Three Boulder Residents File Motion to Intervene in Bedrooms Are For People Lawsuit in Attempt to Block Inclusive Housing Initiative from the Ballot
Bedrooms Are For People is a community-led ballot initiative to let Boulder voters expand home occupancy limits to allow at least one person to live in each bedroom of a home
On August 7, Boulder’s grassroots Bedrooms Are For People (BAFP) campaign received notice that three University Hill residents have filed a motion to intervene in Bedrooms Are For People’s lawsuit in a brazen attempt to have the court dismiss the case and prevent the Boulder community from voting on this urgent housing justice measure in the November election.
The intervening group is being represented by lawyer Andrew Shoemaker, an ardent opponent of reforming exclusionary occupancy limits in Boulder, a city with a severe housing crisis. Together, these four members of Boulder’s political elite represent powerfully entrenched interests that are dedicated to preserving the status quo, no matter how many of their neighbors are being harmed by the city’s discriminatory occupancy laws.
By filing a motion to intervene, these three people have made their opinions clear: they believe that their free time is more important than equal housing access, the preservation of Boulder’s democratic process, and the voices of tens of thousands of Boulder voters. In their motion to intervene, the three claim that they will be “forced to spend their time organizing and opposing the BAFP Petition.” While these three people are certainly entitled to their opinions, they are not legally entitled to stifle direct democracy, nor to dismiss the will of the 7,764 people who signed the Bedrooms Are For People ballot petition this summer.
In response to the attempted intervention, the BAFP legal team, led by Daniel Williams and Lauren Groth with law firm Hutchinson Black and Cook, have filed a request to the court that it deny the motion to intervene. The response states:
The “intervenors lack any particularized interest that would allow them to intervene, much less hijack this litigation as a forum to air their grievances about loosening occupancy limits. Their desire to squelch a vote of the people on a proposed charter amendment is not a right that the law grants them authority to enforce.”
The intervening group claims in Section 11 of their complaint that they have standing to be party in the case because, if the court allows BAFP to be on the ballot, then “Intervenor Plaintiffs have and will suffer injury in fact by being forced to spend their time organizing and opposing the BAFP Petition during a critical national election year.” However, Andrew Shoemaker, three Boulder residents, and their new shell company do not have a constitutional right to prevent people from voting on a measure.
The residents’ motion to intervene also contains numerous misleading and false statements. For example, Section 39 of the intervening motion states that “BAFP made the outlandish statement on social media that current occupancy laws create a need for residents ‘to marry someone for convenience to avoid eviction.’”
There is one thing we agree with Shoemaker on, and it is that having to marry or enter a domestic partnership with a roommate in order to legally allow four people to live together in a four bedroom house is, indeed, outlandish. It also happens to be true, and is a common story that BAFP organizers heard while collecting close to 8,000 signatures in support of the BAFP measure throughout the summer. The group’s unfounded accusation that volunteers had concocted this real-life situation underscores just how disconnected they are from the significant housing challenges that their Boulder neighbors face every day.
Bedrooms Are For People is a fundamental fight for justice and human dignity. This latest attempt to further thwart the community-driven effort is yet another example of those who hold power in Boulder colluding to oppress the will of the voters. Boulder’s exclusionary occupancy limits are fundamentally unfair to all people, and weaken the fabric of our city.
“At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has cost the economy millions of jobs, strained budgets, and put people at risk of eviction, we must urgently work to pass measures that will keep our community whole,” said Eric Budd, campaign co-chair, “As we fight for the fundamental need of inclusive housing in our community, we have faced significant challenges, from the pandemic to misdirection from Boulder’s City Council and City Attorney, and now from a small group who have sued to block our measure at the time when it is most urgently needed.”
“As a liberal city, now is the time for Boulder to lean into its values. Progress starts at home. We are a deeply caring community, but our housing policies do not reflect that care. Now we have the opportunity to lead in a time of difficulty, take care of the most vulnerable among us, and provide fair and equitable housing for all,” said Chelsea Castellano, campaign co-chair. “We’re just at the beginning of an economic depression—let us take care of our neighbors. Let’s start building a stronger community now.”
Bedrooms Are For People volunteers are asking supporters to help this grassroots community campaign raise money for Boulder’s Democracy Defense Fund at www.bedroomsareforpeople.com/donate.
View BAFP response to the motion to intervene - Bedrooms Are For People Case # 2020CV030632.
The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, August 13th from 10am-12pm. Tune in by calling either of the following numbers:
+1-415-655-0001 US Toll
+1-720-650-7664 United States Toll (Denver)
Access code: 924 971 958