Ballot Question 301:
Development Shall Pay Its Own Way
How will #301 benefit us?
#301 requires new development to pay the cost of facilities, infrastructure,
and services needed to support that new development:
• Transportation, affordable housing, libraries, parks, rec centers, police, fire,
If #301 passes:
• Less traffic congestion increases, because travel times and emergency
response times must be maintained.
• Less CO2 emissions per person, because #301 limits growth in vehicle-
• More money for affordable housing, because #301 ensures that
commercial development pays its way.
• Our tax dollars will serve us, not subsidize new development.
Who pays for the costs of growth now?
• There are only two options:
1) Either the developers pay, OR
2) The citizens pay (through increased taxes or lower levels of
• Our current system - developers “privatize the profits, and
socialize the costs.” So we pay and they benefit.
• “Growth should pay its own way” - a policy of the Boulder
Valley Comprehensive Plan for 45 years.
• It’s time to finally implement it!
How #301 works:
• The only time development wouldn’t be allowed under #301 is if
the project (or projects) cost Boulder citizens more to serve than
what they pay in fees and taxes.
• The City Council can exempt public buildings and affordable
• The City Council can always subsidize a development – but it will
have to put real money on the table, not just ignore the costs.
#301 won’t force prices up.
But it will eliminate excess profits.
• Prices are set by the market, not by developers’ costs.
• Excess profits happen when developers sell access to public amenities they
haven’t paid for.
-------------------Market Price--- the same with or without #301 ----------------------------
reasonable profits reasonable profits
excess profits (because no #301) -> -> -> ---------------------
--------------------- -> -> -> additional fees (required by #301)
current fees current fees
costs of development costs of development
costs of construction, etc. costs of construction, etc.
#301’s legal requirements are easily met.
• #301 only requires (1) what is allowed under state and Federal law,
• (2) what is “reasonably designed” to achieve the results, and
• (3) using generally accepted professional practices and standards.
The City Attorneys Office has not identified any significant issues, and
they have reviewed #301 at least 3 times.
• Any delays are due to the glacially slow City processes – the City took
6 months just to issue an RFP to study growth costs and 3 more
months just to hire the consultants to do the work.
• If the Council had made this a priority, the consultants’ work would
already be done.
#301 supports affordable housing.
• Jobs-housing linkage fees will increase. (These are fees paid
by commercial development to provide affordable housing
for some fraction of the employees who work there.)
• Affordable housing can be exempted from #301’s
Data Point – Residents and in-commuters
generate approx. equal traffic per capita:
• Boulder currently has approx. 100,000 residents and 60,000 in-
Data Point – Boulder is expecting significant
growth in the coming years:
• By 2035, the City projects an increase of over 15,000 more
residents and over 15,000 more jobs. Because only some
residents work, this means roughly 7-8,000 more in-
Our transportation funding is inadequate to
deal with this expected growth.
• The 2014 Transportation Master Plan (TMP) states (on p. 5-4), “Even
with the additional funding from the 2013 sales tax approval, the ability
to make capital investment in the transportation system has clearly
fallen short of the amount needed to achieve our transportation goals
• “Work prepared for the Blue Ribbon Commission in 2007 shows that
with increasing costs for operations and maintenance, these functions
could consume the entire transportation budget within a few years.”
• To maintain travel times and reduce total vehicle-miles traveled given
expected growth, the Transportation budget would have to increase by
over 75%. 10
A lot more money is needed to deal with
• The City says it will need $458 million more by 2035 to really
address our traffic needs. That’s over and above current fees
Preventing traffic congestion from increasing
is EXPENSIVE on a per person basis.
• Divide the $458,000,000 TMP Vision Plan by the total of
22,500 new residents plus non-resident workers, the
resulting cost is about $20,000 per new person.
• This is over and above current transportation fees & sales
• Even if this cost were cut in half by improving the plans,
dealing with growth is VERY expensive!
Why is traffic congestion so expensive?
• Once intersections get to capacity, even a small increase in
traffic causes a major increase in congestion, as cars back up
further and further. (This is the “hockey stick” curve – flat
and then steep.)
• So for every new vehicle trip, one current trip has to be
eliminated or transferred to another mode (bus, bike, walk).
• Adding more people, even in dense development, doesn’t
solve the problem – it’s just less worse than sprawl.
Affordable Housing: Commercial growth isn’t
paying its own way, not even close.
• The City’s 2016 jobs-housing linkage fee will be $9.53/sq. ft.
• The full 100% subsidy required for one new affordable unit is
over$186,000 (1,200 sq. ft. new attached rental, per City
• So it takes about 20,000 sq. ft. of new office space to pay for the full
subsidy on one 1,200 sq. ft. unit.
• 20,000 sq. ft. is about about 100 new employees, but only 1 full
affordable unit’s worth of subsidy.
• Clearly, $9.53 is way lower than what is needed. (The City currently
supplements this with other taxpayer funds.)
Affordable Housing: Residential growth isn’t
paying its own way.
• Residential developers are supposedly required to provide
“20%” of their new housing as permanently affordable.
• Large rental projects meet the “20%” requirement by paying to
subsidize the equivalent of 1 affordable unit off-site for every 5
units on-site. This is called “Cash-In-Lieu.”
• But these developers are only required to pay 75% of this
subsidy cost (the difference between the market price and the
• So they actually pay for 15% at most, not 20%.
• This will not keep our community economically diverse.
Growth is not paying its own way for libraries,
parks, rec centers, and city services:
• Since 1990, Boulder’s population has grown almost 25%, and
employment has grown over 28%.
• But the City has only added a few small public facilities, like:
– The Valmont Bike Park
– The store-front library in North Boulder
• And tax rates just went up in 2013, and another increase is
anticipated in 2016.
• But service levels haven’t improved.
So, the reality is that growth has not provided any tax revenue
benefits, quite the contrary.
Where is the money going that developers
• Fees for reviews and inspections – done at or below cost.
• Impact fees and excise taxes – these are adequate for utilities
but below cost for transportation, and other city facilities.
• Sales tax on construction materials – the City rate of 3.86% only
yields around $3-4/sq. ft.
• Even when combined, these do not cover the costs imposed.
Why put #300 and #301 in the Charter?
• If we put these citizen initiatives in the Charter, they can't be
gutted like the Growth Management ordinance or ignored like
the Comprehensive Plan.
• Remember, councils come and councils go, but one bad council
majority and the damage to our community is done.
• Besides, if the Council decides that something in #301 needs to
be amended, they can put it on the ballot, as they have done
• 4 of the last 5 years have had charter amendments on the
Some final observations…
• Our opponents will always find something to criticize –
whatever we propose, it’s too general or too specific, too rigid
or too flexible, too detailed or not detailed enough.
• But remember - the perfect is the enemy of the good.
• Either we pass #300 and #301 now and keep Boulder livable, or
we will be stuck on the current high-growth path and destroy
what we love.
And to close – a quote from Al Bartlett about
putting things in the Charter (from the ‘60’s)
• At one point, a member of the City Council spoke to me, advising me in a thoughtful and fatherly way
about matters of city government. He pointed out that one should not put things such as the Blue
Line in the City Charter because then it would be sort of cast in stone and it would be difficult to
modify and change as circumstances might require.
• He said it would be better to trust the City Council. If members of the Council voted to do something
that violated the intent of the Blue Line, then we should campaign to attempt to unelect the
offending Council members at the next election.
• I thanked him kindly; we discussed his recommendation, but we knew
that we had to have the Blue Line in the City Charter. Then it would be
safe and it could not be overturned by pressures exerted on the City
Council. Once in the City Charter, the Blue Line could be amended
only by a vote of the people of Boulder.
• It is clear today that if we had not had the Blue Line in the City
Charter, there is almost no chance that the City of Boulder would have
its present Greenbelt and Open Space program.
Ballot Initiative 301 – Actual Language(1)
Charter Section 12A. Development Shall Pay Its Own Way
• The purpose of this Section is to ensure that City levels of service are
not diminished by new development. Examples of City facilities and
services affected by this Section include police, fire-rescue, parks and
recreation, public libraries, housing, human services, senior services,
parking services, transportation, and open space and mountain parks.
• To the extent allowed by Federal and state law, the City shall not
approve new development that does not fully pay for or otherwise
provide all the additional facilities and services required to fully offset
the burdens that otherwise would have been imposed by such new
development on City facilities and services. 21
Ballot Initiative 301 – Actual Language(2)
• For purposes of this Section, “new development” shall be defined as:
(a) Any residential or non-residential construction that results in additional floor
area in a building or on a site, except for modifications to residential buildings
that do not add additional dwelling units and that have a de minimis effect on
the facilities and services referred to in this Section, or
(b) Any change in use of an existing building or site, except for changes of use
that have a de minimis effect on the facilities and services referred to in this
• For purposes of this Section, “City facilities and services” shall be defined as all of
those that are material and provided by all City departments or divisions, except
the departments or divisions supplying City water, wastewater, flood control, and
electric utility services, as these already have service standards, and the
departments of finance and human resources (personnel), the offices of the city
manager and city attorney, and the municipal court.
Ballot Initiative 301 – Actual Language(3)
• The City Council shall adopt and apply standards and practices that are
reasonably designed to achieve the requirements of this Section and that are
consistent with generally accepted professional standards and practices where
such exist. These standards and practices shall include without limitation
consideration of indirect revenues and contributions from new development,
such as sales and use tax paid by occupants, and consideration of multiple
developments evaluated in aggregate.
• Standards for transportation facilities and services shall include without
limitation emergency response times, daily vehicle miles traveled within the City,
and travel times on the streets for which the City measured travel times as of the
passage of this Section, and any additional streets that may be warranted. These
travel time measurements shall be expanded to include the hour before and the
hour after the morning and evening peak hours.
Ballot Initiative 301 – Actual Language(4)
• The City Council, by an affirmative vote of six members, may
exempt the development of permanently affordable housing units,
or the affordable housing portions of new developments, or
publicly-owned new developments from the requirements of this
• New development with a complete and properly submitted
application for a building permit, or a change of use permit, as of
the date of passage of this Section, shall be exempt from the
requirements of this Section, but only for the construction or
change of use covered by the permit or change of use application