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WATCH: Downtown Debate


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City Council will discuss the next steps for the downtown area south of Canyon Blvd. on Wednesday evening, November 3, 2010.

Controversy and Consensus, a Channel 8 production hosted by Ralph Gregory, devoted a recent episode to downtown development.   Will additional density solve our affordable housing, commuting, and energy problems?  Watch former councilman Steve Pomerance and architect Fenno Hoffman debate the issues here.  Select the September 2010 episode.

Read the staff memo here.

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3 Responses to “WATCH: Downtown Debate”

  1. Seth Brigham says:

    The answer is no.

    Keep your hands off.

    Especially, as these dense projects aren’t providing affordable housing ( The developers are opting out with cash payments for “segregated” housing ), densification will only leads to more congestion, and, a gridlock of pollution.

    Did I mention the view for the rest of us, who aren’t so lucky to buy a 500 hundred to million dollar “penthouse.”

  2. Evan Ravitz says:

    First, Mr. Hoffman’s statement near the end that Boulder’s 25 sq. miles is about the size of Berlin is WAY off. Several web references show Berlin to have 341-344 sq. miles, which makes sense given that Berlin has 3.4 MILLION people, some 34 times the size of Boulder! If Mr. Hoffman can make a huge mistake like this that someone who isn’t a pro planner (me) knows immediately is way off, why should I listen to the conclusions he makes based on such “data”?

    If only people understood 6th grade science. “Density” in actual science means the number of things (living units, here) per cubic measure, NOT square measure. Therefore, units/acre or /block tell us nothing about REAL density and therefore efficiency. Stacking up huge luxury units with many sq. ft. and high ceilings to the sky DOESN’T make them efficient, it makes them invasive of the commons, turning a City famous for its outdoors and views into another city of canyons. Small is energy-efficient.

    The housing atrocities on Canyon near the Muny Bldg are ugly, huge units with little or no solar heating, even though they have GREAT solar exposure. They are the opposite of everything Boulder govt pays lip service to. They are the result of ambitious politicians showing developers they will compromise themselves for more power.

  3. Fenno Hoffman says:

    Thanks for your statistics correction, Evan. TV is nerve racking. What I meant was that “Boulder” includes our “commuter shed” where many of us live and through which thousands of us commute and that area is roughly 20-25 miles on a side which is roughly the size of Berlin. The point was to compare land areas and city forms to illustrate that we are a sprawling region of relatively low density that could be very different. I’m not saying we should be different – that’s another discussion. I’m saying we need to think globally and act locally. “Boulder” is very difficult to service efficiently with shared facilities, be they mass transit, or anything else. As you have reported, many of RTD’s bus routes run nearly empty. It’s hard to serve a widely distributed population with a concentrated transit system.

    The thrust of our conversation was about 1. taking a more comprehensive view of our own human habitat and 2. considering alternatives to low density auto-dependant sprawl, in some parts of town, for some people. There are many examples of compact (dense) development in European countries that offer a high standard of living with a lower carbon footprint than we have in Boulder County. These traditional cities have struck a balance between human scale and efficiency that is worth studying.

    Please don’t shoot the messenger. I would love to see Boulder become more walkable and bikeable, but our current settlement pattern discourages these “alternative” modes for most people. If we had some higher density nodes around town that served more of our population, then perhaps cars could become the “alternative” mode. The climate and energy future suggests that we need to change our way of life to some extent and that means Boulder may need to change some parts of itself to become more walkable. How we do that and why is a very complicated conversation that we all need to have. I hope you will continue to weigh in and perhaps help make it safe to talk about this stuff, rather than attacking those of us who are trying to explore the problem.

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