Monthly Archives: November 2016

Middle East Blowback


By Dom Nozzi

July 3, 2016

After spending 15 years and trillions of military dollars to obliterate Afghanistan and Iraq (and a number of other places in the Middle East) over the past 15 years (and counting), US presidents and the US military have made the US much less safe.

We are certain to see “blowback” (violent retaliation for wrongs suffered at the hands of the American military) from understandably enraged people from the Middle East throughout the US for the rest of our lives.

We are periodically seeing violent shootings in the US committed by US veterans who have returned from the Middle East and appear to be suffering from PTSD or other forms of war-related mental disorders. This sort of blowback is, of course, not the traditional lblowback of foreigners who have attacked America in retaliation, but US citizens who have served in the US military. This “internal” blowback was something America continues to suffer from the Vietnam war.

I am certain that we will see a lot of blowback for a long, long time. The past 15 years of military misadventure is one of the most tragic, counterproductive mistakes in US history. A terrible loss of life and money.

And because it has made us less safe, it can also be rightly called a gigantic boondoggle. The only “beneficiaries” are those in the military and surveillance industries, who have been greatly enriched.


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Is Boulder Colorado Making Progress in Implementing its Transportation Plan?


By Dom Nozzi

June 1, 2016

I have served for over two years on Boulder Colorado’s Transportation Advisory Board (TAB). As I have noted in the past at TAB meetings, I believe Boulder’s transportation staff is extremely knowledgeable regarding transportation issues. They mostly “get it,” in my opinion.

However, I believe they have been consistently quite timid in their recommendations to Council, and a recent “progress update” issued by staff is an example of that. I believe staff is putting too much of a happy, optimistic face on the “progress” we are making on the TMP, and they are asking TAB to confirm that to Council. I, for one, do not wish to “confirm” that.

I believe staff is doing this because they are not being given PERMISSION by Council, supervisors, or citizens to offer effective, meaningful recommendations or findings.

There are four main categories in which communities can be effective in achieving transportation objectives (such as promoting transportation choices, reducing excessive SOV travel, promoting safety and quality of life, promoting environmental and financial sustainability, reducing GHG emissions, etc.). I call them the “Four ‘S’s”:

  1. Reallocate Space from motor vehicles to places for people (for example, repurposing travel lanes, reducing travel lane widths, shrinking intersection and parking lot sizes).
  2. Calm (reduce Speeding by) motor vehicles.
  3. Reduce the massive Subsidies motorists unfairly enjoy.
  4. Shorten distances to destinations.

Because of its wealth and because it is relatively easy politically, Boulder has a long history of spending money to provide infrastructure and services to achieve TMP objectives. But that approach is only able to achieve relatively trivial gains — particularly compared to the four items I mention above. As an aside, much of Boulder’s historic achievements regarding transportation are due to “self-selection,” where many people who ALREADY want to bike, walk or use transit move to Boulder because they have heard Boulder is a good place to travel in those ways. Relatively high levels of non-car travel in Boulder are much less due to the facilities and services provided by Boulder. Part of this self-selection is due to Boulder being a “college town.” College towns throughout the nation have relatively high non-car travel levels.

If we consider the above — and how little Boulder has done to implement any of the four effective items I mention above — it is clear that Boulder is either standing still or losing ground with regard to achieving TMP objectives. For example…

  1. Boulder is mostly failing to reallocate space from motor vehicles. The Folsom Street right-sizing (called a “road diet” in most of the nation) and other Living Lab projects have been rolled back. Boulder retains and in some instances continues to install arapahoe-in-boulder-codouble-left turn lanes at intersections. Boulder continues to maintain a large number of overly wide streets and travel lanes for cars. Boulder continues to require excessive amounts of parking space for motor vehicles as a condition for development approval.
  1. Boulder continues to avoid funding and implementing a traffic calming program, which means that speeding and safety remain problems on many of Boulder’s overly wide streets and overly wide intersections and overly generous turning radii at intersections. Staff recently noted that there is no evidence that there are safety problems on Boulder streets due to speeding (?), which suggests that calming is more of a “quality of life” matter than a safety matter. I believe that is misleading. First, I think that the large quality of life benefits that calming provides in and of itself is a justification for re-starting the calming program. I believe a large number of citizens continue to request calming for valid reasons (safety for their children, for example). I believe calming is an effective way to reduce aggressive opposition to development in Boulder (because much of the opposition to new development is due to the perceived danger and speed of new car trips delivered by new development). I would note that the chance of injury or death goes up exponentially as motor vehicle speeds go above 25 to 35 mph. I also believe that even if there is no data showing that calming will reduce injuries and deaths in Boulder, the PERCIEVED danger due to excessive car speeds is reducing the number of bicycling and walking and transit trips in Boulder.
  1. Boulder continues to mostly avoid imposing fair user fees for transportation. User fees for parking and roads are a powerful way to encourage non-SOV travel and induce a lot of walking, bicycling and transit use. It is also an excellent way to raise much-needed transportation revenue. User fees can introduce a lot of fairness into cost of living in Boulder, as bicyclists, transit users, and pedestrians will be subsidizing motorists less (they subsidize motorists by paying more taxes and paying more for goods and services — such costs would be substantially lower if motorists paid more of their own way).
  1. Boulder continues to do very little to promote more compact development (which shortens travel distances), and arguably is losing ground due to the amount of development which occurs in outlying “bedroom community” towns.

The result of not implementing the four items I mention above is that Boulder GHG emissions are probably stable/increasing, safety for peds and bicyclists (particularly for the canaries in a coal mine: the “interested but concerned” seniors, children and women) remains poor (which means efforts toward a “Vision Zero” for traffic fatalities is mostly lip service), the number of motor vehicle trips remains very high (well over 60-80 percent of all trips), transportation choice is not noticeably improving, quality of life in Boulder is stable or worsening when it comes to factors related to the transportation sector (such as high noise levels and lack of charming, human-scaled spaces), and financial costs for transportation remain unsustainably high and getting higher.

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Environmental One-Upsmanship


By Dom Nozzi

June 20, 2002

It is disappointing but not surprising that so-called “no-growthers” and blue collars (lower income residents) in Gainesville Florida have joined forces with the “pro-sprawl” Republicans on transportation.

One outcome of this: the Gainesville city commission is preparing to completely gut the long-range transportation plan I prepared for the city.

After all, we are ALL motorists with motorist values. It matters not a whit that many no-growther people pay lip service to the idea of fighting sprawl and protecting neighborhoods. By being pro-car, they completely undermine any alleged effort to discourage sprawl and help neighborhoods.

There has been an emergence in towns like Gainesville of a hysterical, fanatic contingent of angry NIMBYs disguised as environmentalists. Within the city, such people fight to the death to save every blade of grass or small tree or possum in the hopes of stopping a nimbyproposed development project, or at least forcing the project to lower its density to suburban, cow-town density.

These “environmentalists” desperately grasp at any available straw to slow or stop a development project.

Yesterday, it struck me: A lot of these “environmentalists” seem to be engaged in a game of “one-upsmanship”. They try to outdo each other to publicly demonstrate that they are “holier than thou” with regard to protecting the environment.

“You believe we should have a 30-foot setback from wetlands in order to protect them from development. I want us to have a 60-foot setback!!!”

“Oh, yeah??? Well I think we should have a 90-foot setback, and protect ALL mud puddles in Gainesville!!! So there!!”

“Big deal!! I think we should prohibit ALL future development in the city to REALLY protect the environment!!!”

The point I’ve made in the past is that this sort of hysterical one-upmanship is not only counterproductive. It is a way in which suburbanites, who lead environmentally destructive lives by living in sprawlsville and driving their SUVs to rent a video every week, ease their guilty conscience by engaging in this sort of public environmental one-upmanship.

But there may be another explanation for this phenomenon: These hysterical, angry citizens have the same psychology that afflicts fanatical fundamentalist religious zealots. The one-upmanship of today’s environmentalist is the same psychology that we observe when a fundamentalist tries to one-up his religious friends on religious doctrine. “I am more holy than you because I am CERTAIN that every comma and semi-colon in the Bible is inerrant!!”

Likewise, many environmentalists seem to be seeking admiration for the purity and strength of THEIR beliefs — albeit pertaining to wetlands rather than scripture…

So perhaps this drive for salvation through one-upsmanship is shared by both religious fundamentalists and environmental fundamentalists…

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The Limits of Power, by Andrew Bacevich (2008)

Review by Dom Nozzi

February 11, 2011

This is one of the most important books I have ever read. At only 182 pages, I was able to read it quickly. The book is exceptional in how clearly, compellingly and quotably it encapsulates why American national politics, economic system and militarism has become extremely dysfunctional. Why America is now entangled in overwhelming levels of secrecy (allegedly for “national security,” but largely to hide government blunders), and a criminally reckless, promiscuous and evangelical “global policeman” militarism allegedly to promote “freedom and democracy” but really mostly designed to serve as moral cover for US corporate and cheap oil interests.

There are now, as a result, no limits on the US engagement in endless wars (allegedly to promote “democracy” and fight “terrorism”), and no limit on the annual, exponential growth in military spending. A striking example is Obama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, adopting the largest military budget in US history. Now, few if anyone objects in the US to our use of “anticipatory self-defense,” which Bacevich accurately describes as a euphemism for preventive war (or what I call an indefensible form of preemptive military aggression, which the US would never tolerate if practiced by any other nation).

Disconcertingly, the author makes a strong case that without a radical change in how the US military operates, America is on a ruinous path. Republicans and Democrats, because of the vicious “national security” cycle put in place after WWII, are BOTH compelled to continue this catastrophic path. A path much like the one followed by the Roman Empire, in my opinion.

At first, I thought I would pull excerpts from the book to summarize main, profound points. But I soon realized that nearly every page contains essential quotes and observations. Still I cannot resist citing a few observations from the book in the first few chapters…

“…A political elite preoccupied with the governance of an empire [intended, by the elite, to be the imperial policeman of the world], paid little attention to protecting the US itself. In practical terms, prior to 9/11 the mission of homeland defense was unassigned…The institution nominally referred to as the Department of Defense didn’t actually do defense; it specialized in power projection. In 2001, the Pentagon was prepared for any number of contingencies in the Balkans or Northeast Asia or the Persian Gulf. It was just not prepared to address threats to the nation’s eastern seaboard. Well-trained and equipped US forces stood ready to defend Seoul or Riyadh; Manhattan was left to fend for itself…When it came to defending vital American interests, asserting control over the imperial periphery took precedence over guarding the nation’s own perimeter…”

“…Pentagon senior military officers spoke in terms of “generational war,” lasting up to a century. Just two weeks after 9/11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was already 20137256237522734_20instructing Americans to ‘forget about exit strategies’; we’re looking at a sustained engagement that carries no deadlines.”

“…Americans were slow to grasp the implications of a global war with no exits and no deadlines.”

“…The enemy of humility is sanctimony, which gives rise to the conviction that American values and beliefs are universal and that the nation itself serves providentially assigned purposes…”

“If one were to choose a single word to characterize [the American] identity, it would have to be MORE. For the majority of contemporary Americans, the essence of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness centers on a relentless personal quest to acquire, to consume, to indulge, and to shed whatever constraints might interfere with those endeavors…The ethic of self-gratification threatens the well-being of the US…because it saddles us with costly commitments abroad [such as access to cheap oil and other resources] that we are increasingly ill-equipped to sustain…”

“…in his 2005 inaugural address, George W. Bush…went on to declare that America’s ‘great liberating tradition’ now required the US to devote itself to ‘ending tyranny in our world.’…on July 4, 1776 [the founders of this nation] did not set out to create a church. They founded a republic. Their purpose was not to save mankind. It was to ensure that people like themselves enjoyed unencumbered access to the Jeffersonian trinity…Crediting the US with a ‘great liberating tradition’ distorts the past and obscures the actual motive force behind American politics and US foreign policy. It transforms history into a morality tale, thereby providing a rationale for dodging serious moral analysis…[i]f the  young US had a mission, it was not to liberate but expand…[w]e infiltrated land belonging to our neighbors and then brazenly proclaimed it our own…[w]e engaged in ethnic cleansing. At times we insisted that treaties be considered sacrosanct. On other occasions, we blithely jettisoned solemn agreements that had outlived their usefulness.”

“…even the [US] policy makers viewed as the most idealistic remained fixated on one overriding aim: enhancing American influence, wealth, and power.”

“To imagine at this juncture that installing some fresh face in the White House, transferring the control of Congress from one party to the other, or embarking upon yet another effort to fix the national security apparatus will make much of a difference is to ignore decades of experience.”

“[We now have] a new political elite whose members have a vested interest in perpetuating the crises that provide the source of their power. These are the people who under the guise of seeking peace or advancing the cause of liberty devise policies that promote war or the prospect of war, producing something akin to chaos.”

“The agenda of [Barack Obama] is an admirable one. Yet to imagine that installing a particular individual in the Oval Office will produce decisive action on [the pressing issues I have identified in this book] is to succumb to the grandest delusion of all. The quadrennial ritual of electing (or reelecting) a president is not an exercise in promoting change, regardless of what candidates may claim and ordinary voters believe. The real aim is to ensure continuity…The veterans of past administrations who sign on as campaign advisors are not interested in curbing the bloated powers of the presidency…The retired generals…who line up behind their preferred candidate don’t want to dismantle the national security state…The candidates who decry the influence of money in national politics are among those most skilled in courting the well-heeled to amass millions in campaign contributions…Any presidential initiatives aimed at alleviating the crisis of profligacy, reforming our political system, or devising a more realistic military policy are likely, at best, to have a marginal effect. Paradoxically, the belief that all…will be well, if only the right person assumes the reins as president…serves to underwrite the status quo. Counting on the next president to fix whatever is broken promotes expectations of easy, no-cost cures, permitting ordinary citizens to absolve themselves of responsibility for the nation’s predicament…they persist in the fantasy that a chief executive, given a clear mandate, will ‘change’ the way Washington works and restore the nation to good health.”

“…spending trillions to democratize the Islamic world will achieve little…”

“As long as Americans remain in denial—insisting that the power of the US is without limits—they will remain unlikely to [address critical national needs on energy self-sufficiency, environmental woes, and crushing bankruptcy, debt and an economic downward spiral]. Instead, abetted by their political leaders, they will continue to fancy that some version of global war offers an antidote to Islamic radicalism. The US will modernize and enhance its nuclear strike capabilities while professing outrage that others should seek similar capabilities…They will guzzle imported oil, binge on imported goods, and indulge in imperial dreams. All the while, Washington will issue high-minded proclamations testifying to the approaching triumph of democracy everywhere and forever. Meanwhile, the American people will ignore the imperative of settling accounts—balancing budgets, curbing consumption, and paying down debt. They will remain passive as politicians fritter away US military might on unnecessary wars. They will permit officials responsible for failed policies to dodge accountability. They will tolerate stupefying incompetence and dysfunction in the nation’s capital, counting on the next president to fix everything that the last one screwed up.”
Don’t miss this book. It should be required reading for all Americans. Drop everything and read it as soon as you can.


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Why Did the Boulder Road Diet Project Stir Up So Much Opposition?

By Dom Nozzi

January 18, 2016

I’m not sure that the City handled the road diet project on Folsom Street (called “Right Sizing” in Boulder) wrongly. A huge number of cities all over the nation handled their road diet projects much, much worse than Boulder and still made them happen.

I think an important problem in Boulder is that there are a large number of wealthy people in Boulder (who therefore have an enormous sense of entitlement – they have a RIGHT to do whatever they are doing!). Also, many in Boulder are very intelligent, which means that people are smart enough to intelligently tell local government why something won’t work. In less educated communities, the arguments tend to be dumber and therefore easier to disregard.

I think Boulder has also been making a huge mistake, through its plans and rhetoric over the past several years, to suggest that bicycle, pedestrian, and transit improvements can happily coexist with making motorists happy (the idea that it is a arapahoe-in-boulder-co“win-win” game). It is NOT a win-win. It is zero-sum. When conditions are made better for driving, conditions for walking, bicycling, and transit always worsen – largely because improving conditions for cars means oversizing streets and intersections, and
spreading origins and destinations far from each other.

Similarly, Boulder continues to make the awful mistake of stating that it will keep congestion from getting worse. That is an excellent recipe for making cars happy and making non-car travel very unlikely.

Boulder’s reputation for being friendly to bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit users comes almost entirely from having a lot of money (due to Boulder’s wealthy population), so the City fools a lot of people into thinking we are discouraging car use by building lots of paths and providing lots of buses. Politically easy to do that. But not effective in reducing car use. If we are talking about effectively getting more people to travel without a car, my mantra is that it is not about providing shiny new toys or techno-wizardry or facilities for those not traveling by car. It is about the Four S’s: Reduce Space (parking and roads) allocated to cars, reduce Speeds cars can travel, reduce the huge Subsidies allocated to those who drive cars, and Shorten the distance one must travel to get to destinations (via compact development).

Boulder does not do much of anything regarding these four tools.

There are a relatively large number in Boulder who bicycle, walk, and use transit (in terms of America, but pathetic when compared to Europe). But the higher numbers are significantly due to self-selection. People who ALREADY like to bicycle, walk, and use transit move here due to the city reputation. Many of those people would be bicycling, walking, and using transit (for utilitarian trips) even if the city provided mediocre sidewalks, buses, and bike paths.

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Boulder is Behind the Times in Transportation


By Dom Nozzi

September 30, 2015

The extremely hostile, enraged opposition to the redesign of Folsom Street in Boulder has unveiled an enormous myth. Boulder has long been touted as being exceptionally progressive and forward thinking regarding transportation. I had bought into this myth myself.

But the stunning opposition to the Folsom Street right-sizing (removal of tc92cc7da5077ec9ca6043d0c8c346796wo of five travel lanes) motivated me to think again about that widespread belief. The following tally shows that Boulder is behind the times on a number of transportation issues.

Traffic Calming. Slowing down and calming dangerous, speeding traffic is extremely important for neighborhood health and safety, not to mention overall quality of life. For these reasons, designing streets to obligate slower car speeds is a widespread and growing action throughout the nation. Boulder essentially ended its neighborhood traffic calming efforts in respond to a funding shortfall and furious citizen opposition in the 1990s and 2000s.

Right-Sizing. Removing travel lanes from oversized roads, like traffic calming, is an essential and cost-effective way to dramatically improve safety, reduce speeding, reduce noise pollution, reduce regional car travel, improve residential and retail health, and nudge a number of residents toward bicycling, walking and transit. Again, right-sizing is a widespread and growing reform throughout the nation. Boulder is likely to end all efforts for the foreseeable future to further right-size gigantic in-city highways due to extreme citizen opposition that emerged in 2015 regarding the Folsom Street project.

Car Parking. Excessive quantities of free off-street parking is a gigantic problem both in Boulder and nationally. It is a massive subsidy to motorists, induces an artificially high level of car travel, destroys city and residential health, and makes for extremely unsafe and inconvenient conditions for walking, bicycling and transit. By substantially dispersing the size of a town center and overall community, excessive parking found in Boulder and elsewhere is toxic to city health. Cities throughout the nation are therefore converting counterproductive “minimum” parking requirements to “maximum” requirements. Boulder parking regulations remain antiquated, after decades of this problem being identified, by continuing to require large minimum parking requirements and doing relatively little to convert free parking to priced parking. Or to convert excessive existing parking into more community beneficial uses such as office, retail, or residential.

Synchronized traffic signals. Synchronizing traffic signals is commonly thought to “ease” car traffic flow or reduce congestion. But it has long been known that we cannot build our way out of congestion by adding new road capacity – and synchronization does this indirectly — as more capacity simply induces new latent car trips that would not have occurred had we not increased capacity. This is particularly true when considering cars, which, because of their enormous size, quickly congest roads. Many cities have therefore opted not to synchronize signals (which, by the way, is surprisingly expensive) or have made the synchronizing less counterproductive by timing the signal lights for bus and bicycle speeds rather than car speeds. Boulder continues to synchronize signals for car speeds, and there appears to be no support for revising this.

One-way streets. One-way streets induce speeding, inattentive driving, motorist impatience, regional car trips, suburban sprawl, and declining retail and residential health. They also discourage bicycle and walking trips. For these reasons, a great many cities have returned their one-way streets to two-way operation, and this trend is accelerating due to the growing awareness of problems associated with one-way streets. The Boulder town center is substantially hobbled by a toxic one-way street loop, and there appears to be no political support for returning to two-way operation.

Bicycle parking. Since at least the early 1980s, it has been well known that the “inverted U” bicycle rack parking design (and minor variations) is the only well-functioning, low-cost design for bicycle parking. Yet it was only in 2015 that Boulder opted to require such parking, and even when it did, the regulations still allow an extremely inferior alternative design.

Transportation is in a silo. For decades, we have known that transportation and land use are intimately related, and profoundly shape each other. Many community objectives cannot be achieved unless transportation and land use work together. We cannot, for example, install an enormous, high-speed highway in the middle of what is intended to be a compact, safe, walkable town center, as the highway undermines the desire for nearby walkability. Yet in Boulder, there is a surprisingly strict separation between long-range transportation plans and long-range land use plans. And the Boulder Transportation Advisory Board has, in at least my tenure, been extremely timid about discussing otherwise obvious land use issues when discussing transportation issues.

Slip lanes. Slip lanes allow cars to make relatively high-speed, inattentive right turns, which create dangerous turning conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists at intersections. Boulder has installed a large number of slip lanes at intersections throughout the city – including in the town center.


Double-Left Turn Lanes. Double-left turn lanes, like slip lanes, allow relatively high-speed, inattentive turns by cars, which results in dangerous conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians, not to mention motorists. Double-left turn lanes create enormous intersection sizes that induce suburban dispersal from such intersections, make crossing by bicycle or foot exceptionally dangerous, kill the important need for intersections to create a human-scaled sense of place, and promote suburban sprawl. In addition, these extremely expensive intersection treatments ignore the fact that we cannot build our way out of intersection congestion. Boulder has installed a very large number of such dual left-turn lanes.

Idaho Law. The Idaho law allows bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, and red signal lights as stop signs. The law acknowledges the fact that stop sign and signal light regulations are designed for dangerous, heavy, high-speed cars, and are generally unnecessary for bicyclists. Bicyclists depend on leveraging momentum when traveling, and stops eliminate momentum. A number of cities in Colorado have now adopted the long-standing Idaho law to substantially increase bicyclist convenience and reduce inequity. Boulder continues to resist adopting such a law.

Town Center Bicycling. Healthy town centers are places that tend to be superb locations for bicyclists to live and travel, as centers contain a large number of destinations (which reduces travel distances) and the best centers emphasize low speeds. Despite its national reputation for prolific and quality bicycle facilities, however, the Boulder town center contains a large number of roads that are shockingly hostile to bicycling.

Yes, Boulder has provided an impressive system of bicycle paths and transit, which perpetuates the myth that Boulder is unusually progressive regarding transportation. But the paths and transit are much more a matter of Boulder being wealthy rather than Boulder being cutting edge, or brilliant, or progressive. Because off-street paths and transit in no way impede happy, excessive car travel, they require relatively little leadership. Driving by car in Boulder remains highly convenient and enjoyable. Paths and transit, it turns out, are in a way simply green washing lip service.

I was a professional town and transportation planner for 20 years in Gainesville FL. That city is far more politically conservative than Boulder, yet on each of the measures above, Gainesville is much more progressive.

Boulder is also far behind the times when it comes to residential development regulations, but I will save that for a future essay.


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The Hidden Agenda in Boulder


By Dom Nozzi

August 31, 2015

In November 2015, the residents of Boulder are to vote on two referendums. One is a Development Shall Pay It’s Own Way measure. The other is a Neighborhood Right to Vote measure. Both are alleged to be necessary to protect quality of life in Boulder.

It turns out that neither measure, if passed, will do anything to promote quality of life in Boulder. Indeed, a very strong case can be made that they will both degrade quality of life in Boulder.

This paradox exposes a hidden agenda in Boulder.

Both referendums are irrelevant to promoting quality of life. The hidden agenda, it turns out, is to stop or substantially slow population growth and development in Boulder. This NIMBY agenda has had bi-partisan political support in Boulder for several decades.

Despite having strong support from environmentalists and other political progressives in Boulder, the no-growth agenda is fundamentally a reactionary right wing agenda that downloadundermines both the health of a city and the needs of lower-income groups.


Because the primary motivator for a no-growth agenda is to keep population and densities so low that roads will always be free-flowing and parking spaces will always be available (which to most no-growthers in Boulder, is the underlying definition of quality of life).

An important means of achieving a no-growth agenda, besides making life torturous and extremely costly for developers, is to leverage what is known as “snob zoning.” That is, to adopt residential zoning regulations that require large lots, very low densities, very large single-family home sizes, and a strict prohibition of “mixed uses” (the incorporation of neighborhood-based shops and offices).

Both the “happy car travel” agenda and the “snob zoning” agenda ensure that housing is artificially much more costly than it would otherwise be. It becomes financially impossible for middle- and lower-income groups to afford to live in Boulder when, as is the case in Boulder, extremely high levels of car dependency and the snob zoning rules are in place.

To achieve this happy car and snob zoning agenda, a sustainable political will is necessary.

How can we get the political left AND right to buy into this agenda, in other words?

The brilliant tactical achievement is that the no-growth agenda was one that both the right and left could buy into, which has made it a political juggernaut in Boulder.

How is this done?

As it turns out, it is relatively easy to have the political right and left agree to both a happy car agenda and a snob zoning agenda.

First, in a relatively car dependent society such as what we find in the US (including Boulder), nearly all of us are required to drive a car for nearly all of our trips. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican, a left-wing environmentalist, a Feminist, a gay-rights advocate, or an evangelical Christian. Nearly all of us are obligated to be car-dependent. Which means that a highly effective tactic for candidates for elected office in the US is to be a populist for cars. “I support free-flowing traffic and easy parking!!” Again, in a car-dependent society, nearly all of us – regardless of political persuasion – strongly support that agenda. Even in Boulder, most left-wing citizens buy the argument that free-flowing traffic and easy parking is “progressive.” After all, congestion causes air pollution, and costly parking is hard on the poor. Right?

Second, the expensive and low-density snob zoning dovetails quite nicely with happy cars, as most all of us see that very low residential densities and the prohibition of shops and offices in residential neighborhoods will allow us to enjoy more free-flowing traffic and easy parking.

Another reason this two-pronged agenda has such vigor and staying power is that nearly all of us experience substantial frustration each day we drive to and from work. The cars most all of us drive take up so much space that inevitably we are slowed (and therefore frustrated) on our commute EVERY DAY. Every day, then, we are given an emotionally powerful dose of motivation to do whatever is necessary to minimize those daily delays. The best chance, many of us conclude, is to join in the fight to stop or slow development! Again, the political right AND left develop a passion to stop growth. And that bi-partisan passion is political gold that has persistent power.

To summarize, the political right wants no-growth and snob zoning to enable the high-income, luxury-car-based, elitist privatopia they desire. A nice side benefit for the right is that these things keep lower-income and minority groups from being able to afford to live in Boulder.

For the political left, no-growth and snob zoning is a way to protect air quality, and make it possible for lower-income groups to commute to Boulder from lower-income outlying areas. In addition, it is an article of faith on the environmental left that “over-population” is destructive of the environment. And let’s be honest: most all of us on the political left ALSO enjoy free-flowing traffic and easy parking.

In these ways, the political left in Boulder has been seduced into being crusaders against growth and development in Boulder. Since at least the sixties, this has created bi-partisan support for a no-growth agenda in Boulder.

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