Want to edit Boulder’s planning bible? Now’s your chance.

Shay Castle, Boulder Beat

Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020

The time is now for enterprising Boulderites to shape the city’s future by suggesting changes to the document that — at least theoretically — informs what Boulder will look and feel like over the coming decade.

The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, as the text itself says, is meant to “guide decisions about growth, development, preservation, environmental protection, economic development, affordable housing, culture and arts, urban design, neighborhood character and transportation,” as well as city services. It incorporates core values such as encouraging “a diversity of housing types and price ranges” and “a welcoming, diverse and inclusive community” but also more than 200 specific policies for protecting the urban canopy, street trees and streetscapes (BVCP policy 2.38) and developing “safe and convenient pedestrian, bicycle and transit access” to area schools (BVCP policy 8.12).

At 165 pages, the BVCP is sometimes referred to as Boulder’s planning bible. Members of city council have joked about carrying copies in their pockets, like U.S. senators sometimes tote the Constitution.

A plan by any other name

The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, as it’s formally called, is also known by a few other names. Staff, council and the public variously refer to it as the comp plan or it’s initials, BVCP. You’ll see those references throughout this article.

The comp plan has been overhauled seven times since the inaugural plan was adopted in 1970. From the text itself. The current BVCP is from 2015, though it took two years to finalize. A mid-term update to the plan will take most of 2020.

Boulder city council has already agreed to pursue only routine changes as part of the  mid-term tweak, along with launching a years-long process to tee up a possible boundary expansion for the next major update. Before any changes are incorporated, the city’s Planning Board, county commissioners and, possibly, county planning commission will get a crack at the document.

There’s one other group that gets to weigh in: You.

A public applications process runs Jan. 28 through March 2, whereby “members of the community may propose changes to land use, policies or text.” 

Residents can’t just suggest anything. Proposals must not “involve significant city and county resources” or involve major policy changes. 

Proposals also have to pass muster of the three or four controlling comp plan bodies, who will each weigh them and decide what to advance for “further analysis.” Before that, city staff will “screen” the applications. Public hearings will be held at each step, with final determinations to be made in the fall.

Applications for land use and policy changes are available online and will also be included in press releases and email blasts from various departments. All requests will be posted online by March, according to the city.

For more information contact Jean Gatza, Senior Planner at gatzaj@bouldercolorado.gov or 303- 441-4907.

Public hearing shedule

Planning Board: May 7, 2020

City Council: June 2, 2020

County Planning Commission (if needed): June 21

Board of County Commissioners – TBD

— Shay Castle, boulderbeatnews@gmail.com, @shayshinecastle

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