Friday, March 18, 2011

City of Boulder, DBI & Tech Firms

Trada hosted a meetup today that included downtown Boulder tech firms, and representatives from Downtown Boulder, Inc, and the City of Boulder's Economic Vitality initiative. Thanks for hosting Niel!

A couple of months ago downtown Boulder tech firms made themselves heard after it became clear they were going unnoticed by various groups that work to ensure Boulder is a great place to be. In short, our perspective and interests didn't have a seat at some relevant tables. What's cool, is that we rallied, and we're now at the table. It's just the beginning, so who knows whether we'll ultimately have any impact, but we've gotten to step one which is where you have to start. The cynic in me can't get past a point that Joe Pezzillo made during the meetup: "Downtown Boulder's tax revenues come from retail... not commercial." That said, it's Boulder's commercial base that dumps a ton of money into the system, and we need to be vocal.

Topics that came up while I was there...
  • Car parking for commuters is a mess.
    • Monthly passes are expensive.
    • Parking garages aren't filling up (supply not being consumed though there's heavy demand suggests a pricing problem).
  • Bike parking for commuters is a mess (this is my personal peeve)
    • City spends a ton of time/money trying to fix car parking, yet tech firms wind up spending commercial real-estate office space square footage on parking for bike commuter's bikes in the offices they lease.
    • Can we get some incentives to bike to work instead of drive a car?
    • Maybe the City should pay attention to bike parking as much as it pays attention to car parking. For those of us with expensive bikes, there are bike locker options that offer security and protection from the weather.
    • Bike parking corals have been great. Perhaps one per block?
  • Incredible amount of bike commuters into downtown 2nd floor businesses (e.g. the tech firms).
  • So much downtown real-estate owned by so few landlords causes unnatural pricing dynamics. Landlords would gladly see great office space sit vacant for years on end instead of leasing it at potentially lower rates.
    • Disincentives for owning and leaving office space unleased?
  • Microsoft is about to have a significant impact/presence Downtown.
  • Eco passes are awesome, but the process to obtain them makes them prohibitive to obtain.
  • Google doesn't count because they're outside the Downtown District.
I had to leave early, so I'm sure I missed some stuff.

While there's a ton of work to do, it was really neat to see us come together, get the attention of these groups that help define our Downtown world. Boulder Tech has come a long way. So cool.