Happy Friday, Boulder. I hope you’re well.

For today, John Herrick covers a proposed pilot program to help middle-income Boulderites buy homes. With zero-interest loans for up to $200,000, those earning 80% to 120% of Boulder’s median income could soon be getting help with a down payment. The thought behind creating such a program is helping people buy homes in a city where, for so many, buying has become nearly impossible.

Also, if you’re trying to go to the George Reynolds Library on Tuesdays, you’ll soon be out of luck. It seems librarians are in short supply.

Enjoy your weekend. You earned it.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • A lovely weekend ahead: Sunny and 50s are on the other side of a mildly dreary today. Though more snow might come again next week, temps will hopefully remain in the double digits.
  • No warming center, no shelter turnaways: Temperatures yesterday dropped to record lows across the Front Range, including in Boulder, with recordings as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service. Tents around town Thursday morning indicated some people slept outside during the cold snap.
    • No one was turned away at the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, the city’s largest shelter in North Boulder, due to capacity, according to a spokesperson. It had a capacity of 180 beds and slept 161 people Wednesday night.
    • During the dangerously cold Arctic front in December, the city and county opened an emergency warming center at the East Boulder Community Center. City officials have said Boulder does not have staff capacity to open the center on a regular basis. Denver opened one of its recreation centers this week as an overnight shelter.
  • City considering subsidies for e-bikes. The city is planning to launch an e-bike rebate pilot program as soon as this spring, according to Natalie Stiffler, the city’s interim director of transportation. Stiffler said the details are still in the works as the city seeks feedback from bike shops.
    • The pilot would be modeled off of Denver’s rebate program, which provides a standard $300 rebate, and a $1,200 rebate to people earning less than 80% the area median income. Additional subsidies are available for people purchasing electric cargo bikes. Vouchers are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Demand in Denver has far exceeded the city’s initial expectations.
    • Stiffler announced the plans during a discussion with the Boulder City Council on Thursday about the transportation department’s priorities for the remainder of the year. Also planned this year are the completion of Colorado and 30th, where the city is building its first “protected intersection,” and a repaving along Baseline, where the city is planning to build a protected bike lane.
  • More details emerge on ‘swatting’ calls: The active shooter call that triggered a frightening lockdown at Boulder High on Wednesday was one of more than a dozen such “swatting” calls made all over Colorado that morning. Swatting is when a crime, horrific enough to potentially involve a SWAT unit, is falsely called into a dispatch office. The calls appear to have been made in alphabetical order of the city name from a Voice Over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, app.
    • The calls contained nearly identical claims of possessing an AR-15, pipe bombs and the intention to shoot students. The caller’s digital footprints are likely scattered on web servers around the world, 9News reported, which makes the investigation more challenging. The motive behind the calls is unclear, but the caller could have been trying to terrorize people or test law enforcement’s response. Swatting is a dangerous practice that has led to deaths in the past. A police officer opened fire accidentally Wednesday responding to the swatting call at an Estes Park high school.
  • Unhappy with unplowed bike lanes and roads? Now’s the time to let the city know. The city is conducting a snow and ice response review to ensure that the Transportation and Mobility Department’s Snow and Ice Response Program provides a “high standard of safety, mobility and customer service to the community.”
    • The city is collecting feedback about potential changes related to how it removes snow and ice from streets, bus stops, bike paths, and shoveled areas maintained by the city’s Transportation and Mobility Department.
    • You can submit your opinions until March 17, though there will be more chances to give feedback during the summer. Changes will be made next winter, at the earliest.
  • Library staffing troubles: The George Reynolds Branch Library in Boulder will be closed on Tuesdays from March 1 to June 1, according to a recent announcement by library officials. The closure is due to unexpected staffing shortages resulting from vacant positions and other absences. During this time, remaining staff will be reassigned to other locations.
    • The library will operate on its regular hours from Wednesday to Sunday, while all other locations will continue with normal business hours. For more information and updates, visit the Boulder Public Library’s website.
  • Performing space: The Boulder Arts Commission and eTown are collaborating to offer free space at eTown Hall to Boulder-based cultural organizations. The award is providing up to 12 days per calendar year to assist with the affordability of venues for performing and rehearsing. Eligible organizations can apply for one day of fee waiver annually.
    • While the award covers rent, the applicant is responsible for costs of labor for technical staff, ushers and security personnel. The Boulder Arts Commission also offers additional support through its Venue and Online Event Affordability Fund.
    • “While costs have gone up since the pandemic, eTown recognizes the need for access to affordable spaces for both performing and rehearsing in Boulder,” said eTown founder, Nick Forster. “With that in mind, eTown is proud to support our thriving arts community.” Read our previous coverage on the lack of affordable rehearsal spots in Boulder.

Go deeper

Boulder officials revive proposal to help middle-income residents buy homes

By John Herrick

February 24, 2023

City of Boulder officials are gathering feedback on a proposed pilot program that would help subsidize a down payment on a home, the latest attempt to try to rein in the city’s high cost of housing. 

The goal of the program is to give middle-income residents a better shot at buying a home in Boulder, where in the last decade, rising house prices have far outpaced income gains. 

In a presentation to the Housing Advisory Board on Wednesday, city officials proposed a pilot program in which the city would borrow money and then lend it to homebuyers to help cover the cost of their down payment. 

The city’s loan would cover up to 15% of the home purchase price for the down payment. It could be up to $200,000 (for a $1.3 million home) and would have 0% interest — the city would cover interest. The loan would have to be paid back in 15 years. 

Continue reading…

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BRL picks

🙊 Restorative conversations: On Feb. 25, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Nomad Playhouse will host an event that explores how to communicate with loved ones about divisive issues. Inspired by “The Wedge” podcast from Spaceship Media and Colorado Public Radio, the event will feature host and journalist Erica Anderson and her mother having restorative conversations about vaccine skepticism. Attendees will learn strategies for open communication and will witness a public discussion between two loved ones who disagree about a divisive issue.

🎤 Live music at Trident: On Feb. 24 (tonight!) starting at 9:30 p.m. and running into the following morning, Trident Booksellers and Cafe will be featuring several hip-hop artists after a local band Husks plays from 7 to 8:45 p.m.

🌹 Plant swap: At 12 p.m. at Terracotta on Sunday, trade a well-loved plant for a new one. The event is free and all plants are welcome unless they’re dead or laden with pests. Get ready to chat plants with other plant-loving community members.

🎸Christian McBride at Boulder Theater: An eight-time Grammy winner and host of NPR’s “Jazz night in America,” McBride will be playing the local theater on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 7:30 p.m. to several hours later, probably. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with tickets starting at $30.

For more 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: tim@boulderreportinglab.org.