Dear Save SOBO Members,
Have you received a postcard that looks like this?
The City of Boulder has created a questionnaire ostensibly to find out how residents feel about the City annexing the “CU South” property and then building a new campus there. You can find the questionnaire at https://ww.beheardboulder.org
But Wait! There’s More.
The questionnaire in its current form is a lot like a push-poll. That is, it’s designed to elicit responses that support a particular agenda, in this case, support for CU’s annexation of the land at CU-South to build a third campus nearly the size of CU’s Main Campus. It isn’t asking for what the public actually thinks. It will be impossible for many of us to respond to the questionnaire authentically.
Here’s a note we received from a Save SOBO member about the questionnaire:
I've opened this survey, and my quick assessment of it is that it is written to obtain a particular answer -- one that agrees that more housing, flood control, and public space access are all great to have. However, it does not address the underlying, fundamental issue that if annexed, the City will have no fallback in determining the future use of the South Campus.
Given this (if you agree), how do you think opponents of South Campus annexation should respond to this survey? Should we simply put "no opinion" on all the questions and insert in the "comments" section why this survey is essentially fraudulent? That's my inclination, but having a lot of people take the same response will be more powerful than a single voice crying out in the wilderness.
Save South Boulder’s co-leader, Margaret LeCompte, PhD, an emerita CU faculty member and research methods expert sent two analyses of the Be Heard Boulder questionnaire draft to the Planning Department staff in December, explaining in detail what the questionnaire’s faults were why it would not provide an accurate assessment of public opinion, and how to fix it. Nonetheless, the final draft, which went live online on January 13, remains biased in favor of annexation and development. On January 14, therefore, we wrote to the city staff, asking them to remove the questionnaire from the website and revise it, or better yet, get a professional expert to rewrite it. As currently written, the questionnaire will only yield results that the City wants to hear.
We do not think the City will re-do the questionnaire. Therefore, Save SOBO is urging Boulder residents to NOT to answer the questions as written. We want to use another tactic that will really tell the City what the public thinks.
Therefore, we suggest the following: Answer the first questions, which ask respondents to rate the “public benefit value” of a variety of topics, like “building housing,” or “creating dog parks” not with a “no opinion,” but with a strong negative. This is because while you might think that “housing” in general is a good idea, you really should respond according to how you feel about building housing at CU-South. Apply your responses just to that property. If you think that the CU-South property is an inappropriate location for housing or dog parks, say “no.” If you also are unsure about what kind of housing or dog parks should or could be built at CU-South, say “no” as well, because the question doesn’t specify what kind. Luxury apartments?? Just for CU students and faculty? Affordable housing? Fenced in on-leash dog parks? Dogs running free dog parks?? You can’t tell. You can then respond in the text comment to explain why you are responding in the negative, calling out their "questionnaire" as biased.
Only the last question asks if people actually oppose annexation and development. Mark the answer that applies to how you feel. Then go to the comment box at the end where you can explain why you think this questionnaire isn’t a legitimate measure of public opinion.
If all of us do this, then we can delegitimize the questionnaire and make it impossible for the City to claim that they actually listened to the public. We don’t want to simply ignore the questionnaire. It is much more important to go ahead and respond, but do it OUR way. Not in a way that makes us complicit in a fraudulent process.
Thank you for your response,
The city has mailed the postcard to 7,000 residents mostly in south Boulder. If you want to email the city in response, please contact Phil Kleisler at KleislerP@bouldercolorado.gov, or Jean Gatza at GatzaJ@bouldercolorado.gov, or Sarah Huntley at HuntleyS@bouldercolorado.gov. It wouldn’t hurt to send copies of your comments to members of the City Council as well, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your continued support!
Harlin Savage and Margaret LeCompte on behalf of Save South Boulder
Dear Save SOBO Members,
This is your chance to ask questions of Phil Kleisler and "a representative of CU" about CU-South annexation issues. These "office hours" will be conducted virtually in groups of ten.
This was just announced on November 29 in the Daily Camera. The information below can be found at https://bouldercolorado.gov/planning/cu-south-annexation-office-hours.
We should all sign up and ASK QUESTIONS!!! See the SOBO (on our website, savesouthboulder.com) and Citizens' Campaign document for an analysis of problems which should be asked about--specifically, how the noted problems are going to be resolved PRIOR to the signing of an annexation agreement. If you can't find that document, please contact email@example.com and one will be sent to you.
Please note that the problem of increased traffic in South Bulder as a consequence of CU's proposed new campus is NOT addressed in this document. If you are concerned about this problem, PLEASE ask CU and the staff how they are going to ameliorate it.
For the Citizens' Campaign and Save South Boulder
CU SOUTH ANNEXATION – OFFICE HOURSDrop in to learn and/or ask questions of city planner, Phil Kleisler, and a representative from the University of Colorado Boulder about this annexation application's process, terms, schedule, and/or updates. These office hours are designed for a small group of 10 people or less. Please sign up for only one session, so that all interested community members have an opportunity to participate. Currently, sessions are scheduled:
Contact city planner Phil Kleisler, at KleislerP@bouldercolorado.gov if you have questions about these office hours.
Want to learn more about this project, go to the CU South Annexation webpage.
Since we are about in the initial stages of the public engagement processes for the annexation negotiations over CU-South, the undersigned community members, who represent both Save South Boulder and PLAN-Boulder, felt it important to share with you our concerns that the process outlined is really inadequate, especially given the magnitude of the decision the City needs to make with regard to CU's demans for annexation. We have long been disatisfied with past engagement activities, and we felt we should both outline the bases for that disatisfaction and also make suggestions for how the activities might be improved--especially given the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We do understand that everyone is laboring under extreme difficulties right now; that's why some of our suggestions address those constraints specifically.
Attached is our critique of the public participation process being planned by the City's public engagement staff. It was stimulated by our viewing a diagram outlining the activities and stages in the participation process. That diagram is being used to explain to neighborhood groups how the process works. I am sorry that I can't attach the diagram; I've only seen it in hard copy. If there are other people on the staff that you think should see the document, please let me know.
Dear Save SOBO Members,
November 7th, 2020
Please review this document outlining SOBO’s and PLAN-Boulder’s analysis of dangers inherent in CU’s annexation terms for CU-South. That document, as well as a list of conditions we think are imperative for the City to write into any annexation agreement, was sent on November 4 to the Boulder City Planning Board, the City Council, and key members of the City Utilities staff. Please read it and send it to all your friends and neighbors!!!
Annexation decisions are happening fast. Information is hard to find. We have to be on TOP of it. Annexation is occurring behind the scenes and not with the best interests of the citizens of Boulder in mind. Stay tuned!
What you need to know
Plans for November-December
Upcoming Council and Board Meetings see homepage for updated timelines.
Dear Friends, Neighbors, and Save South Boulder Supporters,
We’ve been remiss with our updates lately, but as you many of you already know, we had an incredibly busy summer!!
The headline is that CU will send terms of agreement for annexation to the City on Monday, Oct. 5th. It is supposed to be on the City’s website shortly thereafter. Today, we got news from the senior planner stating that Council will not discuss the terms until mid-November. That means we have to keep the pressure on.
Save South Boulder has now teamed up with PLAN-Boulder, which has worked to protect our beautiful city and beloved open space from ill-conceived development for 40 years. Our collaboration has already given our campaign big boost just when we needed it.
CHARTER AMENDMENT PETITION FAILS
We spent July and August working with PLAN Boulder to get a charter amendment on the 2020 ballot. The “Citizens Conditions for Annexation of CU South,” would have put sensible limits on development of the South Boulder Creek floodplain (a.k.a. CU South) and flood protection for more residents.
Despite being stymied by the city attorney’s failure to fully comprehend elections laws and with only nine days, instead of 90, to collect signatures, our valiant volunteers collected more than 1,400 signatures. Just imagine what we could have achieved had not mistakes been made by the city. Kudos to everyone who volunteered!
THE RUSH TO ANNEXATION
On October 5th, CU will deliver its terms for annexation to Council and city staff. The terms will be available to the public on the city’s website. Led by Mayor Sam Weaver and Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Yates, the city can hardly wait to annex and intends to do so before Christmas. This is very concerning as the city has not completed any necessary studies to inform decision-making nor has it asked the thousands of south Boulder residents who would be directly and negatively affected what their concerns are about having a massive new campus next door.
Based on its initial petition and subsequent statements, we expect CU to continue to try to offload all flood liability on the city, regardless of what CU does. Because CU has not and will not provide a site plan for development, this would be very risky for our city, and could wind up costing Boulder taxpayers a lot of money.
In addition, CU Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, Frances Draper said in 2017 that CU would build housing, but later said that the university could not guarantee that any housing would be built, affordable or otherwise.
Annexation on CU’s terms could:
Cost Boulder taxpayers upwards of $50 million in addition to the cost of building the high-hazard dam and floodwall at a cost about $44 million (with a 50 percent margin of error.) Keep in mind that CU will benefit from the flood protection that the City is providing.
In sum, Council seems to have buried its head in the sand about the full costs of annexation.
As part of the annexation process, City Council is legally required to hold one public hearing, which we think is wholly inadequate, especially for an annexation of this size (308 acres), and which will have such huge impacts on the city. We continue to press the city on this point.
YOU can help by contacting Phil Kleisler, (303-441-4497) senior planner, and nicely demanding a presentation for your neighborhood. The city should have done this already but they haven’t which is part of the reason we say they are keeping citizens in the dark.
Save the Date for Oct. 5th when CU releases its terms for annexation. We’ll send out our analysis as soon as we can, and you can read it yourself and decide whether it benefits you, your neighborhood, and the entire city.
If Council approves an annexation agreement that allows CU’s unsustainable development of the historic floodplain, then Save South Boulder and PLAN Boulder will work to get a referendum on the ballot so that residents can vote on the agreement. This will require getting 4,000 signatures from registered voters within 30 days of the decision. Based on the response we got last summer, we believe this is doable.
The Open Space Board of Trustees has sent three memos to Council in the last 18 months asking for information it needs to make its recommendation to Council. OSBT is trying to determine whether and to what extent storing more floodwater upstream might lessen damage to Open Space and wildlife. Whether Council will ask OSBT for a “disposal” is uncertain, but we are monitoring this closely.
The Water Resources Advisory Board recommended flood protection for a 100-year event, not the 500-year event that we advocated. The Planning Board also sent comments to Council, and we expect that it will be involved in annexation discussions.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
Write a letter to the editor. This is often the most read section of the newspaper so you letter can make a difference. Hey, it’s only 250 words and it’s your opinion, not your dissertation. Want some editorial help and encouragement? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR margaret. email@example.com
Continue to send emails to City Council or call Council members and tell them what your concerns are and why you, and the rest of the city, deserve better.
Send $10 or even $100 to Save South Boulder. You can do so through our new GoFundMe account. Go to www.savesouthboulder.com and click on the red banner running across the homepage to access our GoFundMe account. We want to keep our ad campaign going!! If every single member of this listserv donated, we would be well on our way to funding a really effective campaign.
Visit our Facebook page at Save South Boulder to see our first ad, “The Great Wall of Boulder,” which was recently published in the Daily Camera. Our second ad will be published at the end of this week.
Thank you for your support. We can’t do this without you.
Meanwhile, stay safe and wear a mask.
Harlin Savage and Marki LeCompte
Save South Boulder co-leaders
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