David Biek: No on 300 and 301

Building in Boulder is already difficult, frustrating, unpredictable, and expensive. The cost of uncertainty and complexity in our process is already enormous. These measures would add to both.

Regarding 301, yes, development should pay its own way, but there are three major problems.

1) Putting something in the city charter means we can’t easily change it once we discover the unintended consequences. The problematic way we measure building height is an example.

2) It will be contentious and expensive to determine costs versus the positive contributions of any development.

Sustainability experts note that public costs per capita (for roads, utilities, public safety, and energy) increase in reverse proportion to how compactly people live together. Should we encourage new, energy-efficient, compact development in walkable, transit-rich locations that reduces consumption and tax larger, leaky buildings on the periphery, instead? This measure does the reverse.

3) 301 targets some of the direct fees that seem too low, but overlooks the total picture of all costs of developing in Boulder. Just getting permission to build the Pearl West project, for example, cost about $600,000. On a recent residential project, these costs combined added at least $33,000 to each apartment (or $400 a month in rent over 7 years).

Building in Boulder is already difficult, frustrating, unpredictable, and expensive. The cost of uncertainty and complexity in our process is already enormous. These measures would add to both.

Regarding 301, yes, development should pay its own way, but there are three major problems.

1) Putting something in the city charter means we can’t easily change it once we discover the unintended consequences. The problematic way we measure building height is an example.

2) It will be contentious and expensive to determine costs versus the positive contributions of any development.

Sustainability experts note that public costs per capita (for roads, utilities, public safety, and energy) increase in reverse proportion to how compactly people live together. Should we encourage new, energy-efficient, compact development in walkable, transit-rich locations that reduces consumption and tax larger, leaky buildings on the periphery, instead? This measure does the reverse.

3) 301 targets some of the direct fees that seem too low, but overlooks the total picture of all costs of developing in Boulder. Just getting permission to build the Pearl West project, for example, cost about $600,000. On a recent residential project, these costs combined added at least $33,000 to each apartment (or $400 a month in rent over 7 years).

Article originally published in Daily Camera on September 20, 2015