The South Boulder Creek Action Group and the Resident Flood Protection Team at Frasier Meadows Retirement Community (FMRC) viewed this year’s Boulder City Council candidates through a single lens: flood mitigation for South Boulder Creek including the annexation of CU South. Which candidates will work to move the approved plan forward with all haste? And which candidates would likely slow progress down by requiring more studies and seemingly endless public process? Here are our Boulder City Council Endorsements for election year 2017.
The first four candidates listed below earned our wholehearted endorsement by demonstrating they understand our flood issue and are committed to solving it by facilitating cooperation between CU and the City of Boulder. The last two are candidates we consider “safe” for you to vote for. While they didn’t articulate their support for flood mitigation as clearly as the first four, we have heard enough from them to believe they will work for and not against our efforts to achieve berm construction at CU South in a timely way.
“I fully support working with City staff to bring Phase I of the South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation Project to a vote as quickly as possible, and without further delay,” said Rigler in response to a question about SBC flood mitigation we emailed to all candidates. Rigler is a soft spoken and thoughtful candidate with an interesting background in national politics, he has worked for Geraldine Ferraro and Al Gore. Vote for BILL RIGLER!
Burton is an incumbent candidate who earned our gratitude and support by clearly and unequivocally pointing out the urgent nature of our flood situation during City Council meetings in 2017. She voted YES to support the Comp Plan Amendment for CU South. We view her as a clear thinking candidate who has consistently had our backs. The Daily Camera endorsed Burton this week describing her as, “a highly-accomplished former Apple executive who has done her best to ground the council in reality.” Vote for JAN BURTON!
JILL ADLER GRANO
Grano impressed us with her strong grasp of our flood issue and her optimistic and empathetic persona. She has said that she looks “forward to supporting the City moving as quickly as possible toward annexation and flood mitigation if elected.” We agree with the Daily Camera’s endorsement which describes her as “one of the most appealing council candidate’s we’ve encountered.” Jill appears to be a problem solver who knows how to get stuff done. Vote for JILL ADLER GRANO!
“Correcting this situation should be one of the City’s highest priorities,” said Ed Byrne in response to a question about South Boulder Creek flood mitigation we emailed to all council candidates. We appreciated Byrne’s attention to and understanding of our flood issue at the candidates’ forum hosted by FMRC and agree 100% with the Daily Camera’s endorsement which describes him as “a pragmatic moderate.” He is the top pick of a number of us from SBC Action Group and the FMRC Resident Flood Protection Team. Vote for ED BYRNE!
We DISCOURAGE you from voting for any candidate not listed above if your goal is to support flood mitigation in our neighborhood. If we didn’t mention a candidate it is because they either indicated support for approaches that would slow or halt the City’s plan to provide flood mitigation at CU South by requiring more studies and process, or they failed to speak meaningfully about the issue despite receiving our questions by email several days prior to a Council candidate forum hosted by FMRC residents. We based our recommendations on the candidates’ presentations at the forum and on firsthand interactions and meetings with the individual candidates.
We are happy to share some good news with you! Updates to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan including CU South recently passed a legislative process called four-body review. Four legislative bodies – City of Boulder Planning Board, City Council, Boulder County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners – all voted to approve amendments to Boulder’s long-range planning document. This will pave the way for flood mitigation to move forward.
It has been a very long road and we wanted to thank everyone for their efforts and perseverance! While these four affirmative votes will allow things to move forward, the City and CU still have work to do regarding annexation negotiations. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this as things begin to unfold. We know the City wants to hear from the public on what’s important to them in such an agreement with CU (e.g., flood mitigation, housing, transportation, etc.).
But, for now, let’s just give ourselves a chance to exhale. We have a lot to be proud of, not the least of which is the focused, rational and professional way in which we approached this issue with decision-making bodies and other members of the public. Kudos to everyone for a job extremely well done!
Here’s a link to watch the full meeting of Boulder County’s Board of Commissioners who voted last Wednesday, July 26th. And a clip of the final vote (from the POV of one of our members) below.
THE PURPOSE OF THIS MEETING is for City Council and Planning Board to hear citizen feedback about proposed updates to the Boulder Valley Comp Plan including the annexation of CU South for flood mitigation.
IT IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE: While the City has a plan to provide flood mitigation for our neighborhood, they won’t implement it without visible public support.
Join us in supporting our City Council in providing flood protection for our neighborhood!
Here is a list of City of Boulder hearings, study sessions and other events created to address proposed changes to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP). The BVCP updates must pass in order for the City to provide flood mitigation for our neighborhood. Save these dates, attend the meetings, and make your voice heard!
Open Space Board of Trustees to make land use concept recommendation Wednesday, April 12th, 6:00 pm
City Council Chambers
1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO
Public comments welcome during hearing
City Council and Planning Board Tuesday, May 23rd, 6:00 pm
City Council Chambers
1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO
Public comments welcome during hearing
Here is a nice piece about South Boulder Creek produced by Inside Boulder News for broadcast on March 10th, 2017. See images of a raging South Boulder Creek; flooding at Frasier Meadows Retirement Community in September 2013; a recent interview with Councilman Aaron Brockett; and information about an upcoming informational open house hosted by the City of Boulder.
“We’ve seen South Boulder Creek overflow its banks and now the City is working with CU Boulder to prevent future flooding . . . ”
Screen shot, the South Boulder Creek Action Group’s Guest Opinion published by the Daily Camera. Click to read full article.
In September 2013, South Boulder Creek floodwaters overtopped U.S. 36, flooding southeast Boulder neighborhoods and putting thousands of people at risk. Emergency responders could not access the neighborhoods despite calls for help. There was no way to evacuate the area with egress roads impassable. Floodwaters poured into homes, including the Frasier Meadows Retirement Community, putting at-risk residents at even greater risk. Those of us who experienced flooding in these neighborhoods are amazed there was no direct loss of life in our neighborhood.
For 3.5 years the South Boulder Creek Action Group (SBCAG) has actively advocated for the implementation of flood mitigation to prevent South Boulder Creek from again overtopping U.S. 36. Our efforts have included communications with members of City Council, city boards and staff, the Boulder County Board of Commissioners and the County Land Use Planning Commission, and we thank them all for their willingness to engage with us repeatedly.
City efforts to implement effective flood mitigation to protect those living around and downstream of South Boulder Creek have spanned almost 20 years, with the latest beginning in 2009. Numerous options reviewed prior to 2009 were not feasible for a variety of reasons. Consequently, no flood protection was ever implemented, leaving downstream residents in harm’s way, year after year.
Finally, after years of study and analysis by the city and its consultants, as well as a variety of opportunities for public participation, a preferred South Boulder Creek flood mitigation alternative — option D — was approved by City Council in August 2015. Considerations in the selection included extensive engineering analyses, benefit-cost analyses, environmental issues (water quality, natural environment protection, threatened and endangered species, etc.) and other city policies. This alternative is dependent on the cooperation of three entities — the city of Boulder as the flood mitigation sponsor; CU, which has offered 80+ acres of CU South property for flood detention; and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), which has agreed to allow construction of the flood mitigation berm within their U.S. 36 right-of-way.
This is the first time in the long history of the project that interagency cooperation among three willing partners — the city, CU and CDOT — makes the South Boulder Creek mitigation project feasible. This is a unique situation given the prior unsuccessful efforts, and one that we in downstream neighborhoods fully support. It presents one of the best opportunities in decades to finally resolve this critical health and safety issue for thousands of Boulder residents now living in harm’s way . . .
We like this column in the Daily Camera, Full annexation makes sense at CU South, by Jim Martin, Boulder County Public Trustee, because it’s fact-based and reinforces a collaborative approach, which we support. Here is the intro:
An annexation would enable the city to perform a $22 million-plus flood-mitigation project so that we never again see massive destruction such as that caused by the south Boulder flood in 2013.
That’s why Boulder city officials initiated talks recently with CU about annexation, seeking to mitigate the flood exposure of the South Boulder Creek. This land needs to be within city limits so that it’s not subject to Boulder County land-use regulations.
The land includes the former site of the Flatirons Cos. gravel pit. CU swept in and bought the land in 1996, engendering mistrust and suspicion between the Boulder City Council and CU’s Board of Regents.
Some residents and neighborhood groups may oppose the idea of full annexation, preferring that the city annex only the acreage it needs for flood mitigation. But that diverts us from the important issues, which will be the language of the annexation agreement and a completed site plan . . .
If you attended the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Open House on September 26th, 2016 you may recall how contentious it felt. In the days leading up to the meeting, opponents to changes at CU South posted some false and alarming notices on trails in the area which resulted in public expressions of anxiety and uncertainty about annexation and Option D. While city staffers were able to debunk some of the misinformation being spread, we believe a lot of people left the Comp. Plan Open House with unresolved questions and concerns about the purpose of annexation and CU’s long range plans for the CU South property.
I regularly use the CU Boulder South property for recreation, outdoor enjoyment and walking my dog. Will I still be able to do this when you develop the property?
Yes. Since purchasing the site we have provided the community with access to the area and that will continue. CU will maintain public access to the property, including publicly available trails and access to the city’s adjacent Open Space (where allowed by the city), parks and regional trail system regardless of what is ultimately developed on the property. In fact, the final connection for the last leg of the city’s South Boulder Creek Trail was made possible by CU providing an easement for the city to build a walkway across the wetlands.
What will CU develop on this property?
We don’t specifically know yet. Even identifying the long-term needs of the university is, in and of itself, a long-term project. All of our development projects go through a large number of review processes and we engage many stakeholders, including the community, all of which will take a significant amount of time.
We can tell you that any development at CU Boulder South would support the campus and community goals for environmental sustainability and resiliency by:
• Designing sustainable buildings to minimize or eliminate the overall carbon footprint of our facilities. All our new facilities meet USGBC’s Gold or Platinum LEED standards.
• Incorporating renewable energy sources
• Providing multimodal transportation access, minimizing automobile use with CU, regional and city bus transportation, and bicycle and pedestrian paths
• Using Xeriscape and native vegetation to conserve water
• Protecting jurisdictionally-designated wetlands and other significant environmental resources
We can also tell you what any future development might include:
• Creating floodwater mitigation areas to improve the flood safety of people, residences and
• Creating low impact recreational and athletic fields which could serve shared community use
• Continuing to use the property as a training site for our cross-country track and tennis teams
• Adding restrooms and showers for athletes and restrooms and drinking fountains for attendees to sporting events
• Faculty and staff affordable, workforce housing. (We are currently conducting a survey of our staff and faculty to determine their housing needs, and whether the university might be able to develop housing to meet some of those needs.)
• Graduate student housing and/or upper division undergraduate housing incorporated into
• Academic, instructional and research facilities
• Outdoor research spaces
We can also tell you that:
• Any development would maintain the same high aesthetic standards of other CU Boulder
• The quality of CU Boulder as an institution of higher education is and will continue to be
reflected in its buildings — their quality, beauty, consistency, and permanence.
• Functional arrangement of buildings, while being mindful of preserving views, will be a defining characteristic for development of CU Boulder South
• The design of buildings will complement the existing topography and maintain sensitivity to
• We will keep the community informed and work closely with the city as development plans
begin to emerge December 13, 2016
And here is what we can tell you that we do NOT intend to build on the site:
• A football stadium
• Towers à la Williams Village
• First-year freshman housing
• A bypass public roadway connecting Highway 93 and Highway 36
• A full build out of all 308 acres
People vulnerable to flooding when South Boulder Creek overtops U.S. 36 achieved a win in August 2015 when Boulder’s City Council voted unanimously to approve the South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation Study/Option D.
Unfortunately, our work isn’t done. In order to move forward with Option D, the city must negotiate with University of Colorado to use 80+ acres of property owned by CU known informally as CU South. CU is expected to request annexation into the City of Boulder as part of the negotiation process. The city, having received pushback in the last year about how they solicit citizen input on every issue, is not only bracing for resistance from people who oppose annexation, they are actively seeking to make sure those voices get heard.
As the project becomes noisier it’s imperative that the point of view of people who support flood mitigation and see annexation as an opportunity to assert control over what happens at CU South, also has a place.
You are invited (and encouraged!) to join us at one or both of the following events coming up in the next two weeks. This is emotional work for those of us who experienced some of the worst flooding in Boulder in 2013, but it is also rewarding.
City Council Meeting
Tuesday, September 20th, 6:00 pm