We need to imagine Longmont as the jewel of Colorado’s front range —
THE best place to locate businesses,
THE best place to raise families,
THE best place to learn, to play, to grow up and
to grow old.
This is the kind of future toward which I want to move. It is the kind of Council
I believe we need.
It is a Council on which I want
TIM WATERS ON THE ISSUES:
Below are the issues I believe are important to Longmont, what I said about those issues before I was elected in 2017, and what I've done since elected. I've also included my thoughts on what I believe are the challenges that face Longmont City Council for 2019 and beyond.
Oil and Gas Development
What I said:
I will exhaust every legal, ethical, and regulatory option the City Council has at its disposal to protect Longmont’s residents from the toxic effects of oil and gas development. Like others, I am deeply concerned about fracking. Fracking, however, is only one aspect of a much larger collection of offensive and hazardous practices. As a City Council member, I will hold oil and gas developers accountable for ensuring that every “flowline” and collection line is mapped, evacuated, and secured or disconnected if attached to a defunct wellhead. Additionally, as a Council member, I will initiate a process to consider an ordinance that establishes severance and/or pollution fees for developers drilling in, under, or around the City of Longmont.
What I've done:
Voted with a majority of City Council members to approve an agreement with oil and gas operators to keep drilling and fracking out of Longmont.
Successfully advocated to close the “flowline” running next to Trail Ridge Middle School and residents in the vicinity of 9th avenue and County Road I (CR1). This flow line has been severed from active wells, purged, and plugged. Plugging of this line, and eliminating risks to students, teachers, and residents, was completed at no cost to Longmont taxpayers.
What I said:
I am a proponent of the triple bottom line model of sustainable development: People, Profit, and Planet. As a Council member, I will champion economic development initiatives when they are good for developers (meaning they are profitable), good for people (meaning Longmont residents will prosper along with developers), and good for the planet (meaning development and developers contribute to a clean, healthy, and vibrant environment).
What I've done:
Led the effort to direct staff to develop a new system for evaluating private sector development proposals based on their impact on the environment, benefits to residents, and contributions to the local economy in addition to profits for developers.
What I said:
Longmont is projected to grow by nearly 25,000 more residents before we reach maximum build out. At that point, Longmont’s population will be approximately 125,000. All 125,000 of those residents should be guaranteed clean water, adequate solid waste disposal or treatment, clean air, adequate public transportation, and streets capable of efficiently moving vehicular traffic and intersections that do not function at the F level based on a U.S. Dept. of Transportation standard. The pursuit of economic development priorities cannot run ahead of the infrastructure required to support them. This Council should resume the work once undertaken by an earlier Council to adopt and use benchmarks for guiding decisions about where and when to approve new large-scale development projects. One of the benefits to Longmont residents of successful economic development should be state-of-the-art infrastructure that precedes the development of new business and residential centers.
Since being elected:
• Installation of the traffic light at Deerwood and 9th ave was completed.
• Public engagement process for the Spring Gulch project #2 was reopened.
• Reducing train noise became a City priority.
• Environmental experts have been contracted to monitor air and water quality.
• The multi-modal transportation plan was adopted.
• Residents were surveyed on their feelings about quality of life in Longmont. 68% responded favorably when asked about quality o f life in Longmont.
What I said:
A commuter rail system is still decades away from becoming a reality in Longmont. We have been waiting for the development of the Fast Tracks initiative in the Northwest Transportation Corridor since 2004. RTD and Fast Tracks have failed to deliver on promises made prior to 2004. As a City Council member, I will hold the RTD Board accountable and continue pressing for solutions to regional transportation needs. Our Council must explore every available option and press for solutions to current and future needs even as it demands the RTD Board honor every commitment made to Longmont voters in 2004.
What I've done:
Supported the Peak Rail plan that potentially delivers limited commuter rail service to Longmont. Sadly, this service is still not anticipated in the near future.
Because of advocacy of the entire Council, the RTD Board of Directors has publically committed to the Peak Rail plan.
Diverse, Inclusive, Healthy, and Safe Communities
Communities are like mosaics of individuals and families from all backgrounds, of all ages, from all nationalities, all religions, and every race, creed, color, sexual orientation. Healthy and safe neighborhoods thrive together because members care about and care for each other. Neighborhoods and larger communities work when members are more focused on the values that bind them together than differences that drive them apart. I have seen and experienced the power of community when each individual and each family is included and supported, especially the most vulnerable among us. Each and every Longmont resident deserves to be treated with dignity, respect, and compassion regardless of how long they have lived in the community. We have an obligation to welcome new members in our midst and assist them in their transition to living, learning, working, playing, and prospering in harmony with all other members of the Longmont community.
Affordable, Inclusionary, and Accessible Housing
What I said:
Longmont is a wonderful community in which to live. We will remain a vibrant and livable community in the future — but only if our economy and housing market support a diverse population which includes young families, those who work in service sectors, education, law enforcement, fire protection, agriculture, retail, light manufacturing, and hospitality. This requires a serious commitment to affordable housing. We need to accelerate construction of additional affordable housing stock so a portfolio of options is available when individuals and families are ready to rent or purchase. This is possible when developers and businesses invest in the community. The Council must reestablish fair but meaningful sources of revenue for growing Longmont’s affordable housing fund along with zoning and permitting decisions that ensure sufficient inventory of affordable homes for our diverse community.
What I've done:
Contributed to the City’s updated housing policy with a package of fees and offsets for developers and builders that are influencing construction of housing stock in Longmont ranging from transitional, to affordable, to attainable for working class families. Longmont is now acknowledged as a leading municipality in the cause to reduce housing insecurity.
Restoration of St. Vrain Creek
What I said:
In 2013, homes, businesses, and the environment were devastated by a historic flood. Since then, Longmont has been engaged in a 100-year flood mitigation project referred to as “Resilient St. Vrain” in which $120 to $130 million dollars of our tax money will be invested to repair and restore, as well as protect the environment from our next 100-year flood, along the St. Vrain corridor. When this project is completed, the land removed from the floodplain will skyrocket in value. After this large public investment is made to enhance the corridor, landowners along the St. Vrain will be able to initiate business development on an unprecedented scale. The Council must ensure that no new development occurs in the St. Vrain corridor until the City has completed its St Vrain Blueprint. The St. Vrain Blueprint must guide development in ways that protect the health of the creek and the wildlife the creek supports. It must also respect the interests of landowners. What the Council cannot do is let development precede completion of the Blueprint or to disregard the public’s interest and its substantial investment in the corridor.
What I've done:
Supported funding for restoration of the river corridor.
Led the effort to amend the City’s Land Code requiring that all requests from developers to develop projects inside 150 foot setbacks on our natural waterways can only be approved or disapproved by City Council.
Clean Renewable Energy
The security of our energy future lies in the accelerated generation and use of clean renewable energy. On December 5, 2017, the Mayor issued a proclamation setting in motion a process to formalize a goal to utilize 100% renewable energy by 2030. I am in total support of this goal and will join the Mayor and other Council members to work with the Platte River Power Authority on clean energy generation and storage. Further, I will support the transition of all city buildings and vehicles to clean renewable energy and create incentives for residents to do the same.
City Council, the Future, and Leadership
Each of the issues or concerns listed above represent challenges to be addressed by the Council and City of Longmont staff. As a Council member I will work with other Council members to address these challenges on behalf of, and in the interest of, Longmont residents. However, the responsibility of our City Council is bigger than just solving problems, regardless of how big, daunting, and important they might be. Our Council as a body, along with individual Council members, certainly need to be problem solvers. They also need to be leaders. As leaders in our community, it is the Council’s responsibility to reach out, engage, and build bridges to Boulder County leaders, school district leaders, leaders in the business, faith, non-profit sectors, and our citizens to envision a brighter, bolder, healthier, and more prosperous future for Longmont.
LOOKING AHEAD 2019 & BEYOND: Challenges and Opportunities Facing the Next Council
Every new Council is faced with both challenges and opportunities. Here is a short list of challenges the Council will face in the years ahead.
Vision and Leadership
This current Council took a couple of big steps in the right direction when formulating vision and goal statements for Longmont’s people and places. This Council’s work is, however, only a beginning. Longmont needs the next Council to embrace these vision and goal statements, working together to lead Longmont into a future that elevates local discourse, community pride, economic development, education and employment opportunities, innovation, entrepreneurism, the arts, health, safety, and a sense of well-being. It will be through vision-driven planning and policy development that we differentiate Longmont from other Front Range communities as THE place to live, grow, work, and raise a family.
Planning for Longmont’s future needs to include transportation options that enable more people to move more easily to more destinations with less congestion, less stress, and reduced risk. This will require clear understanding of public and private transportation options we are now only imagining that are cleaner, safer, less expensive, and more accessible than traditional alternatives. There is no question that we need to get ahead of the kind of development that requires upgraded roads and highways. We also need more and safer bike and pedestrian trails in addition to accessible, convenient, safe, clean, and affordable public transportation.
The current Council committed the City of Longmont to the goal of generating 100% of Longmont’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. This goal must be pursued and achieved. It is, however, only one part of a much more comprehensive, strategic, and complex set of strategies. To reduce Longmont’s carbon footprint there is much more the next Council can do to reduce greenhouse gases through updated building codes, construction materials, and tax incentives that accelerates conversion to green, efficient, environmentally compatible development.
Conservation of Natural Resources
Finding the “right” balance between development of Longmont’s residential and commercial areas and conservation of our natural resources and wildlife will be a never-ending goal. We should celebrate the fact that per capita water consumption has declined since 2012 through initial conversation efforts. This is necessary but insufficient to guarantee Longmont’s water supply at “build out”. The next Council will be challenged with ensuring Longmont’s supply of clean water through investments like the Chimney Hollow firming project, the Nelson-Flanders water treatment expansion, and Union Reservoir pump-back option, along with enhanced conversation efforts. Updating building and landscaping codes for optimum efficiencies as the City transitions to the use of native grasses in our parks and greenways will move Longmont closer to practices both necessary and sufficient to secure the Longmont’s future.
Resilient St. Vrain Project
Since 2013 Longmont has been engaged in a 100-year flood mitigation project referred to as “Resilient St. Vrain” Project. When this project is completed, the land removed from the floodplain will skyrocket in value. After this large public investment is made to enhance the corridor, landowners along the St. Vrain will be able to initiate business development on an unprecedented scale. The Council must ensure that no new development occurs in the St. Vrain corridor until the City has completed its St Vrain Blueprint. The St. Vrain Blueprint must guide development in ways that protect the health of the creek and the wildlife the creek supports. It must also respect the interests of landowners. What the Council cannot do is let development precede completion of the Blueprint or to disregard the public’s interest and its substantial investment in the corridor.
Housing affordability, preventing, and responding to homeless
A current and growing challenge in Longmont, and nearly all similar communities, is housing affordability, housing insecurity, and homelessness. This challenge is especially daunting in Boulder County.
In January 2019 the City Council adopted an “inclusionary zoning” ordinance, along with a package of fees and offsets to developers, designed to produce more affordable and accessible (work force) housing options to Longmont residents. The first step in preventing and/or overcoming homelessness is creating more housing options for individuals and families. The impact of the ordinance, fees, and incentives needs to be monitored with adjustments made if intended results are not achieved.
Significantly reducing homeless in Longmont begins with more and better housing options. It does not end with more inventory or options for working families to purchase or rent quality housing. Our homeless population is comprised of many segments; families with children, abused women and men, veterans, seniors who are being priced out of their homes or apartments, and individuals suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. The needs of each segment of our homeless population are different. Our responses to each segment must be both targeted and tailored. The next Council will have the opportunity to build on the foundation created by the current Council.
Investing early and effectively in our children
The current City Council recognizes the value of investing early and effectively in our children. Increasing options and investments in early childhood learning is a Council goal. Returns on investments in quality early learning opportunities are substantial and enduring. The next Council will have the opportunity to continue this investment in the long term future of Longmont’s leadership and workforce such as supporting the 529 Jump program launched by the current Council in 2019, additional training, professional development, and licensing of family, friends, and private daycare providers while growing the number seats for 3 – 5 year-olds in high quality preschool classrooms.