on (existing lots) in all single-family neighborhoods.” That quadruples the density. • Comment: that would require re-zoning, i.e., a land use regulation change. That’s what NRTV addresses: wholesale re-zonings of neighborhoods. • Other recommendations included: repealing 55’ height limit, building on Open Space, and repealing occupancy limits, zoning chances, etc. • Remember: impacts are not evenly divided among Boulder neighborhoods. Many neighborhoods are under major pressure as it is. (Martin Acres, Goss Grove, East Aurora, Uni Hill) • Actual neighborhood residents really understand, in a way City staff don’t, current levels of impact and what upzoning would mean.
  11. 11. NRTV has many self-limiting features • It’s not an automatic appeal. It will constitute a lot of work for a neighborhood, to petition for appeal. There won’t be ”frivolous” votes. • It will take a really objectionable move from the City to trigger this. NRTV was purposely designed so it wouldn’t be used except in serious cases. • IF any neighborhood successfully petitioned for an appeal, the majority of voters may vote to uphold, or repeal the re- zoning. We don’t know how neighborhoods will vote.
  12. 12. Voting, clarified: • Myth: “66 neighborhoods would be voting at the same time.” • Reality: Very few neighborhoods would be voting at the same time. • There are far less than 66 neighborhoods in each zoning district. In many cases, there are 6 to 8. • Cities don’t change the regulations for all the zoning districts at once. They do it one at a time, typically. • 66 neighborhoods ÷18 residential zonings in the initiative = average of 4 neighborhoods per zoning.
  13. 13. Negative comments about neighborhoods: • “Gated?” Consider Martin Acres, a likely first target for the City. It has: o Alvarado Village affordable housing o High Mar high density affordable housing for seniors o Multiple, high density apartment complexes o Renters, homeowners, students, elderly original 1952 owners, young families o Mix of blue collar and professionals o It is “the Middle.” • “Selfish,” “Blind to community-wide concerns?” o Martin Acres just welcomed the Bridge House transitional housing for formerly homeless individuals • That doesn’t mean neighbors don’t want a voice if they’re about to be re-zoned. A person’s single largest investment is their home. It’s neither surprising, nor reprehensible, that people would want a say. • Boulderites are compassionate, socially conscious people. Neighborhood residents are Bouderites, too. • Why assume the worst about people? 300 chooses to think the best. And, because 300 thinks the best of people, it holds that you get better results when you include them, with a real voice.
  14. 14. Pro-growth forces & what they’re spending to defeat 300/301: • Developers: many large donations from Boulder’s biggest developers. (Tebo: $5,000) • Boulder Area Realtors Association: $10,000 • National Association of Realtors: $32,000 • Out-of-state developers: $19,000 • (It’s “open season,” and they all have their sights on Boulder.) • The Boulder Daily Camera – every newspaper is pro- growth (more ad $ revenues, more subscribers, etc.) • The Chamber of Commerce – no surprise there either • And, sadly, certain parts of the community they’ve convinced they represent.
  15. 15. What would NRTV do? • It‘s actually a very limited initiative that would be utilized very rarely. • Its point is to provide neighborhoods with a final “safety net,” when all else fails…in very limited instances of the City re-zoning their entire neighborhood against their wishes • Question: What exactly is the City, or the No on 300 people, planning for neighborhoods, that they think a majority of neighborhood residents would object to? • Think about it. If they don’t have anything unreasonable planned, they shouldn’t worry about the chance of an appeal vote. The sheer tenacity of their resistance to you having a vote about your neighborhood worries me…
  16. 16. City’s current maps: one of nine area maps that show Boulder’s 66 existing neighborhoods.
  17. 17. Boulder Community Hospital: could the neighborhood vote? No. It’s a different zoning.
  18. 18. Baseline Zero: could the neighborhood vote? No, for three reasons.
  19. 19. Baseline Zero: could the neighborhood vote? No, for three reasons. • 1. Baseline Zero is zoned BC-2 (business community), Martin Acres’ zoning is LR-1 (residential) So, NO vote. • 2. The initiative restricts itself to “residential neighborhoods” and changes to them. So, NO vote. • 3. Even if BZ were in the same zoning as the neighborhood (it’s not), the developer wasn’t seeking regulation changes. He was seeking multiple variances (some maximum), but those are all allowed within current City regulations. So, NO vote.
  20. 20. Negative comments about neighborhoods: • “Gated?” I live in Martin Acres. We have: o Alvarado Village affordable housing o High Mar high density affordable housing for seniors o Multiple, high density apartment complexes o Renters, homeowners, students, elderly original 1952 owners, young families o Mix of blue collar and professionals o We are “the Middle.” So maintain us • “Selfish,” “Blind to community-wide concerns?” o We just welcomed the Bridge House transitional housing for formerly homeless individuals • That doesn’t mean we don’t want a voice if we’re about to be re-zoned. A person’s single largest investment is their home. It’s neither surprising, nor reprehensible, that people would want a say. • Boulderites are compassionate, socially conscious people. Neighborhood residents are Bouderites, too. • Why assume the worst about people? I choose to think the best. And, because I think the best of people, I believe you get better results when people have a real voice.
  21. 21. Text of Livable Boulder Neighborhood Initiative
  22. 22. Text of Initiative (cont.)
  23. 23. Text of Initiative (cont.)
  24. 24. City of Boulder Housing Strategy Recommendations
  25. 25. City of Boulder Housing Strategy Recommendations
  26. 26. A letter from one of 300’s opposition groups • Better Boulder is a front group representing realtors, builders, architects, and developers. • They lobbied the City Planning Board to approve the Baseline Zero project in Martin Acres. • Baseline Zero is now universally regarded (and by Planning Board, City Council) as the textbook definition of a neighborhood-clobbering project, with little if any value to the neighborhood. • Yet Better Boulder, and other opponents of 300 wanted Baseline Zero. This information alone has caused many people to vote for 300. • See next page.

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