Out of the blue one evening a month ago, my wife, Amy, told me she wanted us to move to Austin, Texas. I was stunned. Yes, both of our daughters had migrated to that area and seemed destined to remain there, so there was logic to the notion. But I went to bed dwelling on the impossibilities of such a life-altering proposal.
No more columns for the Boulder City Review, no more breakfasts with the Romeos or Bold Bolder, no more poker tournaments at Green Valley Ranch or games with the old guys at Ben Wilkinson’s. No more $2 lunches at the Senior Center of Boulder City or bratwurst at Bicentennial Park. Most of all, no more events and meetings with the Sons of Norway Lodge. Texas? How I would miss good old Boulder City, our home of 16 years.
Well, come morning, I could see more clearly. Happy wife, happy life. And it did make all the sense in the world for us to reunite the family. Thus, we headed off to Austin to go house hunting. We zeroed in on new-home construction and met with four major builders that showed us about half a million models. We chose one and bought a lot with only a fish pond on it now in Georgetown, Texas.
It will be ready, best case, by early November, which gives us some time to sell our house in Lake Mead View Estates (contact me for a great prelisting deal, grin) and say goodbye to our friends and commitments here in the best little hometown in America.
All this got me to thinking just why was this is such a wonderful place to live. How does it continue to be the small, bucolic, friendly, attractive place it is while situated just 20 minutes outside one of the most exciting urban entities in the country?
Most of us Boulder citizens like small. We don’t like street lights. We hate smog and the sounds of horns and sirens. We don’t want to wait in line at the drug store or cruise around to find a parking spot. The sounds of gunshots in the nighttime would make us crazy.
We have all heard about the controlled growth ordinance of 1979 that limited new housing permits to a maximum of 120 a year with a limit of 30 to any single builder. But for various reasons, the reality was that an average of one-tenth that number were built in recent years.
I opine that a major reason for our slow growth stems from the vastness of the original land grant from the government, which defined the city limits as running miles to the south of the populated village. When they handed the reins back to the local government in 1960, it meant that when the new leadership passed the controlled growth ordinance, it controlled almost all the habitable land for about 20 miles around.
I contrast that with Georgetown. It is the seat of Williamson County, one of the fastest-growing counties in America. While they’ve done a great job of preserving their Victorian town square area, new housing developments kept springing up well outside the city. Georgetown city could not control that, and county governments are notoriously free and easy with housing permits. Eventually, it just made sense to incorporate the new neighborhoods into the city limits.
Unplanned growth. That cannot happen here. A builder that wants to put up a sizable development below the Railroad Pass pretty much has to deal with the city of Boulder City, and the people who run the town know full well that it would be political suicide to press for major new housing. So small we shall remain.
There are very few cities in America that have such control over their own destiny.
So off we ride to Texas, into a future of more and more new developments, with housing growing much faster than new roads are built, and it will take longer and longer to go visit those daughters or see a play at the historic theater in Georgetown Square.
Dave Nelson retired to Boulder City in 2003 after a career with the FICO score company. He is vice president and newsletter editor for the local Sons of Norway.