Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Passes Four-Body Review!

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.

Important public hearing, Tuesday, May 23rd!

Neighbors,

We urge you to attend this important public hearing.

SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING with PUBLIC HEARING
Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017, 6:00 to 11:00 pm
Arrive by 5:00 pm to sign up to speak
City Council Chambers
1777 Broadway

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!

BVCP Hearings and Study Sessions, Spring 2017

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!

Informational Meeting
City of Boulder, BVCP/CU South Open House
Monday, April 3rd, 2017, 6:00 pm
SEEC Building
4001 Discovery Drive, CU Boulder Campus, Boulder, Colorado
Attend and fill out a comment card to show your support

Study Session
Planning Board Study Session to provide input on land use options (item 6 on agenda)
Thursday, April 6th, 2017, 5:00 pm
City Council Chambers
1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO
Public comments welcome during general comment period at start of meeting

Study Session
City Council Study Session to provide input on land use options
Tuesday, April 11th, 2017, 6:00 pm
City Council Chambers
1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO
No public comments allowed
Attend in person or watch live online

Public Hearing
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

Public Hearing
City Council and Planning Board
Tuesday, May 23rd, 6:00 pm
City Council Chambers
1777 Broadway, Boulder, CO
Public comments welcome during hearing

South Boulder Creek Featured on Inside Boulder News

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 . . .  ”

A Unique Chance to Achieve South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation

Thank you to the Daily Camera for publishing our Guest Opinion, A unique chance to achieve South Boulder Creek flood mitigation, last week.  Here is an excerpt.

Screen shot, Daily Camera Guest Opinion

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.

Visit our website, https://www.southbouldercreekactiongroup.com/boulder-flood-2013/ to watch several short videos depicting the flood of 2013 in southeast Boulder.

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.

Visit the city’s South Boulder Creek flood mitigation website, https://bouldercolorado.gov/flood/south-boulder-creek-flood-mitigation-planning-study, for more history/details and FAQs about the project.

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 . . .

Read the full article in the Daily Camera.

Full Annexation Makes Sense at CU South

We like this column in the Daily CameraFull 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 . . .

Read the full article in the Daily Camera.

 

 

The University of Colorado’s plans for CU South

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.

In response, the University of Colorado has created this FAQ, Commonly Asked Questions about CU Boulder South. Here are a few excerpts.

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
buildings downstream
• 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 villages
• 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
properties
• 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
surrounding neighbors
• 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

Read the full document here: Commonly Asked Questions about CU Boulder South.

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Open House

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
Council Chambers
1777 Broadway
Boulder, Colorado

Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan – Open House
Monday, September 26th, 2016, 5:00 to 7:00 pm
St Paul’s United Methodist Church
4215 Grinnell Ave.
Boulder, Colorado

Option D Approved!

Boulder’s City Council voted unanimously to approve the South Boulder Creek Flood Mitigation Planning Study/Option D last night! Read the full story in the Daily CameraSouth Boulder Creek flood mitigation moves forward. Here are a few excerpts

To the cheers of south Boulder residents, including several dozen people from the Frasier Meadows retirement community, the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve “Option D” for South Boulder Creek mitigation.

The plan calls for the construction of a berm in Colorado Department of Transportation right-of-way and detention facilities on land owned by the university for a future south campus.

In addition to reducing the flood risk for a large portion of southeast Boulder, the berm and detention facilities should also keep U.S. 36 open in a major flood event, officials said.

The option was developed at the urging of area residents and avoids potential environmental impacts of an earlier proposal to build the berm on city-owned open space.

DOT has already done environmental mitigation in the area for a multi-use path along U.S. 36.

. . .

Residents of Frasier Meadows recounted harrowing stories of close calls in the flood of September 2013.

Dick Leupold said his wife, who was very ill at the time of the flood, was rescued from rising floodwaters but died two months later. He said he’ll always wonder if the flood hastened her death.

Ryan Eisenbraun said the residents of two apartment buildings he owns on Thunderbird Circle, including families with young children, had to escape powerful floodwaters and lost everything they owned.

“Residents were literally thrown across the room by the power of rushing water,” he said. “Some residents had to escape through broken windows because doors were mangled. Appliances were pushed through drywall.”

Rick Mahan of the South Boulder Creek Action Group said the flood’s impact is often characterized as water in basements, but in his neighborhood, it was “44 inches of rushing water.”

Councilwoman Lisa Morzel, who recalled working on flood mitigation plans years ago, said she understands residents of south Boulder live with trauma and fear from the 2013 floods.

“The city has to help stop that pain, and we have to do what we’re supposed to do, which is protect your lives and property,” Morzel said. “I hope we can move as fast as possible on this.”