Happy Friday, Boulder.

Today, John Herrick covers e-bikes on city open space. This week, the Open Space Board of Trustees narrowly rejected allowing e-bikes on certain trails under its domain. The city wants to lift e-bike restrictions to end the sometimes confusing regulations across the region. The same trail can allow e-bikes on one stretch and not on another. The Boulder City Council is now expected to weigh in on the controversial issue in the coming months.

Also, we’ve got a window of opportunity for outdoor fun this weekend. With cold and snow coming next week, if you have something you want to do outside that doesn’t involve white flakes, now’s the time.

Enjoy your weekend.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • Sunny and warm: 40s and 50s will populate today through the weekend with precipitation holding off until early next week. Without much wind, it should avail itself to any outdoor activities of one’s choosing.
  • City of Boulder backs rent control: The city is supporting a statewide bill to repeal a 1981 law that prevents local governments from adopting rent control policies. Rent control regulations limit how much landlords can increase rent, providing more affordable housing options.
    • A 1981 petition to place a rent control measure on the City of Boulder ballot has been cited as prompting a Colorado Apartment Association lobbying campaign that led to the statewide ban.
    • The bill to repeal the ban is expected to face opposition from realtors and property managers. Gov. Jared Polis, who is from Boulder, has said he is “skeptical” of rent control. Recently he told CPR, “these policies often have the unintended consequences of higher rent.”
    • The Boulder City Council’s decision to support the rent control bill came Thursday evening, as it weighed in on the city’s policy positions, which are used for lobbying state lawmakers.
    • The city also decided to support bills that give the state more authority or oversight over “zoning and land use matters currently under the exclusive control of local governments.” The position is a response to Polis’ state-of-the-state address, in which he made addressing the housing crisis a priority.
    • Councilmembers also discussed what position to take on camping bans, which make it illegal for homeless people to sleep in public spaces. Such bans have prompted frequent lawsuits from civil rights lawyers, including here in Boulder. The council decided to postpone taking a position. — John Herrick
  • Volunteer with Parks & Open Space: Speaking of open space: Boulder County is accepting applications for volunteers. From tour guides who teach visitors about the agricultural practices in Boulder County to residents looking to help out with livestock, deadlines run from March 5 to early April.
  • Boosting high-quality jobs in Boulder: The City of Boulder has been chosen (along with 11 other jurisdictions, including the State of Colorado) to participate in the second phase of the Good Jobs and Equity Project, led by the national nonprofit Results for America, and backed by the Families and Workers Fund, a coalition of philanthropies. The project is part of a growing movement to help local governments create more high-quality jobs in their communities.
    • “We are excited about this opportunity as the City of Boulder is committed to providing equitable access to high-quality jobs,” said Boulder City Manager Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde. “Participation in the Good Jobs & Equity Project will provide access to resources to further the city’s ongoing efforts to improve recruitment, retention and the diversity of its workforce.” 
  • The Book of Joy: Boulder Public Library is starting 2023’s One Book One Boulder — a program that seeks to bring the community together through reading and discussing a single book — with “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World.” Written by the 14th Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, it has a kid version too, “The Little Book of Joy.” The program will run from Feb. 23 – April 30 and has a variety of opportunities for people to get involved, such as joining a book circle or attending the kickoff event on Feb. 23, where the film “Mission: Joy” will be shown.
    • The book is available in Spanish.
  • Black history month: It’s February, and Boulder has many ways to celebrate Black history. Art exhibitions and other events by local Black artists, sponsored by NAACP Boulder County, will be held at various locations. The Nashville African American Wind Symphony will play a selection of “classic and cultural pieces” at Macky Auditorium in a free concert to commemorate the NAACP’s Annual Freedom Fund.
    • KGNU community radio hosts Black Talk, a program centered around Black voices and vision. And a collection called “Black Business Ventures in Boulder” at the Carnegie Branch Library shows “the tenacity of Black entrepreneurs against institutional racism in the 20th century.”
  • Take part in commissions: People Engaged in Raising Leaders and Social Venture Partners are offering a training program for those interested in participating in Boulder’s boards and commissions. Beginning Feb. 21 and running through March 2, it’s virtual on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
    • The training will cover board applications, effective communication and fundraising, among other skills. The program is free and open to the public, but with limited openings. Register online or contact Belinda Hearn for more information.

Go deeper

Boulder open space board narrowly rejects proposal to allow e-bikes on trails

By John Herrick

February 10, 2023

The Boulder Open Space Board of Trustees on Wednesday narrowly rejected a proposal by city officials to allow electric bikes on certain open space trails, a potential setback in the effort to expand trail access to the increasingly popular bike technology. 

The volunteer board voted 3-2 against allowing e-bikes on the eastern half of the city’s trail system where bikes are already allowed — as well as the Boulder Canyon Trail, Chapman Drive and a trail along Wonderland Lake. 

The Boulder City Council will have final say on the thorny issue in the coming months, at a time when its decisions have drawn an unusual amount of legal challenges from residents, including from those advocating for open space. 

The city’s Open Space and Mountain Parks department proposed lifting restrictions on e-bikes in part to streamline rules for trails where e-bikes are permitted by the county. In 2019, Boulder County adopted rules allowing battery-powered bikes on many of its trails. But the City of Boulder still bans the bikes on open space. The result is a complicated patchwork of regulations, where in some cases, the same trail allows and prohibits e-bikes.

Continue reading…

What else we’re reading

  • The IRS wants a cut of your TABOR refund, so don’t file just yet. Thanks to the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the state can’t keep more than a certain amount of taxable revenue, so excess is returned. Last year, single filers got $750 back while married couples got twice that. Now the IRS might include that refund as part of your tax liability.
    • “We have not had this issue before,” said Mark Ferrandino, executive director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, told CBS News Colorado. “We have been clear with the I-R-S that this is just the same as we’ve done in previous years and that we believe it should not be taxable.”

BRL picks

👟 Saturday morning run: A four-mile mixed trail experience, starting and finishing at Patagonia on Pearl Street, will be just the ticket for the active of Boulder. Guayaki Yerba Mate will provide refreshments for the thirsty, and HOKA will demo trail shoes for the unwillingly barefoot. Capacity is limited to 125 participants due to Covid, and registration is required.

🎭 Black History Live: Josephine Baker: This Saturday, on Feb. 11, the Museum of Boulder is hosting a Black History Month celebration. The program will showcase a living-history portrayal by scholar and actor Becky Stone of Josephine Baker. Baker was a “world-renowned performer, World War II spy, and civil rights activist.” The event is $5 but free for members of the Museum of Boulder.

🏍️ Winter bike to work — reminder: Today is the winter rendition of bike-to-work day. Between 7 and 9 a.m., there will be breakfast and giveaways at breakfast stations around town. The weather should cooperate.

For more ideas on what to do this week, check out BRL’s Local Events page.


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.