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Boulder, CO Ballot Initiative 301

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Description, FAQs, and ballot language of Boulder, Colorado's Ballot Initiative #301.
Read the full initiative at www.livableboulder.org.

Published in: News & Politics
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Boulder, CO Ballot Initiative 301

  1. 1. Ballot Question 301: Development Shall Pay Its Own Way 1
  2. 2. 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, etc. 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- miles-traveled (VMT). • More money for affordable housing, because #301 ensures that commercial development pays its way. • Our tax dollars will serve us, not subsidize new development. 2
  3. 3. 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 service.) • 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! 3
  4. 4. 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 housing units. • The City Council can always subsidize a development – but it will have to put real money on the table, not just ignore the costs. 4
  5. 5. #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. 5
  6. 6. #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. 6
  7. 7. #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 requirements. 7
  8. 8. Data Point – Residents and in-commuters generate approx. equal traffic per capita: • Boulder currently has approx. 100,000 residents and 60,000 in- commuters. 8
  9. 9. 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- commuters. 9
  10. 10. 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 and objectives… • “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
  11. 11. A lot more money is needed to deal with traffic. • The City says it will need $458 million more by 2035 to really address our traffic needs. That’s over and above current fees and taxes. 11
  12. 12. 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 taxes! • Even if this cost were cut in half by improving the plans, dealing with growth is VERY expensive! 12
  13. 13. 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. 13
  14. 14. 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 calculations.) • 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.) 14
  15. 15. 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 affordable price.) • So they actually pay for 15% at most, not 20%. • This will not keep our community economically diverse. 15
  16. 16. 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. 16
  17. 17. Where is the money going that developers currently pay? • 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. 17
  18. 18. 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 frequently. • 4 of the last 5 years have had charter amendments on the ballot. 18
  19. 19. 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. 19
  20. 20. 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. 20
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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 Section. • 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. 22
  23. 23. 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. 23
  24. 24. 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 Section. • 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 as submitted. 24

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