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Heads Up! - Sept. 14, 2018

Sept. 14, 2018

Dear City Council Members,

Here is some important information on the Sugary Sweetened Beverage Tax, Radio Infrastructure project, Open Space engagement, and the city-owned kiosk on Pearl Street.
Update on the Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax

A column by Chuck Wibby entitled, “No Good Reason to Let City Keep Sugar Tax Money” appeared in the Sept. 11, 2018, edition of the Daily Camera. Staff offer the following information to provide clarification and additional context about the tax and grants funded by the tax.

Mr. Wibby raises questions about the initial estimate for revenue raised by the Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) tax. For context, the original projection of $3.8 million in SSB tax revenue originated from the citizen group (Healthy Kids Boulder) that placed the SSB tax initiative on the 2016 ballot. Given the minimal number of jurisdictions with similar laws, information available to forecast an estimate has been limited. Additionally, staff did not suggest that the SSB Tax would reduce consumption to the point that it would raise only $1.34 million by 2023. Given the limited data available on the subject, staff is currently working on a study with the University of Colorado at Denver to evaluate the effects of the tax on consumption rates and pricing with initial results anticipated in 2019.

In his request for information, Mr. Wibby asked for all city-paid administrative costs out of the revenues generated by the SSB tax. The costs quoted are correct; however, in 2017, the city General Fund supported staff time used to collect tax revenue and administer fund rounds, including expenses for five meetings of the Health Equity Advisory Committee (HEAC) to consider proposals for two fund rounds. Most meetings involved no more than three city staff and between seven and nine committee members. The city hired a full-time program manager for the Health Equity Fund in March 2018, which is now paid through revenues generated from the tax.

The HEAC is composed of nine community members, including two members who represent low-income or underserved populations, who make all recommendations for funding from the Health Equity Fund. Altogether, in 2017 and 2018, the city distributed more than $3.2 million to 41 community programs that support low-income Boulder populations. A complete list of fund recipients can be found online. Fund uses include nutrition education for children and families, distributing bicycles to low-income youth and providing meals for seniors. Recipients are required to report their accomplishments from the use of funds.

Staff is working to better understand the impact of all investments made through the Health Equity Fund. In August, the city released a Request for Proposals to hire a consultant to report outcomes and metrics among all funded agencies comprehensively. Evaluation work will begin in 2019.

For more information about the Health Equity Fund, please contact Matt Sundeen, Community Programs Manager, at [email protected] or 303-441-1913.

Radio Infrastructure County Commissioner Hearing on Sept. 24
This past June staff provided an update on the Radio Infrastructure Project that was approved through the renewal of the Community, Culture and Safety Tax in 2017. That update included proposed changes to one of the two proposed new radio towers—both of which are slated to be installed on city-owned property in Boulder County—in response to community feedback. On Aug. 9 the Boulder County Commissioners held a public hearing on the Limited Impact Special Use Review application.

During the public comment period, several Boulder County residents who live near the proposed Arapahoe Road site shared their concerns about the location. Following the public comment period, the commissioners approved the proposed tower in north Boulder but asked staff to come back in September with a more in-depth alternate site analysis to demonstrate why the Arapahoe Road site is the best proposed location for a new radio tower.

In late August, three residents who live near the Arapahoe site approached staff with additional suggestions for alternate sites to be considered. Staff has included their suggestions in the analysis of all the alternate sites; however, the sites suggested were eliminated from consideration for a variety of reasons, including one proposed on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) property, which is specifically precluded by the OSMP charter, and the other site being too far north and too low in elevation to serve the intended area. Full analysis and findings will be shared with the residents prior to the next hearing.

A second hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 24, at which time city staff will present a more comprehensive alternate site analysis, including the suggestions of the residents, and re-emphasize that this radio tower will play a critical role in the new Land Mobile Radio Infrastructure Upgrade Project to implement an upgraded system and ensure the safety of the city’s first responders and the public.

Staff is aware of an ad that appeared in the Daily Camera on Sept. 14 and that there is information being shared by the community. Staff will follow-up with council early next week with additional information to respond to this community feedback.

For more information, please contact Michele Crane at [email protected] or 303-441-4275. You can also visit:

City to invite the public to share ways they would like to conserve and enjoy open space
The City of Boulder is inviting community members to participate in a series of workshops and online questionnaires this fall to share how they would like to experience and conserve city open space into the future. Community engagement this fall will help identify outcomes and strategies for the Open Space and Mountain Parks Master Plan, which will guide the management of city open space over the next decade and beyond.

A series of three community workshops exploring future outcomes and strategies for four specific Master Plan focus areas are currently scheduled: 

  • “Ecosystem Health and Resilience.” 5:30 to 8 p.m., Monday, Oct. 1. Avalon Ballroom, 6185 Arapahoe Road.
  •  “Responsible Recreation, Stewardship and Enjoyment.” 5:30 to 8 p.m., Monday, Nov. 5. Boulder Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave.
  •  “Community Connection, Education and Inclusion” and “Agriculture – Today and Tomorrow.” 5:30 to 8 p.m., Monday, Dec. 3. Boulder Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Ave.

OSMP will encourage the use of public transit for those planning to take part in the workshops. For those unable to attend, an online questionnaire will be available for each workshop at Questionnaires will be available for two weeks following each workshop. Community members also will be able to provide input about the Master Plan through an online English and Spanish questionnaires, which will be available Tuesday, Sept. 18. The Open Space Board of Trustees also will be discussing the Master Plan at meetings later this fall providing another opportunity for the public to learn more about the outcomes and strategies being discussed and considered.

During OSMP Master Plan community engagement this fall, OSMP will kick-start community conversations about desired results for city open space and how the city can achieve them by sharing staff-generated, preliminary outcomes and strategies. The department drafted those preliminary ideas from recent community feedback, existing OSMP policies, and best practices in managing open space and public lands. OSMP also will be reaching out to underrepresented communities – including the Latino community, people experiencing disability and youth – as part of its efforts to create an inclusive Master Plan.

For more information about the OSMP Master Plan, please contact Mark Gershman, OSMP’s planning services supervisor, at [email protected] or 303-579-4811.

Lease finalized for new restaurant at city-owned kiosk at 1397 Pearl St.: Ruthies
The city has finalized a 3-year lease for the kiosk on the Pearl Street Mall, at 1397 Pearl, with Peter Waters (local restaurant owner and operator for T/aco on Walnut Street), for a new concept called “Ruthies.” Mr. Waters’ proposal was selected via a competitive process. Ruthies will be open seven days per week (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., weekends 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and the menu includes five kinds of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries, soups, soft serve ice cream, and will also serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ruthies is expected to open the first half of October.

For more information, contact Yvette Bowden, director of Community Vitality and Parks and Recreation, 303-413-7215.