For the makers and shakers, the developers, realtors, and landlords, the Chamber of Commerce, the City Council and Planning Board — in short, the money people of Boulder — the coming of Google is regarded a feather in the cap for the city. For many of the town's residents, particularly those who have been here longer, it seems yet another arrow into the heart of the quality of life they cherish here.
Similarly, the university celebrates its growing enrollment, completely ignoring the increased cost and size of its administration and the traffic and infrastructure impact it bears, and continues to expand its own rental empire as an integral part of its business model. One might wish the city require an environmental impact assessment from the university, but — assessed frankly — the student population is a major cash cow for both entities.
There was a time when Boulder lacked jobs and people drove to Denver to find work. Today, there are jobs aplenty, but the rising costs of living here are not met by the wages generated, resulting in a flow of traffic — mornings and evenings, congested and impatient — that is daunting. In its new Comprehensive Plan, the city hopes to address this by increasing the density of housing in designated areas around town. This entails a proliferation of tenement/project-style apartment complexes and the allowance and creation of co-op housing in specified residential neighborhoods, including an invitation for landlords to participate in the program, partially because existing occupancy limits for rental units are not being enforced.
Statewide, too, between the legalization of marijuana and generous incentives being offered for companies to locate here, the flood of new residents is creating anxiety and a sense of lost identity all across Colorado, which for many is beginning to feel like a lost paradise. Good planning and good architectural design are key elements in the mental health and sense of belonging in any community. The upcoming Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan warrants a thorough public review of its new provisions. Choosing to ignore and bypass neighborhood and citizen concerns, as well as the environmental ramifications of these changes, would indicate an unbecoming arrogance on the part of city leadership.
Robert Porath, Boulder