Boulder voters cast their ballots on Nov. 8, 2022. Credit: John Herrick

During the 2022 election, two local ballot measures were decided by a relatively narrow margin. 

Ballot Measure 6C, which created a library district across much of Boulder County, passed 53% to 47%, according to final results published by the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder on Dec. 1. Ballot Measure 2F, which would have repealed the city’s annexation agreement with the University of Colorado to develop CU South, failed 54% to 46%. 

Voters approved Ballot Measure 2E, which will move city council elections to even years starting in 2026, by a relatively wide margin of 63% to 37%. 

About 75% of Boulder County’s active registered voters cast ballots. Turnout was practically the same in the City of Boulder. 

But these top-line results don’t capture the wide spectrum of opinions across the city and county. 

Boulder Reporting Lab analyzed precinct-level results to better understand how neighborhoods and areas across the city and county diverged this past election. 

City voters carried library district toward passage

City voters were much more supportive of creating a library district than county voters, according to the county data. A majority of county voters, about 52%, opposed the measure. 

Support from city residents wasn’t monolithic. In the Chautauqua and Shanahan Ridge neighborhoods, a majority of city voters opposed the measure. The neighborhoods of Goss Grove and University Hill showed the most support. 

After the new year, residents inside the new library district will begin paying additional property taxes to pay for the services, which will be under the management of a to-be-determined library district board of trustees. (The current library system is paid for mostly with city sales tax revenue and managed by the City of Boulder.) 

South Boulder residents less keen on CU South development 

The results from Ballot Measure 2F revealed a stark range of opinions across the city. 

The measure, which has a long and controversial backstory, would have repealed the 2021 annexation agreement. As a result, it would have at least temporarily blocked the proposed development on the South Boulder property, which was purchased by CU Boulder in 1996 but has since been kept mostly open to the public

The university wants to build housing and university facilities — including, potentially, a 3,000-person sports arena — on about 129 acres of the property. As part of the annexation agreement, the city will build a concrete spillway along U.S. 36 to reduce the flood risk to residents who live in the 100-year South Boulder Creek floodplain. 

The county data show voters who lived closest to the proposed CU South development were generally supportive of the referendum. 

About 70% of voters registered in the neighborhood abutting the CU South property, Tantra Park, supported the referendum. The South Boulder neighborhoods of Martin Acres, Shanahan Ridge and Devil’s Thumb also showed relatively strong support.

The voting precinct at the center of Frasier Meadows showed the strongest opposition to the measure, with just 35% of voters there supporting the referendum.

A retirement community in the neighborhood flooded in 2013. After decades of wrangling over flood mitigation plans, the annexation agreement is likely the fastest — though arguably imperfect — means of ensuring at least some level of flood mitigation for residents who live in the South Boulder Creek floodplain. 

Students support move to even-year elections 

The neighborhoods of Goss Grove, Downtown Boulder and University Hill all showed among the strongest support for Ballot Measure 2E, which will move city council elections to even years starting in 2026. The neighborhoods are near CU Boulder’s main campus and where students often rent homes. 

No neighborhood in the city showed notable opposition to the measure. It passed with among the least support from the Chautauqua neighborhood.

The measure is intended to boost voter turnout, particularly among younger voters who are less likely to cast ballots in off-cycle elections. An analysis of voter turnout by Boulder Reporting Lab following the 2021 election showed the disparity in turnout was greatest in student neighborhoods, where some voting precincts had single-digit turnout. 

This year, those same student neighborhood precincts had the lowest turnout. In one precinct on University Hill, fewer than half of the precinct's active registered voters cast ballots. 

In addition to these three measures, voters in the city and county overwhelmingly passed sales tax increases to pay for fire mitigation, emergency response programs and transportation projects. They also approved a property tax increase to pay for building upgrades in Boulder Valley schools. 

For each of those measures, city voters showed more support.

John Herrick

John Herrick reports on housing, climate, health and local government for Boulder Reporting Lab. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for VTDigger.org. He is interested in stories about people, power and fairness.

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1 Comment

  1. I question the accuracy of the headline: “South Boulder residents less keen on CU south development” when the story reported most of the south Boulder neighborhoods supported the development and as reported, only one neighborhood did not.

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