Development & Processes
WE MUST STAY UNITED
In a district as diverse as District 9, it's hard sometimes to see what unites us. Here are commonalities I see:
1. We all want to have a say in the processes that shape our lives.
2. We all want to be able to participate in shaping and protecting our neighborhoods.
3. We all want to be able to afford to live, work and play near family, friends, schools and resources.
4. NOBODY wants things forced upon us.
5. NOBODY wants to feel voiceless or powerless over their living situations.
I can't help feel deep pain as I watch my neighbors tear each other apart over the Tiny Home Village - whose lease with Urban Land Conservancy has just received an extension because our community is not happy with the proposed site for relocation - forcing them to be moved....anywhere but its current site.
The City, in its attempts to only half-heartedly address the situation, have made a proposal that is unsurprising but infuriating nonetheless. The City, as it has done in the past, chose the furthest corner or our city limits possible in which they could tuck evidence of our failure to honor a true commitment to inclusion and housing-first policy.
The City has chosen a site where they have hidden poverty, pollution, and government negligence for generations---Globeville. Home of the most polluted zip code in America, a food desert, the intersection and tripling footprint of regional highways, intersections of freight trains, an engineered floodplain, junk yards and neighbors fighting every day just to survive.
It's not surprising in the least but it seems to catch us off guard every single time. Neighbors in this area are so accustomed to government abuse and violence that they are always ready to spring to their feet in defense of the little peace and dignity we've managed to hold onto over the years. This time however, another group like ours was added to the mix; our unhoused neighbors who've become a newer shinier target of our city after Councilman Brooks' authoring of the Camping Ban. The good ol' divide and conquer strategy....just in time for elections and major rezoning proposals in surrounding neighborhoods.
This battle royale boils down to a fight over temporarily-leased, polluted, junk land owned by the City of Denver. The City needs a place to put their homeless activists. Put them in the corner. Put them away....with the other ones...put them in Globeville.......for now.....until the elections are over.....if they survive each other. Like dogs in a ring, the powers that be put humans starving for resources and attention and let them strip each other of their dignity distracting themselves and each other while the REAL pieces are moved around on the board and they continue to deepen the problems that caused us to feel the starvation in the first place.
Meanwhile, down the street a mile south, you have neighbors in Cole being vaguely promised a grocery store, 200 market rate housing units, maybe 2-4 affordable units included---while a developer exploits his personal political relationship to rezone a city block making it exponentially more valuable for the moment he decides to cash out....even if that happens BEFORE the grocery store promise can be realized. A pretty drawing, no commitments. No community participation. He walks away with millions in his pocket, neighbors left.....still.....hungry...literally and figuratively. This is a rezoning initiated by Albus Brooks, which takes the onus off of the developer and makes it much easier to expedite.
Simultaneously, a few blocks further southeast in Swansea an entire city block was sold and rezoned underneath our noses. The property belonged to AT&T and was sold to ISELO LLC a RiNo developer whose original deal on Brighton fell through. The ordeal has led them to cash out for about $30mil and invest their money down the road in a project that promises 700 housing units with maybe 70 affordable units in another starving neighborhood. No real plan, no commitments. No community participation. It was passed through the Land Use, Transportation & Infrastructure “LUTI” committee February 26th, no real questions asked, especially not by Albus Brooks who is on the committee and offered the motion to amend.
THE PROBLEM IS THE PROCESS
These simultaneous processes are the problem in Denver right now. Not the actual development, (though if we’re going to be serious about addressing our lack of affordable housing stock, we’re going to have to do better than getting 10 or so affordable units at a time). Not the sales and infill of land. )
City Council and LUTI do not have to push a rezone through simply because it meets the basic requirements. Passing it through without exercising leadership to demand a high standard hurts us all. Initiating rezonings for a developer and pitching it to us as a city initiative deprives us of our rights to shape our city through REAL public participation. Pitting neighbors experiencing the SAME forces to differing degrees against each other to fight it out is unacceptable.
I CHOOSE THE COMMUNITY
Residents CAN rise up and demand more than crumbs. Will we recognize our power and reclaim it to shape our neighborhoods not only in ways that bring us the amenities we demand but in ways that protect stability and collective power? Or will we fall in to the same old traps?
I choose US. I choose my neighbors. I choose to address the root cause of our problems instead of falling for the trap. If elected, I will do as I’ve always done - organize and mobilize community to be an integral part of the process and ensure we have decision-making power in what happens in our neighborhoods. I will continue the work I’ve already started in establishing community-led land trusts. I will prioritize (as in actually prioritize) securing affordable housing for the residents of District 9 and Denver at large.