Where should the poor be allowed to live?

Image by Anders Holm Jensen via Unsplash

Saturday, May 21, 2022

When affordable housing is scarce, where should Boulder build it and how far should the government go to punish people who survive by living in cars or on public land? Ones where the issues were debated by elected officials this week as Boulder City Council weighed plans to add housing to East Boulder and county commissioners rejected plans to punish homeless people.

Below is a look at the city and county’s action this week:

Business concerns kill housing plan near pharmaceutical manufacturing plant

Boulder leaders have spent the past month finalizing the East Boulder Sub-Community Plan, a primary document intended to guide redevelopment in the employment-intensive area for decades to come. With public engagement completed and the plan nearing completion, City Council on the eleventh hour removed an area near the Corden Pharma manufacturing plant from the table for future housing, until there is no more heavy industry.

He pulled some 150 homes from the table under the plan, which has been in development for three years. This decision was made at the behest of Corden Pharma over concerns that its manufacturing operations would clash with potential future neighbors over light, noise and pollution.

Likewise, Boulder Municipal Airport users secured a last-minute addition to the plan to alleviate complaints from potential future residents. The council already receives many letters related to airport noise from neighboring property owners.

Lily: Potential accommodation removed from plan after drugmaker pushback. Boulder Reports Lab

“I’m a proponent of housing, but I’m a proponent of housing done right,” Councilwoman Junie Joseph said. “We want more housing, but we want desirable housing.

Councilwoman Tara Winer said, “In a way, I feel like we’re protecting people by saying we’re not going to build housing here.”

Low-income renters, especially people of color, have historically been pushed against heavy industry and transportation by local zoning regulations like Boulder’s, and state and federal governments that run the highways through the heart low-income historic neighborhoods, especially black people. Health disparities related to such decisions are well documented.

Other council members pushed back, noting the severe housing shortage and its connection to increasing homelessness — itself a major driver of illness and premature death.

“We have people living on the streets, in their cars, in pretty dangerous situations right now because we don’t have enough housing,” Councilwoman Nicole Speer said. “Not everyone has the ability to live in a nice neighborhood. People need roofs.

“To say that we are not going to have housing in an area excludes any design or creative solution that might alleviate our concerns,” said councilor Lauren Folkerts, architect. “It might be a new kind of life that we have elsewhere in Boulder, but the community engagement suggests that’s what’s being sought.”

The vote to remove housing near Corden Pharma was 6-3, with Councilors Speer, Folkerts and Rachel Friend dissenting. All three voted with the rest of the board to adopt the plan as a whole, with the recommended changes.

Boulder’s second sub-community plan is yet to be approved – planning board and council must agree on terms, and council has rejected a key planning board provision that would impose a hard cap on the number jobs allowed in East Boulder.

“In general, the city does not regulate the number of jobs”, said Kathleen King, a municipal planning official. “Employment fluctuates over time and post-COVID dynamics are really changing.

There are city goals to balance jobs and housing, and specific policies can be used to limit the number of jobs, like Boulder did by updating rules on where office space is located. . The East Boulder sub-community plan, for example, allows offices only in certain areas and restricted to specific floors of buildings.

Flatiron Business Park now accounts for 24% of all Boulder jobs. The plan strives to maintain that share over 20 years, King said.

County commissioners rescind camping ban – for now

People of a place can living on is on the streets of unincorporated Boulder County, in cars or otherwise. Two county commissioners have rejected a camping ban similar to those in Boulder and Longmont. Laws in those cities pushed people into county lands, officials argued.

the arrangement would have subjected people living in their cars to fines, similar to (although more expensive than) parking tickets: up to $100 for the first offence, $200 for the second and $300 for the third and subsequent offences.

Such policies have been decried by civil rights activists, homelessness advocates and experts as well as people who are experiencing homelessness themselves, who say they criminalize poverty and people’s living conditions. having few other legal options. Research has shown that laws undermine stability and trust in the systemdisrupting lives and extending the time spent homeless.

Fines and fees “can potentially affect a credit report“, Commissioner Marta Loachamin said, making it harder to get housing. “There are effects.”

Concerns also exist about the legality of the measure as drafted, which was framed to allow searches of tents or vehicles without a warrant, in direct violation of the constitutional right to privacy.

Lily: Boulder County commissioners reject camping ban. Daily camera

Proponents acknowledge that criminalizing homelessness is not a solution, but say some action is needed to allay concerns of homes and businesses as well as damage to county lands, usually in the form of litter and of waste water.

“That’s definitely not going to solve the problem,” Sheriff Joe Pelle said. “It’s just one tool among others to allow us to deal with a particular aspect that is problematic for our community. I have a constituency of people who live in homes and neighborhoods that are affected.

It’s really our only option other than just not regulating it and letting it happen.

A county camping ban is not dead yet. The commissioners can review the order after the reviews.

$3.1 million allocated to forest fire resilience, other council priorities

In the first adjustment of the 2022 budget, the city added more than $3 million to projects and programs the new city council directed staff to pursue. Assignments include:

$612,500 for housing and social services

  • $375,000 to rehabilitate existing municipal facilities into a “respite center for the homeless”
  • $40,000 for a down payment assistance pilot project for middle-income people
  • $70,000 for a 5-year strategic plan for inclusive housing
  • $7,500 for a survey on updating ADU rules
  • $120,000 for HOA Assessment Pilot Expansion

$503,900 for wildfires and disaster preparedness:

  • $250,000 to accelerate climate resilience work
  • $109,933 to hire wilderness staff for OSMP
  • $43,967 for wildfire home appraisals
  • $100,000 for forest firefighting equipment

The bulk of the expenditure ($2 million) is for the hiring of 22.5 full-time staff, including several in the Department of Housing and Human Services for activities such as homelessness outreach, response to crises and the prevention of evictions.

Soon a guaranteed income

The Council will also review a plan to provide cash assistance to low-income Boulderites. Staff have offered to spend federal COVID recovery dollars on a pilot project, which has fueled the proliferation of programs across the country.

Twenty-eight cities have launched guaranteed income projects, and 12 more are in the pipeline. Typically, recipients receive $500 per month for about two years. Times and amounts vary from city to city, as does who receives the funds.

Cambridge, Mass., gives money to “single babysitters” while Alexandria, Virginia, randomly selected households earning at least 50% of the area’s median income. Newark, New Jersey has gone a long way, offering assistance to anyone “facing housing insecurity.” (Mountain View, Calif., home of Google, was the stingiest among the staffing examples listed, allocating payments for only one year to very specific groups: “very low-income” families with children.)

A report from Stockton, California., one of the first U.S. cities to implement a guaranteed income, has seen increased employment levels, improved mental health, food security and housing stability, and “increased ability to setting goals, considering new job opportunities and taking risks (for example, taking time off from a current job to pursue other options like internships or job training) and meeting related family needs to the full-time work of caregivers.

Boulder offered direct cash assistance in much smaller amounts, using a $100,000 grant from the Colorado Left Behind Workers Fund in 2020. $1,000 was awarded to 94 people to whom unemployment benefits and funds federal stimulus packages were not available; the results were not reported in the memos to the board.

If approved by the board – an early preview has garnered majority support – the money could start flowing to the Boulderites in early 2023.

Next week’s discussion will also include a discussion of Boulder’s budget and long-term financial outlook.

Also this week

— Shay’s Castle, @shayshinecastle

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