Here are Jenny Robins’ 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 is in my top 5 most important priorities. I support our inclusionary housing policies and commercial linkage fees. I would like to continue to leverage the cash in lieu to secure additional funding from the state and federal level. I believe in growth, but I also believe in maintaining the existing major charter and zoning ordinances such as the blue line, green belt, and the height restriction. We need thoughtful growth. We have to do this in a way that brings people together. I support strategic zoning reform to allow for slightly higher densities and gentle infill in certain areas. We need more affordable housing for middle income earners, families, seniors, and students. Any zoning reform should be partnered with an affordable housing component. We have to work with the existing neighborhoods to accomplish this. We should protect the existing residents and maintain single family neighborhoods where people are most passionate about character and development. Reform cannot be successful without the active engagement of our community. It is crucial to involve residents, local organizations, and stakeholders in decision-making processes.
1. 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.
We need to continue to develop programs that assist middle-income households such as our down payment assistance program. These programs could include additional types of low-interest loans or additional rental subsidies to make housing more attainable. I would like to revisit the proposal put forth by our Housing Department at the 9/7 Council Meeting that allowed for an adjustment to the Inclusionary Housing Policy that would have modified the city’s methodology to a “per square foot” cash in lieu structure and potentially boost to middle income opportunities. In addition, I will work with staff to continue to lobby for the maximum state and federal tax dollars that can be used to provide for more affordable middle-income housing for individuals and incentivize developers.
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?
In addition to working to leverage our existing cash in lieu, I would pursue zoning reform to allow for slightly higher densities and gentle infill in certain areas. These areas can include our vacant or aging business and industrial districts where we can rezone to create multi-unit housing as mixed use near transit corridors. We need to re-evaluate parking requirements where we have mass transit. This zoning reform would require an in-depth review of our existing land use code to remove or revise any provisions that are outdated, unnecessary, or redundant.
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?
In my opinion, our biggest obstacles to creating affordable housing is the market in Boulder, limited available land, limited infrastructure and resources, and zoning regulations. To work around these problems, here are some options where City Council can play a role. For the market issues, City Council can impose some limited regulations such as requiring rental licenses have rental price restrictions. For limited available land, we can look to infill in the city proper to create the opportunity for multi-dwelling units. For infrastructure and resources, we need to require developments to build to energy efficient codes and use renewables. For zoning, we need to reform our codes to build for people not cars and allow for less open space per square foot.