It’s Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.

It’s Friday, Boulder, and also U.S. Democracy Day, in which news organizations all over the country cover how democracy works. While democracies aren’t perfect, they’re certainly one of the better systems we’ve got.

For this Democracy Day, John Herrick has an explainer on how ranked-choice voting works. With Boulderites electing their mayor for the first time with this method on Nov. 7, we thought it would be helpful to walk Boulderites — and ourselves — through what it entails. One takeaway? Rank candidates in the order that you like them, and know that selecting the same one multiple times doesn’t make a difference.

Also, Sally Bell has a story about a new sports bar on West Pearl called The Sophomore. Opening where Ash’Kara just recently closed, and owned by the same restaurant group, it hopes to fill a sports bar void downtown that The Lazy Dog previously filled, and capitalize on the growing enthusiasm for Buffs football. Plus, Chloe Anderson covers yesterday’s protest at CU, where graduate students, non-tenure track faculty and university staff walked out due to “untenable” pay.

Finally, this weekend our senior reporter John Herrick is running 100 miles in Steamboat while I sit quietly on my back patio watching squirrels squabble. Whoever you emulate, I hope your weekend is terrific.

And, Happy Rosh Hashanah to those who celebrate.

— Tim, reporter

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Featured stories

Ranked-choice voting comes to Boulder: What you need to know ahead of the 2023 election

In the city’s first direct election of mayor, voters will trial a new process where they rank candidates by preference rather than choosing just one. The method is seen by advocates as more democratic than the typical winner-take-all system. How it might change campaigning in Boulder remains to be seen. Continue reading…

Ash’Kara restaurant reborn as The Sophomore sports bar in downtown Boulder

Opening under the same restaurant group with different partners after the sudden closure of the Middle Eastern restaurant, the new “upscale tavern” aims to fill a void in Boulder’s sports entertainment scene. Continue reading…

In photos: CU Boulder union workers hold walkout over ‘untenable’ pay

Dozens rallied at the University Memorial Center on the CU Boulder campus on Sept. 14, in support of higher wages and annual cost-of-living adjustments. Continue reading…

Boulder Reporting Lab is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit news organization that empowers our community through non-partisan, locally focused journalism that informs and connects.

In other news

Showers bring sun

Some precipitation this morning should give way to a weekend of temperate sun. High 70s and low 80s will offer the perfect opportunity to comment to everyone you see on the perfection of the weather. “Isn’t this weather perfect?” you could say. And they could respond, “It sure is.” Then you can both nod and smile and feel good about having a successful human interaction.

Boulder City Council wants to lease library buildings to new district

A majority of Boulder City Councilmembers told city officials on Thursday, Sept. 14, that they want to lease — rather than sell or transfer — the city’s library buildings to the newly formed library district that was approved in a 2022 ballot measure, bucking the recommendations of city staff. One of their concerns was giving up such valuable land.

What to do with the city’s library buildings is a key part of the city’s intergovernmental agreement with the trustees overseeing the new Boulder Public Library District. The trustees and city officials wanted the city to transfer ownership of its libraries to the district, in part to help it finance library projects and plan over the long term.

But councilmembers suggested instead that the city lease the buildings to the district for up to 30 years — which is longer than a typical city lease — while giving the district the option to terminate the lease every five years. Read more on BRL.

Boulder’s first summer homelessness count published

The City of Boulder has unveiled its inaugural summer point-in-time count results. Point-in-time counts take a census of homelessness in a city at a specific time. In Boulder, this has normally been done in January, but the city decided to add another count, on the night of July 27, to better understand seasonal variations of homelessness.

The city found 171 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness, compared to 142 in January. One-quarter of the 171 people said they first became homeless in Boulder. Other stats include:

  • 73% of those surveyed were male.
  • 76% were white.
  • 76% were chronically homeless, or had been homeless for more than a year.

Also troubling, 88% of those surveyed reported living with a disabling condition. Such conditions included addiction troubles, mental health issues and developmental disabilities. Read our previous reporting on a point-in-time count conducted by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative of the Denver Metro Region, including Boulder County.

First protected intersection is open for business

Boulder’s first fully protected intersection at 30th Street and Colorado Avenue is now complete, or complete enough for a ribbon-cutting that will be held on Oct. 3, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As BRL has reported, the intersection is a $16 million project that has taken more than two years to complete. With CU adding more buildings to its East Campus — a new aerospace building was just recently completed — more students are making the trek down Colorado Avenue. With this in mind, the added underpasses make sense, though some have questioned why CU didn’t fund a larger portion of the project. Still, the underpasses and on-street infrastructure designed to slow down drivers and boost safety for cyclists and pedestrians may offer a glimpse into future intersection designs across the country.

Covid hospitalizations rising

Boulder County residents are once again trickling into hospitals with Covid, the county said this week. Lest you were too optimistic, the virus that shut down the world in 2020 hasn’t disappeared. Rather, it’s still mutating. Because of this, the CDC recommends everyone older than six months get boosted again with an updated shot tailored to the current strains. Free vaccines will be available for uninsured and underinsured adults through the Federal Bridge Access Program, the county said.

Try some chili, support the arts

Its largest fundraiser of the year, Studio Arts Boulder is once again hosting its street party this Sunday, Sept. 17. From 12 to 5 p.m., there will be chili tastings, music, beer and cider, and art experiences for all those interested. Also on Sunday, and on Saturday, Sept. 16, is its Fall Pottery sale, which showcases handmade pieces from many members of the Boulder community.

N. 51st Street closure begins Monday

Starting on Monday, Sept. 18, the county Public Works Department will close a section of North 51st Street, just west of Boulder Reservoir, to replace an aging culvert that carries Dry Creek #2 under the road toward the reservoir. The road will remain closed through December.

Access to the Boulder Reservoir West Trailhead will remain open, with visitors entering from the north via North 55th Street. Access to the Eagle Trailhead for Boulder Valley Ranch and Boulder Model Airport will also be available from the south via North 51st Street.

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Budget 2024: In a shift, City of Boulder may soon invest more in housing and human services than policing. The Boulder City Council is scheduled to begin reviewing the city manager’s proposed 2024 budget this week amid uncertainty over critical sales and property tax revenue. 

Contract settlement ensures uninterrupted healthcare access for 13,000 Boulder area UnitedHealthcare policyholders. Multiyear agreement secures in-network for Boulder Community Health services and physicians, relieving widespread concern among many. 

Boulder’s flood risk: A decade after 2013’s deadly deluge, are we ready for the next? The $63 million South Boulder Creek mitigation project is furthest along among 37 city initiatives planned over decades to safeguard thousands of homes from danger. Many creeks posing a risk to Boulderites are still years or even decades away from flood mitigation.

Boulder City Council rejects proposal to build more middle-income housing. City officials sought to tweak the city’s inclusionary housing program to encourage developers to build more homes that middle-income residents could buy. But councilmembers expressed concerns that this might reduce the construction of affordable rentals for low-income residents. 

Nonprofits step in to protect Boulder mountain homes from wildfire as government efforts still lag. A recent joint initiative by three organizations in Coal Creek Canyon reveals the importance of home-hardening on a community-scale and the magnitude of the problem before these groups. ‘We can’t get done what we hope to get done.’

Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other climate-related issues for Boulder with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism. Email: