ULI tackled an important question in Boulder on Tuesday night. Is Boulder Living Up To Its Values? We focused on how Boulder is aligned or not aligned with the stated community goals in our Comp Plan and debated some controversial topics like middle income housing, good design, neighborhood planning, economics versus land use, building heights, parking caps, and the all elusive “community benefit”. I joined John Tayer, Chris Meschuk, Laura Sheinbaum, Jeff Hohensee, Masyn Moyer and Jarvie Worcester on the stage to debate this topic from several angles as it relates to affordable housing, smart growth, placemaking and mobility.
We debated Form Based Code (PROS: predictable, quick, less risk - CONS: prescriptive, inflexible and no room for innovation) versus traditional development review (PROS: negotiation opportunity, flexibility CONS: unpredictable, risky, and lukewarm results).
I focused on the community benefit debate to give examples of how we are providing benefit in the wide range of projects Trestle has worked on in Boulder. Along the way, I agreed with Jeff’s comment that it often feels like a game of “whack a mole” and the results can often be death by a thousand cuts. And the consensus was the results may not be reflecting the ambitious, progressive, innovative community we all are proud of.
Most importantly, we all tried to provide solutions to the question “Can we do better?”. While there is no silver bullet, there were lots of great ideas discussed, including bold leadership, predictable processes, Form Based Code, equitable community participation, and innovative housing shifts. I suggested that we harness the millennial energy to bring new ideas to the table and connect the innovation with the doers and implementers and decision makers to create a path forward.