DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY, AND KEEP ON DEMANDING IT EVEN IF IT NEVER COMES!
By Max R. Weller
It doesn’t look hopeful at this point for all of us who see through the smokescreen of “compassion” put out by greedy — yes, GREEDY — nonprofits like Boulder Shelter for the Homeless, Bridge House, and now Attention Homes (no longer is their mission to help kids ages 12 through 17). Read Boulder board approves housing for homeless at 1440 Pine St. in the Daily Camera. Copied below in its entirety:
A rendering of the proposal to house chronically homeless young adults at 1440 Pine St., Boulder. (Courtesy image)
After 18 months of community debate — often unusually heated, even by Boulder’s standards — the city Planning Board on Tuesday night approved a proposal to build housing for homeless young adults in a new downtown facility.
The board voted 6-1, with member Crystal Gray representing the lone voice of dissent.
The approval will be final unless the City Council moves to call up the project for additional discussion and then overturns the vote. That seems unlikely, based on the strong support from a Planning Board with its members handpicked by the council.
Barring such action by the council, Tuesday’s OK means that the local nonprofit Attention Homes, working with Studio Architecture and the affordable housing developer Gardner Capital, can proceed with plans to construct a new three-story building on what is currently a surface parking lot at 1440 Pine St.
The building will have 40 housing units for chronically homeless people between the ages of 18 and 24.
Attention Homes will relocate its administrative offices into the facility, which will also have space for various support-based services for tenants who in most cases will be trauma victims at educational and job-training deficits.
On the ground floor of the building will be a small “grab-and-go” café — no more than nine seats will be allowed, which the local restaurant and butcher Blackbelly has agreed to operate.
The project was granted a 62 percent reduction under the amount of parking that would typically have been required.
Tuesday’s meeting was a special one called only after a May 18 public hearing on the development ran so late as to require a continuation.
That earlier hearing put on full display the myriad citizen disagreements that have long marked the project.
Many — including the dozens who offered supportive public comments at the hearing — will celebrate Tuesday’s vote as a victory for inclusivity.
Others felt the building was too tall and dense to fit in with the Whittier neighborhood. Certain project opponents said that it was too risky to put at-risk young people near a busy downtown area they said is filled with temptations.
Some took issue with the public process behind the project, and said they were not given genuine opportunities to impact the ultimate proposal.
Specifically controversial was the fact that the developers were virtually locked into the 40-unit density prior to public outreach, because the grant money they’d secured was contingent upon that level of density.
“Exactly what we’re voting on,” Gray said, “is what was put in that grant package before the concept review and before this board even got to hear the public, and before the applicant even got to hear our concerns.
“When you don’t involve people in a transparent and honest process … you’re going to have winners and losers, and we have to change that.”
Chair John Putnam pushed back.
“I would strongly disagree with the suggestion that what happened wasn’t transparent or honest. I think they were following the rules and requirements as laid out, and there are no requirements that you go to the city before asking for grants.”
Offered member Liz Payton: “We need to operate in a way that it doesn’t look like people are taking advantage of loopholes.”
In her comments on the plan, Gray also said that the office and café uses are “so incompatible” with the neighborhood. Payton said it seemed to her “like kind of an incursion” on the surroundings.
Member David Engisn said “I don’t really see that” and member Bryan Bowen said he felt the café in particular would be “really useful in normalizing” the homeless clients who will move on-site.
As a result of this vote, Attention Homes will vacate its current offices at 1443 Spruce St. and move to 1440 Pine St.
The LGBTQ organization Out Boulder County, now located a few hundred feet from the site, has a tentative agreement to move its headquarters into what will be the former Attention Homes space on Spruce Street.
Included in the approval is a plan to designate the rest of the structures on the block — including the old house occupied by Lucile’s Creole Café — as historic landmarks.
The precedent for this kind of crooked manipulation of zoning regulations was set a few short years ago by the 1175 Lee Hill Housing First project. Partners in that enterprise, BSH and Boulder Housing Partners, claimed this Wet House was “transitional housing” which is a “use by right” in that zoning. But as soon as approval was gained, up went the signs proclaiming 1175 Lee Hill as “permanent supportive housing” — in fact, a congregate care facility specifically prohibited under the zoning rules in place. I can attest to the fact that HF clients are causing all sorts of problems out in the surrounding neighborhood, where I’ve lived for over nine years, due to their drunken and loutish behavior. Deacon Chris Byrne and the rest of the enablers on staff there can deny it, but it’s as plain as the nose on your face.
BTW, a former resident at 1175 Lee Hill, Donna the Homeless Drama Queen, threatened me just yesterday with a lawsuit because I blogged about her return from a failed alcohol rehab at Ft. Lyon (costing Colorado taxpayers at least $100K). Every word I wrote in her case was TRUE, and there are records from emergency services providers to prove it. Her new “protector” is a homeless man who left Boulder way back around Christmastime in 2013, and many of us thought he’d gone home to another state to finish drinking himself to death. I think his feelings were hurt when I couldn’t remember his name right off the bat, even though he also warned me not to blog about his pickled shenanigans in public in the future. Of course, I’ll write what I please when the time comes . . .