Lisa on the Issues
Q. You’ve been working on issues that affect Boulder for almost 30 years, 16 of them on City Council. Tell us about some of them.
A. In my 16 years on Council, I have consistently worked toward common solutions that help create a compact, sustainable, and inclusive community. I have worked with diverse groups achieving common goals with broad positive outcomes. Whether this involves coming to consensus on funding city-supported early childhood programs, on what constitutes appropriate development for Boulder Junction, our downtown, or our civic spaces, improving pedestrian and bicycle access and safety, or strengthening our social network, I have been part of the solution in Boulder for 30 years. While on Council, I’ve helped the city establish a strong Climate Action Program, acquiring more than 25,000 additional acres of Open Space while helping develop management plans that address multiple uses, lead the city to achievable Zero Waste Goals, and so much more. I am particularly excited by the downtown library renovation and the establishment of a new corner library in north Boulder.
Q. I hear you talk a lot about sustainability. What does that really mean for Boulder?
A. A vibrant economy is key to Boulder’s success and achieving our sustainability goals. Boulder’s diverse culture of clean energy, high-tech development, environment, natural foods, recreation, science, our universities and federal labs, and the arts have put Boulder on the map as a national and international leader and given Boulder a sound economic base. Sustainability also extends to how our city is shaped; our Open Space acquisitions have made Boulder the compact, human-scale city it is today while preserving environmentally sensitive lands, wildlife corridors, viewsheds, and land for people to enjoy, recreate, grow food on, and create healthier lifestyles. Our land-use practices of doing the best with what we have left and making conservative non-sprawling choices go hand-in-hand with a highly functional transit and bike/ped-oriented transportation system. Boulder’s commitment to clean energy and reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to address the real challenges of global warming make Boulder a leader in sustainable practices and ensure that our population will have what it needs to endure far into the future.
In the last 4 years under the leadership of the current council, Boulder has reaffirmed its commitment to greenhouse gas reduction through legal action to establish our own municipal electrical utility, has passed a Universal Recycling ordinance that will require all commercial ventures to fully participate in Boulder’s recycling and composting program, and has made great progress in implementing Boulder’s SmartRegs program that requires rental housing to be licensed and to achieve greatly improved energy efficiency, Boulder has completed a major update to the Transportation Master Plan and is in the process of exploring innovative approaches to safer and more sustainable configuration of automobile connections, bus routes, bike lanes, and pedestrian crossings and pathways.
Q. Many Boulder residents are concerned with the current rate and intensity of development, especially large massive buildings and greatly increased density. Are you concerned?
A. Much of the economic development that is happening today in Boulder is a result of the positive economic cycle, and much of it has been in the planning stage for years. Nonetheless, the impact of the all the development results in fear that our community is being permanently changed, and in a new higher density direction that not everyone likes. I have been concerned with the rate and quality of new development and have supported form-based zoning to improve design outcomes, commercial impact fees to cover the cost of growth, a possible occupation privilege tax (head tax) focused on transportation impacts, and a moratorium on 55-foot-tall buildings until design guidelines and community benefit are better defined. I also strongly support sub-community planning in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan update and have served on the Housing Strategy advisory committee to improve the process and bring stimulating speakers to Boulder to address housing issues.
Q. How do you feel about the development of the Area 3 Planning Reserve?
A. We must make sustainable choices. The decisions we make today will have a profound effect for generations to come. The expressed purpose of the Planning Reserve is to leave real options for the unanticipated needs of tomorrow, so future generations can make those decisions for themselves and our community can continue to thrive for years to come. There is still so much land within service Area (Area I) that can be developed or redeveloped, like the Diagonal Plaza and the Boulder Community Hospital sites. There are commercial/industrial properties along east Arapahoe that are in Area II that could be annexed, plus the Armory and adjacent sites in north Boulder. We have many other options before the community even begins to consider expanding our urban boundaries.
Q. What is the Climate Action Plan?
A. Global warming is a reality. This is the defining issue of our time and will have tremendous impacts on our society. We must take bold actions now at the local level to reverse these trends. The Climate Action Plan, which has grown out of Boulder’s 2006 carbon tax, the first in the world, is designed to reduce Boulder’s greenhouse gas inventory by a combination of energy efficiency improvements and smarter energy generation choices. In 2012, citizens approved a 5-year extension of the carbon tax and we have continued to make substantial progress on energy efficiency through our EnergySmart, SmartRegs, and ClimateSmart programs. We have addressed the energy supply side through our rooftop solar ordinance, solar gardens ordinance, through loans and incentives for individual solar facilities, and though our efforts to form a municipal light and power utility. The latter will move us away from an investor-owned, commodity-generated coal-based electric future to one that is a publically-owned, service-oriented utility with more renewable energy sources and dramatically reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Q. You’ve been an early supporter of Boulder taking a more active role in managing its energy future. Why?
A. This is about Boulder taking control of and determining its own energy future to meet our climate action goals as well as place ourselves in a more secure and independent financial position. Electrical energy production plays such a critical role in how we reduce our carbon emissions and how Boulder will obtain its energy in the 21st century. To meet these goals, Boulder wants to democratize our energy decisions, decarbonize our energy resources and decentralize our energy generation. As a research scientist and a council member dedicated to making sound decisions, I want to help lead the process that guides Boulder in making the right choices. Because the City has successfully developed and managed our water, sewer, and flood control utilities for over 100 years, I have complete confidence in Boulder’s ability to manage a municipal light and power utility.
Q. Why do you want to be elected to another term on Council?
A. It’s an exciting time to be in Boulder. I want to continue to help create the vision that has made our city a national and international leader. Being on City Council requires much more than interest and knowledge of a single topic. I have a comprehensive understanding of the issues and a commitment to fair, open, and transparent government.
I’m ready to tackle the defining issues of this year’s election:
- Charting our course to an independent, publically-owned, service-oriented municipal utility with more renewable energy.
- Completing the 2015 5-year update of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan in a way that affirms and supports our environmental and land conservation goals, creates housing affordability for all, and increases the diversity of our community while maintaining our compact urban form. This update must include outreach to and input from a broad segment of our community.
- Augment our permanently affordable housing with the aid of our newly implemented commercial impact fee and encourage market rate affordability by stabilizing our mobile home parks, and by encouraging small units and carriage houses where appropriate.
- Implementing policies that support and contribute to strong local businesses and our vibrant nonprofits like Eco-Cycle, Resource, BridgeHouse, Thistle, and many others.
- Continuing to fund the city’s capital needs like libraries, parks, the arts, and long-term positive changes in our civic area..
- Providing leadership for Open Space needs and uses.
- Continuing to work with other regional governments, with our federal labs and the University of Colorado and Naropa University to maintain and create mutually beneficial outcomes.
As a research geologist who studies volcanoes, I can take the heat, I have taken the heat and, with your positive vote on November 1st, I will continue to guide Boulder into a sustainable 21st century! Please vote for me, Lisa Morzel. I look forward to seeing you around town and listening to your issues.