Comprehensive Plan Policies Related to Large Scale Industrial Development in the Boulder Valley
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN POLICIES RELATED TO LARGE SCALE INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE BOULDER VALLEY
A 78 1^2.
Submitted the Degree
in partial fulfillment of the requirements Master of Planning and Community Developme The University of Colorado at Denver Thesis Advisor: Herbert H. Smith
December 9, 1982
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Illustrations..................................... iii
List of Tables............................................. iv
Comprehensive Plan Policies Related
to Industrial Development.............................. 8
Boulder's Major Employers............................. 19
Boulder's Growing Firms............................... 38
SDC's Bid to Locate in Boulder........................ 47
Boulder's Economy and Outlook......................... 56
Issues and Implications of Large Scale
Industrial Development................................ 70
Conclusion and Recommendations........................ 81
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A-l Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan 15
Growth Areas 1979
B-l 1880 Boulder City Limits/University of Colorado 21
B-2 1900 Boulder City Limits/University of Colorado 22
B-3 1920 Boulder City Limits/University of Colorado 23
B-4 1950 Boulder City Limits/National Bureau
of Standards 25
B-5 1960 Boulder City Limits/National Bureau
of Standards 26
B-6 1960 Boulder City Limits/National Center
For Atmospheric Research 29
B-7 1979 Boulder City Limits/National Center
For Atmospheric Research 31
B-8 1960 Boulder City Limits/IBM 33
B-9 1979 Boulder City Limits/IBM 36
C-l Celestial Seasonings Site 42
C-2 NBI Site 45
D-l SDC Site 49
LIST OF TABLES
A-l Land Analysis of Boulder Service Area 18
E-l Distribution of Firms and Employees by
Location of Firm 57
E-2 Number of Employees Who Work in Boulder County
By Place of Residence 58
E-3 Distribution of Firms and Employees by
Location of Firm and by Industry 59
E-4 Distribution of Firms and Employees by
Firm Size 59
E-5 Distribution of Employees by Occupational
Category and Location of Firm 60
E-6 Percentage Distribution of Labor Force
By Age and Place of Current Residence 62
E-7 Percentage Distribution of Labor Force by
Education and Place of Current Residence 63
E-8 Distribution of Labor Force by Income Group
And Place of Residence 64
E-9 Total Basic and Service Personal Income in
Boulder County, 1979 66
My interest in industrial development in Boulder was first sparked by SDC's attempt to locate just south of the City on land designated as open space by the County Comprehensive Plan. I had just made my decision to pursue a degree in planning and really didn't know very much about the field. However I did know that somehow SDC's proposal did not seem to jibe with sound planning principles as I understood them. I followed the controversy closely and was relieved when SDC announced that it was abandoning its plans for the Boulder area.
My curiousity in Boulder's industrial development was revived last summer when I became involved in the graphic presentation of the Planning Department's recommendation to Planning Board for changes to the Comprehensive Plan
policies related to large scale industrial development. I talked with Sondra Rose, the planner handling the five year update to the Plan, about the possibility of developing a thesis out of the issue. She was supportive at the time and over the last four months has been extremely helpful.
The aspect of this thesis which has been most appealing to me from the start is that although the topic is narrow in the sense that it only deals with one area of the Comprehensive Plan, the issues raised by the large scale industrial concept touch on a broad range of topics. There are obvious ones such as the history of industrial development in Boulder and the economic impacts of such development which are included in this paper. However there are topics which, although less obvious, are also greatly influenced by industrial development. The question of the relationship between residential growth control and the expansion of the local economy and employment is a subject worthy of further research. Additionally, the effect of large scale industrial development on the land values in Area III and the impact on the Open Space Program's ability to acquire property is an area which deserves more attention.
Finally, regardless of the value of the information and opinions contained in this paper, the real value to me has been in the learning experiences afforded to me by the process of researching and writing this thesis.
In the Fall of 1980 the Systems Development Corporation failed in its attempt to develop a corporate headquarters on land designated as open space by the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. The SDC proposal called for the development of a 435 acre site with over 400 acres of that land to remain open space. SDC felt the need for a site
this large so that their corporate headquarters could be built in a campus-like setting with adequate buffering from any adjacent uses. Everything about this proposal seemed ideal except for the location which had been chosen. Attempts were made by the City and County to find alternate sites for SDC to locate but no parcels large enough could be found in the Boulder Valley which didn't conflict with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. Ultimately SDC chose to abandon its plans to move to the Boulder area.
This episode brought attention to a potential problem related to industrial development in the Boulder Valley. That problem, simply stated, is that there is a lack of adequately sized parcels of land suitable for development by large scale employers. This is not meant to imply that the Boulder Valley is running out of land. The problem is that most of the large parcels are in Area III as designated by the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. According to the Plan, Area III land is not intended for urban development in the next fifteen years. In order for land to be changed
from Area III to Area II, which is eligible for urban development, one of the criteria which must be met is the demonstration of need for additional land for new urban development within the Boulder Valley. Currently within Areas I and II of the Comprehensive Plan there are approximately 1,000 acres of vacant land designated for industrial development. Over the past five years,
approximately 50 acres of vacant industrial land per year have been developed. At that rate, the total amount of industrial land which would be needed in the fifteen year planning period would be 750 acres. Thus, it would be
difficult to demonstrate the need for additional industrial land to be brought into Area II for development. The problem is that most of the vacant parcels of industrial land in Areas I and II are only 5-10 acres or less in size. Thus, development of a large industrial site (one requiring
two or three hundred acres) becomes almost impossible under the present policies of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
The need for, or desirability of, allowing large scale industrial development to occur in the Boulder Valley is certainly debatable. This is particlularly true in light of Boulder's Growth Limitation Ordinance which attempts to maintain a two percent annual growth rate by limiting residential construction. The central issue appears to be the lack of a clear statement in the Comprehensive Plan concerning large scale development. If in fact it is found to be undesirable for large scale industrial development to occur in the Boulder Valley, then no change needs to be made in the Comprehensive Plan. If, however, it is felt that there may be a potential need to allow another major employer to locate in the Boulder Valley at some time in the future, then the Comprehensive Plan should be modified to recognize that fact. A policy statement should be included in the Plan acknowledging the potential needs of large scale industries and criteria should be set forth for the review of such proposals.
In order to determine whether or not it would be desirable to allow a large scale industrial employer to locate in the Boulder Valley, it is useful to examine several factors: the historical development of major
industry in Boulder and the various influences that development has had on the growth of the City; the current state of the local economy and projections for the future; and the potential demand for large scale sites from established firms in Boulder.
Historically, Boulder has had four major employers with campus-like settings. The University was the City's only major employer up until the Second World War. It has exerted a strong influence over Boulder's development both physically and culturally. When the University first started in the 1870's its site was about a mile south of the existing City. Within 40 years the site was essentially surrounded by urban development.
The National Bureau of Standards chose a site on the southern edge of the City in 1954. Prior to that time there was very little development south of Baseline Road. By the mid-1960's Martin Acres, the area south of Baseline and west of the Turnpike, was fully developed. Within ten years the Bureau was surrounded on three sides by urban development.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research chose a site on Table Mountain to develop in 1961. This choice became controversial because the chosen site was above the "Blue Line," the imaginary line beyond which the people of Boulder voted not to extend city water lines. In order for
NCAR to be provided with city water another vote was
required. The development gained approval and was built. Within fifteen years the area adjacent to NCAR, Table Mesa, has fully developed.
The final major employer studied was IBM. IBM built its plant seven miles northeast of the City in 1965. Since that time the Gunbarrel area adjacent to IBM has developed both residentially and industrially. The area has been a constant issue since IBM's arrival. The major problems have concerned providing water service to the area and annexing
the residential areas.
Three of Boulder's expanding firms were examined to determine the potential demand for large scale industrial sites: Neodata, Celestial Seasonings, and NBI.
Neodata is one of Boulder's older employers (1949).
Last March the firm announced plans to move to Louisville. The reason given for the move was convenience for the employees. Lack of adequate sized parcels in Boulder was not cited as a reason.
Celestial Seasonings is in the process of annexing a 51 acre parcel to the City. This parcel was chosen to be
developed to house all of the firm's operations which are currently occupying five separate buildings on 55th Street.
NBI has purchased a 158 acre site to develop to house up to 3000 employees. Unfortunately, the site is in Area III. NBI will be the first applicant for a large scale industrial designation if a process for review is
incorporated into the Comprehensive Plan.
The local economy was studied since that will be one of the main factors upon which any approval for a major employer would be granted. The key figures to note are the number of jobs in the Boulder Valley and the number of resident workers. In 1980 there was about a five percent surplus of jobs to workers, essentially the same ratio as found in 1970.
The central issues involved in the large scale industrial concept fall into three categories. How big is
large scale? Is large scale industrial employment good for Boulder? And what criteria can be developed to ensure the development will be beneficial to all aspects of the community, not just the economy?
The Boulder Planning Department staff has developed criteria and recommended three different methods for implementation to the Planning Board. In order for any change to be made to the Comprehensive Plan, all four signatory bodies must approve. The criteria recommended by
staff include: at least 160 acres, single user for 15 years, must be capable of being annexed, must go through the PUD process, and must provide a detailed impact statement.
The conclusion drawn by this thesis is that it is necessary for the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan to include criteria for the review of large scale industrial proposals. This does not mean that such proposals would be approved, just that they would be judged on criteria presented in the Plan. It is my recommendation that the amendments to the Plan proposed by the Planning Department be adopted by the four signatory bodies. The criteria included in the amendment are adequate to ensure quality development based on sound planning principles.
Comprehensive Plan Policies
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN POLICIES RELATED TO INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT
One potential problem which has surfaced in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan is that it lacks a clear statement in regard to development by a larger employer. The ambiguity of policy related to large scale industrial development is the main focus of this paper. Before addressing the policies of the current Comprehensive Plan (1977), however, it is useful to look at the policies included in two previous documents. Both these documents
influenced the 1977 Comprehensive Plan in regard to its policies related to industrial development in the Boulder Valley.
The first document is the 1970 Comprehensive Plan. Written at the end of a decade when the City of Boulder had experienced growth at an average annual rate of 6 percent, the Plan addressed the issue of new growth paying its own way. As stated in the Plan, "Many citizens helped formulate these policies by submitting opinions, answering questionnaires, and working on committees to determine Boulder's goals." In a series of neighborhood meetings held to gain citizen input and assess public attitudes toward the preliminary draft of the Plan, one of the stated planning assumptions was often questioned. That assumption was that "no employer of 500 or more people is likely to locate in the Boulder Valley in the foreseeable future."1 Many people questioned the wisdom of that assumption in light of the fact that IBM had just moved to Boulder less than a decade earlier and some organizations within the City were still actively recruiting new firms to move into the area. Principal City Planner Richard Veazey's reply: "The present central industrial zoning and land can easily handle the projected growth that would be desirable through 1990. In general the Plan takes a cautious logical approach to new industry." He also added that one of the silent assumptions incuded in the Plan was that there would not be a national or local economic recession beyond minor ups and downs.2
1. The Boulder Valley Comprhensive Plan 1970.
2. Bill Hoffman, "Final Action Due in January on Revised Boulder Valley Plan," Boulder Daily Camera, November 30, 1969.
Two of the Plan policies were related to the issue of industrial growth. The first stated that industrial expansion should occur only to the extent which the City could absorb the increased growth.3 The second essentially said that new growth should pay its own way.4 This second policy was intended for residential growth but is indicative of a shifting attitude toward growth in general.
The section of text in the Plan titled Employment included the clear statement that "employers will have to look to already zoned land to accomodate their needs" since there was already enough land zoned for commercial and industrial use to support employment needs for the anticipated 1990 population of 140,000. However, the Plan does waver on this point by adding that "there are locations that could accommodate new employers if they are willing to meet performance standards and a need can be demonstrted." There were no criteria for demonstrating need included in the document, however. In general the 1970 Comprehensive Plan addressed the issues of housing and population growth in much greater detail than it did industrial development.
3. "Industrial expansion should take place only within the ability of the community to absorb the increased growth, and with high standards of development and environmental control."
4. "New growth should bear the major expense of self-created needs for community facilities and services to the immediate neighborhood; which in turn should be provided economically and be of the highest quality for all residents."
This is understandable given the growth that the City had experienced over the preceeding decade. The important thing to note here is that for the first time people were questioning the validity of the growth at any cost mentality.
The second document which influenced the 1977 Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan was the Interim Policy on Growth. (Appendix A) By 1971 the citizens of Boulder were concerned enough about the rapid growth of the City that an initiative calling for action by the City Council passed by a 3 to 1 margin in the November election. The initiative required
that the Council adopt a policy to hold the rate of growth in the Boulder Valley to a level substantially below that experienced in the 1960's.5 The City adopted the Interim Policy on Growth on March 7, 1972. One of the objectves listed in this document called for the City to "discourage new primary employment centers from locating in the Boulder Valley. Further, it shall also request other City, County, and Federal agencies, both public and private, to refrain from promoting the Boulder Valley for the location of such centers." The concept behind the inclusion of this
5. "The City Government, working with the County
Government, shall take all steps necessary to hold the rate of growth in the Boulder Valley to a level substantially below that experienced in the 1960's and shall ensure that the growth that does take place shall provide living qualities in keeping with the policies found in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan." Interim Growth Policy, November 1971.
objective in the Policies is that primary employment is the main generator of population growth. The Interim Growth Policies were intended to be in effect only until a study on growth in the Boulder Valley could be completed. The study which followed ultimately resulted in the passage of the Growth Limitation Ordinance in 1977.
When the 1970 Comprehensive Plan was revised in 1977, the inclusion of the policy of discouraging new primary employers from locating in the Boulder Valley was considered. The policy was not included, however. According to Ed Gawf, Boulder Planning Director, it was felt that it was not necessary to discourage primary employment centers, what was more important was that the Comprehensive Plan policies insure that employment growth was consistent with and complementary to population growth goals. Employment growth was considered to be the primary generator of residential demand and it didn't really matter whether the employment was in a few large companies or a number of small firms. Thus, there was not any outright policy statement prohibiting large scale employers nor was there any statement endorsing them.6
Although the Comprehensive Plan does not include any policy specifically addressing major employers, there are
6. Ed Gawf, Memo to Planning Board, Re: Large Scale Industrial Concept, June 17, 1982. p. 1.
several policy statements aimed at industrial development. In Section V: Economic Considerations, the Plan states that "the City and County shall encourage a viable and balanced economic structure and employment base within the parameters of established land use, environmental, and growth policies with emphasis on providing employment opportunities for Boulder Valley residents and a tax base which produces sufficient governmental revenue to meet community goals."7 Also included in the same section are policies which give preference to growth of industries already established in the Valley over new industry, and also the encouragement of new industry to locate in established industrial parks. The Plan also requires that industrial zoning provide the opportunity for the location of industries of various types and uses.
The discussion this far of the various Comprehensive Plan policies has been relatively straightforward. When the question of size and location of industrial development comes into the picture, the issue becomes much more complex.
Section II: Community Design states that "One of the most important objectives of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan is the reduction, if not elimination, of....urban sprawl."8 As a means to facilitate the
7. The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan 1977, pp. 11-12.
8. Ibid., p. 6.
implementation of this objective, phased growth is required. The Plan divides the planning area (the Boulder Valley) into three major areas. (Figure A-l) The first, Area I, is the portion of the Valley which is within the Boulder city limits and served by adequate facilities and services. Area II is the area immediately surrounding the City which is in the County. Area II is planned for urban development in the planning period (15 years), but such development is only to occur when adequate facilities and services can be provided by the City upon annexation to the City. Area III is the remaining area in the Boulder Valley which is not intended for urban development in the planning period. The reasons given for this are essentially twofold. First, it is not expected that the City will provide facilities and services to Area III in the planning period and second, "it is primarilty a rural and agricultural area and its character should be preserved and protected."9 Section III: Facilities and Services states that "new urban development should not occur within the Boulder Valley until an adequate range of urban services and facilities is available to serve the facility."10 Policy 3.03 in Section III prohibits the City from furnishing facilities and services to any new urban development outside the City without annexing the land.
9. Ibid., Policy 2.01.
10. Ibid., Policy 3.01
A-l Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan Growth Areas 1979
In order for a major employer to locate in the Boulder Valley, it would have to locate within the City, or in Area II and annex to the City. Area III land is not intended for urban development. However, the Plan does allow land to be brought into Area II from Area III.
a. The Area II/Area III boundary may be extended into Area III under the following circumstances:
i. There is demonstrated need for additional land for new urban development within the Boulder Valley, and
ii. Any changes in proposed land uses are compatible with the surrounding area and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan except for phasing, and
iii. Studies of impacts on transportation, environment, services, facilities, and budget show no major negative effects.il
The problem that most applicants seeking a change from Area III to Area II have had is in demonstrating need for additional land in Area II. A land analysis was done by the Planning staff to determine the amount of land, by zoning classification, in Areas I and II that has been developed.
11. Ibid., Implementation, B. Maps Section, p.50
(Table A-l) Of the total land area within Areas I and II of the Plan (19,492 acres), 15 percent is designated industrial, that is 2,911 acres. Of that amount 1,886 acres have been developed. Approximately 1,000 acres of industrially designated land is undeveloped in Areas I and II. Over the past five years, approximately 50 acres of industrial land per year have been developed.12 At that rate, the total amount of industrial land needed in the fifteen year planning period would be 750 acres. Since over 1,000 acres of vacant land are available, it is difficult to demonstrate need. As stated previously, the basic problem is that most of the available land is in 5-10 acre parcels. The dispersed nature of the vacant land makes it difficult to aggregate parcels of more than 20-30 acres. Thus, development of a large industrial site (one requiring more than 25-30 acres) is virtually impossible under the present policies of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. The issues and implications of allowing large scale industrial development to occur in the Boulder Valley will be examined in Chapter 6 of this paper. If any change in policy is determined to be desirable, however, it should be remembered that a change to the Comprehensive Plan needs to be approved by four signatory bodies: City Planning Board, City Council, County Planning Commission, and the County Commissioners.
12. Memo from Ed Gawf to Planning Board re: Five Year Update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, June 17, 1982.
TABLE A-l: LAND ANALYSIS OF BOULDER SERVICE AREA
City Zoning District or Comprehensive Plan Designation Area I (In Area IIA Acres) Area IIB TOTAL
Developed Land Low Density Residential 4,743.7 1,197.2 864.1 6,805.0
Medium Density Residential 569.5 73.6 22.7 665.8
High Density Residential 601.5 2.0 0 603.5
Total Developed Residential Land 5,914.7 1,272.8 886.8 8,074.3
Commercial 727.5 11.5 60.0 799.0
Industrial 1,596.2 127.4 142.4 1,866.0
Other 4,134.1 315.5 643.2 5,092.8
Total Developed Land 12,372.5 1,727.2 1,732.4 15,832.1
Vacant Land Vacant-Low Density Residential 103.2 504.9 670.7 1,278.8
Vacant-Medium Density Residential 128.7 160.3 76.0 365.0
Vacant-High Density Residential 62.0 0 0 62.0
Total Vacant Residential Land 293.9 665.2 746.7 1,705.8
Vacant-Commercial 79.2 0 24.8 104.0
Vacant-Industrial 598.2 178.3 248.8 1,025.3
Vacant-Other 121.0 222.3 481.6 824.9
Total Vacant Land 1,092.3 1,065.8 1,501.9 3,660.0
Total Land Area 13,464.8 2,793.0 3,234.3 19,492.1
Source: City of Boulder Planning Department.
BOULDER'S MAJOR EMPLOYERS
In choosing a course of action for the future it is often valuable to look to the past. The question of whether or not to allow additional large scale industrial development to occur in the Boulder Valley or even whether to implement a policy for the review of such proposals cannot be answered simply by researching how large scale industrial development has affected the City in the past. However, such research can provide some insights into the potential problems this type of development can pose. The purpose of this chapter is to provide background material on what major employers there are in the Boulder Valley and types of impacts they have had.
Although the focus of this section is on the major industrial employers, some mention must be made of the University of Colorado. Prior to the Second World War, Boulder was essentially a city with one major employer. Without detailing its influence on the development of Boulder, it is sufficient to say that the University's role has been a major one throughout Boulder's history.
From a land use point of view, the University has had a tremendous effect on how the City has developed spatially. The following maps illustrate this. In 1880 C.U. was barely four years old. The town of Boulder was just over twenty years old and all of the development at the time occurred
along what is now Pearl Street. The campus was located
about a mile south on a bluff overlooking the town.
(Figure B-l)l Within twenty years, the population of Boulder doubled, from 3,069 in 1880 to 6,150 in 1900, and development was beginning to occur near the University. (Figure B-2) By 1920, however, the growth adjacent to the campus was even more pronounced. Originally a mile outside of town, the University was, by 1920, surrounded on three sides by development. (Figure B-3) It can be seen from
1. Figures B-l through B-5 are taken from The Growth of a Community, Planning and Development: City of Boulder 1869-1966. Elizabeth F. Goodwin, City Planning Office, Boulder, Colorado, 1966.
B-l 1880 Boulder City Limits/University of Colorado
B-i iyuo Boulder City Limits/University of Colorado
b-j ly^u Boulder City Limits/University of Colorado
these three maps that the majority of growth experienced by Boulder over this forty year period occurred in the direction of the C.U. campus. The University held the distinction of being the only major employer in Boulder until the 1950's.
In 1950 there was very little development south of Baseline Road, essentially Baseline was considered to be the southern edge of the City. Two things happened to change that in the early 1950's. The first was the completion of
the Boulder-Denver Turnpike in 1952, which shortened the
distance between the two cities by nine miles and the
driving time to 35 or 40 minutes. The second was the
location of the National Bureau of Standards at a site just south of Baseline Road. (Figure B 4) The public's enthusiasm for NBS can be judged by the fact that the 205 acre site was donated by the citizens of Boulder. In the late 1950's NBS employed 950 people.2 Currently the employment figure is approximately 1500.
Today there are really a number of different agencies contained in the buildings located on the original site: the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA).
2. Trafton Bean and Associates, Consultants, Economic Base Study City of Boulder, Colorado, January 1960.
B-4 1950 Boulder City Limits/National Bureau of Standards
B-5 1960 Boulder City Limits/National Bureau
Jointly, they are called the Boulder Laboratories of the
Department of Commerce.
It is difficult to determine how much influence NBS had over the rapid development of South Boulder in the late 1950's and the 1960's. The Boulder-Denver Turnpike certainly contributed to the demand for housing in the
southern part of the City. In 1957 there were 594 people commuting from Boulder to Denver, about seven percent of the resident workers.3 in 1980, 13 percent of the Boulder Valley's resident workers commuted to Denver, about 5,900
people.4 However, NBS also had a great effect on the growth of nearby areas. By 1960 the NBS site which had been outside the City limits ten years before was surrounded on three sides by residential development. (Figure B-5) Martin Acres, the area between the Turnpike and Broadway and
Baseline and South Boulder Road, was developed in the late 1950's. By 1960 there were 7,373 people living south of
Baseline Road in the City.5
4. The Denver Consulting Group, The Boulder County Employment and Economic Impact Survey, 1981, p. 49.
5. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, U.S. Census of Population and Housing: 1960, Census Tracts, Denver, Colorado SMSA. 1961.
The search for a site for the National Center for Atmospheric Research focused on five different locations in 1960.6 Four of the five sites were located in the Boulder Valley. (Appendix B) The Boulder area had been chosen because of the National Bureau of Standards and the University. The potential sites were: Table Mountain, Shanahan Hill, Davidson Mesa, Eldorado Springs, and Marshall Lake. All of the sites were to the south of the existing City limits. The Table Mountain site was chosen over the others because it was close to the City yet isolated. (Figure B-6)
"Finally the proposed site is very close to the research and educational facilities of the National Bureau of Standards and the University of Colorado, as well as to housing and shopping areas, but is at the same time adequately protected by its natural geographic features against encroachment by potentially obtrusive urban developments."7
The site was not without drawbacks, however. The year before, in 1959, the citizens of Boulder had voted into
6. Ken R. White Consulting Engineers, A Report of
Investigation of Proposed Sites near Boulder, Colorado for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1960.
7. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Report on Site Evaluation Studies and Recommendation of a Site for the Headquarters of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, 1960.
B-6 1960 Boulder City Limits/National Center
For Atmospheric Research
effect the "Blue Line." The Blue Line was drawn by the voters as the absolute limit for extension of city water to prevent development from sprawling into the foothills, thus destroying the scenic mountain backdrop enjoyed by the residents of Boulder. The Table Mountain site proposed for NCAR was well beyond the Blue Line. The people of Boulder were enthusiastic about NCAR locating in the Boulder Valley. However, in spite of the fact that promises were made that 80 percent of the site would remain undeveloped and open for public use, the people were not in favor of the site which was chosen. The sponsors of the project were adamant about the site, however, and threatened to supply the site with water from a Denver pipeline and build NCAR anyway if Boulder refused to extend water beyond the Blue Line.8 The State, in fact, donated the land for the site. After months of public debate, the issue was brought to vote. The voters approved the NCAR project and city water was provided.
When NCAR was built in the early 1960's there was little development south of Table Mesa Drive and west of Broadway. Today, twenty years later, Table Mesa supports a population of 8,423, about 11 percent of the total population of Boulder.9 (Figure B-7)
8. Daryl Gibson, "Flap over SDC Mirrors 1961's NCAR Uproar," Boulder Daily Camera, January 4, 1981, p. 1.
9. Division of Research and Evaluation, City of Boulder, Social Report 1981; A Portrait of Boulder Drawn from the 1980 Census, 1981.
B-7 1979 Boulder City Limits/National Center
For Atmospheric Research
The three major employers discussed so far all located south of the city limits as existed at the time. Within twenty years each was, for the most part, surrounded by urban development.
In March of 1965 IBM announced plans to build a major complex seven miles northeast of Boulder on the Longmont Diagonal Highway. (Figure B-8) IBM owned 580 acres of which they intended to develop 148 acres for industrial use, 40 acres were to be for recreational use by the employees, and the remaining 392 acres were to be left vacant but available for future expansion. Compared to the controversy that surrounded the site selection of NCAR four years before, IBM's announcement aroused little public interest.10 The reasons for this lack of protest are fairly obvious. While NCAR was essentially contiguous with the City limits and would be highly visible from almost anywhere in the City, IBM was to be located half way to Longmont in an area that was considered to be far enough away that it would have little effect on Boulder.
The Boulder County Department of Development commissioned a land use study to be done in the summer of 1965.11 The following information is taken from this
10. Daryl Gibson, "Flap over SDC Mirror's 1961's NCAR Uproar," Boulder Daily Camera, January 4, 1981 p. 1.
11. Bean, Lamont, Moberg, Planning Consultants, Guide for Land Use between Boulder and Longmont, 1965.
o-o iybu Boulder City Limits/IBM
report. The study area extended from Valmont Road on the south to Nelson Road on the north, and from Hover Road on the east to 26th Street on the west, an area of approximately 60 square miles extending outward from the IBM site three miles in each direction. The character of the area was predominantly agricultural. The estimated
population (in 1965) was 2,400 persons. The Diagonal Highway was the major traffic artery and it was only two lanes. The only existing water service in the area was provided to the IBM site by the City of Boulder. As part of the agreement between the City and IBM, IBM had to agree to annex to the City as soon as possible after becoming eligible.
Over the next ten years, the Gunbarrel area grew both in residential areas in and in industrial areas. By 1975 the estimated population of the Gunbarrel area was over 6,000 people, indicating an average annual rate of growth of about ten percent. It should be noted that during the
1960's growth occurred in the City at a rate of six percent annually. The Diagonal Highway had to be expanded to four lanes to handle the increased traffic.
In the mid-1970's the development of Gunbarrel became a controversial issue. The area was still not annexed to the City, yet the City was providing water service to the growing residential, commercial, and industrial areas.
(Figure B-9) The Robinson case raised the question "Is the City acting as a utility in regard to providing water and sanitation service?" The Supreme Court answered "Yes" and the City was forced to provide service for the developer (Robinson). During this period the IBM site and the industrial area south of IBM were annexed to the City. The residential areas were not. The residents of Gunbarrel considered incorporating at one point but an attitudinal survey done in 1963 showed that less than five percent of the people favored incorporation.12 in the latter part of the 1970's a vote was taken concerning the annexation issue and residents of Gunbarrel voted not to petition for annexation.
Over the past twenty years, numerous studies have been done on the feasibility of annexing the residential areas of Gunbarrel to the City and many attempts have been made to devise annexation routes which would circumvent those areas wishing to remain in the County. As it stands now, some of the residential areas in Gunbarrel are within the City and others are not.
It is ironic that the presence of NCAR, which raised such a controversy in the community, has had relatively
12. Memo from Planning Department to City Council/City Manager re: Gunbarrel Annexation Report, January 25, 1977.
B-9 1979 Boulder City Limits/IBM
minor effects on the City, while IBM, essentially no controversy in the community, has had such a great impact on Boulder and the development of the Boulder Valley. The key difference between IBM and the National Bureau of Standards and NCAR is that the latter two were developed on the edge of the existing community, while IBM was seven miles away from the City limits and existing services. Another important fact to note is that the Ctiy did not really have any control over land use in the area surrounding IBM because the area had not been annexed to the City.
BOULDER'S GROWING FIRMS
Having looked at some of the existing major employers in the Boulder Valley and the influences they have had over the development of Boulder, the focus of this chapter is on examining some of the growing firms in Boulder that are potential users of large scale industrial sites. Both those who support the large scale industrial concept and those who oppose it tend to agree that the retention of existing, expanding firms is an important goal. Chapter 5 will deal with the economic impact of losing existing employers, but for now it is sufficient to say that the loss to the community when a large employer moves away is greater than the loss of jobs alone. The three companies studied in this chapter are: Neodata, Celestial Seasonings, and NBI.
In 1949 Esquire magazine opened up a Boulder division. Initially, 220 people were employed on a one acre site. The reasons given for the move to Boulder were the small town atmosphere, the stability of the work force, and low wage rates. 1 Another reason given for the move was the cooperative attitude of the community.2 According to a 1960 survey, modest growth was expected for the future. In 1963 the A.C. Nielsen Company joined with Esquire in forming Neodata, Inc., a subscription fulfillment house.
Today Neodata's employment has grown to 900 people in Boulder housed in six different locations throughout the City. Just as the local labor force characteristics attracted the firm to Boulder in 1949, that remains one of the prime reasons for staying in the Boulder area. Originally low wage rates were the attraction, now the high-tech, educated work force is the draw. Subscriptions for 124 periodicals are handled through the Boulder offices, accounting for 73 percent of the total revenue that the Boulder Post Office took in last year.3 Last March (1982)
Neodata announced plans to move their corporate headquarters
1. Trafton Bean and Associates, Economic Base Study City
of Boulder, Colorado, 1960 p.8
2. Sheldon G. Johnson, Industr ial Development in the
Boulder Area, 1964 p. VII-7.
3. Joe Weber, "Boulder Fulfillment House Not Spiritual
Establishment," Rocky Mountain News, February 14, 1982.
to a 14 acre site in Louisville. Approximately 80,000 square feet of development is anticipated for the site in two phases. Ultimately 800 people will be employed on the site. The reasons given for the move were the view and the close proximity to Boulder. Neodata has indicated that this is not the beginning of a total pullout from Boulder. The Louisville site is not without problems, however. Because the site is located in the middle of four residential developments, many of the potential neighbors are fighting the approval of this type of development at this location. At this stage, Neodata has put its plans on hold.4
Neodata's move to Louisville will certainly affect the economy of Boulder. However, the effect will not be nearly so great as if the firm was leaving the County entirely. As it is the employees will still have jobs, they will just have to commute farther. The obvious question here is why couldn't a suitable site be found in the Boulder Valley. The issue for Neodata does not appear to be size (the new site is only fourteen acres). Evidently other criteria were used in the selection of the site. It is possible that in the future Neodata will seek to consolidate its operations. If that occurs, they will become a prime candidate for a large scale industrial site. If this is an impossibility, they will most probably leave.
4. Judith Jedamus "Neodata Plan Sparks Discord," The Colorado Daily, November 8, 1982.
Celestial Seasonings originated in 1970 when the owner, Mo Siegel, picked herbs in the Rocky Mountains, sewed them into cloth bags, and sold the tea through a few local health food stores. Although still employing relatively few people, 185, the company has the largest share of the herb tea market, outselling such competitors as Lipton, Coca-Cola, and General Foods. In 1981 Celestial Seasonings decided to find a site in the Boulder Valley suitable for development for the firm's entire operation. Currently operations are dispersed in five separate buildings in the industrial district on 55th Street. According to Barney Fineblum, the firm became concerned about being able to find a site after the problems that SDC experienced.5 Representatives of Celestial Seasonings worked with the City and County to find an appropriate site. A 51 acres site was found in the Gunbarrel area and it is in the process of being annexed to the City. (Figure C-l) The approved PUD
for the site calls for a 180,000 square foot production facility and numerous recreational facilities for the employees including tennis and basketball courts, soccer and football fields, and an employee garden. The proposal is not without problems however. Initially the City wanted the site to be for a single user only, Celestial Seasonings would only agree to develop 35 acres of the site at this time and would not rule out the possibility of selling the
5. Kathleen Smith, "Tea Company to Build New Facility," The Colorado Daily, November 12-13, 1982 p.3.
C-l Celestial Seasonings Site
BOULDER VALLEY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN GROWTH AREAS 1979
Compiled from City of Boulder Planning Department Data
PLANNING AREA BOUNDARY
-----AREA II / AREA III BOUNDARY
----- AREA I BOUNDARY CITY LIMITS
S. Boulder Road /
remaining 16 acres.6 Also there has been some opposition from residential neighbors of the site. For the most part, however, these problems have been resolved through
modifications to the site plan.
NBI, a firm specializing in word processing systems, was founded in 1973 by a former employee of IBM and Storage Technology Corporation. In the past nine years the firm has grown from eight employees to 1,500, of which 800 work in Boulder.7 Since 1978 NBI has experienced growth at an average annual rate of 126 percent. The firm is currently occupying more than a dozen buildings in Boulder, but it is slated to move into a new $13 million headquarters this month. The Hayden Lake complex will house up to 1,000 employees in three buildings totaling 2,500 square feet. Even with the new complex the firm expects to need additional growth space by 1985.8 NBI wants to stay and
grow in Boulder:
Our people are among the most important
assets in our business and the quality
6. Personal interview with Peter Pollock, Planner, City of Boulder, November 10, 1982.
7. Sarah Hoover, "NBI Chief Believes Growth May Need Ballot Support," Boulder Daily Camera, November 4, 1982.
of life in the Boulder area is an important factor in our attracting and retaining good employees.9
Anticipating that need, NBI bought a 158 acre parcel in 1980. (Figure C-2) This parcel is outside the city limits on the Diagonal Highway and was intended to be developed by 1986. Unfortunately, the City and County were not consulted prior to the sale as to the suitability of the site for industrial development according to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. The parcel is in Area III of the Comprehensive Plan and designated Non-urban. NBI applied for a change from Area III to Area II as part of the annual update of the Plan in 1981 but the application was postponed because of NBI's inability to demonstrate need for additional industrial land to be brought into Area II. At this point NBI is hoping that changes will be made to the Plan as part of the five year update to allow the review of large scale industrial proposals for Area III parcels. If this does not occur NBI has not ruled out the possiblity of initiating a referendum. According to Paul Harris, NBI spokesman:
Should all measures to reach agreement fail,...the alternatives for NBI are to
9. Thomas S. Kavanagh, letter to Frank Gray, Planning Director, City of Boulder, September 8, 1981.
C-2 NBI Site
decentralize and look for more rapid growth outside of Boulder.10
If a procedure to review large scale industrial proposals is added to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, NBI will surely be the first candidate seeking review. One of the problems that the Planning Department is running into in its current attempt to amend the Comprehensive Plan is the public perception that the intent of the amendment is only to facilitate NBI's development objectives. Although certainly an influence on what decision will be made, NBI's situation is not the reason for the City's attempt to modify the Plan. The idea originated two years ago in response to SDC's attempt to locate its corporate headquarters on County open space.11 The following Chapter discusses that episode in detail.
10. Sarah Hoover, "NBI Chief Believes Growth May Need Ballot Support," Boulder Daily Camera, November 4, 1982.
11. Memo from Ed Gawf to Planning Board re: Large Scale Industrial Concept, June 17, 1982.
SDCs Bid to Locate in Boulder
SDC'S BID TO LOCATE IN BOULDER
The question has been raised "why do we need to have a procedure for review of large scale industrial proposals?" The various issues and implications of developing such a review procedure will be addressed in Chapter 6 of this paper, but for now let's take a look at what can occur in the absence of any such procedure. The following case
originated in Boulder County, moved into the City of Boulder, and eventually involved all of the communities in southwestern Boulder County.
In the summer of 1980 the Systems Development Corporation, a computer firm based in Santa Monica,
California, chose a 475 acre site on the southern boundary
of Boulder County to build its new corporate headquarters. (Figure D-l) By the 1990's SDC estimated 4000 people would be employed on this site.l The general consensus among all parties concerned (City Council, Planning Department, County Commissioners, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) was that SDC would be an ideal employer for the Boulder area. The problem for many was the location. Councilwoman Bev Sears summarized this sentiment: "Those are exactly the kinds of jobs we want and probably in exactly the wrong place."2 The chosen site was seven miles south of Boulder in an area designated open space in the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1978 and one of the goals of the Plan was to discourage development outside of established municipal service areas. As a means to achieve this, open space areas were designated.3 when SDC chose an open space area for development, their concession to this concept was to leave 375 acres of the site as open space and build an environmentally sensitive campus-like facility on the remaining 100 acres screened from the adjacent state highway. A controversy over the integrity of the planning process ensued:
1. SDC Application for Revision to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan, September 8, 1980, p. jj.
2. Daryl Gibson, "SDC Developers Opposed to Boulder Vote," Boulder Daily Camera, October 12, 1980. p. 1.
3. Boulder County Comprehensive Plan 1978, Open Space, Section 4.
D-l SDC Site
A classic land-use confrontation between the advocates of controlled growth on the one hand and proponents of accomodation, progress, and economic opportunity on the other.4
SDC had chosen the Boulder site after searching all along the front range for an appropriate location. The local firm of R.V. Lord was hired to develop a preliminary site plan and SDC representatives met with City officials to discuss the possibility of annexation of the site. As can be expected, they met with attitudes which ranged from enthusiasm to outright oppostion. One Council member promised that even if SDC did gain all the approvals necessary to build on that site, he would lead a referendum to fight them.5 The City Council's overall response to the initial overtures by SDC was that the City would annex the site but, before approval could be given for development, a public vote would have to be taken. This vote would be advisory only but the Council would not act without it. SDC opposed a public vote for several reasons:
SDC would have to pay about $30,000 for the special election plus the costs of the campaign. The results would not be
4. Victoria Gits, "Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth," Colorado Business, February 1980, p. 75.
David Hill representing SDC, Boulder Planning Board Public Hearing, January 15, 1981.
legally binding. It would take about four months to schedule the election. And no matter which way the election went, the losers in such a controversial issue might circulate petitions demanding another vote.6
According to Frank Gray, former City Planning Director, the Planning Department prefers to work with a major employer of this type prior to selecting an appropriate site. In the case of SDC, not only had the site been
chosen, but a site plan had already been drawn. Gray
interpreted this as a sign of inflexibility on the part of SDC. 7
SDC decided that the City of Boulder was not going to cooperate. A two-prong strategy was initiated. First, SDC applied to the County for a County Comprehensive Plan Amendment, rezoning the site to allow industrial use. Second, negotiations were initiated with nearby communities hoping that an annexation of the site would occur, thus removing the site from County jurisdiction. Considering the make-up of the County Commissioners at the time, SDC was not overly optimistic about gaining approval for the rezoning. They focused their attention instead on negotiating with other communities in the area for annexation. If this could 6 7
6. Daryl Gibson, "SDC Developers Opposed to Boulder Vote," Boulder Daily Camera, October 12, 1980. p. 1.
7. Interview with Frank Gray, Boulder, Colorado, July 23, 1981.
be achieved, not only would the site be removed from County jurisdiction, they would not be subjected to a public vote in Boulder. This route appeared to have the best liklihood of success. But at the same time, it angered many City officials in Boulder. Councilmember Paul Danish considered it an attempt to play off one city against another, "one of the most despicable things developers do in this country."8
Because SDC had such a good chance of annexing to one of the smaller communities, the City of Boulder was forced back into the action. Boulder could not risk having the development occur without having some measure of control over it. The City Council decided to pursue two different strategies. First, the process for extending the boundaries of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan to include the SDC site was initiated. By including the SDC site in the Valley Comprehensive Plan, the development would fall under the joint jurisdiction of the County and the City. In order to change the Plan boundary, approval had to be granted by four groups: Boulder City Council, Boulder County Commissioners, Boulder Planning Board, and the County Planning Commission. At the time, it appeared that this approval would occur.9
8. Gits, p. 79
9. In the November 1980 election Wally Toevs, and opponent of the SDC proposal, was defeated by Bob Jenkins who based his campaign primarily on the SDC issue. In February 1981, after gaining approval from the other three groups, the motion to extend the Plan boundaries was refused by the County Commissioners.
However, because the amendment to the Valley Comprehensive Plan would take at least two months, the City still felt that SDC would be able to circumvent the planning process through their annexation strategy. in order to insure that this would not happen, and upon the request of the County, the City instituted condemnation proceedings to obtain the SDC site. The intent was to acquire the property and hold it pending a public vote. The intention of the City Council may have been proper, but the way in which the matter was handled angered SDC representatives David Hill and Bob Williams. The action was taken in a special Council meeting the day after Christmas.
Williams said he was contacted about the meeting Wednesday night, Christmas Eve, and felt the notice was unreasonably short..."There's no need to follow this route of hysteria. I'm totally shocked and angered that they would stoop so low without contacting participants."!0
The City Council considered the matter extremely urgent because the town of Superior was scheduled to act on the annextion on January 6, 1981.
By mid-January, it was fairly evident that SDC's chances for success were slim. The condemnation action was
10. SDC Reacts to Council Vote," Boulder Daily Camera, February 15, 1981, p.l.
continuing and although public sentiment appeared to be about even, for and against, it was almost certain that SDC would have to agree to an election. In a last ditch effort on February 13, 1981, John Purvis, a local attorney
representing SDC, presented City Attorney Joe De Raismes with a final offer. Essentially the offer had not changed from the intial proposal of July 1980. The only difference was that in exchange for the City dropping its condemnation suit, SDC would conduct a county wide poll to determine public opinion about the plant location. SDC still would not submit to a public vote. Purvis said he needed a response by that afternoon. The City Manager attempted to contact all the Council members but was unable to do so. Later that evening, Purvis informed the City Attorney that SDC had decided to abandon all plans for locating in Boulder County.11 Five days later the condemnation suit was decided in Boulder's favor.
There were no winners in the SDC battle. The City Council ended up with the appearance of being indecisive; unwilling to work with SDC initially, then when it looked like SDC might annex to another city, the Council forced SDC back into the game through the condemnation suit. SDC presented the image of being an environmentally conscious firm, but one which was not concerned enough to follow the
11. Sue Deans, "SDC Abandoning Plans," Boulder Daily Camera, February 15, 1981, p. 1.
Open Space Program. Also, their refusal to submit to a public vote damaged their image as people were afraid they may be hiding something. The City Planning Department appeared inflexible and difficult to work with and the County Comprehensive Plan looked like a tool used solely to impede growth.
BOULDER'S ECONOMY AND OUTLOOK
At the time when the Systems Development Corporation made its bid to locate south of Boulder, there was quite a heated debate in the local media as to the appropriateness of their proposal. The faction opposing this proposal was very vocal in their criticism as was the faction supporting it. The strength of the local economy during this period
probably had a great influence on the attitude of the general public regarding the addition of another major employer in Boulder. A large segment of the population felt that the City and County should focus their energies on slowing growth rather than facilitating the development of a major employment center.
Now, less than two years later, the debate over large scale industrial development in the Boulder Valley has heated up once again. The difference this time is that the local economy is not as strong as it was in 1980. Public
attitudes about land use policy decisions are greatly influenced by people's perceptions as to how the decisions will affect their personal finances. The focus of this chapter is the state of the local economy in recent years,
at the present, and the outlook for the future.
In 1980 there were 2,904 firms in the Boulder Valley
employing 52,589 people.1 (Table E-l) That accounts for
two-thirds of the total number of firms located in Boulder
County and 59 percent of all the jobs in the County.
TABLE E-l: DISTRIBUTION OF FIRMS AND EMPLOYEES
BY LOCATION OF FIRM
Location Number Percent Number Percent
Longmont 1,056 24% 13,370 15%
Boulder Valley Other Boulder 2,904 66% 52,589 59%
County 440 10% 23,176 26%
Estimated Total 4,400 100% 89,135 100%
Source: The Denver Consulting Group, Survey of Boulder County Employers, 1981
1. The information on types of firms, number of employees, income, and types of jobs is taken from The Boulder County Employment and Economic Impact Survey. The Denver Consulting Group, September 1981.
While 59 percent of the jobs in the County are in Boulder Valley, only 39 percent of all the people employed in the County live in the City of Boulder. (Table E-2) There is a great deal of in-commuting to the Boulder Valley.
TABLE E-2: NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES WHO WORK IN BOULDER COUNTY BY PLACE OF RESIDENCE
Residence Number Percent
Longmont 18,718 21%
Boulder 34,762 39%
Elsewhere in Boulder County 20,501 23%
Outside Boulder County 15,154 17%
Estimated Total 89,135 100%
Note: Boulder in this table means the City of Boulder and not
Source: The Denver Consulting Group, Inc., Survey of Boulder County Employers, 1981
Twenty-four percent of the jobs in the Boulder Valley are in manufacturing, twenty-nine percent are service related, and eighteen percent are in wholesale/retail trade. (Table E-3) While firms employing less than 20 people account for 90
percent of the total number of firms, they employ only 35
percent of the labor force. On the other hand, only two
percent of the total number of firms have more than 100
employees but they account for 48 percent of the labor
force. (Table E-4) The implication of this is that the well-being of a few major firms has a great influence over the stability of the local economy. It should be noted however that this is not a company town as is found in the midwest.
TABLE E-3: DISTRIBUTION OF FIRMS AND EMPLOYEES
BY LOCATION OF FIRM AND BY INDUSTRY
Boulder Valley Number Percent Number Percent
Agriculture 86 3% 1,015 2%
Mining/ Construction 319 11% 3,681 7%
Manufacturing 260 9% 12,621 24%
Transportation/ Utilities/ Communication 56 2% 2,630 5%
Wholesale-Retail Trade 668 23% 9,466 18%
Finance, Insurance Real Estate 290 10% 4,733 9%
Services 1,219 42% 15,252 29%
Government 13 * 3,155 6%
Total 2,911 100% 52,589 100%
* Less than 1%
Source: The Denver Consulting Group, Inc., Survey of Boulder County
TABLE E-4: DISTRIBUTION OF FIRMS AND EMPLOYEES BY FIRM SIZE
Size of Firm Number Percent Number Percent
Under 20 employees 3,950 90% 31,197 35%
20-99 employees 350 8% 16,044 17%
100-500 employees 86 2% 15,134 18%
Over 500 employees 14 * 26,760 30%
Estimated Total 4,400 100% 89,135 100%
* Less than 1%
Source: The Denver Consulting Group, Inc., Survey of Boulder County
The types of jobs provided in the Boulder Valley are illustrated in Table E-5. The largest percent in any one category is in Office and Clerical work (18 percent). The next highest category is Professionals (17 percent), and the third highest is Officials and Managers (14 percent). Almost two-thirds of the county's employees are white collar workers.
TABLE E-5: DISTRIBUTION OF EMPLOYEES BY OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORY
AND LOCATION OF FIRM
Total County Location of Firm
______Employees_____________Within the County
Number Percent Lonqmont Valley Boulder
Officials and Managers 11,588 13% 11% 14 11%
Professionals 15,152 17% 17% 17% 15%
Technicians 8,022 9% 5% 6% 19%
Sales 7,132 8% 7% 7% 11%
Office and Clerical 15,152 17% 15% 18% 13%
Craft Workers (Skilled) 8,914 10% 10% 10% 9%
Operatives (Semi-Skilled) 8,914 10% 10% 9% 13%
Laborers (unskilled) 6,239 7% 10% 7% 6%
Service Workers 8,022 9% 13% 11% 3%
Estimated Total 89,135 100% 98% 99% 100%
Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Source: The Denver Consulting Group, Inc., Survey of Boulder County
The labor force in the Boulder Valley tends to be younger than in the rest of Boulder County with 60 percent under the age of thirty-five. (Table E-6) This is in part caused by
the large number of students employed part-time in the City. The Boulder Valley has the most educated labor force in the county. Twenty-five percent have completed some postgraduate work. (Table E-7) In terms of income, Boulder Valley has the highest percentage (35 percent) of its labor force earning under $15,000. (Table E-8) Eleven percent of the resident workers in Boulder Valley have blue collar jobs.
A look at the economic trends over recent years shows a declining economy. The following information is based on the Boulder County Employment and Economic Impact Survey (EEIS) and the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) "1981-81 Report on Regional Growth and Development."
In 1970 there were 33,600 jobs in the Boulder Valley. There were 32,000 resident workers resulting in a net surplus of jobs over resident workers in the Boulder Valley. The labor force participation rate (the percent of the total population that works) was 40 percent at that time. Seventy-four percent of the people who lived in the Valley also worked in the Valley. The other 26 percent of the people who worked in the Valley commuted from the outside.
In 1980 there were 53,600 total jobs in the Boudler Valley and 51,230 resident workers. This is an increase of 20,000 jobs in the ten year period from 1970 to 1980. There
TABLE E-6: PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF LABOR FORCE BY AGE AND PLACE OF CURRENT RESIDENCE
Age Total County Boulder Valley Broomfield
18-24 16% 19% 18%
25-34 40% 41% 37%
35-44 22% 19% 21%
45-54 13% 12% 14%
55-64 8% 7% 9%
65+ 2% 2% 2%
Total 101% 101% . 101%
Total Sample: (1385) (743) (102)
Place of Residence
Lafayette-Louisvllle-Er ie-Superlor Longmont Mountains Plains
10% 12% 10% 10%
52% 35% 53% 23%
20% 25% 23% 32%
13% 16% 14% 15%
4% 9% - 17%
1% 2% _ 5%
100% 99% 100% 102%
(123) (332) (42) (43)
Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Source: The Denver Consulting Group, Inc., Survey of Boulder County Employers, 1981
TABLE B-7: PERCENTAGE DISTRIBUTION OF THE LABOR FORCE BY EDUCATION AND PLACE OF Place of Residence CURRENT RESIDENCE
Education Total County Boulder Valley Broomf ield Lafayette-Louisville-Erie-Superior Lonqmont Mountains Plains
Under 12 years 5% 3% 6% 9% 8% 9% 2%
Graduate 23% 14% 33% 28% 40% 25% 19%
Some College 27% 27% 31% 26% 26% 15% 29%
Graduate 27% 31% 23% 29% 16% 35% 25%
Postgraduate 6% 8% 3% 3% 4% 9% 7%
Degree 12% 17% 4% 5% 6% 7% 18%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Total Sample (1,391) (742) (101) (120) (331) (42) (43)
Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
The Denver Consulting Group, Inc., Survey of Boulder County Employers, 1981
TABLE E-8: DISTRIBUTION OP LABOR FORCE BY INCOME GROUP AND BY PLACE OF RESIDENCE
Place of Residence Within County
Income Total County Boulder Valley Broomf ield Lafayette- Louisville- Erie-Superior Lonqmont Mountains Plains
Under $10,000 12% 17% 2% 5% 6% 12% 10%
$10,000-$14,999 15% 18% 5% 16% 12% 9% 4%
$15,000-$19,999 17% 15% 20% 21% 20% 22% 15%
$20,000-$24,999 15% 11% 19% 16% 22% 7% 16%
$25,00-$39,999 30% 25% 44% 32% 34% 31% 30%
$40,000-$49,999 6% 7% 6% 5% 4% 7% 16%
$50,000 & Over 5% 6% 3% 4% 3% 12% 9%
Total 100% 99% 99% 99% 101% 100% 100%
Total Sample (1176) (632) (83) (97) (283) (41) (31)
Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.
Source: The Denver Consulting Group, Inc., Survey of Boulder County Employers, 1981
was a surplus of 2,370 jobs over resident workers, as in 1970 a 5 percent surplus. The average annual growth rate in jobs from 1970 to 1980 was 4.9 percent. During the same time period the population of the Boulder Valley had grown by 2.3 percent per year (adding a total of 19,000 people). At first glance these figures appear to be inconsistent. How can there be an increase of 20,000 jobs and only 19,000 people, while the balance between jobs and workers kept pace? The answer in this case is that the labor force participation rate (LFPR) increased from 40 percent in 1970 to 54.5 percent in 1980. This is due in part to the
emerging national trend toward couples who both work and also the changing demographics of Boulder. The 1980 Census showed that Boulder had fewer families proportionally than in 1970. During the decade of the 1970's, Boulder's net gain in family households was six. During the same period Boulder gained 7660 non-family households. In 1980 there were almost twice as many single as married Boulder adults.2 This change resulted in a smaller percentage of children living in the City. This along with increased participation by women resulted in a higher LFPR. Remember, the LFPR is based on the percentage of the total population which works.
The direct effects of a particular industry, in terms of number of jobs and volume of sales, are relatively easy to assess. The indirect impacts are a bit more complicated. Table E-9 shows the degree to which the various employment
categories are "basic." That is, what portion of the income generated by each category is derived from sources outside the county. It can be seen that 94 percent of all income from manufacturing is basic, accounting for 31.7 percent of the total basic income for the county. In total, 64.6 percent of all income in Boulder County is derived directly from non-county sources and is considered basic.
TABLE E-9: TOTAL BASIC AND SERVICE PERSONAL INCOME IN BOULDER COUNTY, 1979
Adjusted Percent Basic Percent of
Total Basic Income Total Basic
Agriculture $ 7,063 26.5% $ 1,872 .2%
Mining 4,064 23.0% 935 .1%
Construction 65,389 20.0% 13,078 1.2%
Manufacturing 372,280 94.0% 349,943 31.7%
TCU 35,380 20.0% 7,076 .6%
Wholesale 25,281 47.0% 11,882 1.1%
Retail 407,749 15.0% 16,162 1.4%
FIRE 36,905 10.0% 3,691 .3%
Services 162,194 40.0% 64,878 5.9%
Government 196,543 50.0% 98,272 8.9%
Subtotal $1,012,848 56.1% $567,789 51.4%
Out-Commuting $ 305,213 100.0% $305,213 27.6%
Total Earned income $1,318,061 66.2% $873,002 79.0%
Unearned Income Dividends/
Interest/Rent $ 245,098 35.0% $ 85,784 7.8%
Transfer Payments 145,604 100.0% 145,604 13.2%
Income $ 390,702 59.2% $ 231,388 21.0%
INCOME $1,708,763 64.6% $1,104,390 100.0%
Notes Numbers in thousands
Source: Regional Economic Information System and Hammer, Siler,
This results in a 1.55 county multiplier: for every dollar brought into the county for outside sources, an additional 55 cents in income is generated in the county. 3 when dealing with number of jobs resulting from basic manufacturing, the Denver Consulting Group used a multiplier of 1.7. This is due to the fact that the average wage in the manufacturing sector is higher than the average in other more non-basic industrial sectors. Therefore, for each manufacturing job held in the county, an additional .7 new jobs are generated. Or, stated another way, if a base industry firm employing 1000 people moved out of the area, 1700 jobs would be lost, about three percent of the total jobs in the Boulder Valley.
Over the years from 1977 to 1980 the Boulder Valley job growth rate averaged over seven percent annually. This would indicate a strong economy. However, when broken down to yearly figures quite a different picture emerges. In
1977 the annual employment growth rate was 18 percent, in
1978 it was 10 percent, 1979 showed only a 4 percent growth, and in 1980 there was an actual decline of 2 percent.3 4 The figures indicate a steady decline in job growth rate. More recent figures are not available but it should be remembered
3. The Denver Consulting Group, The Boulder County Employment and Economic Impact Survey, 1981. p. 124.
4. Memo from Tom Miller to Ed Gawf and Sondra Rose re: Performance Industrial Support Data, October 29, 1982.
that the figures used above are for 1980, before the current
national recession took full hold.
DRCOG has made employment projections for the Boulder Valley which show a much slower rate of employment growth between now and the year 2000 than in the past 10 years.5 There were 53,600 jobs in the Boulder Urban Service Area in 1980. DRCOG projects that by 1985 there will be 56,000 jobs (a .9 percent annual increase), by 1990 there will be 61,500 jobs (a 1.9 percent annual increase), and by the year 2000 there will be 68,100 jobs (a 1 percent annual increase). DRCOG population projections indicate that the population of the Boulder Service Area in the year 2000 will be 149,800. In order to keep a five percent surplus of jobs over resident workers, the labor force participation rate would have to drop to 43 percent. Given the trend over the last decade, a drop in the LFPR seems unlikely. Or, if the LFPR remained the same, the net out-commuting would have to increase.
In conclusion it is safe to say that the economic growth experienced in the Boulder Valley during the decade of the 1970's will probably not be repeated in the 1980's or for that matter in the 1990's. Having stated that, a proper question to ask would be: Does this give any insight into 5
5. DRCOG, 1981-82 Report on Regional Growth and
Development, Draft for Reveiw and Discussion, p. VI-13.
the issue of allowing large scale industrial development in Area III of the Boulder Valley? The current economy and the projections for the future economic vitality of the Boulder Valley will certainly have a great influence on the decision of whether a particular industry is allowed to locate in the Valley. But this should not be the only criteria upon which the addition of a new major employer should be judged. The various issues and implications of allowing the review of such proposals will be discussed in the following chapter.
The Issues and Implications
ISSUES AND IMPLICATIONS OF LARGE SCALE INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT
During the last six months the large scale industrial concept has received a great deal of attention. A number of people have spoken to the issue in study sessions and public hearings involving the City Council, Planning Board, and the County Planning Commission. There appears to be about an even split between those favoring accomodating large scale industry and those opposing it. The purpose of this chapter is to identify the issues which have been raised on both sides of the controversy. Therefore, this chapter will pose more questions than provide answers. Additionally, the Planning Department has developed three different methods for implementing a process for reviewing large scale
industrial proposals. Those three alternatives will also be discussed.
The issues can be broken down into three basic categories. The central issue surrounding the large scale industrial controversy is that of size. How big is large scale? Is a major employer one which employs 50 people, 200 people, 1,000 people? How much land constitutes a campus setting? The second set of questions which must be answered deals with the desirability of additional large scale industry in the Boulder Valley. Is it needed at the present? Will there come a time in the future when it may be needed? If so, should a process be put into place now? Will the positive benefits offset the negative impacts? The third issue is essentially how to set up criteria for the review of large scale industrial development which is stringent enough to ensure that the negative impacts on the community will be minimized, but realistic enough to avoid making approval virtually impossible.
The issue of size can be dealt with from the point of view that a large scale industry for Boulder would be one which is too big to fit on existing available parcels. That means essentially one requiring more than 25-50 acres of developed land. An industry needing less than that could probably assemble a parcel within Area I or II. This type of use could take place within the existing procedures of
the Comprehensive Plan and the City's land use regulations. In terms of number of employees, the Urban Land Institute estimates 24 employees per gross acre of land in labor intensive industries.1 Therefore a minimum number of employees would probably be 600 (25 acres x 24 employees per acre). A more realistic figure would be in the neighborhood of a thousand or more. The question of what constitutes a campus setting can be approached from an intuitive point of view. A campus setting would be one with a central cluster of buildings surrounded by an open space buffer. The difficult question to address is what portion of the site should be open space and what portion should be developed. If a 50/50 mix is considered appropriate then a minimum parcel size for a large scale industrial site would be about 100 acres. On the other hand, if it is felt that only 25
percent of the site should be developed with the remaining 75 percent staying open space then 200 acres would be a minimum.
The second category of issues concern the desirability
of large scale industry. Those who feel that it may be
desirable either now or in the future use the following
arguments. 2 The basic goal of the Boulder Valley
1. Urban Land Institute, Industrial Development Handbook.
2. Wayne Hutchins, "Performance Industrial Would Keep Comp Plan Up to Date with Times," Boulder Daily Camera, November 28, 1982, p. 3B.
Comprehensive Plan is to maintain the livability of the Boulder Valley. Part of that livability is maintaining a healthy economy. A healthy economy would be one in which the relative balance between jobs and resident workers was favorable. That is, theoretically, all the resident workers in the Valley could find jobs within the Valley. This does not assume there will be no commuting in and out of the Valley. The key figures are the total number of jobs, the total number of resident workers, and the net difference. As stated in Chaper 5 there is currently a surplus of about 2,370 jobs in the Valley above the number of resident workers. This represents a 5 percent surplus of jobs. However the job growth rate has been declining during the past four years. In any case, even if additional large scale employers are not needed now, supporters of implementing a review process say that such employers may be needed in the future so a process should be in place. Even more importantly, the community should take steps to ensure that existing growing firms will remain in the Valley.
Those opposing accomodating large scale industry use the following arguments.3 The Comprehensive Plan already has a process for changing land from Area III to Area II. The fact is that need for additional industrial land cannot
3. Ricky Weiser, "Large Scale Industrial Would Resurrect Spokes of the Wheel," Boulder Daily Camera, November 28, 1982, p. 3B.
be demonstrated because there is enough existing. A number of smaller employers is just as beneficial to the economic well-being of the community as one or two major employers. There is ample vacant land for the addition of small employers for the duration of the planning period. And in most ways, smaller employers create much fewer negative impacts ranging from the cost of providing services to the impact on development patterns in the Valley. Another argument used against large scale industrial development is that it conflicts with the goals of the Growth Limitation
Ordinance. Boulder should not encourage growth in the
employment sector while at the same time limiting the
expansion of the available housing. There is a danger that the Boulder Valley will become an employment center with relatively few residents, thus creating massive in-commuting from other Boulder County communities. Another concern which has been expressed is that by having this process, virtually any piece of land has the potential for large scale industrial development. This will cause speculation and increase land values thus making acquisition of open space land by the City more costly.
The third set of issues deal with what sort of criteria should be used to minimize the negative impacts on the community. The major issue involved here is location. Area III land is designated non-urban and is agricultural in character. Is it possible for a major industrial employer
to locate in Area III without totally destroying the integrity of the .Comprehensive Plan's phased growth concept? The Boulder Planning Department staff believes that it is. Three different methods have been developed by staff to provide for the review of large scale industrial proposals. (Appendix D) The first method calls for modifying the Comprehensive Plan to include a statement to the effect that need for additional industrial land in Area II can be demonstrated by lack of adequately sized parcels. Criteria for review are then stated in the Plan. Any application for review would have to meet the minimum requirements then go through review by the four signatory bodies of the Comprehensive Plan (Planning Board, City Council, County Planning Commission, and the County Commissioners). The second method is identical to the first with the added requirement that after review by the four signatory bodies a public vote would be required to gain approval. The third method does not modify the Comprehensive Plan. Instead, the interpretation of demonstrated need would be expanded to include parcel size as a valid criterion for need. The City land use regulations would then be amended to include a Performance Industrial classification. The guidelines for development under this designation would include the same requirements as for the other two methods. Although the mechanics of the three alternatives differ, the basic criteria for review are the same. Those criteria are as follows.
First, the site must be approximately 160 acres or
larger, and the request must be for the designation
Performance Industrial. This represents a quarter section
of land, a common division. By using the word
approximately, minor variations in parcel size can be
accomodated. It should be noted here that the NBI site is
Second, the applicant for the request must have a
demonstrated legal interest in the property and be the
intended user of the site. This eliminates the possiblity of a third party gaining approval for a site just to make it more marketable. It also limits applications to serious firms with the resources to carry out all the necessary studies (discussed below).
Third, the developed areas of the site cannot be on land designated as open space by the Comprehensive Plan. This does not say that no portion of the site can be designated open space, just that no building or parking can be on open space. This ensures that the open space program is in no way endangered or compromised.
The fourth requirement is that the site be capable of annexation within one year of approval and that development will commence within three years of annexation. This requirement ensures that the site is close enough to the
existing City limits and available services that the Capital Improvements Program will not be adversely affected. It
also eliminates the possibility of a firm securing approval for Performance Industrial without any intention of developing the site in the near future.
The fifth requirement is for the submission of a conceptual site plan including a land development diagram and a phasing schedule. The land development diagram has to illustrate the size and location of buildings, parking and circulation, public improvements, and any other developed areas of the site. The phasing schedule must include information on construction of buildings, parking and
circulation. Information on traffic impacts both on and off-site must also be presented. The phasing aspect of this requirement is critical to assessing the impacts of the
development on the surrounding area both in the immediate future and in the long run. It is anticipated that a firm wouldn't gain approval for employing 1,000 workers on day one. The immediate impact would be too great.
The sixth and seventh criteria are the most important to the whole process. They essentially require the applicant to prove that the proposed development will be beneficial to the community. This is not meant to imply that there can be no negative impacts, just that the
positive gains outweigh the negative aspects of the project.
The sixth criterion i calls for a detailed impact
statement including: an analysis of the impacts of the
development on all urban services; a cost- -benefit analysis
of the fiscal impacts on the City and County budgets and the local economy; a statement as to whether adequate urban services can be provided for the development at no cost to the City's and County's Capital Improvements Programs; and an analysis of the impact of the development on surrounding areas "with special reference to assuring compatability with surrounding non-urban uses and avoiding facilitating development adjacent to the site that is not in accordance with the policies of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan."4
The seventh criterion gives the City and County the power to grant approval subject to such conditions as are determined to be appropriate. At a minimum the following conditions must be met.
1. The site may be developed only after annexation and it must go through the PUD process.
2. If the applicant fails to carry out any commitment concerning annexation or doesn't commence construction within three years the property will revert back to Area III.
4. Memo from Ed Gawf to Planning Board re: Performance Industrial Concept, November 4, 1982.
3. The applicant must agree to petition for
disconnection of the site if construction is not commenced within three years.
4. Approval is intended for a single user. The site must remain a single user site for fifteen years or until the time when the site would have been designated Area II. The exception to this is in the case of bankruptcy.
5. No more than 50 percent of the site may be
6. Any designated open space on the site must be
dedicated to the City and a scenic easement must be granted to the City for the remaining undeveloped areas.
7. The applicant must bear the expense for all
facilities and services required to serve the site.
The City Planning staff is of the opinion that the
above criteria are adequate enough to ensure that any
proposal which could meet all the requirements and gain the approval of all four signatory bodies of the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan would be a definite asset to all aspects of the community. The burden of proof is definitely on the applicant. It should be noted that three issues have raised the most questions over the past six months. The issue of
minimum parcel size, the requirement for a single user, and the percentage of open space required.
The major issues have been identified and the Planning Department's recommendations have been presented. The following chapter will draw some conclusions about the concept of large scale industrial development in the Boulder Valley and make some recommendations for a course of action.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Although I really should have known better, I had already fomulated my opinions about large scale industry prior to even starting my research for this thesis. I was dead set against Area III land being developed at all, much less being developed for industry. Of those characteristics of Boulder which attracted me to the area twelve years ago and have held me here since, major industry is not representative. Having said that, it is with understandable embarassment that I state my final conclusion. There should be a process in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan for the review of large scale industrial proposals. I am not without sympathy for the arguments against such a procedure, however I feel that most of the problems which have been
identified are related to the concept of industrial development in Area III, not to the inclusion of the review process in the Plan.
Throughout this paper I have tried to remain impartial. In this chapter I will express my own opinions about the issue of large scale industrial development and make some recommendations. It is my belief that the conclusions I draw and the recommendations I make are supported by the material contained in the preceeding six chapters.
The best argument for amending the Comprehensive Plan to include a review procedure is that it would help to keep existing firms from moving out of the Boulder Valley. The idea that Boulder should act as an incubator for new industries and then force them to move when they grow beyond a certain size does not apear to be very well thought out. No matter how diverse and strong the local economy is, the loss of 500 or more jobs would have a significant impact on all elements of the community.
Maintaining the balance between jobs and resident workers is vital to maintaining the strength of the local economy. Even with the relatively strong growth rate of jobs over the past decade and the Growth Limitation Ordinance holding the residential growth down, there is still a five percent surplus of jobs, the same as there was
in 1970. With the labor force participation rate increasing (a higher precentage of the total population working) and the job growth rate declining, maintaining an adequate employment base for the Boulder Valley will become
increasingly difficult. The availability of jobs outside the Boulder Valley does not seem to me to be an acceptable solution. The costs associated with a great number of
workers out-commuting are higher than the costs resulting from large scale industrial development within the Valley.
If no procedure for the review of large scale
industrial proposals is included in the Comprehensive Plan
at this time, it could always be added later if the City
recieved an "offer it couldn't refuse." So goes the argument that the process isn't needed now so why not wait. The process for amending the Comprehensive Plan is a long one, and that is appropriate. If the concept of large scale industrial is passed by all four signatory bodies as scheduled, the process will have taken almost nine months. The time required for an application to work its way through the process of approval could take another three months. Thus, if an irresistable offer did come along the minimum time needed to respond to that offer would be a year, unless the process were already in place. For this reason the Plan should be amended now. As stated before, just because a procedure for review is included in the Plan, it does not imply that approval is automatic.
My final reason for advocating that a review procedure be set up relates to the SDC proposal. Without passing judgement on the merits of that proposal, it is safe to say that it became an extremely political issue. The community was divided into factions and attention was focused on the growth/no growth issue. SDC acted as a catalyst aggrevating the controversy. Had there been a procedure for review intact, the proposal could have been judged on its merits by the appropriate bodies rather than in the media. The likelihood of another major employer proposing to locate in the Boulder Valley sometime in the future is almost certain. Out of fairness to the company, the rules of the game should be very clear.
The primary reasons put forth for opposing large scale industrial development are certainly valid. However, I feel that for the most part these problems can be solved by having criteria for review which are stringent. The ones which can be minimized in this manner are those related to size, cost of services, and impact on surrounding area.
There are also concerns which have been raised which probably cannot be addressed fully through stringent criteria. The possibility that having a procedure for review could increase speculation in Area III that will cause the land values to rise, making the acquisition of
open space increasingly difficult could turn out to be a real problem. The impression by the public that Area III is being opened up for industrial development will probably
only aggrevate this problem. Another problem that worries me is a basic belief that any major change to the Comprehensive Plan tends to weaken the integrity of the document. The more often that the Plan is changed, the
easier it becomes to change it. In this case, however, I
feel that the issue is important enough that the change
should be made.
The final issue about which I am concerned is that of expanding the employment base of the community while at the same time limiting the housing supply. I hope that the balance between resident workers and available jobs would be considered a primary factor in the economic element of the review procedure.
Having stated my conclusions, my recommendations for a course of action are as follows. As stated in Chapter 6, the Planning Department has recommended three different methods for implementing the review procedure. Two of the methods require a change to the Comprehensive Plan and one is done through the revision of the Land Use Regulations. I strongly favor the change to occur in the Comprehensive Plan. It is a major change in interpretation of the Plan and should be reflected in the document itself. If any