Difference between revisions of "City of Boulder OSMP Bidding Process"

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Over the past several years our farm, [[Jacob Springs Farm]], has submitted bid proposals for a total of 11 properties, all within one mile of our farm (land prices are so high and the city owns so much of the agricultural land that it’s very difficult to expand without leasing land.) Time and time again our well-researched and extensive proposals have been turned down in favor of other, less sustainable and less desirable farms.  
 
Over the past several years our farm, [[Jacob Springs Farm]], has submitted bid proposals for a total of 11 properties, all within one mile of our farm (land prices are so high and the city owns so much of the agricultural land that it’s very difficult to expand without leasing land.) Time and time again our well-researched and extensive proposals have been turned down in favor of other, less sustainable and less desirable farms.  
  
For years we have attempted to find out what we could do to make our proposals more attractive and to understand how the decisions were being made. City staff have told us that our bids themselves were fine, and then proceeded to give us a variety of reasons why we were not awarded the bid - reasons that did not make much sense ranging from questionable to illegally discriminatory (City staff “gave it to them because they come from an “old farm family” - whereas [[André Houssney|Andre]], an immigrant, came to Boulder as a child - isn't this discrimination based on ancestry?) Even though winning bids are supposed to be public record, for years our requests have been ignored. This year, confused and puzzled at being denied once again we escalated the process until we had some answers.
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For years we have attempted to find out what we could do to make our proposals more attractive and to understand how the decisions were being made. City staff have told us that our bids themselves were fine, and then proceeded to give us a variety of reasons why we were not awarded the bid - reasons that did not make much sense ranging from questionable to illegally discriminatory (City staff stated that they “gave it to them because they come from an “old farm family” - whereas [[André Houssney|Andre]], an immigrant, came to Boulder as a child - isn't this discrimination based on ancestry?) Even though winning bids are supposed to be public record, for years our requests have been ignored. This year, confused and puzzled at being denied once again we escalated the process until we had some answers.
  
 
==What We Found==
 
==What We Found==
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===Look at the bids for yourself===
 
===Look at the bids for yourself===
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==2018==
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*[https://www.scribd.com/document/378573556/Penner-King-Hodgson-Bid Winning Bid for the King & Hodgson Properties]
 
*[https://www.scribd.com/document/378573556/Penner-King-Hodgson-Bid Winning Bid for the King & Hodgson Properties]
 
*[https://www.scribd.com/document/378573401/02-Jacob-Springs-Farm-King-Hodgson-Bid Losing Jacob Springs Farm Bid for the King & Hodgson Properties]
 
*[https://www.scribd.com/document/378573401/02-Jacob-Springs-Farm-King-Hodgson-Bid Losing Jacob Springs Farm Bid for the King & Hodgson Properties]
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*[https://www.scribd.com/document/380178604/Winning-bid-for-Aweida-Property Winning Bid for the Aweida Property]
 
*[https://www.scribd.com/document/380178604/Winning-bid-for-Aweida-Property Winning Bid for the Aweida Property]
 
*[https://www.scribd.com/document/380178677/Losing-Bid-for-Aweida-Property Losing Jacob Springs Farm Bid for the Aweida Property]
 
*[https://www.scribd.com/document/380178677/Losing-Bid-for-Aweida-Property Losing Jacob Springs Farm Bid for the Aweida Property]
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==2019==
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In 2019 some changes were made to the process - but they seem not to have been followed. The scoring on the decision matrix does not seem consistent with the bids themselves, as if the staff are using the scoring system simply to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. In some cases the staff can only be relying on information not contained in the bid packet itself (a clear violation of the law) unless they are not simply assigning arbitrary scores.
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But at least this year we have more transparency and somewhere to begin:
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[[File:DecisionMatrixHodgsonKing.png|600px]]
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The Winning bid and 5 losing bids can be found [https://bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/ag-leasing here]
  
 
==Call to Action==
 
==Call to Action==

Latest revision as of 15:06, 7 October 2019

May Regenerative.jpg
The difference between regenerative and conventional management is very obvious by simply looking down. These two photos were take the first week of May, 2018 across the property line from each other. The difference is due to the much higher carbon content of the soil. This results in both greater productivity and greater carbon capture.

Update here

The City of Boulder, along with Boulder County, owns the majority of agricultural land in our area and they lease this land out to farmers who manage it.

Over the past several years our farm, Jacob Springs Farm, has submitted bid proposals for a total of 11 properties, all within one mile of our farm (land prices are so high and the city owns so much of the agricultural land that it’s very difficult to expand without leasing land.) Time and time again our well-researched and extensive proposals have been turned down in favor of other, less sustainable and less desirable farms.

For years we have attempted to find out what we could do to make our proposals more attractive and to understand how the decisions were being made. City staff have told us that our bids themselves were fine, and then proceeded to give us a variety of reasons why we were not awarded the bid - reasons that did not make much sense ranging from questionable to illegally discriminatory (City staff stated that they “gave it to them because they come from an “old farm family” - whereas Andre, an immigrant, came to Boulder as a child - isn't this discrimination based on ancestry?) Even though winning bids are supposed to be public record, for years our requests have been ignored. This year, confused and puzzled at being denied once again we escalated the process until we had some answers.

What We Found

When we finally received some of the bids that won out, we were shocked and confused. We are publishing the results so that you can see for yourself the kinds of decisions that are being made.

Some Lowlights

Did you know that your public land is being mishanded? Here’s some recent decisions:

  • A competitive Organic and sustainable proposal was passed over, and a large parcel of land was awarded to a conventional farmer who proposed in his bid, to spray a dangerous neurotoxin which is known to be toxic to fish, directly into a ditch? (an off-label use!)
  • A conventional farmer with over 2,000 acres turned in a sloppy one-page proposal to grow hay for horses using conventional synthetic fertilizers and pesticide applications, his bid was for $5,500 annual rent. An extensive proposal from a respected local organic farmer bid $10,600 for the same property and lost.
  • Several parcels totaling 157 acres were awarded to a farmer who doesn’t own a tractor or a baler when the bid criteria clearly stated that “Ability to meet equipment requirements” was a major criterion for the decision. How are these decisions being made?

Look at the bids for yourself

2018

2019

In 2019 some changes were made to the process - but they seem not to have been followed. The scoring on the decision matrix does not seem consistent with the bids themselves, as if the staff are using the scoring system simply to arrive at a predetermined conclusion. In some cases the staff can only be relying on information not contained in the bid packet itself (a clear violation of the law) unless they are not simply assigning arbitrary scores.

But at least this year we have more transparency and somewhere to begin:

DecisionMatrixHodgsonKing.png

The Winning bid and 5 losing bids can be found here

Call to Action

Thanks to all those who joined us at recent OSPM meetings tell the Open Space Board of Trustees that we need them to do better! For how it went see the update .

What We Want

  • We want the proposals awarded for hay properties (Swartz and Aweida) this year to be re-bid by an objective, outside party ASAP.
  • We want an Open and Transparent bidding process that makes land-allocation decisions objectively on the basis of the actual proposal, according to the published criteria, possibly including public comment.
  • We want the City staff to apply the following principles enumerated in the Agricultural Resource Management Plan
    • To encourage and support the next generation of farmers and ranchers
    • To expand the variety of agriculture operations on OSMP lands as appropriate with a focus on diversified vegetable/pastured livestock farming and micro dairies.
    • To introduce new operations based on market needs, working closely with existing farmers and ranchers
    • To avoid impairment of existing successful operations
    • To “Update business practices... to maintain fairness in value, transparency in process, and fiscal responsibility.”

Talking Points

If you're planning on coming to the meeting and don't know what to say - here are some talking points that you could use - let me know which of these points you'll like to focus on and I'll let you know if anyone else is covering the same points.

  • Organic values: Since the public has very clearly stated their preference for sustainable farms and local food suppliers, how can the clear preference for conventional farmers be justified? Out of over 15,000 acres of farm land, less than 500 acres are in the hands of such producers, why is the city not responding faster to the will of the public?
  • Open and Transparent Bid Process: We have a very active and involved population - why not have a bidding process that publishes bids openly and invites pubic comment? The “state of the art” would be an open bidding process, this would create a competitive environment where farmers will have an incentive to please the public and will strive to outdo one another in areas such as sustainability and stewardship, however Boulder chooses to employ a closed bid process. Why is this?
  • Agricultural Resource Managment Plan: In order to determine the public’s will for the open space properties, the city recently invested a lot of money, time and human resources on a variety of public processes to decide what to do with public land. One resulting document was the the OSMP Agricultural Resources Management Plan. This document has a strong focus on ecological and sustainability goals, and encourages local food production - if we're not going to actually apply these results to our bidding process did we just waste all the resources that we spent on that process? Did all the events, the catering, the musicians and consultants that were hired have any effect? Or was it all for show?
  • The City is supposed to "avoid impairment of existing successful operations" and should be "working closely with existing farmers and ranchers" yet the way the city has treated Jacob Springs Farm has been downright aggressive - denying them all the land in their vicinity and and supporting their only direct competitors in the area? (there's more than enough land for everyone, but why place the only two small dairies in direct competition while only supporting one? Why isn't the city honoring their commitment to "work closely with existing successful operation?" If the City is in the business of picking winners and losers- what criteria are they using? (Since it clearly isn't the criteria they are publishing!)
  • Systemic Bias/ Institutional Racism: Given that over 50% of Agricultural Workers in the State of Colorado are minorities, it seems wrong that not a single acre of Boulder farmland, to our knowledge, is leased by a minority farmer. It would be nice if we had a program to address this, but at the very least, since the bidding system is clearly not being run in an objective or transparent way - how can we be reassured that systemic or implicit bias is not at play in our bidding system? If we are actively favoring "Old Farm Families" over immigrants - as staff have stated that they are - how is this consistent with the City of Boulder's policies on diversity and against discrimination?
  • Pesticides: We don't want proposals that include pesticide operations to be winning over regenerative, sustainable and ecologically-minded proposals!
  • Financial Accountability: It's not good financial stewardship to concentrate properties in the hands of a few large operators who generally don't have a lot invested in any one property, who make thin margins in commodity agriculture and who, when they go under, leave a huge void! But it's entirely another thing to refuse bids that will pay nearly TWICE as much money when there is no good reason to do so! Spread things around more! Small farms create more value per acre and this benefits the city.
  • Local food: Why is so much land being allocated to farmers who are not involved in local food production? Why are farmers producing horse hay being subsidized when farmers producing diverse foods for local consumption are disadvantaged?


Update, May 10, 2018

The OSMP Board of Trustees Meeting was a definite step in the right direction. Thanks to everyone who came to support the cause! Here is a summary of what happened.

About 15-20 supporters attended the OSMP Board of Trustees meeting on May 9, 2018 including a few farmers, and at least one member of the press. 6 people signed up to speak on the matter. The speakers each spoke powerfully and convincingly.

A video of the meeting is posted here

Speakers were each given 3 minutes during the public comment section of the meeting:

  1. Alice Starek, of Golden Hoof farm spoke from her perspective as a farmer (see her talk at 21:57 in the above video)
  2. Andre Houssney of Jacob Springs Farm speaks at 33:25
  3. Kate Lazarov speaks on the need for transparency at 39:07
  4. Austin Hamilton speaks on the Economics of Open vs Sealed Bid processes at 41:50
  5. Matt Bentley speaks on the Environmental impact of the winning bids at 55:51
  6. Chris Korba speaks about Regenerative agriculture restoring prairie dog land its impact to alleviate floods at 1:05:55

Questions from the board members begin at 1:08:30 A few notable questions / comments they had for OSMP Staff:

  • Board member Thomas Isaacson "Were you expecting such a turnout on the Ag leasing issue?" (Note: Andre alerted OSMP Staff member John Potter to our plans to attend the meeting earlier in the day)
  • Board member Thomas Isaacson 1:11:30 “We hear a lot that there’s a shortage of ranchers and farmers.. what we heard tonight… puts a somewhat different light on that… and raises a question
  • Board Member Curt Brown 1:13:38 "do you have a sense when you might be able to come back having done your analysis and give us a report on proposed changes to the process?"
  • Board Member Kevin Bracy Knight 1:14:18 “It would be nice to have some clarity on this, from my perspective… I heard one side of the story that was very, very compelling tonight, as a person who part of my job is evaluating landscapes based on concrete metrics, to not make those publicly available, nor the results of those publically available given public land to me… seems like a really bad idea, as a manager you would probably get better bidding if you had complete transparency because everyone knows what metrics you are using to evaluate the landscape.”… “What your plans are for the future so that anybody, whether it’s Andre or someone else can come in and say “I met the criteria, I got and 8.5 and he got a 6.5, I’m going to sue,” and that would make sense - that kind of transparency is really vital for a public process.”
  • Board member Thomas Isaacson 1:16:40 "I just want to add to those who came to speak to us tonight: I get the sense that this has been an issue that has been festering for quite some time. Please feel welcome to come and express yourselves, it’s obviously a well thought out presentation and you have our attention

Update, January 16, 2018

Notes on the meeting from Kris Korba:

  1. 1. There is a desire by the Board of Trustees (who are guided by the citizens) to figure out a way to have local, regenerative food being produced on the land we as citizens own.
    - Create opportunities/avenues to help make this a reality
  1. 2. The actions of the City Staff have not been inline with the desires of the citizens.
   - Keep calling out how the actions are not inline, and get non-farmers support/voice
   - Lack of transparency and accountability of the land use & allocation process needs to be addressed
  1. 3. The Board and staff needs to be educated on how we want the future of farming on City Openspace to look. It will not be the same as it has been done. Many of the young and beginning farmers of today are using different techniques that are not broadacre.
  - Speak to the board/staff and tell them about the ways that farming will be different with the new farmers.
  - Work on getting test pilot programs going ASAP
  - Identify properties/farmers that would work best for this
  - Revisit the conversation about an Ag Center (this might be County as well)
  1. 4. Existing housing on these farms is not being used.
   - Advocate for use of the housing to be included in the land lease
  1. 5. We have an ally in this, the equestrian community. They want access to good grazing land with no prairie dogs just as much as we do.
  1. 6. The idea of perennial agriculture only seems to apply to hay/alfalfa fields, what about silvopasture and other perennial (non grass) crops?


Winter 2019 update

Hello friends of Boulder Area Farmers!

OSMP has recently reversed their decision to offer 6 new properties for lease this year, leaving them in the hands of current, conventional farmers and fallow. Please let them know that you want the land leasing to reflect community values! Join us in speaking out at the Public comment section of the OSMP meeting tonight.

Meeting TONIGHT: OSMP Board of Trustees Meeting Wednesday January 16 at 6pm AT OSMP HUB, 2520 55th Street. NOTE THIS IS A DIFFERENT LOCATION TO PRIOR MEETINGS

What do we want?

We want the same thing that the Boulder Public has overwhelmingly communicated to OSMP about farm land: We want our public land managed in a regenerative and organic way that will benefit both the local food system and the ecosystem!

We want: More young and innovative regenerative farmers, A fair, objective and transparent Land Allocation (bidding) Process Accountability to and from farmers (OSMP should do what they say they’re going to do, Farmers should not be allowed to do bad things) Accountability to Public (Public wants these things, they have spoken, we need OSMP to respond) Less industrial/commercial farmers, more local food farmers

Talking Points: • We are not getting enough of the kind of land management that we want and need! • The bidding process has been grossly wrong, even corrupt, in the way land is allocated: bids awarded do not match criteria demanded by the public and the plan • OSMP Staff have published wrong and contradictory information on land availability, at a huge cost to bidders and without clear reasoning, what is going on? • With such a biased and subjective bidding process how can the city justify the fact that there are ZERO minority lessees, ZERO lessees under 40 (scarcely any under 50), and few female lease holders, how can OSMP counter charges of institutional racism? • Organic and regenerative values: Since the public has very clearly stated their preference for sustainable farms and local food suppliers, how can the clear preference for conventional farmers be justified? Out of over 15,000 acres of farm land, less than 500 acres are in the hands of such producers, why is the city not responding faster to the will of the public? • Ecology values: with so many young farmers eager to apply new farming techniques, including carbon sequestration and innovative approaches to ecological problems, why are their bids being rejected?

Questions? Call Andre Houssney, Jacob Springs Farm, 720-201-5725

May 8, 2018, Thanks for your interest in supporting our cause for transparent and objective allocation of public farmland land in Boulder! Tomorrow several people will be planning to speak at the Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Board of Trustees Meeting at Boulder City Council Chambers, (sign-up for a 3 minute slot to speak starting at 5 and the meeting starts at 6).

I have a list of talking points below as ideas for what you might say. I’m hopeful that we will get some commitment for progress - but I expect that we may need to take it further at some time in the next several weeks and speak out at a city council meeting. If you know any members of the press that might want to attend feel free to send them this meeting.

I want to make it clear that I’m not against any of the other farmers in our area - whether organic or conventional - the OSMP decision-making process is not their fault and I don’t blame them for the outcome. So let’s keep it positive toward our farmers.

More background is found here: http://wiki.jacobsprings.com/RAWiki/index.php?title=City_of_Boulder_OSMP_Bidding_Process

Talking Points: If you're planning on coming to the meeting and don't know what to say - here are some talking points that you could use - let me know which of these points you'll like to focus on and I'll let you know if anyone else is covering the same points. Organic values: Since the public has very clearly stated their preference for sustainable farms and local food suppliers, how can the clear preference for conventional farmers be justified? Out of over 15,000 acres of farm land, less than 500 acres are in the hands of such producers, why is the city not responding faster to the will of the public? Open and Transparent Bid Process: We have a very active and involved population - why not have a bidding process that publishes bids openly and invites pubic comment? The “state of the art” would be an open bidding process, this would create a competitive environment where farmers will have an incentive to please the public and will strive to outdo one another in areas such as sustainability and stewardship, however Boulder chooses to employ a closed bid process. Why is this? Agricultural Resource Managment Plan: In order to determine the public’s will for the open space properties, the city recently invested a lot of money, time and human resources on a variety of public processes to decide what to do with public land. One resulting document was the the OSMP Agricultural Resources Management Plan. This document has a strong focus on ecological and sustainability goals, and encourages local food production - if we're not going to actually apply these results to our bidding process did we just waste all the resources that we spent on that process? Did all the events, the catering, the musicians and consultants that were hired have any effect? Or was it all for show?

Systemic Bias/ Institutional Racism: Given that over 50% of Agricultural Workers in the State of Colorado are minorities, it seems wrong that not a single acre of Boulder farmland, to our knowledge, is leased by a minority farmer. It would be nice if we had a program to address this, but at the very least, since the bidding system is clearly not being run in an objective or transparent way - how can we be assured that systemic or implicit bias is not at play in our bidding system? If we are actively favoring "Old Farm Families" over immigrants - as staff have stated that they are - how is this consistent with the City of Boulder's policies on diversity and against discrimination? The City is supposed to "avoid impairment of existing successful operations" and should be "working closely with existing farmers and ranchers" yet the way the city has treated Jacob Springs Farm has been downright aggressive - denying them all the land in their vicinity and and supporting their only direct competitors in the area. (There's more than enough land in the system for all the sustainable farms, but why place the only two small cow dairies in direct competition while only supporting one? Why isn't the city honoring their commitment to "work closely with existing successful operations?" If the City is in the business of picking winners and losers- what criteria are they using? (Since it clearly isn't the criteria they are publishing!) Pesticides: We don't want proposals that include pesticide operations to be winning over regenerative, sustainable and ecologically-minded proposals! Financial Accountability: It's not good financial stewardship to concentrate properties in the hands of a few large operators who generally don't have a lot invested in any one property, who make thin margins in commodity agriculture and who, when they go under, leave a huge void! But it's entirely another thing to refuse bids that will pay nearly TWICE as much money when there is no good reason to do so! It's also irresponsible for the city to entrust multiple LARGE parcels of land to inexperienced farmers - let them succeed on a small parcel before you give them many parcels! Spread things around more! Small farms create more value per acre and this benefits the city. Local food: Why is so much land being allocated to farmers who are not involved in local food production? Why are farmers producing horse hay being subsidized when farmers producing diverse foods for local consumption are disadvantaged?

Letter to the board

Requested changes to assessment procedures

Dear Open Space Board of Trustees and concerned friends,

After we publicized the systematic bias in OSMP agricultural leasing against new farmers, excluding farmers from diverse backgrounds, and those promoting local and sustainable food, positive changes have been made! Thanks to John Potter, OSMP Staff, the new system for making agricultural leasing decisions is much improved, and is appreciated, however the weighting of the new system is still seriously problematic. The new system is still unlikely to result in the needed change since it heavily favors the status quo: But fortunately there is an easy fix! - Thanks to the highly organized structure of the new system, changes will clear and easy to implement. (My proposed solution is in the last Paragraph)

The new weighting perpetuates a bias against diversified farms, new operations, and change of any kind and it makes it still all but impossible for regenerative operations to win out against conventional ones. This goes against the clear voice of the community wanting new, regenerative and sustainable management of their public land.

This needs to be changed right away! The first bids this year will be evaluate starting March 7th. Please direct staff to change the weighting before that time.

Here are current weightings

45% - Experience: Proposer has demonstrated high quality, successful, past performance in commercial agricultural business and practice substantially like the type of operation proposed 25% - Fit: Proposed operation supports the city property management objectives including the Agricultural Resource Management Plan goals 15% - Current Operation: Proposer’s current commercial operation is demonstrably organized, clean, well-run, and attractive to the passing public 5% - Equipment owned by or demonstrably available to the proposer is adequate to the proposed operation 5% - Demonstrated ability of proposer to meet financial demands of proposed operation 5% - Proposer meets eligibility requirements for a small disadvantaged business

Example of how the new system will still fail the public: In the current weighting, experience and current operation combine for 60% of the score (and a further 10% of the points - equipment and finances - are also likely to go to legacy operations) With the advantage of 70% of the points, experienced, current operators are thus preferred so strongly that a conventional operator with 10 years of experience running a simple hay operation (which does not produce food), could beat out a newer, sustainable farmer with 9 years of experience and a diverse operation, even if they both had all the needed equipment and finances to be successful. This is wrong and it’s not what the people want.

In the current system: only 25% of the weight goes to “fit” with the city property management objectives. Even if a young farmer got a perfect score on sustainability, local food, resource conservation and regenerative practices, the young farmer would still lose to an old conventional operation who scored a ZERO on these criteria. The young farmer could score 28 (experience and current operation) + 25 (good fit) = 53 and the old farmer could win with a score of 60 (experience and current operation) + 0 (good fit).With the public clamoring for sustainability and local food the weighting for “fit" needs to be higher.

The neatness and attractiveness score disadvantages diversified operation. A diversified farm will inherently have more different kinds of equipment than a conventional operation, these need to be stored somewhere. A newer operation renovating a dilapidated farm property will usually need time to make the place look pretty. In contrast, conventional operations have little complexity, employ few people, produce few different products, require few different pieces of equipment and typically have access to legacy properties with large barns and infrastructure which hide the clutter. A young, upcoming farm should not be penalized for storing equipment on private property. What matters more is how sustainably they manage the public land. This needs to be weighted lower.


SOLUTION-----

Fortunately the fix is easy! Change the weightings.

The rationale for weighting experience and current operation so highly is that we want to minimize farm failures. There is a better way to do this: Make equipment requirements and financial ability more significant and decrease experience and current operation. Most established farms will already have high scores on equipment and financial ability anyway, but doing this will select for the farms that are most likely succeed without totally excluding newer farms.

At the same time make the city property management objectives including the Agricultural Resource Management Plan goals more significant, in line with the desires of the public.

Here’s my proposed weighting:

40% - Proposed operation supports the city property management objectives including the Agricultural Resource Management Plan goals 25% - Experience: Proposer has demonstrated high quality, successful, past performance in commercial agricultural business and practice substantially like the type of operation proposed 10% - Equipment owned by or demonstrably available to the proposer is adequate to the proposed operation 10% - Demonstrated ability of proposer to meet financial demands of proposed operation 5% - Proposer’s current commercial operation is demonstrably organized, clean, well-run, and attractive to the passing public 5% - Proposer meets eligibility requirements for a small disadvantaged business 5% - Proposer’s other operations are in close proximity to the available property (based on extensive public input, proximity has always been a criteria in the past and the current system eliminates it without explanation)


Thanks for your work and putting your heart into our public lands!

Andre Houssney Jacob Springs Farm 720-201-5725


2019 Spring Update

Dear Dan Burke,

I am writing to appeal the OSMP decision rejecting our agricultural management proposal. I believe that the score we received reflects bias against our farm and that a review of the available bidding documents will make that obvious. This is not the first time that I have made that claim and I believe that a review of the entire body of evidence regarding past decisions on our proposals will bear out that claim and make the need for a remedy apparent.

As you probably know, thanks to John Potter’s excellent work over the last year, the decision matrix and the individual proposals regarding this decision are helpfully provided on your website here. I am also thankful that the new approach to transparency makes this appeal possible. Unfortunately, the process is still problematic and makes this appeal necessary.

Here are the specific problems with the scores:

(I will paste the decision matrix here for ease of reference)


As a look at the proposals will review, there were 3 proposals from what I would characterize as “old-school conventional operations” and three from younger regenerative operations. We scored the highest of the regenerative bids. However, our score should have been much higher in 4 out of the 6 categories - additionally I would like to ask for clarification regarding the role of letters of recommendation (which were not published along with the bids.)

1. Agricultural experience I began farming in Boulder county over 25 years ago, I have 16 years of full-time farming experience and many years of part-time farming experience. I currently run farming operations on two continents and serve as an agricultural consultant on dozens of projects around the world. There is no other operator who has submitted a proposal for this property who has more acreage under his or her management than I do, with thousands of acres of farming operations in Zambia. My experience in hay is extensive, but I also have a much broader expertise than any of the other proposals. Why then did I receive an experience score of only 7.7 out of ten, where the winning bid, who manages less acreage and a less extensive operation, got a 10? The guidance published by your office dictates a MINIMUM score of 8 for a farmer with over 10 years of experience. However the winning bidder scored a perfect 10. What justifies a perfect score for experience? The top-scoring bid did not list any experience in running a diversified operation (which the agricultural resource management plan is supposed to favor) the winning bid does not provide a rationale for supporting any dimension of agricultural experience other than custom hay cutting. Agricultural experience is not simply determined by the date that a farmer first cut hay. If so, considering that the criteria of experience is so heavily weighted by the current matrix, the defacto policy of OSMP would be to award leases unwaveringly to the oldest bidder, which would be discriminatory. The low experience score that our farm received, in contrast to our impressive agricultural resume and your own published guidelines, shows a problem. Additionally,

2. Fit of proposed operation The fact that our proposal came in 4th on this criteria discredits your office, especially when compared to the winners in this category. This criteria is summarized in the guidance document as follows: Proposed operation supports the city property management objectives including the Agricultural Resource Management Plan goals.

As you certainly know, in order to determine the public’s will for the open space properties, the city recently invested a lot of money, time and human resources on a variety of public processes to decide what to do with public land. One resulting document was the the OSMP Agricultural Resources Management Plan. This document has a strong focus on ecological and sustainability goals, and includes the following:

• To encourage and support the next generation of farmers and ranchers (is the use of the word “generation” here intended to exclude those who are from different ethnic origins? Surely this would not be right.) • Expand the variety of agriculture operations on OSMP lands as appropriate with a focus on diversified vegetable/pastured livestock farming and micro dairies. • Introduce new operations based on market needs (Local food!) • To avoid impairment of existing successful operations

This criteria (which I believe should be weighted much higher in the decision matrix if the city is actually serious about sustainable agriculture) is subverted when the winning bid (a mere 3 pages long) receives a score of 9.5 with absolutely no element of local food (stating that they will sell horse hay), no element of diversified production (which the plan supports), no discussion of sensitive species such as ground nesting birds, no consideration for native plant species, no plan for the development or preservation of habitat for beneficial insects, and other animals. This fact alone, the the top scoring plan could neglect all these areas while our bid addresses them and receives a much lower score, indicates a problem in the way bids are being evaluated and scored. I believe that a serious consideration of the priorities of the Agricultural Resource Managment plan would totally upend the scoring with the top three overall bidders receiving such a LOW score that the top three final scores would actually become the bottom three. This criteria seems to have been used primarily to allow the office to achieve their predetermined outcome, rather than applying the process fairly. This does a great disservice to the public, who are trusting the staff to honestly carry out their wishes, and does damage to operators like us, who are disadvantaged unfairly.

3. Organization and appearance. This criterion, while subjective, is also unfairly applied. A diversified farm will inherently have more different kinds of equipment than a conventional operation, these need to be stored somewhere. A newer operation renovating a dilapidated farm property will usually need time to make the place look pretty. In contrast, conventional operations have little complexity, employ few people, produce few different products, require few different pieces of equipment and typically have access to legacy properties with large barns and infrastructure which hide the clutter. A young, upcoming farm should not be penalized for storing equipment on private property. What matters more is how sustainably they manage the public land. And when it comes to appearance, a look from the property line of each of these operations will show that this criteria, too, has been unevenly applied. Our farm is busy, but no unattractive. Jacob Springs farm also has a highly organized online information system for customers, which none of the other farms have.

4. Demonstrated financial ability There is no discernible basis for the scores given under this section. In fact, our proposal was the only one which specifically gave a financial rationale for the bottom line of the operation and the only one which specifically stated a budget ($75,000) for the project. Despite the financial specificity of our bid, we received the second-lowest assessment. How can this be justified? Legally, a bid must contain all the information used in the decision making process. Decisions cannot rely on speculation or private knowledge to make decisions, consequently this scoring is problematic and needs to be reversed.

5. Lastly, we received excellent letters of reference and recommendation and I would like to know how these are factored into the final decision. Our letters came from a wide variety of sources including landlords, customers, neighbors, water partners and other area farmers. We even received endorsements from property owners bordering the King-Hodgson property we were bidding on. I will include those letters here since they were left off of the published data on your website.

In conclusion, based on my observations here, along with my work to document systemic misconduct in the office of the Boulder OSMP leasing office over the last several years. It’s apparent to me that a huge problem still exists behind the scenes and represents the single biggest inhibition on the growth of the Boulder agricultural scene. I believe that there has been an improper crony system for distribution of city of Boulder land leases. The city, as by far the biggest landowner of agricultural land in the area, is still using opaque methodologies for distributing land and picks winners and losers unfairly.

• giving land leases to friends • managing land for the convenience of the staff rather than the best interests of the community or the policy of the city and it’s citizens • heavily favoring existing renters to the detriment of newcomers and ambitious, young, and innovative farmers • illegally favoring “traditional farm families” over those with diverse ethic backgrounds • promoting outdated and industrial farming paradigms • apparently black-listing farmers that don’t fit their outdated models of production, or their mental profile of what a farmer looks like • giving lip service to Organic, sustainable and regenerative practices, but doing very little to promote farmers the employ such practices • relying on unpublished data or assumptions not contained within the bids themselves

Even with the much-needed changes, it still looks like the fix is in far in advance and the bidding process is subverted to achieve a desired outcome. I am appealing to you to help correct this situation.

Thanks very much for your time and consideration.

Andre Houssney Jacob Springs Farm



Next Steps

I feel that the meeting was largely a success! it's also important to keep the pressure on so that we can ensure that the needed changes are made. I'll be contacting the board members and probably will be attending future OSMP Board Meetings with follow up comments - stay tuned for more.