Addressing residents’ three main concerns

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This July will mark two years that I have had the honor of representing the people of District 5 on the Denver City Council. I decided to run for office to bring the voice of the people back to city government. My team and I live by four core values — transparency, accountability, customer service and good communication.

When I ran for office, I knocked on more than 14,000 doors and I heard three main concerns from residents in east Denver community. They were development, traffic and crime. While the priority levels of these three concerns have changed over time in response to events in the neighborhood, those three concerns have remained top of mind for District 5 neighbors. Having this information allows me to be responsive to those needs, so thank you to everyone who has participated in our annual surveys —and please look for the 2021 survey this fall.

In response to crime and safety issues, I recently wrote a grant application in partnership with the District 2 Denver Police Department for a pilot program to institute foot patrols on East Colfax between Monaco Parkway and Yosemite Street, and between 11th and 17th Avenues. In 2020, that area saw a 163% rise in violent person-on-person crime. East Colfax as a neighborhood had a murder rate of more than 10% last year but it only makes up 1.5% of the population of Denver. I am proud that I’ve been able to work with Denver Police to try to find a balance between recognizing that people do not want to feel over-policed, but that they do want to feel safe.

To respond to concerns about traffic speeds and volume, I took advantage of some vacancy savings in my budget and am working with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to perform a traffic study of Eighth Avenue from Colorado Boulevard to Quebec Street. By studying the street holistically, we can determine where to install traffic calming measures and add safer crossings, and use data to enhance safety along that entire corridor. I also advocated for a traffic signal at Newport Street and Alameda Avenue, which is currently on-track for completion by early 2022, as are traffic calming measures on 13th and 14th Avenues which are set to be installed by the end of 2021.

In terms of development, I have always advocated for a more thoughtful approach and have voted against many of the rezoning proposals that have come before city council. Currently, I am working on a legislative rezoning of the East Colfax neighborhood to allow for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). If approved, this would add gentle density and diverse housing stock while also lowering some of the barriers to building an ADU in the neighborhood, add more attainable housing options in East Colfax, and provide a wealth-building opportunity to property owners already living along the East Colfax corridor.

And, finally, as we look at the consequences of COVID-19 and the overwhelming number of people who are facing evictions in our city, I have advanced an ordinance in partnership with District 9 Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca that will create access to legal counsel for any resident facing eviction who makes less than 80% of the area median income, which is approximately $85,000 for a family of four. The amount of money Denver spends on post-eviction services like homelessness and sheltering is astronomical. So, it makes sense to take care of our residents upstream and provide them with the support they need before they get evicted. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these residents will get to remain in their homes, but it does provide an opportunity to achieve better outcomes for them than an eviction on their credit history that will affect their ability to find housing in the future.

I am honored to represent my community with an eye towards our mission and core values, and to move projects and legislation that is responsive to the needs of District 5 residents.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at DenverCouncil5@denvergov.org any time.

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