Ballot Question 302 – Let the Voters Decide on Annexation of CU South

An aerial view of Boulder following the 2013 floods. (Via City of Boulder Flickr)

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021 (Updated Tuesday, Oct. 26)

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Ballot language

Shall the voters of the City of Boulder adopt changes to the City of Boulder, Colorado, Revised Code to require that any agreement with the University of Colorado regarding terms of annexation for the land known as CU South include certain specific details, and that the annexation agreement gain voter approval in an election prior to provision of city utilities and services other than flood control facilities to or on any portion of CU South?

What it means

This would have forced conditions into the annexation that Boulder recently negotiated with the University of Colorado for the property known as CU South to be annexed (added) to city limits. 

Since annexation was already approved — via a 6-1 vote of city council on Sept. 21 — city officials said this initiative is null and void. However, another citizen petition has been submitted to overturn that annexation decision. If it is successful (that is, if voters next year approve this referendum to overturn the annexation) and this measure (302) passes, then it would apply if CU attempted annexation at any point in the future.

Who is supporting

This petition was sponsored by Save CU South, an official issue committee. Organizers of Save CU South are a group of slow-growth residents, including leadership of PLAN-Boulder, who have long been opposed to CU developing this land into a southern campus. 

Campaign spending
Contributions: $9,666
Expenditures: $2,751
As of Oct 5. View filing.

Who is opposing

Protect Our Neighbors is an official issue committee advocating against this measure. Former Mayor Leslie Durgin is an organizer, along with Jon Carrol, a longtime advocate for flood mitigation.

Campaign spending
Contributions: $17,794
Expenditures: $6,484
As of Oct 5. View filing.

The Coalition, Sierra Club, Boulder County Democrats and Boulder Chamber are formally opposed to this measure. Boulder Weekly and the Daily Camera also endorsed a no vote.

Read this before you vote

CU South Annexation: A Primer

Why you might want to vote for this

If you oppose CU’s development of this property into a southern campus, this could set up an eventual undoing of that decision. Organizers have already submitted a referendum to undo the annexation agreement. 

Again, as mentioned above, 302 and the referendum would both have to pass for this to take effect. If 302 doesn’t pass but the referendum does, annexation terms would still be the purview of elected officials (as they are now and have always been; more below). If both 302 and the referendum fail, the current annexation agreement would stand.

Why you might not want to vote for this

Again, city officials have said the measure is irrelevant since annexation has already been agreed to; its terms would apply only to future annexations, not past ones. Annexations are a negotiation between the city and property owners; they are not done by general election. 

If annexation hadn’t happened — or is reversed via referendum — and this did pass, it would likely slow down flood mitigation significantly. The city would still have to negotiate an agreement with CU for annexation (and flood mitigation) to occur, using these new terms.

The university has already rejected some of these terms; for example, officials have repeatedly said CU can not provide a detailed site plan until after the next Campus Master Plan is complete — several years from now.

— Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle

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