Susan B. Levy: Ballot issues are about who we want to be

I am writing on behalf of the Human Services Alliance of Boulder County, composed of the nonprofit human service agencies that receive local government funding in Boulder County. We oppose the city of Boulder ballot issues 300 and 301. If passed, we believe that not only would it be more difficult for our organizations to provide services within the city of Boulder, our clients and the community at large would be negatively impacted as well.

The clients we serve vary in the nature and intensity of the services they receive. Some, because of chronic issues, require intensive long-term services from a variety of human service providers. Some are families that live on the edge of poverty accessing services intermittently or only need one type of support service. And others are people and families, who never thought they would require help from a human service agency, but life happened and their home was lost in a flood or they have a child with a disability or they need transportation assistance after surgery. Human service agencies are the safety net for all of us in Boulder County, regardless of income, age or ethnicity.

However, serving this diversity of clients can have an impact on the neighborhood where we’re located. Day care centers have a lot of traffic during drop-off and pick-up times. Medical clinics need parking lots. Basic needs are best met when clients can receive a variety of services under one roof, requiring larger facilities and perhaps loading docks. And any one of those agencies may need to be located in an area that is contiguous with a neighborhood. Issue 300 would permit a mere 10 percent of a neighborhood to make decisions that ultimately impact the quality of life for all people in Boulder. When vision is limited to only your neighborhood, the larger picture gets lost. We need to assure that vital human services that we all benefit from continue to be available in Boulder and located where it makes sense.

Issue 301 would effectively halt all development in the city of Boulder for at least a year or two while ambiguous and undefined language gets sorted out in the courts. It is irresponsible to present an issue for a vote that is not clearly worded and where the implications are unknown. At a minimum, in the short term, this will cost the city millions of dollars in lost development fees, user fees and licenses, not to mention litigation fees, all of which will negatively impact all of the other city services. Affordable housing efforts will cease to exist, not only short-term, but likely in the long term as steep hikes in fees and licenses make it even more difficult to build. In a recent Daily Camera article (“Boulder Housing Partners: 300, 301 could impede affordable housing,” Oct. 4), Boulder Housing Partners, while not taking a position on the ballot issue, deftly outlined the negative impacts this measure would have on their efforts to maintain at least some affordable housing in the city of Boulder. This will have a negative impact on all businesses in Boulder, including our HSA members, who employ people who would like to live where they work.

Ultimately these measures are a referendum about the kind of community we want Boulder to be. Many of the HSA agencies were founded back in the 1970s and ’80s when people in Boulder rallied to take care of their own, whether by providing health care for those who couldn’t pay, a domestic violence shelter, an organization that takes care of abused children, help for disabled, or support for our seniors. None of these were accomplished either by a neighborhood or by the city, but by people who saw a need and did what was best for the good of the community — the whole community. That’s the vision we want to continue in the city of Boulder. Vote No on Issues 300 and 301.

Susan B. Levy chairs the Human Services Alliance of Boulder County

Originally published by Daily Camera on October 29, 2015