The City of Boulder has been working with the community to reimagine its public spaces.

The city, together with Downtown Boulder Partnership, hosted a series of free pop-up events during summer 2023 on 13th Street (between Arapahoe Avenue and Canyon Boulevard). See below for the list of events or visit:

Project Overview

Boulder Social Streets (previously called Downtown Streets as Public Space project) is a project using analysis and community feedback to reimagine downtown streets as welcoming spaces to gather, attend events and connect.

The project will lead to temporary repurposing of downtown streets with programming, cultural events, public art and more, and develop long-term recommendations for changes to streets as public spaces.

Community Engagement

Engagement opportunities began in early 2023 to assess community desires and concerns about downtown streets as public spaces, to understand how downtown streets are currently used, and to identify what might increase use of downtown streets. Engagement continued throughout the summer at the pop-ups to understand if they achieved their goals and inform next steps.

For a full engagement summary, view the report below.


April - May 2023

  • Project planning
  • Pop-ups preparation

June - September 2023

  • Communications and promotion
  • Pop-ups
  • Data gathering of pop-up experience, transportation impacts and communications feedback

October - December 2023

  • Evaluation and recommendations development
  • Council materials


  • City Council will discuss the future of the Boulder Social Streets program during their meeting on Thursday, April 18, 2024.
  • Next steps are dependent on available funding and staffing

Previous Engagement

The project builds on earlier public feedback from businesses, residents, workers and visitors. This includes emails to council and survey responses for other downtown projects.


Boulder experienced outdoor spaces in new ways when streets were temporarily repurposed to meet community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic (now officially ended). During pandemic-related temporary changes to streets, including west Pearl Street, the community expressed a significant desire for more pedestrianized spaces downtown. City Council directed city staff to begin a public engagement process to better understand community aspirations for future opportunities.

red boundaries indicating the Downtown Streets as Public Space Project Area, see long description below for details

Image description: A map depicting the Downtown Streets as Public Space Project Area, defined as an area encompassing from 9th to 18th streets from west to east and from just south of Arapahoe Avenue to just north of Spruce Street.


There are trade-offs between different ways to use public streets. The project will consider:

  • Public feedback

  • Engagement from other downtown projects

  • Technical and feasibility analyses

  • Safe travel and access for people using all transportation modes

  • The city’s placemaking, mobility, public safety, racial equity, resilience and sustainability goals

  • Local, national, and international examples of streets as public space

While this project focuses on a smaller part of Boulder to quickly create new pop-up experiences for the community to try in spring and summer of 2023, results will help inform future long-term projects for public spaces across the city.

The subcommittee was formed at the direction of City Council to work together with city staff on the project process. This includes confirming next steps for the community engagement plan, collecting feedback from council members and progress check-ins.

The subcommittee includes council members Tara Winer and Matt Benjamin, and the directors and interim directors of Planning and Development Services, Transportation and Mobility, Communication and Engagement, and Community Vitality.

The accelerated planning process will allow the city to temporarily change street spaces in the spring and summer, opening the door to more meaningful community engagement during the warmer weather when outdoor spaces are used more often and by more people.

Global Examples