It’s Friday, Boulder, and a wonderful weekend awaits. First, here’s what’s up.
A small grass fire started in North Boulder yesterday. Thankfully it amounted to nothing. But there’s another Red Flag Warning today, so please take note.
Today, Jessica Mordacq covers a new local startup that is helping Boulder businesses get more folks in the door during their normal slow periods. Called Nigh — Old English for near — the company’s app alerts those close by to a possible sandwich deal, or maybe an open spot in a yoga class.
“My dream is to revolutionize local commerce, to give the same level of technology and opportunity to [local businesses and] service jobs that big companies have capitalized on in the last 50 years,” said Josh Ritzer, Boulderite and Nigh’s founder.
Have a good weekend. We’ll be back to celebrate Monday with you.
— Tim, reporter
What to know today
- Eking near 80 with no rain and a Red Flag Warning: The sun will be shining, but as we near the anniversary of the Marshall Fire, too long without moisture is sure to cause angst. On cue, the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for between noon and 6 p.m. today.
- Small grass fire in North Boulder: A small grass fire began yesterday afternoon around 2:00 p.m. along 36 near Nelson Road. Several homes were evacuated and 36 was briefly closed due to visibility and smoke. The blaze was smothered before anything but 19 acres of vegetation was burned. As of about 5.30 pm yesterday, the fire was 100 percent contained. Ground crews, an air tanker and a helicopter all helped fight the fire.
- 2023 budget approved: Thursday night, Boulder City Council approved a $515.4 million budget for 2023 in a 6-2 vote. The budget will boost funding for city salaries, a new non-police emergency response program, wildfire mitigation, and a homeless encampment clean-up program. Councilmembers Nicole Speer and Lauren Folkerts voted against the budget because it allocates more money for enforcing the city’s camping ban, which penalizes homeless people who sleep in public spaces.
- Arts and encampments: Much of the debate during last night’s public hearing on the 2023 budget centered around two items: the city’s relatively stagnant funding for the arts and a desire among residents to increase spending on “keeping Boulder safe and clean.”
- The city’s budget for the Office of Arts and Culture — which provides grants to artists for operating expenses, performances and studio space rental costs — will increase to $1.8 million, up slightly from $1.6 million this year.
- The city will also spend $1.3 million to issue tickets, confiscate belongings and pick up trash around encampments. The budget includes more than $1 million to pay for a team of police officers to enforce the city’s camping ban. Boulder is defending the ban in District Court following a lawsuit by the ACLU of Colorado.
- To address concerns of local artists calling for more city funding, several councilmembers said they wanted to spend not-yet-allocated federal stimulus money — made available under the American Rescue Plan Act — to help artists affected by Covid-19. How to spend an approximate $500,000 in federal money will be discussed in December 2022.
- Voting timetable: Providing exact voting dates, Boulder released a guide to voting times, registering, and where you can vote if you choose in person over mailing your choices. Per the city’s website:
- Oct. 17: Ballots begin to be mailed to all active, registered Boulder County voters (non-overseas voters). 24-hour ballot drop boxes open.
- Oct. 24: Vote Centers open for in-person voting. Ballot-to-Go (curbside ballot pick-up) service begins.
- Oct. 25: Boulder County Election Information Webinars. More info
- Oct. 28: National Vote Early Day. More info
- Oct. 31: Last day Boulder County is able to mail ballots to voters.
- Nov. 8: Election Day! Last day to vote. Ballots due by 7 p.m.
- ADU recommendations are here: Boulder’s Housing Advisory Board drafted recommendations for city council to increase the number of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, in town. These smaller housing units, built in basements, garages or backyards, are often rented out or used by family and friends.
- The board suggests eliminating saturation limits, parking requirements, and minimum lot sizes — all factors that discourage people from applying to build ADUs, or make building them more costly.
- The board also wants to make attaining an ADU permit easier by creating pre-approved construction plans. Such a policy is active in the City of Leavenworth, Washington. Increasing size limits and simplifying the process for calculating square footage is also included.
- The goal is adding more housing in single-family home neighborhoods in a town with a housing crisis. In January, Boulder City Council made it one of their priorities to revise the city’s ADU regulations.
- The board is meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 26 to discuss the proposed recommendations.
- Teen arrested after Fairview threats: On Wednesday, Boulder PD arrested an 18-year-old who threatened violence towards Fairview High School on social media. The teen, who does not attend the school, was met by officers at his home. They searched and only found a BB gun.
- More police on Hill: CU is looking to up their police presence after the recent Oct. 2 shooting and assertions by students that violence is growing in the area. Additional patrols will be supplemented by additional cameras monitoring the area.
- “We hear you, and we appreciate your engagement,” said CU Boulder Chief of Police Doreen Jokerst. “We are taking immediate action to assist Boulder Police in monitoring crime near campus, and to share information on off-campus crimes as soon as it’s confirmed by the lead agency.”
- Catalytic converter anti-theft kit giveaway is back: Back by popular demand, the Boulder Police Department is hosting a catalytic converter anti-theft kit giveaway, on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m at the Stazio Softball Fields. Only two will be given per household. Pre-registration is required. (Note: At the time of publishing, very few spots remained.)
- In 2021, roughly 270 catalytic converters stolen in Boulder totaled more than $500,000, according to officials. Converters hold precious metals such as rhodium, palladium and platinum that can be sold for up to $1,200 if taken off a hybrid vehicle.
- Commissioners face the public once again: On Oct. 27, the public is allowed back into county commissioners’ hearings and meetings. A renovation of the historic courthouse should allow better accessibility and remote options for those who prefer their couch.
- “The opinions and views of Boulder County residents play a huge role in the policies and decisions that the commissioners make on a weekly basis,” said Commissioner Matt Jones. “We’ve faced many challenges together as a community over the last couple of years and the voice of the community through the in-person or online attendance combination continues to play a vital role in how we overcome these challenges together.”
- Heil Valley Ranch parking lot closed: Monday, Oct. 24 through Wednesday, Oct. 26 the main trailhead parking lot will be closed for maintenance. Everything else remains open, however, and can be accessed by parking at the Corral trailhead or the Picture Rock trailhead.
Though just a year old, sales at Boulder’s The Waffle Lab on University Hill were exceeding expectations on most days. Except for Thursdays, between 3 and 6 p.m., the restaurant’s slowest time of the week.
“During that time, we would get one or two customers,” said Brad Roumaya, owner of The Waffle Lab.
So in September 2022, he turned to a new startup in town, Nigh, whose entire focus is bringing patrons to Boulder businesses during their off-peak hours. When Nigh’s employees explained the company’s mission, Roumaya threw them a challenge.
“He told my team, ‘If you could bring me 10 customers at that time, I would be amazed,’” Josh Ritzer, Nigh’s founder, said. The next Thursday, Nigh’s app brought The Waffle Lab about 70 diners during those three hours — most of them, Roumaya said, first-time customers.
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👤 Women’s stories of freedom and incarceration – reminder: On Oct. 22 at the Arts Hub in Lafayette, in a performance titled “Stories from Boundless Truth,” Black women leaders who were once incarcerated will tell of their experiences with the criminal justice system as well as the other trials faced in their lives. “Terri House was a homeless teenage mother in Denver when she had her first arrest — she stole a package of hotdogs to feed her son. The judge fined her $100. But how was she to pay a $100 fine when she could not afford $1.29 for the hotdogs? Unable to pay, a warrant was issued for her arrest.” Note that it is an age-restricted event. Those under 16 require an accompanying parent or guardian.
🧗♀️ Psychedelia: A blacklight climbing party: On Saturday, Oct. 29, climbers at The Spot bouldering gym will skip stretching to paint and costume themselves. An almost 20-year-old climbing competition that has inspired look-alikes around the world, the blacklight competition has $1,000 waiting for the best of the best. There will also be drinks, fish tacos, and yerba mate available to spectators — or for those who like climbing stuffed. Youth are in the morning. Adult events begin at 6 p.m.
👩🌾 Farmers market: Even though the leaves are crunching underfoot, there’s still local produce to be had. Every Saturday until Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m in downtown Boulder (and 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont). Leaves and roots and kombucha galore.
Covid in Boulder County: Oct. 21, 2022
- 49 daily new cases (7-day avg.) ⬇️ Down 24% over preceding 7-day avg.
- 14 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) ⬆️ Up from a high of 11 last week.
- 37% percent of ICU is occupied. ⬇️ Down from avg. of 65% since July 2020.
What else we’re reading
- Suburbs in Denver are realizing that water isn’t guaranteed, at least not cheap. Banning turf grass and new golf courses is part of the equation, securing sustainable sources of water is another.
- New RTD ridership data, obtained by CPR through an open records request, shows ridership during fare-free August reached its highest levels since the start of the pandemic. Ridership on the Flatiron Flyer between Boulder and Denver increased 40% from July to August, to about 190,000 total boardings during the month when bus passes were free. RTD is planning to present a more detailed ridership analysis in November, according to CPR.
- Opponents of the CU South annexation want a deal with 500-year flood protection. So did everyone else in Boulder. The City Council’s decision to instead build the South Boulder Creek flood mitigation project to remove about 1,100 homes from the 100-year floodplain exemplifies the complexity and tradeoffs involved in managing climate risks.
- Boulder’s 2022 election: What to know and what’s at stake. Get ready for the Nov. 8 election with BRL’s rundown of top ballot measures and statehouse races.
- Boulder’s farmland is becoming desert. A solution? Look to beavers and prairie dogs. Reintroducing beavers and removing prairie dogs are among strategies being considered by the City of Boulder to prevent its open space from drying up and blowing away.