Here are Waylon Lewis’ 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 (and transportation) are integral to all three of my main priorities: homelessness/public safety solutions, climate crisis, and affordability. I bike toured with Jeremy and other staff at Boulder Housing Partners a month or two ago and at the end asked what could be done to accelerate affordability in Boulder. They answered that we could double the speed of what we’re creating, if there was support for it.
I’ve been to 3 housewarming parties over the last 10 years. Most of my friends move away, due to housing costs. Boulder is also bleeding creativity and entrepreneurs, who can’t afford to make a start here. We need to focus not only on increased affordable housing, but the missing middle income housing that is vital to families, teachers, police, other employees who otherwise have to drive in each day or move away and work where they live.
I’m a fan of building affordable housing and missing middle, finding ways to do more of both, and quickly, and thoughtful, in an eco manner appropriate to our wonderful town—not waiting. This will require listening, coalition-building, and focus, not just talk. As a rare independent-minded candidate, I will work to ease the infighting and bring both “sides” together to address affordability, with urgency—and joy.
This town that we love so dearly needs it, or wither on the vine, a victim of our own success.
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.
We’ve actually had some success building affordable housing in Boulder—we’re at 8.4%, our goal is 15%, and other cities on the Front Range are at less than 1%. But we continue to shed, and fail to build, missing middle income housing as we all know. Every year we lose wonderful, weird, vital community members who help make Boulder what we love so dearly. We can reverse that, and ease the traffic coming in and leaving each day, by building housing appropriate for middle income citizens. If we don’t, our schools will empty. I will frankly rely on many of you for guidance, always listening, but then move into team-building and execution. Whether at the airport (allowing for emergency services, still), infill, continued support for ADUs or affordability in occupancy, or the planning reserve, we can and must find ways to help developers want to build what we desperately need. Instead, too often, we’re doing the opposite—discouraging projects such as the one at Jay and 36. Equally vital—protecting what we have, discouraging out-of-state investors from buying up properties, and taxing second homes and shortterm rentals more so as to protect the fabric of our community.
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?
I grew up here. My parents were poor, hard-working, creative. They wouldn’t make it here, today. My mom barely did, even then—we sold our house in 1991 because we couldn’t make the dreaded balloon payment. We’ve always been affluent, but with room for creative housing, affordable rentals, middle class homes even in fancy neighborhoods. That Boulder is gone, and we must push back. Prices have doubled, and doubled again. That sounds nice for present homeowners, but unless we’re moving away and selling, it simply raises our taxes while making our community even more homogenous, frankly boring—while excluding diversity, families, and businesses of our next generation. I’m trying to make this answer personal so you can trust who I am, and my genuine, urgent desire to attend more housewarmings, see fewer friends, essential workers, entrepreneurs and healthcare workers, etc…move away. Let’s make Boulder weird,
welcoming, and wonderful. We can do it and I’ll work for it.
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?
This may be an unusual answer, but I find that both “sides” claim to support affordability. So I view the
biggest obstacle as the toxic tenor of debate, the lack of listening, the lack of working together and including fair criticisms from others while focusing on solutions, not simply beating the other side.
But while we make some progress here and there, some folks push back against a Boulder they don’t
recognize, and some locals push for more parking when we should be investing in humans, not cars (that sounds nice, but we can actually do it, as many other towns and cities have. We used to be an eco, innovative leader, the happiest city in the US—we can be again). We can build human-centered development, protect what affordability we have, and look for innovative, fun, communityful ways to make Boulder welcoming to our children and the next generation, all while doing so in a way that feels “Boulder” and is eco, delightful, and connecting. Enough with the luxury condos. We can do better. Let’s.