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Talk of the Neighborhood

Compiled by Cara DeGette, Editor, GPHN

The following is a synopsis of what was discussed during the March 7 Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. monthly meeting. The next community meeting is Thursday, April 4, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at 2823 Fairfax St. The May meeting will be Thursday, May 2 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.

Is The Skunk Drunk?

Julian Wolff, outreach coordinator for the Denver Animal Shelter, gave a brief presentation. Wolff (yes, that is his real name) noted that the Denver Animal Shelter is at 1241 W. Bayaud (look for the big sparkly dog statue in front). 

The shelter provides numerous resources, including low-cost spay and neutering, chipping, and vaccines ($15) for diseases like parvo and rabies and distemper. In addition, the shelter will take in and care for animals whose owners are experiencing temporary homelessness or are in the hospital, for up to four weeks. 

Wolff also noted there are many cool animals at the shelter, and urged people who are considering adopting a dog or a kitty to come on by. Audience members asked several questions, including what to do about skunks and raccoons who are causing a ruckus. The general advice is, if you see a skunk that seems drunk, call animal enforcement at 311, as it is likely the skunk has rabies. 

For other sightings, Wolff noted, it’s generally best to accept the fact that “they are wildlife we are in their habitat.”

Right To Survive Initiative

Proponents and opponents of Denver’s Right to Survive Initiative 300 provided their views for supporting and opposing the measure, which is on the May ballot in Denver. 

If passed, the initiative would repeal the City of Denver’s controversial camping ban that allows police to cite homeless people and remove their property from public areas. Opponents warn the language of the Right to Survive initiative is broadly written and would result in homeless people pitching tents in parks and other spaces for long periods of time. 

Proponent Dianne Thiel said the measure is designed to protect the constitutional rights of families living in the city without homes. The measure, she said, would not be a green light for people to obstruct or litter or harass or rest on private property, or stay in public parks after closing. It would ensure a basic human right allowing people the right to sleep in their own cars and on public property, and would end the cruel treatment that people experiencing homelessness often encounter. 

Thiel noted that the campaign to defeat the measure has generated nearly $600,000 as of the end of February. The campaign to defeat 300 is being led by the powerful lobbying firm CRL Associates and is largely funded by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, numerous developer and homebuilder groups, restaurant associations and other wealthy donors – those she termed as “the very groups responsible in part for Denver’s homeless reality.”

Speaking for the No on 300 campaign was Khadija Haynes, a longtime Denver political activist. With a nod to her Park Hill roots, Haynes said she is proud of the work she has done as a lobbyist over the years, and she dismissed any suggestion that she has lost touch with the community. Rather, she said, the broad wording of the Right to Survive initiative is concerning – and not just to her. 

Haynes described the initiative as “poorly written” and warned it could allow homeless people to pitch tents along the public areas of Monaco and 6th Avenue parkways. In addition, she said, the wording could negatively impact park permits and curfews. “All city public places will be in play,” Haynes said. “This is a bad initiative with unintended consequences.”

A general discussion followed, with several in the audience citing a multi-pronged root of the problem: a lack of affordable housing in Denver, city policies that have criminalized people for being homeless, a lack of funds for services, and a failure of the city’s elected leaders to address the issue.

For more on the Right to Survive Initiative 300, check out page 14 for opinions from proponents, opponents, and a joint statement that was issued by the numerous providers to the city’s homeless population.

Party and Parade

Several other topics were briefly discussed. A committee organizing a 50th anniversary celebration of Greater Park Hill Community in June provided an update, noting the event will be called the Greater Park “Over the” Hill Party. 

In addition, Justin Bresler, the founder and organizer of Park Hill’s 4th of July Parade, noted the big annual event turns 10 this year. Click hereand scroll to the bottom for more on both events. 

Editor’s Note: We love  your letters to the editor, and publish them when we have space available. We give preference to those letters that address an issue that has been covered in the newspaper, or a topic that is Park Hill or Denver-specific. Join the conversation and make your voices heard. Send letters to editor@greaterparkhill.org, and include your full name, and the neighborhood in which you live. Deadlines are the 15th of each month, for the following month’s issue.


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