By George Gerstle
I was dismayed and disappointed to read the Camera’s May 5 opinion column by Ed Byrne criticizing PLAN-Boulder County and attacking our approach to creating a more affordable and diverse community while preserving that which makes Boulder so unique.
Indeed, Mr. Byrne acknowledges that PLAN-Boulder has led the way in making Boulder the special place it is through creation of our Open Space program, the Blue Line that has kept our foothills from being covered with homes, the height limit that has preserved views of our mountain backdrop and preserving Enchanted Mesa and Flatirons Vista from development; all of which were opposed at the time by the development community.
Indeed, unfortunately, it now appears some are continuing to fight thoughtful solutions to our current challenges.
The path forward suggested in the PLAN-Boulder opinion column that Mr. Byrne finds so objectionable would allow Boulder to continue its progress toward the goal of affordable and livable housing for Boulder’s workforce and families, reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses and increasing community diversity while maintaining that which makes Boulder so attractive.
We recognize that while increased housing density may be appropriate, it should be done in a way that supports more affordable, and livable, family-oriented housing, rather than the current profusion of the expensive developer=driven dense, multistory one- or two-bedroom apartment/condominiums and huge houses that are neither appropriate nor affordable for the majority of our diverse workforce and make Boulder look like every other big city.
Our proposals include supporting smaller housing units and multifamily “rowhouse”-style development with close access to parks and schools, and using our remaining redevelopment opportunities for permanently affordable housing.
This will have the effect of limiting the increase in our current huge imbalance between jobs and housing that has resulted in even more people commuting long distances into Boulder, which is clearly contrary to achieving our climate change, air quality, diversity and quality of life goals .
PLAN-Boulder is open to working together to address these challenges in a collaborative manner. It is indeed unfortunate that Mr. Byrne seeks to divide the community rather than recognize that there are opportunities to collaborate in addressing our daunting challenges.
George Gerstle is a Boulder native, retired Boulder County Transportation Director and is on the PLAN-Boulder County Board. He wrote this opinion of behalf of PLAN-Boulder.