It’s Friday, Boulder. Welcome to our new subscribers. Here’s what’s happening near you.

Evictions are rising in Boulder County. John Herrick reports that in February 2023, the Boulder County Justice Center and the Longmont Safety and Justice Center recorded 153 eviction case filings from across the county, the most since February 2020. The rise comes as the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program comes to an end — and as inflation continues to increase the cost of everyday items, like food and gas.

Also, we’re looking for a reporter and newsletter writer to join our team. If you’d help us spread the word, we’d be grateful.

Finally, both Mr. Herrick and I are on the housing hunt. So far, the Boulder offerings leave much to be desired. One listing put rent as “all your money” for a basement one-bedroom without windows but with mold. (Kidding.) So if you know anyone who has an apartment they want to let someone live in for free, let me know. Ideally, it’d be southern-facing sans mice. Don’t tell John.

Have a great weekend. I’ll see you Monday.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • Somewhat cloudy: A slight chance of rain today doesn’t mean you can’t get out for an extra walk. With temps up around 50, you’re almost obligated to. And it looks like snow will be falling several days next week, so whenever that sun peeks out, soak it up.
  •  Federal stimulus money approved. Last night, the Boulder City Council unanimously approved a final plan for how to spend $20.2 million in pandemic-era stimulus money made available by the March 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
    • The city’s spending plan includes money for behavioral health, childcare, housing, and the arts, among other priorities. About $3 million is slated to pay for a guaranteed income pilot, a safety net program in which qualifying participants would receive $500 per month with no strings attached. City staff said the program, expected to launch later this year, would likely last 24 months.
    • Another $3 million is being used to provide zero-interest loans to residents of the Ponderosa mobile home neighborhood in North Boulder to help them purchase new modular homes. The homes are already being built near the community. BRL reported that this financial assistance model, never before tested in Boulder, could end up being expanded across the city.
  • Questions swirl around compostable bags. We have answers. We reported this week about the new composting guidelines from A1 Organics, the company that recycles compost for Boulder’s residents and businesses. (Read our story for more.)
    • One new rule is that the company will only accept three-gallon bags certified by Compost Manufacturing Alliance. This has raised lots of questions. So we spoke briefly with Clinton Sander, a spokesman for A1 Organics, to understand more.
    • Sander said the company will accept some three-gallon bags that might not yet have a CMA certification logo. So far, he said the company will accept three-gallon bags by BioBag (phew) and EcoSafe. This list is expected to grow.
    • Sander also said the company is working on a strategy to accept big paper bags used to collect yard debris and leaves during to-be-decided spring and fall time frames. If and when this happens, he asked that you just fold the bags shut, rather than tape them.
    • Clarification: In our March 1 newsletter, we wrote that A1 is Boulder’s composting contractor. A1 does not contract with the city. Western Disposal, one of the city’s waste haulers, partners with A1 to recycle the compost it collects.
  • Urban tree canopy at a tipping point: Boulder’s trees have seen better days — days before bugs began eating them. Emerald Ash Borer, a native to Asia and not Colorado, along with other pests and extreme weather, have decreased our city’s urban arboretum despite planting efforts. And as much as 25% of the city’s trees are at risk from just Emerald Ash Borer. An interactive map, in this new city report, shows the significant losses from 2013 to 2020.
    • Trees shouldn’t be left to die without a fight. As a heat mapping effort last summer showed, neighborhoods with more trees are cooler, and those cooling effects spill into nearby areas. They also improve air quality, which the Front Range can’t afford to discount. Less measurable, but no less important, are the mental health benefits brought by greenery.
    • The City of Boulder has a goal of 16% urban tree cover. To achieve that, it will have to both negate the losses brought by the last 10 years as well as recover from setbacks Covid delivered in the form of budget cuts and staffing shortages.
    • Tree planting will also have to be done with equity in mind. Areas of Boulder with the fewest trees tend to be those on the lower end of the wealth scale. This means lower-income neighborhoods are hotter while simultaneously less likely to have air conditioning. And water is always a consideration. Boulder has to balance its tree cover goals with the acknowledgement that Colorado droughts will likely become more prevalent in the coming years and decades.
    • One way Boulderites can aid the city’s tree situation is by becoming a Tree Tender, with training starting on March 7. The training will join you with “a network of tree lovers with the goal of growing the urban tree canopy.” You can also just plant a tree or two in your own yard, though if you decide to go that route, make sure the trees are far enough from your house and not a flammable variety, like junipers, lest you trade one problem for another.
  • A safer 287: A US 287 Safety and Mobility study is underway through a collaboration with Boulder County, the City of Longmont, the Town of Erie and the City of Lafayette, among others. The goal is to find ways to decrease crashes by determining where they frequently occur and adapting.
    • “The goal is to create a safer and more accessible US 287 corridor that meets the needs of all people – whether traveling by car, bike, foot or transit,” said project manager Jeff Butts. “This study will lay the foundation for achieving that goal and we are excited to have the community’s input as we move forward.”
    • A self-guided virtual meeting is available until March 19 for those who want to get a better understanding of the project and provide input.
  • Another swatting call: Boulder High School was placed on “secure” on Wednesday after CU police received a call similar to the one that led the school to be evacuated last week. CU was where the first call was directed as well. After closer examination, it turned out the similar call was in fact the same call. Someone is using a recording to make police repeatedly think there is a school shooting threat. The same thing is happening to many schools across the country.

Go Deeper…

Eviction filings in Boulder County jump to their highest level in years

By John Herrick

March 3, 2023

After a pandemic moratorium on evictions led to a brief drop in filings, activity in Boulder County’s eviction courts is rising yet again — to levels not seen in years. 

Property owners sought to evict more tenants last month than they had since early 2020, leaving these renters at risk of losing their housing and putting strain on the City of Boulder’s rental assistance program. 

In February 2023, the two courts in Boulder County — Boulder County Justice Center and the Longmont Safety and Justice Center — recorded 153 eviction case filings, the most since February 2020, according to state data. Under state law, details of these cases are often suppressed, making it difficult to track evictions in the City of Boulder and other towns and cities. 

Continue reading…

My Sister Liv: Tomorrow at Boulder High

In Colorado, suicide is the leading cause of death in youth and young adults. This film is a local story that viewers come away from feeling empowered to connect and talk openly about mental health. Join us to learn how you can turn the tide of youth suicide March 4th.

BRL picks

🙋🏼‍♀️ Women’s history: As part of Women’s History Month, the Center for Colorado Women’s History is offering free admission on March 8 in honor of International Women’s Day. Guided tours run every half hour from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

🎥 BIFF festival — reminder: The 19th annual Boulder International Film Festival is taking place now through March 5. The four day “celebration of cinema” will showcase films and filmmakers from around the world, including local, national and international talent. Attendees can expect a variety of events, including happy hours with filmmakers, opening night galas, musical performances and appearances by renowned chefs.

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.