It’s Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023.

Good morning, Boulder. I hope you slept well. If you didn’t, light pollution might be to blame.

4,500 streetlights in Boulder are currently owned and operated by Xcel Energy. These lights leak a substantial amount of light into the sky, creating a “sky glow” that prevents Boulderites from seeing the Milky Way and messes with both humans’ and animals’ internal clocks. But that will change soon. Around the end of this year, the City of Boulder will buy all the streetlights in town from Xcel and begin transitioning them to LEDs. Before that, however, pilots are launching so Boulderites can weigh in on the “temperature” the city uses as it transitions. Read more in my story below.

Also, we’re beginning our election coverage with a series of questions sent off to candidates. As promised, we used questions put to us by readers. We’ll start publishing responses in September, but in the meantime you can read profiles on the three mayoral candidates already announced.

Plus, Sally Bell has a story of a Boulder family and their escape from the Maui fire. A vacation that proved less than relaxing, Jennifer Simpson and her family members were some of the luckiest involved in the disaster, as they didn’t lose their home or their lives. But the experience was nonetheless harrowing. And finally, a big decision on broadband in Boulder is coming soon.

Enjoy the day.

— Tim, reporter

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Featured stories

Boulder to switch all streetlights to LEDs, aiming for energy savings and starry night skies

How bright should the city be? Boulderites will soon have a chance to weigh in. Pilot projects are launching at the end of this month with the goal of determining the right LED light “temperature” for major roadways and residential areas. Continue reading…

You spoke, we listened! Here are 6 questions you want us to ask Boulder candidates this election

Here are the specific questions we’re putting forward to city council and mayoral candidates, each verbatim from our readers. Continue reading…

A Boulder family’s harrowing escape from Maui wildfire: ‘Twists of events that made the difference between life and death’

Jennifer Simpson recalls fleeing their condo that would later burn down, as flames razed Lahaina leaving many dozens dead in the most catastrophic U.S. fire in the last century. Continue reading…

ICYMI: Boulder City Council considers allowing duplexes and triplexes in single-family neighborhoods

Today, Aug. 23, City of Boulder planners are presenting a draft ordinance to the House Advisory Board that would allow duplexes and triplexes in single-family neighborhoods and tweak density requirements to encourage smaller, more affordable homes. City council is expected to hold a public hearing and vote on the ordinance on Sept. 21. 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

Couple more hot ones, then a break

In the 90s today and tomorrow, yet on Friday temps drop down to the 70s. That sounds lovely, but such drastic temperature fluctuations sometimes bring with them monster storms, so be safe out there. Thunderstorms are in the forecast. Lots of them.

Decision on broadband build-out comes to a head

City officials are recommending that the City of Boulder partner with a private internet company to help deliver fiber-based broadband internet, according to a city staff memo.

Such a decision would be a major step in a near-decade-long effort to bring high-speed internet to the city’s residents and businesses, and it would put to rest the possibility of creating a city-owned internet utility.

Later this year, the city is planning to complete the construction of about 65 miles of fiber optic cables, creating a “fiber backbone” that could be used for providing internet and a wide range of city services, such as controlling traffic signals.

How to connect this infrastructure to customers, however, has long remained unclear. Read more on BRL.

Polis puts forth executive order on housing

Governor Jared Polis has issued an executive order to help deliver more affordable housing. The order directs the housing division of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to accelerate the disbursement of loans, grants and related measures, while also urging other state agencies to prioritize initiatives focused on planning for Colorado’s growing and changing population.

While the order’s direct impact is limited, it sends a message to local governments and state lawmakers about his commitment to increase housing.

“It is critical that the State thoughtfully plan for expected growth,” the order says. “It is estimated that between 2023 and 2040, Colorado will add an average of 35,000 households per year based on continued job growth of an average of 40,000 jobs a year. Furthermore, housing costs are already unaffordable compared to other major markets. … Colorado’s housing supply has not kept pace with population growth leading to increased housing costs. The State has a current unmet housing needs of tens of thousands of units.”

Boulder County resident dies of West Nile

A Longmont resident in Boulder County died from meningoencephalitis that was brought on by West Nile virus, marking the county’s first West Nile related-death in 2023. A rising mosquito population in the area from the wet year has heightened concerns. Boulder County Public Health recommends eliminating standing water, using DEET-based insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to reduce risk. Since May, Colorado has reported 66 West Nile cases that have resulted in three fatalities.

While there is no cure, healthcare providers can alleviate symptoms, and most cases are mild. Public health officials still advise vigilance, particularly for those over 50 or with weakened immune systems.

Get a voucher for a new lawn mower

Lafayette is working to “mow down pollution” by asking residents to consider mowing after 5 p.m., as doing so can cut back on poor air quality. Taking this a step further, Lafayette residents can participate in the exchange program by the Regional Air Quality Council and the city. Gas-powered lawn equipment can be swapped for rechargeable or corded electric alternatives through vouchers. Handheld electric equipment vouchers are worth $75, while recycling a gas mower for an electric one earns a $150 voucher.

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Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other related topics. He is also the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Email: