Oct. 1—Longmont City Council members and Boulder County commissioners met Thursday night to discuss issues that concern both governments and spent the bulk of their meeting discussing three of the six items, which were gun violence, work to support people experiencing homelessness and transportation.
During the meeting, elected officials moved quickly through each item to fit them all into the scheduled two-hour conversation before ending with an update from Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez on the regional council he is part of that is tasked with determining how to spend money it is being awarded from a number of opioid litigation settlements.
The last portion of the meeting was saved for public comment. Of about 20 members of the public who attended the meeting at the Longmont Public Library, four people spoke either for stronger gun control laws or against tightening gun legislation.
Longmont City Council member Marcia Martin questioned the impact on local gun safety laws if other nearby jurisdictions do not also restrict firearms sales or implement the same ordinances. She said that instead, Boulder County needs to work together to lobby the state when it comes to gun safety.
"I think that we should push right back, hard on the state-level jurisdictions and use our voice as lobbyists without trying to bring our law enforcement organizations to bear," she said.
On the topic of helping people experiencing homelessness, Longmont Mayor Joan Peck said Longmont has not been able to build housing fast enough to keep up with the demand. She proposed implementing transitional housing to give people experiencing homelessness a temporary home so they can work in the community and store their belongings while permanent housing is constructed.
Commissioner Matt Jones suggested that staff with the county's Coordinated Entry, a program designed to assess, assign and assist people experiencing homelessness with housing, have a conversation about how Peck's idea would fit into what's already being offered.
"I have been really impressed with how many people are housed (through the programs)," Jones said. "The numbers are low, but it's because it's such a hard, hard problem."
When it comes to expanding public transportation, Jones said Boulder County must continue to push the Regional Transportation District on the planned rail service extension from Union Station in Denver to Boulder and Longmont.
"We shouldn't give them an inch in my opinion on this," he said. "It is something they have failed us on."
Martin agreed with Jones about the regional rail service, but said intracity transit is also a priority for Longmont.
"They are two separate problems," she said. "I absolutely agree that we need to hold RTD into account (on) true rapid transit. I also think there's nothing wrong with negotiating with RTD to get them to agree to take local transit off their plates so they can be better at giving us our damn train."
Dominguez wrapped up the discussion with an update about the Boulder County Regional Opioid Council that will be handling allocations from opioid litigation settlement dollars.
He said the council had its first meeting last week. One question he posed during the meeting was about using the money to fund shovel-ready projects versus having money left over for future treatment centers or other projects.
"If we allocate a lot of dollars today for projects that are shovel-ready today then that limits what we need to see (in the future)," he said.
Although six topics on the agenda were discussed on Thursday, Longmont City Council member Tim Waters, voiced his concerns during the meeting about the way the agenda was edited and finalized.
"The process of building the agenda has been very disappointing to me," Waters said.
Three of Waters' items made the list — child care and early learning, residential development and efforts to support residents experiencing homelessness. Waters added that the items that were selected were also edited from what he originally submitted without his knowledge.
"If you're going to change what's submitted, then let somebody know that it was changed and why," Waters said.
The full agenda for the night was: Child care and early learning in Boulder County — scale of challenge, ideas for response; reducing risks of gun and other forms of violence; residential development; status of current and future efforts for unhoused residents; current and future regional transportation projects; and opioid concerns.
County Commissioner Marta Loachamin responded, saying she wasn't sure where the disconnect stemmed from and added that she edited the agenda items because she hadn't received any other suggestions.
"My intent on that was to make sure that all of us could speak to a more general topic versus a very pinpoint specific (topic), but I didn't know that they were your ideas," she said.
After the meeting, Waters said he was happy with the overall discussion Thursday night but wished the night allowed for more action on the issues at-hand as well.
"I wish we would come out of there with more of an action agenda," he said.