ISSUES & POSITIONS
Serving on Boulder’s Housing Advisory Board and leading it as Chair, I have learned about the city’s housing challenges in depth. I have engaged with residents, staff and Council on a wide range of housing issues. This first-hand knowledge of the obstacles and the array of solutions will make me an effective city council member.
Although many institutions, such as universities and local governments, claim to embrace public engagement, current social research now indicates that, while some entities truly embrace public engagement, other entities still have a long way to go. The two most obvious concerns about engagement in Boulder are 1) the agenda is controlled by the institution with no opportunity for the public to add to the agenda; and 2) the options are set by developers and/or staff before the public is engaged. While Boulder has made some strides in public engagement, I support a much more vigorous effort.
While I’ve observed that City staff and Council generally work hard and care about Boulder, the volume of work has grown to become overwhelming. Council members can hardly be expected to absorb the important and minute details of the 500+ pages that they need to read each week in preparation for meetings and votes on critical issues. The current setup leaves them little option but to follow the direction of staff, rather than the other way around. It is time to look at “the big picture” to determine if changes should be made to basic meeting practices. I believe that there are many ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Council. First, I will engage the community and staff members and ask what changes they recommend. I would start with a questionnaire to be answered anonymously by each staff member. Meanwhile, I would request a statistically valid survey of residents, with questions developed by both staff and community members who represent diverse views.
Part of the uniqueness of Boulder is its small-city feel. Many residents choose to live here because of the distinctive neighborhoods and mixed housing types. Height limits within Boulder and open space surrounding the city are two aspects that make Boulder more attractive than other cities in Colorado and our country. The height limit enriches residents, workers and visitors with views, sunlight and a friendly scale. Protection of open space prevents suburban sprawl. These traits need to be maintained.
Our Open Space program is one of the cornerstones of Boulder. We invested heavily as a community to make the land around us suitable for recreation and conservation. I believe it is extremely important to take the steps necessary to keep Open Space maintained for both Boulder’s residents and our visitors. We have reached the point where we can switch our resources from acquisition to maintenance.