By Haines Eason
On Jan. 14, Denver’s Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation (INC), the body representing Denver’s Registered Neighborhood Organizations (RNOs), voted 40 to nine—with five abstentions—to approve a resolution to urge Denver City Council to extend the Small Lot Parking Exemption Moratorium. Approved by Council Aug. 22, the moratorium went into effect Aug. 25 and expires March 31, 2017.
Denver District 7 City Councilman, Jolon Clark, was present at the Jan. 14 meeting and forwarded an opinion that a development-first approach to infill without addressing other factors is concerning to him.
Referencing the contentious Capitol Hill-area development at 16th and Humboldt streets, which will likely include 108 micro units on two adjacent 6,250 square foot lots, Councilman Clark said people’s gut reaction might be that 108 units without parking “just isn’t right.”
For him, there’s a bigger issue at stake.
“The real questions is, does it eliminate the cars? Because if our vision is really a community that doesn’t have cars, where people can get around town without cars...does it work? As I’ve looked into this issue and I’ve researched it, it doesn’t.”
Councilman Clark cited the Denizen development at 415 S. Cherokee St., which is situated at a light rail station, as an example of transit-oriented development which has not resulted in residents giving up their cars.
“We’ve heard about Denizen, which is in my district. You can’t get closer to a light rail stop. They have a lot more than zero cars.”
After Councilman Clark spoke, Margie Valdez, chair of INC’s Zoning and Planning Committee, and Bill Vanderlan of Humboldt Street RNO, introduced the resolution language and the vote was taken. There was some sporadic audience commentary that insufficient time was given to discuss the resolution as a body.
Colfax Ave Business Improvement District (CBID) President Frank Locantore said after the vote he felt the lack of a designated comment period undermined the legitimacy of the vote. Locantore said CBID had a discussion about the issue and the impending resolution vote. CBID’s feeling is there needs to be a more balanced approach.
“We made a decision in a rushed manner with insufficient information, which was not properly vetted through the zoning and planning committee of INC. There are reasons for that, namely a tight timeline, but that’s all the more reason there should have been sufficient time on the agenda to discuss this. There are people at this meeting, who would have been at the Zoning and Planning Committee, who wanted to make their voice heard but were shut out of the process.”
Locantore also sits on the board of RNO Uptown on the Hill. Uptown on the Hill President, Johan Barrios, echoed Locantore’s and CBID’s sentiments.
“I think INC could have done a better job of educating the delegates on exactly what it was that was being voted on. There were so many questions that weren’t answered,” she said.
Barrios feels many delegates still don’t understand the nuts and bolts of the moratorium and the parking exemption itself, and she said Uptown on the Hill will be addressing City Council in a letter protesting the vote and making their organization’s position clear.
The Uptown on the Hill board prepared its position and voted on the matter at their Jan. 10 board meeting.
“We’re actually fine with the way the parking exemptions were set up,” Barrios says. “The collaborative approach that was identified that came out of the committee, that was actually as far as Uptown on the Hill would like to go, where there’s limited exemptions. We love the idea of a less car-dependent city, but if you don’t push people towards that, if we’re not leaders of that vision, then how will we expect people to live it?”
The Profile will continue to cover this story as it develops.