By the time most of you read this piece, our quadrennial municipal elections will have reached their conclusion following a June 4 run-off. As has been said, the exercise of democracy is a messy business, to be sure. Well-crafted mail pieces, TV commercials and online videos only provide a scripted version of your ballot options. Hopefully, you researched the candidates and issues, and fulfilled your responsibility to make well-informed choices of the people and policies you want to guide Denver moving forward.
I am beyond honored to have the opportunity to serve a second term in service to the neighborhoods of City Council District 6. The next four years will be filled with challenges and opportunities all across the district.
Citywide priorities must focus on policies that: mitigate our collective impact on climate change; expand Denver’s inventory of attainable housing, especially for our lower- and middle-income levels; not only get unsheltered residents off the street, but prepare as many as possible to return to independent living situations; increase the availability of mental health and drug treatment services; accelerate the Neighborhood Planning Initiative (NPI) designed to create small area plans to guide development in our neighborhoods; improve the system through which the city informs the public about policies and projects under consideration and through which the community lets the city know their thoughts on that agenda.
And that’s just for starters.
While we must maintain focus on the daunting day-to-day challenges of managing our city, unless we do our part to address the climate emergency scientists assure us is becoming ever more dire, we are ignoring perhaps our most compelling constitutional mandate to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I was pleased to put forth an amendment — passed unanimously by City Council — to the recently adopted Denver Comprehensive Plan 2040 and Blueprint Denver 2019 that added to both of these critical planning documents the statement: “The science is clear, our planet is facing a global crisis attributed largely to human behavior that is changing climate patterns around the world. This environmental emergency threatens to alter our normal landscape, limiting where we can live, where we can grow our food and how we are able to access natural resources. As we look to our future we recognize that reversing our contribution to climate change is critical. How we plan our city can help us reduce our drain on resources and reduce Denver’s carbon footprint to eliminate our collective contribution to the climate change crisis. That commitment must be our over-arching guide.”
When assessing proposed developments in the future, with that statement in our primary adopted plans, we will be able to evaluate plans as to whether reasonable measures are being employed to ensure those developments are doing their best to be environmentally responsible. Are green building practices being employed? Will Transportation Demand Management plans reduce the expected auto trip count?
Within the district we will see the beginnings of rebuilding large parts of the University of Denver campus. A new dormitory/student union is under construction at Evans Avenue and High Street that will house 500 freshman students, providing more room for upper class students in existing on-campus dorm facilities. Many more changes will unfold in coming years. DU is positioning itself as a top-shelf 21st century university.
As currently scheduled, in early 2020, the eastern part of District 6 will begin a neighborhood planning initiative for Denver’s “near southeast” area which includes the Virginia Vale, Virginia Village, Indian Creek and Goldsmith (south of Evans Avenue in District 4) communities.
The NPI program, begun in 2017, is designed to generate critical small area plans for our entire city as expeditiously as possible. These are the documents that take the broad principles in the Comprehensive Plan and Blueprint Denver mentioned above and tailor them to properly guide development on a local level. The revitalized Virginia Village/Ellis Community Association will also have its hands full to assess whatever formal plans ultimately emerge for the former Colorado Department of Transportation properties at 2000 S. Holly St. and 4201 E. Arkansas Ave. I expect the developer to come forth with a request for Tax Increment Financing relief in the coming weeks.
A Verizon cell-phone tower proposal that surprised Virginia Village neighbors points out the need to revamp our community notification system for major projects. While it appears details of our existing policies were followed to the letter — if not the spirit — of the law, I have begun discussions with our Community Planning and Development staff to improve our procedures and postings so such projects never again slide under the public radar to the point of construction without the community having an opportunity to register their concerns.
Finally, from east to west and north to south across District 6, we will continue to work with Denver Public Works and the Denver Police Department to evaluate and remediate the never-ending traffic control challenges on our streets. That continues to be the number one area of concern about which residents contact our office.
Please contact me at email@example.com or 720-337-6666 with your comments or concerns. I have weekly in-district office hours at Pete’s University Park Café, 2345 E. Evans Ave. on Thursdays, 8 a.m. to noon. Please drop-in and say “hello” or whatever else is on your mind.
Paul Kashmann represents District 6 in the Denver City Council. District 4 covers southeast Denver, which includes the Washington Park, Virginia Village, Indian Creek neighborhoods and more.
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