Compiled by Cara DeGette, Editor, GPHN
$190 Million More Cuts
Denver’s city budget is facing at least $190 million in cuts for 2021, adding to $220 million in cuts already made this year.
“This challenge is both severe and historic,” Denver’s Chief Financial Officer, Brendan Hanlon, said during a Sept. 15 media briefing. Fully 50 percent of Denver’s budget comes from sales and use taxes. That percentage is much higher compared to much of the rest of the nation, creating a heavier burden during the pandemic due to a hit to convention, retail and restaurant tax revenues.
The proposed cuts include adding six to nine furlough days for city employees and freezing new hires, including for law enforcement. At the same time, the city plans to increase funds for social service programs, including for homeless outreach and a new shelter for people experiencing homelessness.
The cuts represent a “best case scenario,” Hanlon said, noting more could be on the horizon. Earlier this year, Denver’s unemployment rate hit 13.2 percent. It is currently hovering at 8.8 percent.
In a Facebook live presentation that day, Mayor Michael B. Hancock avoided detailing any specific “pain points” that Denverites might experience. Residents may expect some reduced services, he said. For example, “there could be fewer mowings … the grass may just get a little longer in the parks.”
EAP Headed Downtown
Denver planners held a virtual meeting Sept. 10 to answer questions about the controversial East Area Plan for neighborhoods along the East Colfax corridor. Fewer than 100 called in to participate. The plan, if adopted by the City Council, will impact more than 31,000 people living in South Park Hill, Montclair, East Colfax and Hale.
The meeting included a brief overview of the plan, which includes a multitude of recommended changes that would impact land use, housing, mobility and quality of life in the neighborhoods. City planners describe it as a “policy guidance” tool.
The city’s insistence on moving forward during the pandemic has drawn criticism from many residents, including members of the East Area Neighborhoods First group, which organized in opposition. However, the city has opted to move ahead. A public planning board hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m. in the City & County Building at 1437 Bannock St. People can attend virtually via Zoom at denvergov.org/planningboard.
The draft plan, along with citizen comments, can be reviewed at DenverGov.org/eastplan.
Background and details of the city’s process can be read at https://greaterparkhill.org/2019/09/not-so-fast/
Group Living Heats Up
Proposed changes in the city’s Group Living rules have created heated debate among many Denver residents. Virtual meetings are scheduled on Oct. 1, Oct. 8 and Oct. 15 to field questions and provide opportunities for feedback.
As detailed by city planner Andrew Webb in a January GPHC meeting, Denver currently allows two unrelated adults, plus an unlimited number of related minor-aged children, to live in residential homes. The city is proposing the code be modified to allow eight unrelated adults and unlimited minor relatives to live in homes that are at least 1,600 square-feet.
For details about the proposed changes and upcoming meetings, go to denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/community-planning-and-development/zoning/text-amendments/Group_Living.html.
Teen Vaping Targeted
Citing a sharp rise in teenagers’ use of e-cigarettes, organizers from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids are pushing to halt their sale in Denver.
“Fueled by thousands of flavors – from gummy worm and cotton candy to mint and mango – youth e-cigarette use has skyrocketed 135 percent in the past two years,” according to the campaign. “It’s ensnared 5.3 million U.S. kids, including 1 in 4 high school students. An overwhelming majority of them say flavors are why. And Colorado’s youth vaping rate is among the highest in the nation.”
The campaign’s Regional Director, Jodi Radke, presented many of the findings during GPHC’s August meeting. She urged participants to reach out to city council members and ask them to take action. For more, check out Flavorshookkidsdenver.org.
Home Tour Draws 90
This year’s Park Hill Home Tour drew an estimated 90 participants who spent the day checking out the exteriors of 35 participating homes in the neighborhood.
The Home Tour is GPHC’s largest annual fundraiser, with proceeds helping to fund the Registered Neighborhood Organization’s many programs.
In addition, this year 22 vendors participated in a virtual marketplace (held instead of a street fair). A daylong e-cycling drive collected 3,609 pounds, with 100 participants. A special Home Tour commemorative calendar and coloring book can still be purchased at parkhillhometour.org/2020-event.