Corina Julca, a candidate for Boulder City Council in 2019, decided to throw her hat into the local political ring in part because she learned that her rental apartment was located within the city’s Opportunity Zone parcel, and she was concerned that future redevelopment could lead to rent increases or even displacement for her and her family.
The federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 included the Opportunity Zone program, which the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade defines as a “federal tax incentive for investors to invest in low-income urban and rural communities through the favorable treatment of reinvested capital gains and forgiveness of tax on new capital gains.” Boulder’s current Council has passed several ordinances relating to a moratorium on new projects in the Zone, in part to make sure proposals will be consistent with “community values” and the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
“It’s been sad for me to see that all of the middle income affordable housing is shrinking and shrinking, and I think that if we don’t take immediate action, places like this that are affordable for the population that I belong to will disappear soon,” said Julca on part of her motivation to run.
Julca was born and raised in Trujillo, Peru, a coastal city of more than 900,000 people north of Lima. She graduated from the National University of Trujillo, with majors in English and French. She said she has a “passion for teaching,” and taught English to elementary school and high school students in Peru. She also participated in volunteer efforts in Peru by raising money for hospitalized children and caring for stray dogs.
She moved from Peru to the United States in 2006, came to Colorado about 10 years ago, and has lived in Boulder since 2014. Today, she’s a “full-time mom,” with a son who’s three years old and a daughter in fourth grade, and she volunteers at the elementary school her daughter attends.
ON THE ISSUES
Alpine-Balsam-Broadway: According to Julca, much of the controversy surrounding this project could have been avoided if there was adequate neighborhood input in the early going. She said she wasn’t impressed with earlier concepts for the site she saw because in part there was “too much” envisioned for the existing neighborhood, but went to a Council meeting and saw some ideas that might lead to a project she would appreciate, which would include beauty, inclusiveness, and a family-friendly environment.
Growth, Density, Jobs-Housing Balance: Like several candidates, Julca does not agree that density will lead to affordability, especially in a desirable community like Boulder. Going back the Opportunity Zone, she is concerned that new investment projects there could both increase density and increase rental rates. She favors slow growth in Boulder. Julca said the University of Colorado’s housing needs help create housing demand in many parts of the community, and noted that a large percentage of people living in her building are grad students, including some from India or other nations. She said CU should build more housing “in places that are safe” to help ease the pressure. Julca said she believes small businesses help keep Boulder unique, and favors supporting and protecting opportunities for small businesses to thrive.
Climate: Julca said she uses RTD service “on a regular basis,” but like a number of candidates does not believe it’s working well within the city. She said she knows people who use ridesharing services as opposed to the bus because it’s affordable and much more convenient, while reporting that she often rides on buses nowhere close to filled to capacity with riders. She favors a community-wide Eco Pass to boost transit ridership, which she believes would be an effective way to better reach city values of attempting to get people out of their cars. She also believes the city’s Open Space and Mountain Parks holdings provide ecological diversity near the city and environmental benefits.
Boulder Municipal Electric Utility: Julca supports moving forward with the muni, both for the potential to work toward the city’s goal of 100 percent renewable electricity and to keep money in Boulder that currently goes to Xcel Energy profits and shareholders. She supports putting the muni before voters in a future election. Julca believes there needs to be a great deal of information shared with the community well in advance of the muni going to a vote. She said she did not receive information about the muni in the mail prior to the 2017 election, and noted that there is a language barrier for Spanish-speaking residents in Boulder yet there is no local newspaper in Spanish.
Social Equity: The city’s inclusionary housing program requires new projects to either include a percentage of affordable housing on-site, or developers can make “cash-in-lieu” payments which funds affordable housing projects elsewhere. According to Julca, the cash-in-lieu provision can mean that some people living in affordable housing might be located “over in the corner,” separate from the people who can afford market-rate housing. “When we are all together, I think we benefit from each other, and when we have people from different cultures and different incomes, we learn from each other,” she said.
She said at the start of this interview that part of her reason for running was to help provide some diversity of voice in city government. Julca said immigrants come to the United States in search of better lives, including the opportunity to provide for their families, but they may not have great educations and may need to “do the jobs that most people here don’t want to do.” She said there are language and cultural barriers in Boulder, and she would like to see outreach and education for immigrants in their own language. Julca plays an instrument and is a supporter of the arts, and says she would like future development to include an arts center(s) as a community benefit that can also help foster cultural awareness.
CU-South: Julca said CU-South is beautiful land, but it’s prone to flooding, and like most candidates said the health and safety of people living downstream from the property must be the most important concern. As mentioned above, she knows CU has housing needs, and as of mid-September, she favored investigating the possibilities of a land swap so CU could build the housing they need on property with fewer flooding-related features.
Open Space Ballot Measure, Ballot Issue 2H: Yes
Middle-Income Housing Ballot Issue 2I: Yes
Right Decision at Hogan-Pancost: Yes
More Protected/Separated Bike Lanes: Yes
More City Resources for Homelessness: Yes
Endorsements: Julca has received organizational endorsements from Together4Boulder, PLAN-Boulder County, Boulder Reporter, Elephant Journal, Sierra Club, Our Revolution Boulder, Save South Boulder, 350 Colorado Action, and Think Boulder.
Key Donations: As of Oct. 22, Julca had received maximum $100 donations from current and former Council members Steve Pomerance, Lisa Morzel, Allyn Feinberg, Crystal Gray, Suzanne Jones, Gwen Dooley, and Sam Weaver.