In response to commentary in the April 11 Camera regarding density in Boulder, I would like to challenge the concept that a doubling of Boulder’s population is necessarily a mistake. To the contrary, this level of growth may make sense considering Boulder’s role in the long term development of the region. We should be open to policy regarding growth that allows Boulder to live up to its full potential as a model for responsible urban development. In planning for a sustainable future, cities must accommodate a higher percentage of overall growth than suburban communities. Boulder has room for growth within its city limits and should at least do its part to support sustainable development principals. However, doing our part could potentially entail dramatic change. If Boulder were to grow at the current US population growth rate of 0.9% annually (Colorado’s current population growth rate is 1.5%), the number of people living here would increase by more than half in the next 50 years. Absent of any policy to limit growth, it is perfectly reasonable to expect that Boulder could potentially double in size before US population growth levels out sometime in the next century. While these numbers well exceed the City’s projections regarding build out, we should be willing to consider the potential for this level of growth. Living sustainability involves more than just festooning buildings with solar panels and driving a hybrid car, it also entails a willingness to accept changes to our lifestyle that allow for less energy intensive land use. Yes, growth will change Boulder, but it is change we have a responsibility to embrace if we are to live up to our values as a progressive community. Making a policy decision to send growth elsewhere should not be promoted under the questionable guise of “sustainability”.
Daniel R. Rotner