By Dom Nozzi
September 15, 2017
Boulder, Colorado – due to such factors as its strikingly picturesque setting, its outstanding climate, its proximity to a large number of world-class hiking and biking trails, its proximity to ski resorts (and many other stupendous outdoor adventures), and its impressive bicycle and transit facilities – has one of the most expensive housing markets in the nation.
The question often raised in the city, therefore, is what tools are available to make housing more affordable in Boulder. A common suggestion is to build more housing in the city.
There are a number of effective ways that more housing can provide more affordable housing in Boulder.
Since land is so expensive in Boulder, newly created housing needs to minimize the amount of land that a house consumes (compact condos, for example, or small apartments).
By revising zoning regulations to allow shops and offices and other destinations within residential neighborhoods, a larger number of households can reduce the number of cars they must own. Because each car owned by a household costs, on average, $10,000 per year, a significant amount of money that was being used for transportation can instead be allocated to housing if the household can reduce its car ownership from, say, two cars to one.
The City should incentivize or require new developments to unbundle the price of parking from the price of the (non-single family) home so that a household can save significant dollars by opting not to pay for unneeded parking. Land for parking is a big expense given the expensive land cost in Boulder.
These important affordablility opportunities can be explored to a much more substantial extent in Boulder, as most or all of them have hardly been deployed at all.