The area of the Washington Park Profile is covered by several Denver City Council districts: 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10. In June, two new council members were elected to those districts, and three are returning. Councilmembers, Kendra Black, Paul Kashmann and Jolon Clark return to their respective districts, while councilmembers Amanda Sawyer and Chris Hinds are new to the council. They will be sworn in with the rest of the City Council on July 15.
In the August issue, look for our profiles of the two City Council-at-Large members. At-Large councilmembers represent the city as a whole. Both Deborah Ortega and Robin Kniech were reelected this year.
Editor’s Note: District 6 covers the Washington Park, Belcaro, Cory-Merrill, Virginia Village, Indian Creek, Rosedale, University and University Park neighborhoods.
Paul Kashmann sits at a booth in Pete’s University Park Cafe. It’s a staple spot for him, where he offers open coffee meetings once a week with District 6 residents, something he plans to continue now that he’s been elected to a second term.
He’s just returned from a group council trip to Austin, Texas, where Kashmann, along with several other council members, went to look at the Community First! Village for homeless people. The housing project sits on 51 acres and will have more than 500 homes once everything is built, Kashmann said.
He is hoping Denver can consider similar supportive environments for its homeless residents, Kashmann said. The Austin project includes several types of housing and is meant to create homes for people who are chronically homeless or dealing with mental health issues.
One problem with housing-first solutions, Kashmann said, is that they homeless people into one group. “The homeless population is not one population,” he said, and added he would like to find a solution that treats people with dignity.
Although the homeless population is one of the most vulnerable as housing costs grow more expensive, they are not the only demographic that loses out as Denver continues to grow.
“We need to address affordability in a more substantial way. And that’s for all areas of the income spectrum,” he said. “The middle class is increasingly getting shoved out the door.”
Development is another area Kashmann will focus on this term.
Residents often miss notifications of rezoning because the required city signage is difficult to read, Kashmann said. It includes legal jargon and is posted on buildings in black and white. Kashmann said he would like brighter signs with easy-to-read wording. “It should be much more easily consumed,” he said of the notifications.
Like many councilmembers, Kashmann also wants to look at development-and-mobility issues.
Daily traffic is something he hears about frequently from District 6 residents. One of his biggest concerns is that heavy traffic on the highways and major streets often pushes more drivers onto neighborhood streets, which can create unsafe situations. Adding density to neighborhoods often means adding more cars.
Kashmann believes there are neighborhoods and areas in Denver that can take the weight of more density to help house the growing population. But Denver needs to be smart about how that development is done, he said.
“Density is important,” Kashmann said. “That doesn’t mean you build 20-story towers everywhere.”
With five new members joining City Council this month, Kashmann is hopeful the group will move forward on climate-change policies, such as ways to divert some of Denver’s waste stream and a possible carbon tax.
“I think this council is going to be fairly aggressive in seeking out whatever we can do to reduce Denver’s impact on climate change,” he said.
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