Boulder, we’re here. It’s Wednesday and we have the news.

For today, John Herrick covers potential increases in Boulder homeless services. Business groups, led by the Boulder Chamber, have released some policy recommendations that support drastically growing services across the city. This includes piloting a “safe outdoor space” where people could sleep and have access to certain amenities, like bathrooms. But the proposal also calls for quicker enforcement of city laws that allow crews to clear out encampments. Boulder City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue of homelessness this Thursday, and some of the familiar ideas pitched by the business community will likely be discussed.

Also, I have a story about an upcoming city council study session regarding landscaping equipment. At the end of this month, city staff will present options on how Boulder can address gas-powered leaf blowers and other equipment with options ranging from rebates that encourage landscaping professionals to go electric to a ban that would force them to.

Have a great day, I’ll see you Friday.

— Tim, reporter

BRL Presenting Partners sponsor

Join us again at Boulder’s only large-scale, inclusive celebration of our community’s vibrant arts and cultural offerings and our city’s thriving creativity at the 10th Annual Boulder Arts Week from April 7 – 15, 2023. This year’s event includes art walks, exhibitions, performances, dance, music, theater, public art, lectures, readings, and workshops at venues throughout the city.

What to know today

  • Hot ’til Friday: 80 today, mid-70s tomorrow, 40s and wet on Friday. The UV index is creeping up towards its summer levels, so be mindful of your sun exposure. That ridiculous hat with the brim wide enough to shade a small family? You can now wear it without shame.
  • Boulder’s transportation advisers weigh in on land-use bill. The city’s Transportation Advisory Board, which advises the Boulder City Council on transportation policies, is calling on councilmembers to support a provision in the sweeping Colorado housing bill, SB-213, that would prohibit cities from requiring off-street parking for certain housing developments — including ADUs, duplexes and triplexes.
    • The City of Boulder requires housing developments to provide a certain number of off-street parking spaces, in part to prevent people from parking along streets in nearby neighborhoods. Last week, a group of councilmembers voiced support for keeping the city’s parking requirements. They suggested the city seek to amend the state legislation in order to retain that authority.
    • “Those amendments are not in step with the transition we need to take towards a more people-first, car-lite, multimodal transportation system. Moreover, they are unnecessary,” Transportation Advisory Board members wrote in a letter to the Boulder City Council. The board members argued prohibiting parking minimums would encourage cycling, walking, carpooling and public transit ridership while also reducing urban sprawl and a reliance on cars. “Transportation demand is eminently manageable once we decide to decouple people from motor vehicles,” the letter states.
    • On April 20, the Boulder City Council is scheduled to adopt a formal position on the bill. So far, the City of Boulder, the governor’s hometown, is one of the few nearby local governments that is not outright opposing the the housing bill. We reported on that last week.
  • Encampment sweeps ‘increase drug-related morbidity and mortality,’ study finds: A peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on April 10, found that encampment sweeps, also referred to as “involuntary displacement,” can lead to “substantial increases in morbidity and mortality over a 10-year period.”
    • Using data from Denver and other U.S. cities to create a simulation model, the authors found sweeps can increase the risk of a drug overdose and bacterial infections by pushing people farther away from services, making it harder to access medications for opioid addiction and sterile injection equipment. “To put that a different way, it means our states and our cities are literally killing people with this,” Joshua Barocas, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and lead author on the study, told Denverite.
  • Commissioners are not fans of air pollution: Boulder County commissioners expressed their support for the Protecting Communities from Pollution Act, state legislation aimed at combating air pollution caused by oil and gas operations and vehicle fumes. The bill proposes measures such as enhancing the public complaint processes, tightening controls on industries, and introducing new emissions standards for stationary engines. Ozone season is approaching as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds interact with sunlight to create air that isn’t the healthiest to breathe.
    • “Low-income communities are more likely to suffer from the impacts and ill-effects of air pollution,” said Commissioner Marta Loachamin. “The urgency of addressing our air pollution cannot be overstated as communities of color are also more affected. Air quality is not only a matter of public health, but also of equity and justice. This bill will improve the health of millions of Coloradans, especially neighbors, friends, and family with respiratory illnesses and anyone whose job requires them to work outdoors.”

Go Deeper…

Boulder business groups consider backing homeless encampment pilot program

By John Herrick

April 12, 2023

City of Boulder business groups are gearing up to publicly support a wide range of homelessness services, including a first-of-its-kind, city-approved encampment pilot program. They also appear likely to advocate for an adult homeless shelter that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Such hours of operation are common in other cities but not in Boulder, where the main nonprofit-run shelter in North Boulder is closed during the day.

Continue reading…

Boulder weighs phase-out of gas leaf blowers due to noise and environmental concerns

By Tim Drugan

April 12, 2023

Small businesses and entrepreneurs that dominate the local landscaping industry worry about the hefty costs of the transition to electric and other impacts on their bottom lines.

Continue reading…

BRL Today sponsor

CU’s Center for Environmental Journalism is excited to announce that the Ackland Lecture in Environmental Journalism Series will return as a special feature of the 2023 Conference on World Affairs this year. Named after the center’s founding director, the series invites journalists to address environmental and journalism topics. The panel – moderated by NPR’s Kirk Siegler – will include a discussion and Q&A with three acclaimed journalists. Events are free; view the complete schedule and a link to watch the panel live here.

Get involved

Become a Landmarks Board member: The City of Boulder is seeking an at-large member to join its Landmarks Board for a term running from August 2023 to March 2024. The Landmarks Board fulfills three major roles: making recommendations on proposed landmarks and historic districts, reviewing exterior changes to designated properties, and reviewing demolition applications for non-designated buildings over 50 years old.

Board members need to commit to 16 to 24 hours per month and attend monthly and weekly meetings. Applications will be open in May and June with appointments made in July. Contact John Morse or Elesha Johnson at 303-441-3008 for questions about the application process.

For ideas on what to do this week, check out BRL’s Local Events page.


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: