Happy Wednesday, Boulder, the halfway day. Here’s what’s going on near you:

For today’s top story, John Herrick reports on the ongoing discussion about the reopening of West Pearl. The five-member Transportation Advisory Board is asking Boulder officials to reconsider opening West Pearl Street to cars. On Monday, board members argued that allowing cars back on the two-block stretch contradicts the city’s goal of making streets safer and more accessible for those who don’t drive. They plan to send a letter outlining their concerns to city council — which will chat about reopening the controversial street on Thursday.

Also, an association of Marshall Fire recovery groups has sent an open letter imploring for more fire mitigation and preparedness efforts. And find out where you could learn how to play bridge — the “world’s best card game” — in a day. That and more in today’s edition. Just keep going. So much awaits you below.

Enjoy your day. We’ll see you Friday.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • Temperate with a chance of rain: In the high 70s for the next couple days with a slight chance of rain — which in Spain, I’ve heard, falls mainly in the plains.
  • CU South ballot language hearing: A Boulder County Judge scheduled a hearing on Thursday, Sept. 15 to resolve a dispute over a ballot measure’s title. The measure in question would repeal the CU South annexation agreement. The ballot language lawsuit could potentially push the measure’s vote to next year, but this hearing might still settle the lawsuit in time for the referendum to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.
    • The agreement — between the University of Colorado and the City of Boulder — sets terms for building a flood wall, housing and university facilities at the South Boulder property.
    • Residents seeking to block the agreement are concerned the title of the referendum is unclear. City officials and councilmembers disagreed and moved ahead with placing the measure on this year’s ballot.
    • Late last week, in an effort to ensure the measure makes it on the Nov. 8 ballot, the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit.
  • Arguments over access to open space: The City of Boulder has removed a “No Trail Parking” sign posted in the Knollwood neighborhood. The neighborhood is near Mount Sanitas and the Anemone Loop trailheads. According to a photo posted on Twitter over the weekend, the sign was created by the Knollwood Metropolitan District. Boulder Mayor Aaron Brockett responded that the aforementioned District “supplies utility service to the neighborhood and shouldn’t have the ability to limit parking.” The conflict coincides with Boulder considering new ways to manage parking for people who want to use city open space. This could include timed and paid parking, according to an Aug. 8, 2022 memo by city staff. The memo also cites 2018 data indicting that 56% of people using open space get there by car.
  • Restaurant composting relaxes: A1 Organics, which processes Boulder’s compost, has begun rejecting certain loads of contaminated compost from several communities, including Boulder. Rejected loads end up in the landfill. In response, Boulder is changing compost collection rules for businesses. Some of the changes include:
    • Allowing businesses to remove front-of-house, customer-facing compost receptacles. (Customer-facing recycling and back-of-house composting are still required.)
    • Allowing businesses with public restrooms to remove bathroom compost receptacles.
    • Boulder Reporting Lab previously reported on Boulder’s Zero Waste ordinance for restaurants before the rules were softened.
  • Lime e-scooter program up for review: A year has passed of the green scooters carrying runners to the Bolder Boulder and students to class. Now they’re up for review. In a brief questionnaire residents can share their feedback on what they think of the city’s new addition. Input will help determine whether the scooters “contribute to the city’s mobility, equity, safety and climate goals.”
    • The city launched the e-scooter pilot program in 2021 as part of its Shared Micromobility Program with the hope that e-scooters would provide an environmentally friendly way for community members to get around without a car.
  • Marshall Fire recovery groups send an open letter: Written by groups associated with helping Marshall Fire recovery efforts, the letter implores those in charge to put more energy towards wildfire mitigation and preparedness. Echoing findings in the wildfire reporting done by BRL, the letter states: “One of the key wake-up calls of the Marshall Fire is that we need to expand mitigation and preparedness efforts to ALL of Boulder County – including the flatlands that are home to 85% of the county’s population.”
    • The letter continues to discuss the grasses, mulch and fences that fueled the fire, which are of concern in Boulder as well.
    • Recommendations from the letter include establishing a working group that aligns the many entities working with wildfire, improving transparency around funding options for mitigation work, and engaging the community among other suggestions.
    • “What we have yet to witness is any leadership emerging at the county level to initiate a coordinated effort that would identify gaps, leverage efficiencies, and establish a wildfire resiliency program that is visible to the residents,” the letter says.
    • Louisville mayor responded to the letter, though not satisfactorily to some. While Mayor Ashley Stolzmann (who is expected to win the county commissioners’ District 3 seat on Nov. 8) encouraged voting for fire mitigation measures in the fall, Cheryl Gordon of the UBC Committee said if action isn’t taken sooner, the city and county could miss out on funding opportunities. And in the meantime, more wooden fences — as well as other fire-prone landscaping choices — are being installed now.

Go deeper

Boulder Transportation Advisory Board opposes city’s plan to reopen West Pearl to cars

By John Herrick

The five-member Transportation Advisory Board is calling on City of Boulder officials to reconsider their plan to reopen West Pearl Street to cars. 

Board members said during a meeting on Monday, Sept. 12 that allowing cars back on the two-block stretch just west of the Pearl Street Mall contradicts the city’s goals of making streets safer and more accessible for people who don’t drive cars, including pedestrians and cyclists. 

“It would be a huge step backwards,” Alex Weinheimer, board chair and transportation planner with the Texas-based firm Traffic Engineers, Inc., said. “I know that doing it right from an infrastructure perspective is going to take time and money. But we should use this time to experiment and learn how to make that permanent closure a success.” 

Members of the Transportation Advisory Board, which advises the Boulder City Council on transportation policies, said they plan to send an official letter opposing the full reopening to the Boulder City Council, which will discuss the reopening on Thursday.

Continue reading…

A BRL Presenting Partner sponsor

The menus are live and First Bite diners are clamoring for reservations for the upcoming 10 days of culinary creativity in Boulder, Sept. 30 – Oct. 9. The 17th annual dining event will highlight over 30 locally owned restaurants in Boulder County, each offering menus that fit the dining style of their establishment. Diners can also celebrate the dining scene through a new industry award and preview tours. Learn more at First Bite.

BRL picks

🍃 Here comes Fall Fest: This Friday kicks of the annual autumn celebration in downtown Boulder. Three days of live music, Avery Brewing beer garden, and “Colorado’s premier handmade artisan market.” Children’s Activities include free bounce houses on the Boulder County Courthouse Lawn from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. There is unfortunately no adult bounce house, but there are quesadillas.

📕 Learn how to play Bridge in one day: Sept. 17 at the Elks Lodge in Boulder, the Boulder bridge club is offering a one-day course, “Learn Bridge In a Day.” For devotees, it’s the world’s best card game. But it is a complex game that can be daunting to learn. The American Contract Bridge League created this one day course to quell such concerns.

🏥 Mapleton Porchfest: On Sunday, Sept. 18 from 1-4:30 p.m. local musicians will be singing and playing on the beautiful porches of historic Mapleton Hill. It’s free to walk about and hear whoever you like, for as long as you like.

Covid in Boulder County: Sept. 14, 2022

  • 109 daily new cases (7-day avg.) Up 36% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 14 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from a high of 16 last week.
  • 38% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 66% since July 2020.

What else we’re reading


Tim Drugan

Tim Drugan covers wildfires, water and other climate change-related issues for Boulder Reporting Lab 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.