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Last month I wrote about how Boulder was weighing an ordinance that would raise the city’s affordable housing linkage fee on new commercial development from $12 per square foot–a fee just 16 months old and the second highest in the country–to $25, $30, or $35 per square foot. Last week, by a 6-3 vote, city council voted to raise that fee to $30. The $30 fee falls short of the country’s highest, Palo Alto’s $35. But because of the difference in the price of land in Boulder versus Palo Alto, on a percentage basis, Boulder’s new $30 fee will be much greater than Palo Alto’s fee.

Importantly, the city council also approved a “tiered system” for the fee. For example, developers of office space will pay the full $30 per square foot, while hospital space and warehouse space will pay $20 and $10 per square foot, respectively.

Only time will tell whether the new $30 fee will accomplish the city’s goal to spur residential development over commercial development without detriment to the city’s affordable housing fund.

The vote will be made official on May 1.

Late last week, the City and County of Denver sent letters to over 300 homeowners notifying them that they fail to comply with the City’s affordable housing standards. Many of those who received the letters had no idea their homes were subject to such standards in the first place. Continue Reading Hundreds of Denver Homeowners Impacted by Previously Overlooked Affordable Housing Covenants

Law is what we do and a part of who we are, but our lives are fully immersed in the people, places and perspectives that create Denver’s identity.  Deeply entwined with our legal practice is our love of place.  This is our opportunity to share our personal insights.

Have you ever wondered why small commercial pockets containing some of Denver’s most popular restaurants and shops are located in the middle of otherwise quiet urban neighborhoods?  These are the miniature commercial districts such as South Pearl Street in the Platt Park neighborhood, Tennyson Street in the Highlands, and South Gaylord Street in the East Wash Park neighborhood.  As a resident of Congress Park who frequently walks to restaurants and stores, I sure did.  It turns out, much thanks is owed to the old streetcar lines that used to connect Denver’s urban neighborhoods to downtown from the 1880s through the 1940s. Continue Reading City Prism: Streetcar Lines and Neighborhood Commercial Districts

Law is what we do and a part of who we are, but our lives are fully immersed in the people, places and perspectives that create Denver’s identity.  Deeply entwined with our legal practice is our love of place.  This is our opportunity to share our personal insights.

While some of my younger colleagues believe I am incapable of appreciating modern music, that is not quite true.  I love some modern Celtic Punk.  But they are right that I tend to prefer music released before 1981, when I turned 30.  When I was asked to compile a list of best Colorado-inspired songs, I did a quick Google search and found a couple of prior compilations (here and here).  Unsurprisingly, I am unfamiliar with most of these songs.  The playlists do include my favorite song which mentions Denver, Warren Zevon’s Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, but none mention my other favorite song about Colorado, Snowin’ on Raton written by Townes Van Zandt.

The only explanation I have for this grave oversight is that the list makers connect Raton Pass with Raton, New Mexico, not realizing that you cannot cross Raton Pass without either starting or ending in Colorado.  Although I could not find a high-quality recording of Townes’ version on YouTube, there are a number of versions by other wonderful musicians, including Emmylou Harris, Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Gillian Welch and Natalie Maines.

I leave you with a verse, which has to be among the best song lyrics ever written:

Bid the years good-bye
You cannot still them
You cannot turn
The circles of the sun
You cannot count the miles
Until you feel them
And you cannot hold
A lover that has gone

We’ll start in Boulder and with commercial development. In February, the Boulder City Council directed city staff to draft an ordinance that would raise the city’s affordable housing linkage fee on new commercial development from $12 per square foot to $25, $30, or $35 per square foot.  Boulder’s current $12 linkage fee is the highest such fee of any city in the country between the two coasts, with Palo Alto the highest in the country at $35.  Even so, City Council members expressed that the current fee is still low enough vis-a-vis fees on residential development to incentivize commercial development over residential development. And more commercial development without new housing only exacerbates the city’s acute jobs-housing disequilibrium.  Continue Reading Boulder County Municipalities Look to Double Affordable Housing Linkage Fees