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MJLO

The peoples Republic of Boulder

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I'm researching Boulder today.

Boulder is the seat of Boulder County, It is home to the university of Colorado. the 2000 census, put Boulder at 94k people. As of 2005 Boulders population was estimated at 91k. So it is estimated that the city is losing population. I don't always put much stock into estimates, because my home town in the 1990's was estimated to have lost 8k people. But when the new census came it, the estimates were more than 12k off. Boulder has a very small land area at 24.5sq mi. Is the city landlocked? Does Colorado have similar annexation laws to the midwest?

One thing I found interesting is that Boulder is one of the wealthier cities in Colorado and the country. Why is that? Is it a play ground for the rich? Is that directly in relation to the University? Other than the university what are some of the industries in the area? I'm interested to know more about Boulder, aside from the U of C. The only other thing I've heard about Boulder on the news is, the Jon Benet Ramsey case that was never solved. Does anyone have any pictures of Boulder?

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From my understanding - Boulder does annex as all CO cities are able to, even the city/county municipality of Denver. But Boulder has a rather strict land use policy which includes a green belt surrounding most of the city - hence, Boulder may be the residence of Denver workers, it's not entirely a suburb.

Boulder has a very high rate of educated residents, due to the university as well as a couple of major federal research facilities which located in Boulder in the mid 1900's. Boulder has since become a high tech center.

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I have a lot of family in Colorado, and several live in Louisville (halfway between Boulder and Denver). It's quite the sprawlsville USA, with endless condos and homes stretched all over the Rocky Mountain foothills for as far as the eye can see (because there are very few trees). Especially the areas around Broomfield, where a gigantic new mall was built not long ago. My Uncle served on Louisville's City Council, so he has been involved in quite a few land and water-rights wars.

I've been to Boulder, but I was maybe 16 or 17 at the time. The "Boulder Mall" is highly touted for its eccentric street musicians and street performers.

One thing I read about recently in a builder's trade journal that was quite shocking, was that builders are leaving the Boulder area in droves due several unique ordinances. One states that if you are a builder and want to build in the city of Boulder, that a certain percentage (30 or 40%) of the homes you build must be "below market rate" homes. Other measures include charging builders thousands of dollars in permit fees that go toward an affordable housing trust.

There was another measure that placed a certain number of homes in permanent deed restriction as to the value of the home. I can't remember the details, but I think that the buyer signs a deed restriction stating that they cannot sell the home higher than a pre-determined appreciated value down the road. Bizarre stuff. And yet, they claim that their urban growth boundaries are not having any adverse affect on property values.

All of these were adopted to help alleviate the skyrocketing home prices in the City. The problem that is occurring is that builders cannot make money at the below market rate cost, because land and construction costs are so high. The end result: no one (or very few) will build in Boulder anymore. And apparently it is starting to adversely affect the growth in the city. Perhaps that's what City officials want.

Now this was presented in a journal from the builder's perspective. Maybe someone can provide insight into the issues from a buyer's perspective.

I found a link here if you're interested:

http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:BCPoHQ...t=clnk&cd=4

Anyway, that's pretty much my knowledge of Boulder in a nutshell.

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There does appear to be a large number of anti-growth people in Boulder, which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, there are a number of quality new urbanist developments occuring in Boulder, such as Holiday. Regarding the affordable housing clause, can't say I'm fully educated - but I will consider myself an initial supporter & suggest that since the article comes from a pro-developer journal, that may explain the opposition.

But when considering that Boulder is becoming closer to being a Denver suburb, I can respect the goals that Boulder has made, among them greenspace. Also, you do mention sprawl, which of course is subjective but I would agree - sprawl does occur. But it's important to notice the level of sprawl before judging, compared to most sunbelt metro areas - the sprawl is still relatively contained & the suburban mass is a higher density than comparable suburbs. It is very much a higher density suburban area surrounding Denver than usual, in many cases over 10k per square mile - which typically is considered urban.

Denver sprawls, but so far it is more contained than most metro areas in the nation.

It would be great to get Angel's opinion on this - especially since she has some good criticism of the city.

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There does appear to be a large number of anti-growth people in Boulder, which is unfortunate. Nonetheless, there are a number of quality new urbanist developments occuring in Boulder, such as Holiday. Regarding the affordable housing clause, can't say I'm fully educated - but I will consider myself an initial supporter & suggest that since the article comes from a pro-developer journal, that may explain the opposition.

But when considering that Boulder is becoming closer to being a Denver suburb, I can respect the goals that Boulder has made, among them greenspace. Also, you do mention sprawl, which of course is subjective but I would agree - sprawl does occur. But it's important to notice the level of sprawl before judging, compared to most sunbelt metro areas - the sprawl is still relatively contained & the suburban mass is a higher density than comparable suburbs. It is very much a higher density suburban area surrounding Denver than usual, in many cases over 10k per square mile - which typically is considered urban.

Denver sprawls, but so far it is more contained than most metro areas in the nation.

It would be great to get Angel's opinion on this - especially since she has some good criticism of the city.

My sprawl comment was mainly directed at the areas along 36 (Denver - Boulder Turnpike), the new Flatiron Crossings and the related development, and the Westminster area. You can see what I mean by looking at satellite photos HERE.

(you can scroll further Southeast toward Denver on this map and see the massive amounts of self-containted neighborhoods). Whether urban growth boundaries are the answer is up for debate.

I know sprawl exists, especially in the Desert Southwest areas. The Las Vegas valley is horrible. It probably just seems so stark to me because I'm used to heavily wooded suburban areas like Michigan's, as opposed to the dry arid foothills where all is exposed. The endless clay tile rooftops were quite the shocker.

Certainly, the journal I read was from the builder's perspective. Although the two builders they interviewed were small potato builders (20 - 30 homes/year), and just can't afford to build in Boulder anymore because of the restrictions.

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I was actually suprised about the sprawl out in Phoenix, when flying in, there is a very definate start and stop point for development. There are millions of people living in Maricopa county, but unlike places like Detroit and Atlanta, once you're out of the suburbs, you're done.

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^ I think I do realize your comments were regarding Broomfield / Westminster / Thornton area - nonetheless, & this may be due to my own experiences in the south, the 'sprawl' is much more contained than most US metro areas. Of course - from a design stand point, these suburban areas are horrible to look at but they are more efficiently developed than what you will see in the southeastern US. In the southeast, suburban sprawl isn't as big of an issue as exurban sprawl - very low densities spread across a large area.

I will pick the suburban sprawl of 10k per square mile over the exurban sprawl in the southeast of, in many cases, less than 1k per square mile. But the key difference to many, the exurban sprawl of the southeast or even the midwest / northeast to many is more appealing. There is far more natural spaces in these areas, but that environmental aspect is misleading - the smaller densities require less efficient infrastructure support & are leading to larger acreage of forestland & farmland to be developed.

As ugly as the sprawl is in Westminster - it truly is far more responsible than most sprawl in the country. There is at least - some possibility - of a pedestrian / bicycle movement or transit usage due to the greater population densities. Unfortunately - the zoning screws this up & isolates retail requirring car use.

But still - I may be singing a different tune after living there for a while...

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^ I think I do realize your comments were regarding Broomfield / Westminster / Thornton area - nonetheless, & this may be due to my own experiences in the south, the 'sprawl' is much more contained than most US metro areas. Of course - from a design stand point, these suburban areas are horrible to look at but they are more efficiently developed than what you will see in the southeastern US. In the southeast, suburban sprawl isn't as big of an issue as exurban sprawl - very low densities spread across a large area.

I will pick the suburban sprawl of 10k per square mile over the exurban sprawl in the southeast of, in many cases, less than 1k per square mile. But the key difference to many, the exurban sprawl of the southeast or even the midwest / northeast to many is more appealing. There is far more natural spaces in these areas, but that environmental aspect is misleading - the smaller densities require less efficient infrastructure support & are leading to larger acreage of forestland & farmland to be developed.

As ugly as the sprawl is in Westminster - it truly is far more responsible than most sprawl in the country. There is at least - some possibility - of a pedestrian / bicycle movement or transit usage due to the greater population densities. Unfortunately - the zoning screws this up & isolates retail requirring car use.

But still - I may be singing a different tune after living there for a while...

I see what you're saying. It may be largely due to the water rights and availability issues. Basically, as I understand it, it's pretty difficult to build a home in the exurban areas around Denver because you can't get water to perk. The developments basically stop where the water infrastructure stops. That's certainly not the case in Michigan. We seem to be one big wetland in much of the lower Peninsula (much more like Florida than most of the Midwest), with water aplenty that people can tap a well into. So you go out of Grand Rapids (for instance) and see homes on multiple acre lots for 40 - 50 miles away from the city, all on wells and septic systems.

I've heard and seen in Colorado where different municipalities have water aquaducts crossing each other like expressways overpasses. Something that was hard to comprehend. But everyone's tapping into the Colorado River.

Don't get me wrong. It's a beautiful State with a lot of outdoor activities, and a very comfortable climate most of the year. It's also a lot less humid than Michigan. :D

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Since I have lived here the past two years & was also a former Michigander for 22 years I know of this topic very well. I grew up in Detroit and from where my parents live in it literally (I clocked it) 42 miles out until sprawl stops. :blink:

I feel I need to add this. I am speaking from personal experience on this next comment because I lived here for the past two years. I do also have an aunt who has lived in Denver since the 80's and has really seen it grow. I feel that there is a greater environmental consciousness in Colorado than in Detroit. I mean people are moving out here for a reason and leaving places like Detroit because of the lack of environmental awareness. Denver is investing heavily in a wonderful light rail system while the Detroit is stuck in bickering and arguing over a lot of crap. Recently a small article was published which named Denver in the top ten for US sustainable cities. So, Denver is among places like Seattle and Portland which make wonderful efforts to be sustainable. I know the issues in the Detroit are much deeper that in Denver and therefore doing any sort of work related to mass transit or racial issues will be difficult. In Detroit it seems that in order to move through any project that will better the regions health the city and suburbs must address and acknowledge wounds and conflicts that tag along in meetings and plans that both set out. Anyway, I see sprawl city USA in the Boulder/Denver area. Yet, when you are in the Denver area take a closer look. You will see a trail system even in the city and suburbs that is great! Detroit is working on establishing a trail system through out the burbs. In the second ring burbs there is a trail, and I forget the name, that runs from downtown Rochester to Lake Orion I believe. In Denver there are efforts to include parks in development, trail systems, and open space. Does Detroit do this? I haven't seen this. I have just seen sprawl extend out 42 miles.

Thats my take!

:D

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