Friday? Friday! The day we pine for. Here’s the news.

Today, John Herrick has an update on occupancy limits from city council. Changes, directed by council to city planners, could lift the city’s most restrictive limit of three people to as many as five in single-family neighborhoods. Also, Jessica Mordacq brings an important reminder to us all: Be nice to those who serve you. Diners are apparently getting ruder in Boulder’s restaurants, a change noticed by restaurant owners in recent years that worsened over the pandemic and worker shortage.

Finally, I chatted with one of our local fire officers about this week’s Red Flag Warning day. Do we now just have fire risk from early March to late December? Kind of, but there’s also something special about early and late winter that make them especially risky. If we can just get to the spring rains, we should be alright.

And thank you to our newest newsletter sponsor, Nigh, a local business helping bring back Main Street. Get access to the Nigh app for BRL readers. The next newsletter will be Monday. I’ll see you then.

— Tim, reporter

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What to know today

  • Almost 60, almost spring: Though clouds will block the sun here and there, temps will climb higher than they’ve been yet in the new year. With intermittent precipitation showing in the coming days, hopefully we’ll get through this “shoulder fire season” unscathed. See more from fire management officer Seth McKinney below.
  • After brief introductions, new Police Oversight Panel gets to work: The new members of the 11-member board of volunteers, met for the first time on Wednesday. The panel’s primary role is to review internal Boulder Police Department investigations into alleged misconduct. This includes making recommendations for discipline.
    • As such, the panelists discussed a recent case in which an officer was accused of sexually harassing a female officer during a training. This included describing “sex acts” the officer wanted to have with her. The panel recommended firing the officer. The officer resigned in February. The panel members also selected new cases they wanted to review. One case involved a use-of-force allegation against seven officers.
    • The details of the cases are typically kept confidential during the public meetings. Additional details may be available through records requests.
    • Despite the politically fraught appointment process that led to the selection of the new panel members, the public meeting received little attention. Three people, including two journalists, were present for open comment.
  • More incentives for you to buy electric cars and bikes: Rep. Junie Joseph and Senate President Steve Fenberg, both from Boulder, are planning to sponsor a bill that includes a “package of clean energy tax credits” for heat pumps, electric vehicles and e-bikes, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
    • The bills are part of a deluge of incentives aimed at transitioning off planet-warming fossil fuels. The credits could reduce EV costs by $5,000, e-bikes by $800, and heat pumps by as much as $3,000.
    • Meanwhile, the City of Boulder is considering an e-bike incentive program, much like the popular one in Denver, as soon as this spring. The Colorado Energy Office, headed by former Boulder Mayor Will Toor, is planning to launch a $6,000 rebate program for income-qualified people to buy a new electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, according to a story by CPR. Xcel Energy also has a rebate program offering income-qualified utility customers up to $5,500 for a new electric vehicle.
  • Marshall Fire air quality monitoring ends March 15: Sensors that kept an eye on air quality in and around the burn scar, along with the public website announcing those sensors’ findings, will retire after almost a year of work. Boulder County Public Health has worked with BVSD to maintain some monitors near schools.
    • The monitors measured PM 2.5, fine particulate matter of 2.5 microns in diameter, which can enter people’s lungs and make its way into the bloodstream. PM 2.5 is a pollutant often emitted from wildfire smoke. Levels decreased quickly after the fire because of the snow that fell right after the fire.
    • The county decided to stop monitoring after data showed “very few instances when poor air quality in the Marshall Fire burn area could be attributed to the aftermath of the fire,” said Bill Hayes, air quality coordinator for the county. “We were initially concerned about the potential impacts to air quality caused by demolition and debris removal, but that activity has nearly concluded.”
    • Other air pollutants of concern such as VOCs, especially inside homes and structures that weren’t burned but were smoke damaged, are still being analyzed.
  • Library district formation moving ahead: Applications are now open to serve on the Boulder Public Library District Board of Trustees. The trustees will help set up and oversee the new library district, which voters approved during the November 2022 election. The new government entity will essentially replace the City of Boulder’s library system and be paid for with property taxes rather than sales taxes.
    • The applicants will be reviewed by an appointment committee, which is made up of Councilmembers Aaron Brockett and Nicole Speer, and Boulder County Commissioners Claire Levy and Marta Loachamin. Whoever is appointed by the committee will need to be confirmed by both the Boulder City Council and the Boulder County Commission.
    • A total of seven spots are open. Here’s a link to apply. Applications are due March 29.

Go Deeper…

In an effort to combat Boulder’s housing crisis, city councilmembers want to allow more people to live together

By John Herrick

March 10, 2023

The Boulder City Council on Thursday directed city planners to begin drafting an ordinance to lift the city’s legal limits on how many unrelated people can live together, its latest attempt to combat the city’s longstanding housing shortage. 

City officials will propose revisions to Boulder’s decades-old occupancy law to increase the number of unrelated people who can live together from three to as many as five in single-family neighborhoods. Councilmembers could vote to approve the changes as soon as August 2023.

Continue reading…

Are Boulder restaurant-goers becoming ruder?

By Jessica Mordacq

March 10, 2023

The Covid pandemic, and the persistent worker shortage that followed, altered the nature of restaurants in Boulder, leaving many chronically understaffed with more stress on already-overwhelmed employees. One consequence: Customers are crankier than ever. 

“There are a lot of kind people out there,” said Kevin Daly, who opened Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery in 1993, and later added two more Boulder locations. “But when it’s bad, it’s really bad.”

Continue reading…

Red Flag warnings? In March? Boulder’s ‘shoulder’ fire season is here

By Tim Drugan

March 10, 2023

Yesterday, March 8, sported a Red Flag Warning, begging the question: Does fire season now span from early March until the end of December? According to Seth McKinney, fire management officer in the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, it all depends. But it might not even be worth referring to it as “a season” anymore.

Continue reading…

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BRL picks

☕️ Try the library’s new cafe: Tonantzin Case de Café has opened. On the bridge over our beautiful creek is Latino-inspired coffee and food. With a menu that features “a variety of specialty beverages, including their famous Horchata Latte and the Tonantzin Mocha Latte” there are also atole, empanadas and other lunch and breakfast goodies. Read more in Jessica Mordacq’s story.

🧘🏻‍♀️ Museum yoga: This Sunday from 10 to 11 a.m. the Museum of Boulder is hosting a one-hour, all-levels hatha and kriya yoga class. Taught by Zayd Atkinson, a 2022 Naropa University alumni who double majored in yoga studies and environmental science studies, the class will focus on mind/body connection, purity, and relaxation. Those interested must bring their own yoga mats.

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

ICYMI


Tim Drugan

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: tim@boulderreportinglab.org.