Recent news stories have told about the Boulder City Council acting to reduce speaking times from 3 minutes to 2 minutes for citizens wishing to address the Council at public meetings. This is a symptom of a deep illness yet the reports indicated that the Council members addressed the symptom and not the illness. The illness is overpopulation; the symptom is the large number of people seeking to speak at meetings of the Council. The Council’s action is like prescribing aspirin for cancer.
In 1950 the population of Boulder was approximately 20,000 and there were 9 members of the Council. In 2011 Boulder’s population is approximately 100,000 and there are still just 9 members of the Council. Today there are five times as many constituents per member of the Council as there were 60 years ago. As a consequence, we have only one fifth of the democracy that we had 60 years ago. One can guess that today there are about 5 times as many people wanting to speak to Council on any given issue as there were 60 years ago. Today’s crowded Council agendas and reduced speaking time per citizen are the direct consequence of actions of past Councils promoting population growth in Boulder, yet there was no hint in the news stories that any member of the Council identified continued population growth as being the driving force behind the Council’s need to reduce democracy in Boulder.
As we look around Boulder we see new constructions of homes, apartments, condos and other buildings, all approved by the Council These constructions are intended to increase Boulder’s population, to move Boulder farther away from sustainability and to further reduce democracy in Boulder.
Ironically, the current Council has made sincere and earnest efforts to advance the cause of sustainability in Boulder, yet these new constructions that dilute democracy also move Boulder away from the goal of sustainability as is indicated by the First Law of Sustainability: “You cannot sustain population growth; you cannot sustain growth in the rates of consumption of resources.”
This Law cannot be repealed.
Albert A. Bartlett