- Mayor of Denver and Denver City Council
- United States of America
Denver and its neighborhoods are undergoing a very rapid transition. Zoning laws dictate what can or can't be built on a given lot. Historic Denver determines what buildings are historically significant and therefore cannot be demolished.
But what about the effect on the city and its neighborhoods when demolition and new development happen at a pace more rapid than the city can keep up with? What about the effects on traffic, crowding, parking, and overall quality of life? When the new zoning code was put into place, it clearly didn't take into account the effects of mass demolition and new construction happening on multiple sites, all at the same time. It also didn't effectively ask for input from the everyday residents of these neighborhoods. The face of our Denver neighborhoods is changing at such a rapid pace that the traffic and quality of life are already deteriorating, renters and homeowners are being pushed out, and yet there is more demolition and development in the works.
Determining the historical significance of a building doesn't take into account the bigger picture. Many current residents of these old Denver neighborhoods chose this area because of the reverence for Denver's history, older structures and character. Many of those structures do not fall under protection from Historic Denver. What will be the impact to a neighborhood when so many structures, historically significant or not, are gone? In many cases houses are not being demolished here and there, one at a time, but rather developers are buying up and leveling entire blocks of houses to make way for luxury housing, replacing a block that had history and character with buildings whose character and design add nothing aesthetically and will soon enough be outdated, much like the many structures which followed a similar trend in the 1960's and 1970's.
The Mayor of Denver and Denver City Council must take a more active role in this process, and include Denver residents as well. It is not enough to say that because the zoning code and historical designation say a block of homes can be demolished and built on, that the demolition and development is therefore inevitable. It is still their job to ensure that the change and development that affect current tax paying citizens happens in a way that ensures it is done responsibly and retains the quality of life that brought us to these neighborhoods in the first place. If demolition and development happen too rapidly, it is a detriment to all. The luxury apartment bandwagon is pushing more and more renters out. Demolitions are forcing many homeowners out of their homes. In addition, too many luxury apartments combined with limited options for home ownership allows less personal investment by individuals and creates a more temporary attitude for the area. Once the market becomes oversaturated, and/or the high cost rents of these "luxury" apartments have excluded enough of the population, there won't be enough renters to fill these buildings. There is a lot of outside money being used for speculation on our neighborhoods. There is no personal investment there.
Secondly, putting too many people in an area whose roads are not built to handle the volume will decrease quality of life for all. One of the many example of this is in the area south of downtown Denver: there are already major traffic bottlenecks in areas along Speer, Broadway, and 6th and 8th Avenues, and it is now pouring over onto side streets that cannot handle the volume. It is not enough to encourage car shares, bike rentals, and a mass transit system that is already struggling. The reality is that in Colorado most people still own and rely on a car to reach parts of Colorado that the alternatives don't, and they need a place to park that car. And to insist that everyone will simply never drive around town if other transportation modes are encouraged is totally unrealistic. The fact is that our current mass transit system is not built to support this.
We, the undersigned, call on the Mayor of Denver and Denver City Council to take a more active role in preventing overdevelopment in Denver's neighborhoods. You must halt all proposed demolition and new development until it can be reviewed on a case by case basis. You must ask questions like, beyond historical designations, what will the impact be with each new demolition of Denver's oldest homes to the neighborhood and to its residents?
For each block that has a proposed apartment building housing hundreds of new residents, will the parking that goes with it truly be enough to accommodate those tenants without a negative impact on surrounding residents? And for each of those new buildings housing hundreds of new residents, how will it impact the demand for space on the surrounding roads? Your very own Blueprint Denver states that new developments in Denver are supposed to be tied to availability of transportation, including mass transit.
Most of the housing being built appears to be luxury housing. There is nothing balanced about this when many residents, both renters and homeowners who have helped to make these neighborhoods what they are, are pushed out as a result and can no longer afford to live here. It is your responsibility to ensure that Denver grows in a way that is sustainable and does not decrease quality of life for those who are living here and are invested in this area.
It is not enough to say that because the zoning code and historical designation say a block of homes can be demolished and built on, that the demolition and development is therefore inevitable. It is still your job to ensure that the change and development that affect your current tax paying citizens happen in a way that ensures it is done responsibly and retains the quality of life that brought us to these neighborhoods in the first place.
Denver residents deserve more of a voice in this. We were not given a sufficient one during the creation of the 2010 zoning code. We have seen how that is working out, and we demand to have a real voice in what happens to our homes and our neighborhoods.
Growth and change are inevitable and can ultimately be a good thing. But growth that is out of control and is not planned will have major negative consequences for all who live here. Look at the history of Colorado: Boom and Bust. We are currently in a Boom. Let's be smart about this before it turns into a Bust.
The Don't Overdevelop Denver petition to Mayor of Denver and Denver City Council was written by Denver Resident and is in the category City & Town Planning at GoPetition.