My Decision to Spend Time Focused on Creating the Tools NW Denver Needs...
When I was asked to run for office, I was hopeful that you would give me the opportunity to represent you and the rest of our community on City Council. I told you that I would not be beholden to developers, special interests, the mayor’s office, or even fellow council members. I vowed to work with residents, developers, and the City to bring about smart growth and protect the character of our communities, vowed to ensure the safety of our community, find win-win solutions, and make Northside residents’ concerns heard. I told you that I would fight against corruption and backroom deals. I told you that your voice matters. I told you to hold us, myself and you, accountable for ensuring we held true to our promises. And together we have.
Together, we have begun to bring law and order back to development by leading a coalition of community-oriented developers, council members, and neighbors to protect community desire to end loopholes allowing for slot homes, and to improve the character of our neighborhoods while adding to needed housing through smart growth that respects neighborhood plans and Blueprint Denver.
We have worked to develop affordable housing and a means to generate sustainable revenue to make real change in our rental and home ownership markets. We worked to protect the character of our neighborhoods through historic designation by working with neighbors, homeowners, and developers to preserve our historical memory and significant structures that connect generations.
We have added improvements to parks and enhanced our multimodal pathways. We have built connections between Northwest Denver Registered Neighborhood Organization so that they can collaborate in creating the tools they need. And we’ve supported our Northwest Denver police force as they have grown into an exemplar of what it means to protect and serve for other communities.
We have brought transparency to politics. Bringing the conversations out from the backrooms of privilege and out for all to see. Holding the Mayor and his office accountable for storm drain proposals and highway plans that jeopardize the most vulnerable in our city. Even questioning sweetheart sales of public property to business interests and standing against the City when it claimed gifts to elected officials from City agencies didn’t need to be disclosed.
When I was elected, nearly 70 percent of District 1 voted to replace an incumbent councilperson for the first time in 30 years. It was a mandate, not for me, but for the completion of our collective goals and message. And that is why I am writing this letter today.
Ensuring Northwest Denver residents are empowered to shape their neighborhoods and communities is vitally important to the future of Northwest Denver and the city. And while we have accomplished much in four years, the speed at which self-serving developers are able to dismantle generations of community planning, growth, and relationships cannot afford the snail’s pace of legislative rule making when it's not a mayoral priority. My life’s passion lies in fighting the good fight, directly with you to create the city we all want, in a tangible, not aspirational way. As a result, I will step away from elected office at the conclusion of my term to focus my energies on continuing to support your work and that of your communities to shape Northwest Denver neighborhoods through thoughtful development that will support our families and friends for generations.
Though I am suspending my campaign for City Council District 1, I am not suspending my concern for the growth and prosperity of those in our district or our city. I remain committed to acting in the best interests of our Denver community now and into the future.
Below you will find a list of some of the accomplishments that our work together has brought about.
While we still have much to do before I leave office, I would like to thank the residents of Northwest Denver for allowing me the greatest honor anyone could ever have had – to be your voice at city hall. I also want to thank my staff for their support, commitment and dedication that made all things possible. I now have civic duty coursing through my veins, so I’m a not going away. I have a plan to do the things in Northwest Denver that you were demanding five years ago. Given the experience I have gained here, I know I can deliver the tools my district desires, my colleagues will use and the City will benefit from by stepping away from the title and getting my hands dirty working with the grass roots that got me here. I continue to stand with you as councilman and resident.
Councilman Rafael Espinoza
Rafael Espinoza's First Term Accomplishments for NW Denver
Character & Development
Improved Planning Efforts
New Regulatory Tools
Quality Of Life
- Staffed office with friendly, capable and competent staff committed to supporting the people of District 1. Resolved thousands of calls and concerns in 3.5 years.
- Collaborated with both individuals and groups on addressing a myriad of concerns, supporting them in finding solutions to unresolved 311 calls.
- Provided straight forward, unambiguous engagement with constituents.
- Brought District Office to West Colfax, 2-3 days a week, for 1 year, then switched to rotating weekly hours in the community (in all but one neighborhood) to make office more available.
- Helped Chaffee Park residents recover from the aftermath of the devastating hailstorm by providing two 40-yard roll-off dumpsters to helps residents trying to remove debris and damaged property.
- Maintained a budget surplus every year in District 1.
Character & Development
- Passed a moratorium on GARDEN COURT form (one type of slot home).
- Passed a moratorium on ALL SLOT HOME forms.
- Eliminated the "Small Lot Exemption" that allowed a 50-unit apartment buildings to have no parking for cars, an exemption that traded public space for increased builder profits.
- Provided much needed clarity to the meaning of ROW HOUSE and defended it from being used inappropriately.
- Provided much needed clarity to the meaning of DUPLEX, which was being used inappropriately.
- Rezoned a portion of a NW Denver Mixed-Use Business District to compel new multi-unit building to included business on their ground floor - eliminating 100% residential ground floors in a mixed-use zone district.
- Negotiated design improvements to better activate new development at 41st & Inca, District 1's only commuter rail station.
- Negotiated voluntary design modifications to improve by-right development at 38th & Sheridan.
- Negotiated voluntary design modifications to improve by-right development at 38th & Yates.
- Secured money for Federal Blvd streetscape improvements.
- Secured money for West Colfax pedestrian improvements.
- Twenty-three rezonings were sought by developers in District 1 in my first term, at least two failed. Nineteen others had written negotiated outcomes that protect both community and developer interests.
- Approved Packard Hill Landmark District, adding design review to a 25-acre portion of West Highland and ensuring that 141 structures will be as recognizable to future generations as they were to ours.
- Saved 3744 Navajo St from demolition.
- Saved 3914 King St from demolition.
- Saved 3441 W 39th Ave from demolition.
- Saved 3132 Federal Blvd from demolition.
- Saved 2822 Federal Blvd from possible demolition.
- Saved 3064 Speer Blvd from demolition.
- Saved 3325-3327 Tejon St Ave from demolition.
- Saved 2912 Umatilla Street from demolition.
- Preserved 1625 Perry St. through the use of TIF funding.
- REZONING NOTIFICATION FOR RESIDENTS: Passed requirement for written notification of property owners within 200' of a rezoning.
- STOPPED OVERREACH: Protected Inspiration Point from an overreach by the Mayor trying to force a shelter into an unviable location.
- POLICE: Advocated every year for additional officers to address increase in population and calls for service.
- POLICE: Advocated for District 1 Commander Paul Pazen to become DPD Chief.
- MARIJUANA LICENSES: MJ Community Engagement Plans are a requirement of every MJ license.
- LIQUOR CABARET LICENSE: Worked with Sunnyside residents and owner of the Monkey Barrel to mediate a good neighbor agreement, improving business community relations.
- Demanded and earned a bigger and bondable financial commitment to affordable housing than the Affordable Housing Fund (PAHF).
- Approved making the Affordable Housing Fund "Permanent" only after it was doubled and bondable.
- Introduced the Director of Community Planning and Development to the concept of Land Value Capture, used most effectively in the new Central Platte Valley zone district as a means to achieve affordability, open space and transportation outcomes desired by constituents.
- Supported the creation of Incentive Districts but demanded better outcomes, then achieved them in the Central Platte Valley (CPV) zone districts.
- Supported the construction of 45 affordable units at 29th & Sheridan.
- Supported the construction of 49 affordable units at 1625 Perry.
- Supported the construction of 78 affordable units at 4001 Inca.
- Supported the construction of 103 affordable units at 1555 Xavier.
- Supported the construction of 130 affordable units at 1257 Knox Ct.
- Supported the construction of 175 affordable senior units at 1550 Raleigh.
- Supported the establishment of Denver Eviction Legal Defense Fund.
Improved Planning Efforts
- Strong stances on Land Use issues ensured that neighborhood changes were incorporated into Denveright Plan Updates.
- Strong stances on Land Use issues ensured that neighborhood desires were incorporated into Central Platte Valley Area Plan, including design review, another pedestrian connection to NW Denver and a multimodal bridge over I-25 @ 23rd Avenue.
- Strong stances on Land Use issues continue to ensured that neighborhood desires are being addressed in the Stadium Area Master Plan.
New Regulatory Tools
- Urban Town Home Text Amendment: Entirely new Urban Town Home form to address and replace negligent slot home designs.
- Central Platte Valley Text Amendment: A new zone district that comprehensively captures many of the necessary reforms needed in other zone districts, include design review, on-site affordability, parking maximums, and more.
- Worked to earn combination Sanctuary City Ordinance and Executive Order to protect people from Federal ICE Agent overreach on municipal matters.
- Ended source of income discrimination when renting housing.
- Upcoming expanded property tax relief for qualified home owners vulnerable to displacement.
Quality Of Life
- Secured a new playground for Inspiration Point, along with repair to, and replacement of, existing retaining walls in the park.
- Used 2017 surplus to purchase speed radar signage for District 1, slowing traffic and improving safety.
- Passed a ban on assault weapon modifications that turn Federal conforming weapons into machinegun-like firearms.
- Advocated for and got built much needed traffic-calming pedestrian-crossing at 26th & Tennyson.
- Advocated for and got built much needed traffic-calming pedestrian-crossing at 26th @ Brown Elementary.
- Purchased and had installed a replacement water fountain at the tennis courts in Rocky Mountain Park.
- Advocated for and got installed a pedestrian-activated LED crosswalk on Lowell in the Regis neighborhood.
- Made connections between community and North High to financially support education needs that have substantially aided our local high school improve it's quality of education.
- Advocated for and got increased signal timing at some dangerous traffic signals along Federal Blvd.
- Prevented a planned removal of the signal at 32nd and Irving and a blocking of the intersection.
- Negotiated the inclusion of the Welcome to North Denver sign at 38th & Sheridan.
- Spearheaded new 4-way stops in Highland, Jefferson Park, and Berkeley.
- Spearheaded painted crosswalks throughout District 1.
- Supported residents in earning a better way to incorporate an Xcel communication Tower in Sunnyside.
- Supported residents in preventing the demolition, by Xcel, of a historic masonry wall.
- Continued advocacy for curb extensions at 32nd & Tennyson.
- Continued advocacy for bike boulevard improvements along 35th Ave.
- Sponsored an annual movie in Zuni Park.
- Advocated for improving Sloan’s Lake water quality.
- Advocated and helped to have built a soft running path around Sloan’s Lake.
- Supported I-70 Reroute, attempted to become a plaintiff in the City Park Lawsuit.
- Opposed Stormwater Fee Increase used to support I-70 & Olympic aspirations over more critical storm water needs that historically endanger multiple lives.
- Exposed ethical concerns related to lavish DIA Travel in run-up to $1.4 billion dollar "Great Hall" contract.
- Only member of Council to call Officer Branch-Wise's treatment sexual harassment and call for investigation she requested.
- Demanded and earned a budget reprioritization placing local Workforce Development over International Business Development.
- Opposed the creation of the new Office of P3 (Public Private Partnerships, now called PBI) now costing $5-million a year.
- Questioned sale of city owned property to REI for a pittance of its value and transfer of stadium land to CDOT for nothing.
- Co-authored the Let Denver Vote Ballot Measure to give Denver residents the right to vote on public money and assets to be used in hosting the Olympic Games.
- Opposed of destruction of historic City Park Golf Course and century old trees for drainage for I-70 ditch.