A controversial homeless youth facility will be built in downtown Boulder after city council failed to call-up the project for further review last night. KGNU’s Roz Brown says the decision was made despite a petition signed by 600 Whittier neighbors and 100 downtown businesses.
Boulder City Council upheld a planning board decision for a youth homeless shelter operated by Attention Homes to be built at 14th and Pine Streets. The site is currently a surface parking lot owned by the First United Methodist Church.
John Spitzer has been a vocal opponent of the project and said the building is too big and the 40 housing units are too expensive.
“I submitted a petition from 100 downtown businesses opposed to the project,” said Spitzer. “I believe in helping homeless youth, particularly those in Boulder but as the city attorney said tonight many housed there may not be from Boulder. I also object to the price. Each unit will cost approximately $350,000 to build and many families in Boulder cannot afford a home or condo at that price.”
The facility will serve the chronically homeless between the ages of 18 and 24. It will also house an on-site café and Attention Home offices. Opponents say the project could make Whittier residents less safe because clients may have mental health and substance abuse problems. But others like Ann Tapp say it deserves a chance.
“These are children and youth in our community and we owe them housing and support. Also, it would be hard to find a better partnership between faith communities, businesses, non-profits and developers – they are good stewards and I’m excited for it to move forward. I would say to opponents, be patient – they will be your neighbors – don’t demonize these youth before they arrive.”
Councilmember Lisa Morzel attempted to call up the project for more review but couldn’t get a second for her motion. Morzel said she supports Attention Homes but argued that the 30,000 square foot building with 40 units was already decided before neighbors had a chance to weigh-in. Morzel also said the major comprehensive plan variances were only allowed because Attention Homes was the client and called the decision a failed process.
“I agree with Lisa that this is flawed process,” said Ira Barron, who spoke during the public hearing. “I’m on record of supporting transition housing on that site. But I don’t want an abusive process and I don’t want $3 million going to an out-of-state developer. This is a total rip-off to us. We have a process in Boulder that favors lobbyists and developers and undermines individual homeowners to get things through. We make this very complicated, we add a lot of rules and then we wave rules for people who lobby effectively,” said Barron.