Follow-up on Twin Lakes affordable housing
November 3, 2016
Editor’s note: Due to several reader requests, the Left Hand Valley Courier asked a follow-up question to Boulder County Commissioner candidates about the proposed affordable housing project in Gunbarrel. Here are their responses.
Q “Do you support the proposed location for affordable housing in the Twin Lakes area? Why or why not? Do you think other options should be considered, and if so, where and why?”
A I do not support the Twin Lakes project. It is difficult to imagine a more inappropriate place to build a major public housing project. The properties are two miles from the nearest shopping, they are not served by public transportation, and they will generate as many as 3,000 vehicle trips a day on roads many of which are already falling apart.
Many in both the county and the Gunbarrel community have considered these properties as candidates for inclusion in the open space program since at least 1993. A glance at a map reveals these properties are self-evident candidates for addition to the Twin Lakes Open Space, which is Boulder County’s single most-used open space holding – and one of its smallest.
The public “process” by which this project is being moved forward is riddled with abuse of process – starting with the decision to transfer the land to the Boulder County Housing Authority with no public hearings and less than 48 hours public notice.
There was a time when the Boulder County Housing Authority’s focus was on small projects, often involving the acquisition and remodeling of existing properties. These properties were dispersed throughout Boulder County cities to better integrate low-income families into the broader community. I favor a return to this course of action, with a focus for providing housing opportunities for the poor and the working poor.
In contrast, large public housing projects in the United States have often created more social and environmental problems than they’ve solved – including the ghettoizing of racial and ethnic minorities. Apparently the present board hasn’t learned much from these experiences.
If elected, I will immediately seek to junk this ill-considered project and transfer the land to the County Open Space Department for inclusion as part of the Twin Lakes Open Space Area.
A Yes, I support Twin Lakes as an affordable housing location. Over 40,000 people are spending over half their income on housing. This puts them one medical crisis or job loss away from becoming homeless. We have an affordable housing crisis in Boulder County and we need to actively look throughout the county to solve it.
The Boulder County Housing Authority has been doing just that for years but very few opportunities are available. The Twin Lakes property was purchased because it was vacant land that had been slated for development and annexation for over 30 years.
The Boulder Valley School District and the BCHA, have agreed with the neighbors that building units would be limited to 6-12 units per acre; there would be wildlife and wetland buffers to the north and south of the property, plus a wildlife corridor between the existing homes and the development. BCHA will continue to get neighborhood input throughout the process to add amenities such as meeting spaces, playgrounds and gardens that will benefit the community at-large.
When I am out in the community meeting with various groups, I frequently hear about the need for permanently affordable housing. This is especially true for teachers, firefighters, seniors and people working lower paying jobs. They work in Boulder County and contribute to our community but can’t afford to live here.
Part of the responsibility in being a commissioner is to balance the needs of everyone in our community when making a decision. Affordable housing developments in the county often times have neighborhood concerns similar to the ones being expressed in Twin Lakes. Working with the neighbors near those developments through the annexation and site development review process, those concerns were successfully resolved. I am hopeful this will be the outcome in Twin Lakes.