Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"We Should Have Changed the Code Months Ago"

by Osman Parvez
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Is City Council Against Property Rights?

The Camera is reporting on City Council's efforts to block the redevelopment of 1580 Canyon, formerly Robb's Music. Council voted yesterday to review an already approved decision to allow the property owner to build a 54 foot tall building on the site.

From the article:
Developers received approval from the city's Planning Board last month to tear down the existing building on the site and put the four-story, 54-foot-tall structure in its place.

Before yesterday's meeting, Councilwoman Susan Osborne sent an email (on a public list) to colleagues rallying support.

She wrote (bold is mine):
"This project proposal also underlines for me the mistake of granting automatic density increases for housing and below-grade parking in the downtown zones. It is an unwarranted give-away that creates the expectation of height modifications; we should have changed the code months ago. It also reminds me that we should look again at the DT-5 zone as it is an intense zone that includes many of the properties south of Canyon to Boulder High and sections of Walnut that remain to be developed."

Here's the rub. Since new council was elected, they've been attempting to implement harsh new regulations over development. Recall council's attempt last Spring to put in place a draconian 0.35 FAR ratio, efforts which created much public protest. They even called had the moxy to call it an "emergency."

Because of the uproar (and threatened law suits), council hired consultants to create the appearance of due process. My experiences with the consultants' efforts (workshops and surveys) show a clear bias. What they've instituted is a barely masked public relations campaign to convince voters of council's biased position rather than a fair and neutral process.

Now we have the latest spectacle. The property at 1580 Canyon was recently purchased by current owners in an known regulatory environment. The project they proposed has already been approved. And now here comes Council.

It boils down to principle. To be honest, I'm not a fan of the project but I think Council's arbitrary efforts to limit development is an attack on property rights. If the people of Boulder feel that new restrictions should be placed on development, so be it. But that's not what we're dealing with.

City Council's bias against development and their one-sided process bother me. If they're willing to yank the rug from beneath 1580 Canyon's owners, what stops them from doing the same to your property? Whether you decide to make changes to your property or not, your property has value based on its potential. Remove the potential and you threaten its value. How can Council Members believe that private property owners, exercising their property rights within existing regulations are benefiting from an "unwarranted give-away?" It's deeply alarming.

image: Piez



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1 comment:

  1. City Council is absolutely and obviously against property rights, and growth in general. It is maddening to me that a city which purports to be (and sells itself as) sustainably minded willfully ignores the fundamental tenets therein. See the Hanover Principles. It is imperative, if we take as a given that the city will never expand outward, past its current boundaries, that the city becomes more dense, (slightly) taller, and allow for growth and class inclusiveness in terms of population. Cities are living things, and to cut them off ensures their demise over the long term (I would consider a city full of wealthy boomers and their serfs a dying / dead city). This can be done smartly and can even enhance the character of Boulder. Current policies make infill development extremely difficult and expensive, exacerbating the affordability problem as well as the view that Boulder is built-out, a dead zone, an island of wealthy plutocrats.

    I am sure there are those who will disagree with me strongly (esp. longtime Boulderites who have succumbed to NIMBY ideology - let 'er rip), I look forward to the reactions...

    ReplyDelete