Terri Brncic moved from San Francisco to Boulder nine years ago with her husband and two sons, who attend Boulder High School. She works as a financial consultant and helped launch the Safe Zones 4 Kids 2023 ballot measure campaign. She has said she enjoys hiking Sanitas and running around Wonderland Lake with her dog, Maggie.

Endorsements: PLAN-Boulder County and Boulder Elevated

Answers to questionnaire:

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

With an estimated 75% of the unsheltered population suffering from substance abuse disorders, untreated mental illness, or both, we can’t continue to insist that housing alone will solve the problem. We need a continuum of treatment options that will provide these individuals with the immediate care that they need while putting them on a path to stable housing. 

This means expanding and enhancing our detox facility so that we have an “emergency room” to intake individuals in crisis. It means building out sober-supported transitional housing where they can go after detox or post jail release to continue to focus on their recovery. And it means creating a streamlined network of treatment facilities so that we have options for individuals that are struggling and need extra support. We also need to get more data-driven about the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing. We need much more transparency around the very real issues that are occurring in this housing – overdoses, meth contamination, evictions, etc. If the city is going to insist that “housing first” is the answer, it needs to be supported with facts so that we can optimize what’s working and course correct on what’s not.

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

One of the biggest levers we have in Boulder to reduce carbon emissions is by holding Xcel accountable for promoting and delivering green energy. We should maximize the use of the off- ramps contained in our settlement agreement with Xcel as leverage to ensure that they are hitting their agreed-upon targets and maintaining prices that are representative of a competitive marketplace. This ensures that lower-income residents are not disproportionately impacted by price increases.

At a local level, Boulder should also be providing more heat pump, battery storage and solar panel grants to encourage residents to move toward greener technologies. 

I also want to put more focus on Boulder Creek water quality. Boulder Creek is designated as an Impaired waterway due to e.coli contamination. The last public update on water quality status in 2019 showed continuing elevated levels. Since Boulder Creek is used by many of our local families and visitors as a summer recreation spot, it is imperative that we ensure the safety and condition of 

this vital waterway through transparent and frequent monitoring and more in-depth analyses to determine the sources of contamination and appropriate remediation measures.

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

Prioritizing bike safety and security is one way to keep people out of their cars. We need to continue to invest in expanded and protected bike lanes, particularly in our key commute corridors. We also need to evaluate our current policies around e-bikes to ensure that riders are educated on safe-use strategies and that our existing path infrastructure and rules are optimized to handle this type of transit. Finally, we need to do more to deter bike theft. Building well-lit, security cages around schools and key commuter centers will help prevent this criminal activity.

We also need to focus on transportation. Many of our small-business workforce live outside of Boulder and commute here regularly. To encourage eco-friendly commuting, we need to provide reliable and convenient regional transit options that specifically consider the geographic footprint of our non-resident workforce. The city should also consider providing more incentives for participation in the Business EcoPass program — as well as subsidized transit for low-income commuters — as a means of encouraging eco-friendly commuting in a more equitable manner. And we should incentivize the creation of car-share and e-bike share programs in connection with multi-family housing and commercial developments.

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

Density alone will not create affordability unless it is coupled with explicit affordability commitments and targeted development. To that end, I would support light and thoughtful upzoning of single-family neighborhoods if it includes permanent affordability provisions. For example, if we are proposing a triplex project, one of the three units should be designated permanently affordable.

I take the same position around increasing population density in Boulder neighborhoods. Given the significant financial benefit that increased occupancy offers to investors and landlords, the recent occupancy limit change should have included an affordability provision, similar to the city’s approach toward ADU variances. In exchange for a fourth or fifth tenant, the landlord would agree to reduced rent on the incremental tenant additions. This would ensure that the majority of the benefit of increased occupancy would flow directly to the renters instead of the landlord.

Ultimately, we need to get more data-driven about who we are building for and what types of housing is needed. We need a better understanding of what our in-commuting workforce looks like — their housing needs, preferences, and challenges. This data will serve as a foundation for designing targeted housing solutions that cater to the evolving needs of our community.

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

We need to change the dialogue in our community and acknowledge that allowing individuals to suffer severe crises in our public spaces without any meaningful response is not compassionate or humane. It’s also not safe — for anyone. Boulder’s unsheltered population is 3.5 times more likely to be victimized than the housed population and incidents of assault and overdoses are widespread. At the same time, these conditions are creating a dangerous environment for our community members who no longer feel safe using our public spaces. 

While the city’s long-term focus is on treatment and stable housing, these solutions will take time. In the interim, we must ensure that the unsheltered population resides in a safe indoor space. The city needs to enforce the existing camping ban and enact a mandatory sheltering protocol that will take a triaged approach toward providing appropriate indoor shelter based on individual circumstances. Whether it is by utilizing the available space in our existing shelters — an average of 35 unutilized beds per night — or expanding our detox facility that  can scale up to 40 beds,  we must agree that we have a responsibility to protect our vulnerable residents and make public spaces available to all. 

[Editor’s note: While the shelter does often have empty beds in the summer, it turns people away due to a lack of capacity on some nights during the winter months, according to publicly available city data. The shelter, located in North Boulder, also prohibits people from entering for other reasons, such as not completing a screening process, known as coordinated entry, or having a pet.

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?

My number one priority is to create the processes and infrastructure needed to support a Safe Indoor Shelter policy for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Solutions to chronic homelessness are going to take time, but in the meantime, we can’t ignore the real crisis that is occurring in our public spaces. I feel that we have a moral obligation as a community to ensure the safety of our most vulnerable population and to advocate for their basic needs when they are not able to do so themselves. Continuing to allow overdoses, assaults and escalating drug use to occur with no meaningful intervention is not compassion, it’s complacency.

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.