By Brian Keegan
The passage of ordinance 8585 by the city council raising Boulder’s occupancy limit is the end of one decades-long process. Congratulations to the activists, organizers and residents who have prevailed despite the pandemic, jeopardizing their own home security to speak at public hearings and voting by a council majority to finally reform this fractured policy.
However, it is important to correct the balance of conflicting interpretations of the 2021 mandate for housing occupancy reform. Mayor Pro Tem Mark Gelding August 13 hotline message And Comments at the August 17 Council meeting in which he sets out his opposition to Regulation 8585 are fascinating examples of hypocrisy and revisionism. While Mr. Wallach’s distortions are celebrated in Boulder’s online fever swamps (where the word “progressive” is usually bracketed by scornful panic quotes), Mr. Wallach and his supporters cannot simply rewrite historical facts because they are theatrically associated with the aftermath of democratic elections disagree.
In the November 2021 election, Proposition 300 “Bedrooms are for people” was used lost 52.3% to 47.7%. In the same election, Matt Benjamin, Nicole Speer, and Lauren Folkerts—all of whom supported Proposition 300—won their city council elections. What kind of mandate can one claim from an election in which voters simultaneously rejected an occupancy reform proposal and simultaneously elected three pro-occupation reform candidates?
After the election, the consensus was that voters rejected the bedroom version of the occupancy reform but wanted the new council to seek a legislative solution to address residents’ key concerns. “No on 300” directed by Lisa Spalding committed after the election, he “worked with supporters of Bedrooms Are for People and the new city council to create an ordinance…” and the camera Post-election editorial stressed the need for “a change in the law” to “reform occupancy limits, but with safeguards”. Steve Pomerance agreed“The new council wants to deal with the occupancy issue anyway.” That’s fine…”
This political process of passing ordinances in normal order after prolonged community engagement bears no resemblance to the abnormal rhetoric of Mr. Wallach and his supporters that the City Council is “nullifying the will of the electorate.” Mr. Wallach’s whistle about “cancelling an election” and violating “fundamental democratic principles” serves as a backdrop to despicable remarks that the city council’s normal policy-making process is indistinguishable from anti-democratic conspiracies such as the January 6 uprising. To visit Herr Wallach again own arguments from 2021 warned against negative politics: “I cannot understand how anyone can believe that such remarks serve to convince.”
Nothing in the public record supports Mr. Wallach’s fashionable fable that “no to 300” means that “the community voted not to change its occupancy limits.” Wallach, who appears to be speaking on behalf of all 17,296 “No to 300” voters, explains that they “did not vote against a formula for calculating density, they voted against the increase itself.” However, there is no historical evidence to suggest that “No to 300” (see opinions of Marshall, Rohde, Nelson, Young and Weaver, Greenlee and reporting in the camera, Boulder Beat And Colorado Sun) should be construed as “clear, specific voting” to maintain occupancy limits. I ask Mr. Wallach to provide any arguments from the campaign that support his convenient discovery of this hitherto undocumented mandate.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wallach cannot even clarify his own story: He said in December 2021 that the occupancy reform “must be carried out holistically”. Then Mr Wallach Voted with the rest of the new council at the January 2022 retreat to consider an ordinance change to housing occupancy rules. Mr Wallach, like any other politician, has the right to make a U-turn, but it must be demanded that a brand new political mandate be reconstructed from the 2021 election in order to construct an argument against an unshakeably democratic process – a process that Mr Wallach originally endorsed its shockingly conspicuous disguise.
Even if housing reform opponents want to take their ball and go home, no vote is ever binding. Boulder voters are already used to voting on complex political issues like Muni or CU South across multiple elections. The November 7 election certainly offers voters an upcoming venue to cast their verdict on occupancy reform. Boulder’s current executives, like Mr. Wallach, must follow their own advice and turn down the temperature on irresponsible rhetoric that equates normal and legitimate regulations with the unfortunately all-too-real risks boulder based authoritarian coups.
Brian Keegan, Ph.D., is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and serves on the board of Boulder Progressives. Keegan writes in his personal capacity.