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Can't Build It, Can't Smoke It ....God, I Love Boulder

The City Council is The Hammer again

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 20, 1995.

The Boulder City Council, in a move designed as a sort of compromise, has limited growth in Boulder by putting a five year cap on business expansion. The Chamber of Commerce and the realtor contingent, the usual addled cats at such a gesture, are actually stating they are rather grateful. The reason is a Slow Growth citizen’s initiative bubbling under the surface which threatens to be much more stringent and threatening. To give you give you an idea how threatening, know this. The growth cap approved as a conciliatory gesture is retroactive, covering city projects in city hands since June 20. Despite the lawsuits this would obviously engender, one has already been filed by the Village Hotel going in at 28th and Canyon, the Council dove in.

Not since the era of Mayor Penfield Tate has boulder bubbled with signs of serious fissure in the body politic of the city. For this is not the usual conflict between growth and retirement community vision, this is the future of our nation and planet, grotesquely pretentious as it sounds. It has long been assumed that capitalism is utterly dependent upon growth to not only flourish but survive. In an already overcrowded eulogy, for a rich inland city to restrict - perhaps reverse - the taxable base scares people, and not just those hoping to get a percentage of the growth income. In an eerie sense, it feels like a rejection of What Made America Great, somehow. So afraid are certain powers of the emerging Slow Growth ballot issue, though, that they were willing to recoil and compromise with a bill that would have generated a single issue election in years past.

The election upcoming will bring out many voters whose presence has not been required in the voting booths of late to keep them accepting of the city. This year, the smoking ban will empty the trailer parks and campuses as blue collar workers and students vote for their addiction of choice and the jobs to support it. If Boulder is truly eighty percent non-smoking and if a similar percentage oppose growth, an assumption not always clear, this is the election to reveal a majority rarely seen in great numbers on election day. For this is the most important election in recent memory on what sort of city Boulder will be in our lifetime, bar none, and it will be won or lost by people often discussed, rarely seen, and maybe ephemeral on a Tuesday in November.