We got some good local and wider media coverage of the final public hearing on the co-op ordinance on January 3rd, 2017. A few excerpts:
Alex Burness in the Boulder Daily Camera (2017-01-04)
After a year of deliberation, including thousands of citizen comments and four marathon public hearings, Boulder at long last finalized and approved a co-operative housing ordinance early Wednesday, bringing to a close one of the most contentious and drawn-out community debates in the city’s recent history.
In a 7-2 vote at 1 a.m., the City Council passed an ordinance that sides with most of what co-op advocates have pushed for since the public process kicked off last January. The ordinance will be formally adopted on fourth reading as part of the consent agenda for the council’s Jan. 17 meeting, City Attorney Tom Carr said.
Some advocates could be seen celebrating with hugs, cake and group photos after the meeting adjourned, while the Boulder Neighborhood Alliance — a group that gained prominence in recent months through its opposition to the ordinance — was already tweeting about a referendum.
Nathan Schneider in America Magazine (2017-01-04)
Soon after I moved to Boulder to assume a teaching post in the summer of 2015, I first saw the curse at work. It was at a city council meeting, where the subject of debate was an occupancy limit that prevents more than three or four unrelated people from sharing a single house—in particular, whether to start actually, more aggressively, enforcing it. Angry neighbors, especially from around the student ghetto of University Hill, called for a crackdown. But far outnumbering them was an organized bloc of mainly young, illicit over-occupants, together with allies from the three legal co-op houses.
Almost a hundred people spoke that night in the public comments, but the phrase I remember most vividly was from a woman who cried out, before the council, “You’re legislating isolation!”
The Nation Report (2017-01-04)
The majority of a full council chambers were wearing giant stickers that read, “Co-ops yes!” Some said that they had finally found a family and a home, others said that they are living environmentally consciously while sharing heat, light, and travel. Some living in co-ops said that they use 75% less electricity over those living alone in Boulder and that this reduction of energy usage was in line with the city’s climate goals.
Blake Marcelle who uses the pronoun “they,”approached the podium saying that they were neither a “she” nor a “he,” and invited those whom they identified from their co-op to stand behind the podium also so that council could see the collective one more time, “Because I think they are really amazing and they’re the only people who I know who say the same ‘Blake’ that is my name, and who hear my voice and see my face and don’t try to decide that I’m a boy or a girl or don’t exist.”
KGNU Community Radio (2017-01-04)
It took nine public meetings, hundreds of public comments and thousands of emails from residents, but Boulder City Council has finally approved a new cooperative housing ordinance that many say is an experiment that will need to be monitored closely. Before approving the new cooperative housing plan on a 7-2 vote, Boulder City Councilmembers admitted the ordinance wouldn’t please everyone. As written, the ordinance limits the number of residents per co-op to 12 in low-density neighborhoods while up to 15 residents could occupy a co-op in medium to high-density neighborhoods. The ordinance also requires that homes turned into co-ops be large enough to allow 200 square feet per person.
Zane Selvans in the Boulder Daily Camera (2017-01-05)
In the current discussion of cooperative housing, arguments about housing policy and sustainability have figured prominently. It should come as no surprise that larger cooperatives benefit from economies of scale, but this fight isn’t just about affordable rent, climate change, and having to cook dinner more than once a week. This is also fundamentally about wanting a different way of life.
When I’m in a house with only two or three other people, it doesn’t feel peaceful, it feels hollow and lifeless. I don’t want to have to be home alone. I don’t want to eat or cook dinner by myself. In the morning, I want to hear voices murmuring in the kitchen, inviting me to get out of bed even when I’m depressed. I want to have daily relationships with older people, younger people, and children, even if I don’t end up having kids. (Especially if I don’t end up having kids!) In a household of six to eight people, there are frequently times when nobody is home. It’s obvious when even one person is missing — whether they’re sick, or working extra hours, or out of town — and it changes the character of the home. In a larger household, the home takes on a life of its own. It becomes more independent of any individual, more resilient to life changes and the ebb and flow of the daily grind.
Alex Burness in the Boulder Daily Camera (2017-01-07)
Enforcement of occupancy limits is currently done entirely on a complaint basis, but about 80 percent of the vacation rental investigations since June were prompted by city staff.
“I’m hoping to extend that philosophy to over-occupancy,” Carr said of the vacation rental plan.
The city attorney said he’ll meet soon with enforcement and building inspection officials to plan next steps in how the city handles “what council clearly wants: a more aggressive approach.
It’s easier to do with vacation rentals than with over-occupied dwellings, since the former are generally advertised on popular and visible sites.
But Boulder may have gotten a head start with an ordinance approved just before the co-op saga began. That ordinance requires, among other things, that legal occupancy be included in housing ads, and it also allowed advertisement about the legal limit to be used as evidence of over-occupancy.
Dave Krieger in the Boulder Daily camera (2017-01-07)
Boulder cannot be both “progressive” and locked into housing patterns designed a half-century ago. It should be self-evident that Boulder is no longer the sleepy rural outpost it once was. Some residents resent that. Some don’t. But it’s a fact. Time marches on.
In its co-op vote, the council kept faith with the values it so often proclaims. There are many places in America and the world where some of the young people in that chamber would see their very lives threatened, to say nothing of their unconventional living arrangements. The council declared they are welcome here. We enthusiastically support that message.