Here are Aaron Brockett’s answers to Boulder Housing Network’s four questions:
1. Where does housing rank amongst your priorities for the three-year term you are seeking? What housing policies or programs will you advocate to include in Council’s 2024-2025 work plan?
Housing ranks right at the top of my council priorities, as we have a deep housing crisis in Boulder and the region. I have been a strong advocate for better housing policy and more housing production in my eight years on council, including my last two years as mayor. We should keep moving forward with gentle in-fill proposals. The comprehensive plan update in 2025 will be a great opportunity to consider duplexes and tri-plexes in currently single-family neighborhoods. We just passed an important suite of policy changes this week as part of our zoning for affordable housing initiative. Some exciting additional ideas came forward at the last minute, among them allowing more flexibility in the RM and RMX zones. I look forward to taking those up next year.
2. Where and by what means during your three year term should Boulder create more middle-income housing? By middle-income housing, we mean housing that is attainable to households earning $80,000 to $150,000 a year.
One huge opportunity is the Area III Planning Reserve. We should move forward with making that area eligible for annexation. Much of the land in that area is city owned already, which would allow for the creation of substantial amounts of middle-income attainable housing. We should also finish out the rezoning process for the East Boulder Subcommunity Plan as well as the Boulder Junction Phase 2 area (we just approved an update to the plan this week, but more work lies ahead in changing the land use designation and then rezoning as necessary). While new market-rate construction is expensive, many of the new rentals are attainable to people in that income range. Another possibility is work with the new Middle Income Housing Authority at the state level to build multiple middle-income developments. I spoke with their organizers some months ago and it’s a promising new revenue stream that also includes technical assistance.
3. What would you like to tell our subscribers that you will do during your three year term to create housing that is at least somewhat affordable for middle-income residents?
See answer to #2
4. What are the biggest obstacles to creating the type of housing that you have just discussed, and what role can City Council play in removing them?
Boulder’s onerous development review process and lengthy review times make it very hard to do new housing developments in town, or even to do smaller projects like creating an ADU. At the mid-term retreat, I asked planning staff to identify roadblocks and unnecessary complexities in the code, and bring changes to them back to us as they find them for revision – I got unanimous support from council for this. So far they’ve brought us two packages of changes that we have approved, and I hear from the department that more will be coming soon. We should also streamline and expedite approval processes for deed-restricted affordable housing for low, moderate, and middle income households, and look at reducing fees for them as well.