If you have been reading our newsletters or Facebook posts, you know that your District 1 team has been conducting weekly conversations at local spaces in the community, meeting with you at your neighborhood association meetings, and having regular contact with neighborhood organization officers. We have been working on developing a non-profit entity to harness the collective voice of our neighborhoods with the goal of continually improving our community. I want to thank you for attending these meetings and taking the time to speak with me. Your input, whether large or small, civic or personal, has been immensely valuable in helping me determine the direction to take on the many issues before City Council.
We have recently had two big wins for our neighborhoods, and I believe both are great examples of how your work and your voice can bring about positive change in our Northwest Denver community. Although the scope of these wins might seem insignificant to some, it ultimately shows the impact that community voice can have in shaping your neighborhood.
Rezoning in Jefferson Park preserves character and businesses for mixed-use urban neighborhood
First, in Jefferson Park, neighbors have been clear in expressing how important it is to preserve the character of the neighborhood and to ensure that the burgeoning town square at Eliot and West 25th Avenue will prosper and serve the local community’s commercial needs for a very long time. More so than in any other part of town, the highly sought-after single family/duplex fabric has been demolished and replaced with multi-family “slot homes” that often ignore the street character goals established in the 2005 Neighborhood Plan.
Last year, when an original Homestead Act farmhouse on a very large lot next to the town square was facing demolition, the highest and “best” use for the property was deemed to have been yet another “slot house” project. Working with the community, the developer, and the Business Improvement District (BID), we successfully rezoned that property from multi-unit residential to mixed-use, with a commitment to street-facing, neighborhood-serving commercial space on the ground floor. This zoning change will allow two homes that would have otherwise been demolished, to become a true mixed-use development that will serve the community and contribute to the BID.
The new zoning was achieved through the work of JPUN (Jefferson Park United Neighbors – the registered neighborhood organization) and the Federal Boulevard BID, which both aided in brokering a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and a covenant that together ensure that the promised mixed-use structures are indeed built, while eliminating some previously allowed uses and providing direction so that architectural design will honor the existing fabric of the neighborhood. This compromise was not easy, but ultimately provided the best solution among the possible alternatives and brought all parties together to find the win-win solution. The rezone was both novel and mutually beneficial, and I am pleased to say that it passed unanimously.
To the unfamiliar, this rezoning may seem contradictory; it is not. Rest assured that this effort was geared toward preserving the legacy and character of our mixed-use urban neighborhoods, and very much about achieving a community-centric alternative to the planned “slot home” development, which would have been detrimental to the community due to the loss of historic structures, while simultaneously limiting the historic central business district that serves the community.
Slow down you’re moving too fast
The other win for Northwest Denver was a far simpler act to address a widespread community concern: speeding. Our budgetary savings from 2016 enabled us to address resident concerns about the effects of increasingly high traffic speeds on quality of life and child safety. Working closely with the Denver District 1 Police Department regarding locations where speeding is being reported, we discussed the tools that can help encourage drivers to slow down. In an effort to aid in implementation of those tools, my City Council Office donated $4000 to the Denver District 1 Police Department to purchase additional speed-monitoring traffic signs to aid in slowing traffic along key routes by making drivers cognizant of their speed. Commander Paul Pazen and his officers have determined areas with high potential for injury to people, and will use the concrete data they have gathered to prioritize placement of these signs. We look forward to their use, because research has shown these signs significantly decrease traffic speeds.
These are just two examples of the work that can be done when we come together to make a difference in our communities.
This is a repository of articles by CM Espinoza. For day-to-day information and press releases please follow the CD1 Office on Facebook.