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Update to city code halted

After adamantly delaying a discussion and possible vote to update to the city’s code, the mayor has removed it from City Council’s consideration indefinitely.

“I had been hopeful that enough time would be available to complete an adequate review of the proposed changes,” said Mayor Kiernan McManus. “It became clear to me that additional time would be needed. It also became clear that the proposed changes were substantial in some cases and more notice to the public is required.”

The item to update the city’s code was originally on the agenda for the Feb. 11 City Council meeting. According to the staff report, it was a recodification that would remove outdated references and obsolete language and laws. Before the item could be presented, McManus said he wanted it postponed to the March 24 meeting, which the council approved in a 3-2 vote.

At Tuesday’s, March 10, meeting, McManus asked for the item’s introduction to be removed from the agenda. He did not give a reason or a time frame for its return. Council approved removing it 4-1, with Councilwoman Claudia Bridges voting against it.

Later that evening, he said the item is for a “complete rewrite of the laws of the city” and it should be discussed in a more comprehensive setting.

“I believe such a comprehensive rewrite of the laws requires a thorough review by the City Council before accepting the myriad of changes being proposed,” he wrote in an email sent to the Boulder City Review. “The public also needs to be aware of the changes being proposed. The time needed for such a review and involvement of the public is not readily accomplished at council meetings. I will be asking for one or more public workshops to be conducted to review the proposals that are being made.”

City Clerk Lorene Krumm said it is “absolutely not” a complete rewrite.

“It’s not a rewrite of anything,” she said.

Krumm said it is changing the vendor to make the code more user-friendly, remove language that is unconstitutional and contrary the city charter and accommodate any changes in state law. The formatting also would change to be more transparent and efficient.

No “substantive changes” to the code are allowed during this process per the city charter, according to Krumm.

“This project has been going on for a year and a half. … It is not changing the way we do business,” she said.

Krumm said this project was approved in the 2019 fiscal year budget and has already cost the city $21,264 for the new codifier. Staff has also spent hundreds of hours on the project, she added.

In moving forward with the update, Krumm said she will wait for direction from council because there are no outstanding issues that she knows of. She also said no one has come forward with any concerns about the proposed changes.

At the Feb. 11 meeting, Krumm said delaying this process would be confusing for people applying for permits and those needing to know what the city code allows.

The last time the code was updated in this manner was 1995.

“The process to review existing codes should be done every five years or so. … The consultants retained by the city conducted a year-long review that resulted in the package now being considered,” McManus said. “Even then some parts of the city code such as zoning laws are just now being completed.”

The new code was provided to council members in December. The bill to adopt the new code was introduced at the Jan. 14 meeting.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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