Friday again. That was quick — here’s the news.
For today, John Herrick reports again on the City of Boulder’s civilian Police Oversight Panel. Boulder City Council is again planning to weigh in on the fate of panel member Lisa Sweeney-Miran. On Thursday, councilmembers scheduled a vote on whether to remove her due to her “real or perceived bias” against police. As this story reveals, the issues and sides in this conversation are complex and nuanced, and the stakes in the outcome substantial.
Also, four of BVSD’s seven school board seats will open this fall. For those interested in running for one of those open positions, an information session will be held next week.
Have a great weekend.
— Tim, reporter
MahlerFest XXXVI, May 17-21, celebrates humanity’s capacity for resilience and renewal culminating with Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 2 and Thea Musgrave’s Phoenix Rising. Other highlights include Act I of Wagner’s Die Walküre, Liederabend (Evening of Song), re-creating a 1905 concert of Mahler’s orchestral songs, the U.S. premiere of the Fourth Symphony of Hans Gál, our free symposium, and more!
What to know today
- Much moisture to be had: Clouds will partner with wind today as an opening act for a stretch of precipitation. Saturday morning could bring snow, while much of next week sports a better chance of rain than not. Temps range from chilly to not as chilly.
- City of Boulder will fight for occupancy limits in Colorado land-use bill: Unlike just about every city in the state, Boulder has not outright opposed the landmark Colorado land-use bill, SB-213. And on Thursday, a majority of councilmembers took the official position of “Support While Asking for Amendments.”
- Earlier this week, the bill’s sponsors amended the proposed legislation to scale back some of its more controversial provisions in order to win necessary votes from Senate Democrats. The bill would no longer ban single-family zoning in cities like Boulder, except in certain areas, for instance. The sponsors also rolled back provisions that sought to increase housing density and prohibit minimum parking requirements.
- But what hasn’t changed is a provision that would bar cities from imposing occupancy limits that cap the number of unrelated people who can live together. A majority of councilmembers said on Thursday that they want the city to lobby against that provision in order to maintain Boulder’s ability to enforce occupancy limits based on family status.
- City council poised to greenlight home down payment program: As soon as this summer, the City of Boulder could be offering 0% interest loans to middle-class homebuyers as part of a proposed program aimed at helping residents get into the city’s hot housing market.
- Under the program, the city would subsidize the cost to buy a home, and in exchange, the homeowner would agree to cap its appreciation at about 4.2%, which is below the market appreciation rate, according to housing officials. That rate seeks to strike a balance between encouraging people to participate in the program while also creating more relatively affordable housing in the years ahead.
- To be eligible for a city loan to help cover part of the down payment, the household’s income could be no more than 120% the area median income, which is about $105,000 for an individual and more for a family. Councilmembers requested city housing officials report back in the coming weeks on whether to require subsequent homebuyers to meet income requirements. After those details are finalized, city officials said they could launch the program within about a month. Read our previous coverage of the program.
- County moves ahead with LoBo trail connector: Next week, Boulder County is hosting a virtual meeting to provide an update on a proposed off-street, multi-use path that would connect the Cottonwood Trail to the LoBo Trail in Gunbarrel. The proposed route would largely follow Jay Road and Spine Road. It is intended to provide a missing link to the 12-mile trail connecting Boulder to Longmont, and make it safer by reducing the time people spend riding on the relatively busy Jay Road to get to the trail.
- The county has decided to stop design work on an earlier proposal to build a more direct connector along 55th Street. The decision was in part due to impacts on private properties and challenges fitting an off-street path within the road’s right-of-way, according to Tonya Luebbert, a regional trails planner for Boulder County.
- A timeline for the $1.7 million project remains to be determined, Luebbert said. The meeting is on April 27. Register here.
- Woman killed by a rock: A 20-year-old woman was killed while driving on Wednesday night by someone who threw a large rock, either from another vehicle or from the side of the road, that went through her windshield. Alexa Bartell, from Arvada, was driving in Jefferson County at the time and was on the phone with her friend. When the call suddenly went silent, the friend was able to track Bartell’s phone and found her dead in her car where it left the road. Late yesterday afternoon, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said it had identified the pickup truck involved and owner.
- Bartell’s was one of several similar incidents that evening, though the only one resulting in death. Two of them happened in Boulder County near the Rock Creek neighborhood. Several sheriff’s offices, including Boulder County’s, have been collaborating in the investigation, as they believe there could be more victims.
By John Herrick
April 21, 2023
The vote, scheduled for May 4, comes after a special counsel, Clay Douglas, a former city attorney, recommended that one of the Police Oversight Panel members, Lisa Sweeney-Miran, resign or be removed by city council due to her “real or perceived bias” against police. Several panel members have voiced their support for Sweeney-Miran. Others, including those who helped create the panel, worry the prolonged fight could jeopardize its work.
Ariel Amaru, a former co-chair and founding member of the panel whose term ended in February, said that members are busy working on changes to the city’s ordinance that created the panel and reviewing investigations into cases of alleged misconduct. The panel has struggled to keep members due to the workload. “It is no longer doing the panel any good to test whether city council would actually go so far as to remove someone,” Amaru said.
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Get involved + Picks
🚌 Run for BVSD school board: For those interested in taking part in our local education system, a virtual information session will be held on April 27 at 5:30 p.m. Registration is required. Attendees will gain insight into what it means to serve, as well as information about the district and what the election process is like, from current board members. This fall, four of the board’s seven seats will open, so if you’ve been considering taking the leap, now might be the perfect time.
🌷 Annual Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival: This Sunday, April 23, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., enjoy the nearly 15,000 tulips in the flower boxes along the Pearl Street Mall. Live performances, free children’s activities and more will be on tap, as the Tulip Fairy Queen “‘wakes up’ the tulips with the help of adorable fairies and elves” in this annual event. Schedule of live performances here.
🎭 A Pop Opera: The Arts Hub Emerging Artists in Lafayette is presenting “Bare,” about teenagers struggling with their identities at a co-ed Catholic boarding school, for a couple more days. “As senior year ends, they face challenges of love, sexuality, and religion.” The play is co-hosted by local organizations addressing mental health of LGBTQ+ youth. Tickets here.
🐑 Apply for farming grant: Boulder County’s Restore Colorado grant program has completed its pilot phase and is expanding statewide through a partnership with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. The program helps food businesses generate funding for regenerative agriculture projects to fight the climate crisis. Over 30 Colorado businesses have raised $305,000 to fund these grants, with 11 farms and ranches already receiving them. Applications are now being accepted for grants up to $25,000 from Boulder County and Colorado farmers and ranchers “for projects that sequester carbon such as cover cropping, prescribed grazing, and other regenerative practices.” Apply before July 20, 2023.
For ideas on what else to do, check out BRL’s Local Events page.
- Boulder’s water supply situation: Wet winter brings relief amid lingering drought concerns. During a presentation to the Water Resources Advisory Board on the local water supply, city staff also revealed that Boulder’s wastewater testing program is expanding to monitor more illnesses beyond Covid-19.
- First Sip: Boulder’s second annual drink week offers a new twist on restaurant week. The event celebrating the local drink scene runs from April 26-30 and will feature over 30 participating bars and restaurants.
- More than a year into Marshall Fire recovery, a need that has grown more urgent: mental health providers. A philanthropy-funded program to provide free mental health support for fire survivors has served hundreds of people but has bumped up against a provider shortage, reflecting an unrelenting demand for services. “We are struggling.”
- Read previous editions of BRL Today. Get up-to-date with the latest news from Boulder.