Tara Winer was born and raised in Brooklyn. She and her husband raised three daughters in West Philadelphia before moving to Boulder. She began her involvement in local politics by serving on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Community, Culture and Safety Tax Working Group. She works as a senior brand manager at ePromos Promotional Products, a sales and marketing company, and serves as member of the Downtown Boulder Community Initiatives, a charity arm of the Downtown Boulder Partnership. She was elected to the Boulder City Council in 2021.

Endorsements: Better Boulder, PLAN-Boulder County, Boulder Elevated and Sierra Club Indian Peaks

Answers to questionnaire:

What do you think are the most promising initiatives for reducing homelessness?

I believe housing with supportive services is the most effective way to help reduce homelessness.  Because many people experiencing homelessness suffer from mental health issues and or drug addiction, having 24/7 wrap-around services would give people the highest probability of success in housing.  We need options for people to access this kind of help, especially options that accept Medicaid. Our state is sorely lacking in these areas. I have been working with county and state representatives to provide options.

Ready-to- work programs like Bridge House offers, are unique in that they provide employment, housing and support.

A few months ago, I visited The Other Side Academy.  It’s a live-in program where students learn vocational and life skills.  It’s dedicated to those in the criminal justice system that struggle with substance abuse. Boulder’s Community Court program made its first successful referral to The Other Side Academy for an unhoused, criminal justice-involved individual!

Ultimately, we need more housing for the unhoused.  The City of Aurora’s pallet homes are 10 x 10, equipped with power, air conditioning and heat. A non-profit staffs the community 24 hours a day. This, in my opinion, is the most promising initiative.

We are in a climate emergency. With your leadership, how would Boulder change commensurately?

We need to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Period.

Transportation accounts for about one-third of our GHG’s. E-bikes are transformative in mode-shifting people out of cars. Increasing the amount of protected bike lanes, making sure people have secure places to park their bikes, providing free bike valet service downtown (where bikes are guarded), and continuing our e-bike rebate program are some ways we can help encourage community members to get on their bikes more often.

We must also make sure our community is fire-ready. Since the Marshall fires, we have cut down many trees in the wildland-urban interface (so fire cannot easily jump from tree to tree and then into our neighborhoods).  We have improved our emergency alert system, and we have a Wildfire Home Assessment Program that is free of charge.  But we need to go farther to make sure that highly flammable building materials, fencing and shrubbery are discouraged.

Further, we need to increase our urban tree canopy, and reduce heat islands stemming from things like parking lots with black asphalt.  We have incredibly smart and dedicated staff in our Climate Initiatives Department, and the best thing I can do is get out of their way and support the work.

How can we better provide alternatives to cars when existing infrastructure prioritizes cars?

Let’s change the infrastructure!  We can do this by creating more protected bike lanes, and by ensuring that bike paths and bike storage spots are safe so that everyone feels comfortable biking around town. I particularly liked Boulder’s free bike valets, available at some of our events this summer. Let’s come up with innovative and secure ways to store our bikes. Clean and well-lit underpasses will add to our community’s comfort in switching from cars to biking and walking.

Obviously, the structure and governance of RTD is not within our purview, but rapid transit is a big piece of this puzzle. If people are going to rely on buses to get them to their jobs, buses need to be fast, reliable and inexpensive.  A regional approach is needed. A good example of that is the CO-7 (Arapahoe) multi-city joint project.

I support programs like RTD’s Zero Fare for Better Air and new Zero Fare for Youth. Combined with lower fare structures, these programs will incentivize people to ride buses more frequently.  My son-in-law and grandchildren rode the bus this summer — just for fun!

I will also keep advocating for Boulder to get our long-awaited rail!

What is your plan for increasing Boulder’s affordable housing supply?

For those eligible, we have a fair amount of permanently affordable housing options available, and even more in the pipeline. We should continue to add to our permanently affordable housing inventory to reach our city goals. Income diversity is important; it makes for a happier city. However, it is those in our middle-income category that have few options, if any. We have not had much success due to a variety of reasons, one of which is the cost of land. It is for this reason I would like to prioritize the Area III Planning Reserve as a council priority, as we own this land. I believe this is the location we would be able to build neighborhoods similar to the very popular Holiday Neighborhood in North Boulder. It has a variety of house types — both rentals and ownership options, both permanently affordable housing and market rate housing.  It is well designed with plenty of trees and parks. 

Another option is redesigning some of our empty parking lots as middle-income neighborhoods with plenty of neighborhood-serving retail. Adding middle-income housing will be a council priority for me if I am reelected to city council.

What approach would you take to address camping in our parks, on our bike paths and along our waterways?

I support Boulder’s encampment ban.  Our public spaces need to be shared.  The encampment ban is certainly not a solution for homelessness, but it is a tool to help maintain our shared spaces. Our SAMPS team (Safe and Managed Public Spaces), is a multi-departmental clean up team. I had the opportunity to walk around town with this team; they were compassionate and professional. They attempt to engage people in resources.  Their process involves advanced notices. Cleanup day is the last step of a long process.

We have a shelter for people to have somewhere to sleep at night.  But they do need somewhere to go during the day. That is why I support a day shelter with toilets, showers, locker, and connections to other support services. About a year ago council allocated an additional $1 million for this initiative. 

Our bike paths need to be clear from obstructions. When biking through a dark underpass, it is crucial for safety for all that the underpass is clear. We need real solutions, not bandaids. One solution I will champion is pallet homes. Neighboring cities are having success with this inexpensive, efficient type of housing which can be constructed quickly.

Assume you are elected this November. Now imagine it’s November one year later. What one, specific thing will you have accomplished that you’re proud of? Put another way, what will define success for you after one year on council, or as mayor?

Improved biking connectivity and safety will define success for me. As the Hill hotel nears completion, we must prioritize connectivity between the Hill Commercial District, the Hill Hotel and Conference Center and our downtown. The connections should be safe, clean, well-lit and well-designed. 

Right now, the path from the Hill through the arboretum to 13th St is dangerous for bikers due to the sharp curves, too much debris and lack of path lighting at night. I rarely see a pedestrian on that path.

Likewise, our underpasses need improved lighting for both pedestrians and bikers. Much of the lighting is either fully broken or partially broken, making it somewhat dangerous to ride or walk through, even in the daylight. Winter biking and walking present a challenge during snowy and icy conditions. I slipped on a patch of ice and fell off my bike while riding on the bike path just last winter. Our multi-use paths need to be free of ice and snow. Our bike paths are one of the greatest gems of our city. To get people out of cars and onto bikes and other forms of non-GHG producing vehicles, we need to make sure everyone is safe. 

John Herrick is a reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering housing, transportation, policing and local government. He previously covered the state Capitol for The Colorado Independent and environmental policy for VTDigger.org. Email: john@boulderreportinglab.org.