Welcome to Wednesday, Boulder.

For today, Sally Bell brings a story covering the cost of living in Boulder County. As you know if you’ve had to search for housing lately, Boulder is a pricey place to live. Yet it’s not just housing that has increased in recent years. Health care and child care costs have boomed, leading a new report to say that for a family of four to scrape by in Boulder County, they now need $107,500, compared with $75,906 in 2015. This means our community is pricing out “basically anyone not making more than $40 an hour,” according to Ana Fernandez Frank at the Emergency Family Assistance Association. That includes teachers, firefighters and other community members we’d miss if they left.

These numbers are based on the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado, a report whose findings will be presented today at the Boulder Public Library.

Also, we have a summer race rundown. And after last night’s golf ball-sized hail, severe thunderstorms are possible again later today. So if you carry lightning rods for fun, now is a good time to stop doing that.

Have a great middle of your week.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • Thunderstorms cometh: Low 70s today and 50s tomorrow will both partner with thunder and rain. Clouds will continue populating the sky for the foreseeable future, sometimes dropping welcome water.
  • Major housing bills dead: Colorado’s big land-use bill, a top priority for Gov. Jared Polis this session, died without a vote in the final hours of the 2023 legislative session on Monday. The bill would have made it easier to build more dense housing in cities across the state by overriding local land-use codes in certain areas, among many other provisions.
    • Another bill that died without a vote was the eviction-prevention bill, HB-1171, which would have prohibited a landlord from evicting a tenant — or not renewing a lease — without “just cause,” such as unpaid rent. The bill’s demise comes after lawmakers last month voted down legislation that would have allowed local governments to enact rent-control policies. The origin story on rent control in Colorado began in Boulder.
    • Much of the debate in the final days of the session was focused on referring a measure to the November ballot to limit the property tax spike for homeowners. The measure is a response to the surge in property tax bills resulting from rising property values, which is one of the many symptoms of the housing shortage lawmakers unsuccessfully sought to address. To backfill this loss, lawmakers proposed using money that would otherwise go to residents through TABOR refunds.
  • What housing bills passed? Earlier this session, lawmakers passed a bill that would allow renters to attend county court eviction hearings remotely, making it easier for them to avoid having an eviction on their record. Another bill requires landlords seeking to evict a resident who received public assistance, such as social security, to participate in a mediation process before filing a complaint for a legal eviction.
    • Lawmakers also passed a bill to exempt local governments from enforcing “anti-growth laws.” In 1977, Boulder adopted a growth cap on residential housing. The latest version of Boulder’s law limits increases in residential building permits at 1% per year, with exceptions for mixed-use, affordable and student housing.
  • Reminder – Police Oversight Panel to weigh in on possible pause: If you’ve been following the controversy surrounding the city’s volunteer-led civilian police oversight panel, tonight could mark the latest development. The panel is expected to discuss whether to temporarily halt the review of police misconduct cases until the Boulder City Council updates the city code. This discussion follows a controversial appointment process that resulted in the removal of one of the panelists last week. According to some members, the intention is to provide the panelists with more safeguards against legal challenges and political backlash. Read our coverage. Meeting info.
  • Forestry at Hall Ranch: Forestry work at Hall Ranch began on Monday as part of the St. Vrain Forest Health Partnership Project. This week, crews will be doing road work on the Hall Ranch access road to widen and stabilize the road for heavy equipment and emergency vehicle access.
    • The overall project aims to lessen the chances of significant wildfire impacts, including post-fire sedimentation and other adverse impacts on the City of Longmont’s water supply. Though the work will be done in the western edge of Hall Ranch open space and Longmont’s Button Rock Preserve, the trails will remain open. Still, please be careful, give heavy equipment a wide berth.

Go Deeper…

Boulder County’s rising costs are making it challenging for even families earning six figures to live comfortably, study shows

By Sally Bell

May 9, 2023

Rising home prices and other costs of living in Boulder County are redefining what it means to live on the financial edge. It turns out that being “economically self-sufficient” in Boulder County these days takes an income of about $107,500 for a family of four, according to a new report that looks at how much income families of different types need to earn to make ends meet in each Colorado county.

Continue reading…

Boulder’s summer race circuit: From Pearl Street to the trails

By Jenna Sampson

May 9, 2023

Last week marked the kick-off of the summer race season with the Dash & Dine 5K around the Boulder Reservoir, which ended in a post-race feast. It was the first of a four-part series of races taking place every week in May. It’s also a qualifier for the grand BOLDERBoulder 10K happening on Sunday, May 29, which starts at the intersection of 30th and Walnut Streets and ends in a party at Folsom Stadium. 

Continue reading…

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Get involved + Picks

🛤️ Weigh in on Boulder Junction: The City of Boulder is hosting an open house on May 17 from 4 to 6 p.m. to get feedback on the next phase of the Boulder Junction project. With phase one coming to a close, the area west of the railroad tracks on Pearl Parkway, the city is now looking to gain input on the second phase — the area east of the train tracks all the way to Foothills. The open house will be held at Junkyard Social, which is located within the area slated for overhaul.

🦆 Get down to the Creek Fest: The Boulder Creek Festival is set to return to downtown Boulder from May 26 to 29. The event marks the unofficial start to summer fun in Boulder. A range of activities will be featured, including live music, a Street Wise Art Battle and local eats, among other options. The Creekside Beer Fest will also be taking place, with over 20 breweries participating. Those attending are encouraged to use alternative transportation to get there and away, as parking closures will be in effect. Details are available on the Boulder Creek Festival website.

🌷 Plant sale: Growing Gardens is inviting the community to its Annual Community Plant Sale for the first three weekends in May at 1630 Hawthorn Avenue from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.The sale will feature a wide range of organically grown plants, including heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, herbs, veggies, blooming annual and perennial flowers, native plants, water-wise plants, fruits, berries, shrubs, vines, roses and grasses. All proceeds and donations from the sale will go towards Growing Gardens’ food donation and education programs.

For ideas on what else to do, 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.