Submitted by Geneen Haugen for forwarding to all town council members regarding commentary made at the October 7 Town Council meeting:
This note is intended for the Boulder Town Council, kindly forward to the individuals. Thank you!
I hope to correct a misimpression that appeared in the most recent Boulder Town Council report in the Insider. In the section regarding annexation, the report states that “a wall tent was quickly removed” – apparently intended as evidence that some kind of enforcement (?) in the County is stronger than in town. I assume that this was the wall tent that Tamarix Jeriah Bowser had on my land for three years in exchange for helping me with things like tumbleweeds, firewood, and moving irrigation, back when we had irrigation to move.
I don’t know what was meant by “quickly removed”, but for clarity here is more information. When someone in the Draw neighborhood filed a complaint with the County shortly after Tam put the tent up, we were visited by the health department (as I recall) – they were satisfied when we showed them the portable toilet that I have used for river trips, that can be carried to empty into a septic system, which is what Tam used for the duration of his residence here (and which all of the neighbors had been advised about before the tent even went up). The next time we heard from the County was about 2 1/2 years later when they were making tax assessments and someone came out in person, and then determined that Tam needed a building permit for the tent platform. He negotiated, or delayed, the County for more than six months (as I recall) before he determined that getting the proper permit would entail too much disruption & disassembly of the tent & everything in it. So the tent never was “quickly removed”, and if Tamarix had gotten the proper permit, it might still be there. (Although I was also ready for a change of circumstance by the time he moved on.)
I’m a bit troubled that the wall tent might have be used as some kind of evidence in a political back-and-forth.
(I personally don’t have an active opinion about annexing the Draw to the town; I’ve just kind of assumed it would eventually happen, which could give “progressive” Draw residents an actual vote that might matter in UT.)
And now that I’ve written these paragraphs, I want to add encouragement for the town to be very careful about over-regulating, or trying to eliminate, substandard or temporary housing, which I’m aware is already happening. More than 40 years ago, I lived in a tipi in Teton County WY, when there were few off-season jobs and when almost everyone I knew lived in tipis, yurts, wall tents, cabins without plumbing, or travel trailers, even when winter temperatures could go to 30 below, or worse. This is how we were able to stay when there was little income and few rentals. I was a river guide in summer and a bartender in winter; in those days, most of the jobs were seasonal. Not long after this, Teton County banned living in substandard housing, even on your own private land, even with remediation of any potential sanitation problems. The bans were supported by real estate agents, developers, some wealthy property owners, and others who could already envision, and wanted, what Jackson Hole would eventually become: an exclusive magnet for the super-rich. I lived in the Tetons for most of 30 years before I simply could not afford to live there anymore because I did not have ownership of my home. Many friends have had to leave the place we love so dearly for the same reason. The “beginning of the end” of affordability began, in my opinion, with the efforts to ban temporary dwellings – the kinds of rough housing that had previously been the starting place for for so many people who eventually became long term residents.
So I hope that the removal of Tam’s tent wan’t intended as part of an argument about how the County might be more effective than the town at banishing undesirables. It’s my feeling that the town (and county) would be wise to provide places for tents, yurts, and so forth – for young people and others who want to stay in Boulder (and contribute in various ways), who don’t mind (and perhaps who might even prefer) living with only thin canvas between themselves and the world.
with appreciation for all you do ~
Geneen Marie Haugen, PhD
from the Draw, Boulder UT