Compiled by Cara DeGette, Editor, GPHN
The following is a synopsis of topics that were discussed at the January GPHC monthly community meeting. The next meeting is Thursday, Feb. 6, at 2823 Fairfax St. beginning at 6:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome.
Saving Bees And The Planet
Adair Andre of Environment Colorado provided updates on two current legislative initiatives. The first is a bill that would restrict residential use of bee-killing pesticides, called neonics. Honeybees are critical in pollinating most of the sources of our food, including fruits, vegetables and the alfalfa that cows eat. Beekeepers across the country report an average loss of their bee populations at 30 percent every year, largely due to pesticides. Andre urged attendees to reach out to state Sen. Angela Williams and other lawmakers to urge support for this year’s bill to restrict neonics statewide.
In addition, Andre urged residents to reach out to Sen. Williams and other lawmakers and ask they support a bill to ban single-use plastic grocery bags and single-use polystyrene foam takeout containers. As of Jan 2, more than 27,000 Coloradans had signed petitions to enact such a ban on plastics. Andre urged people to contact legislators directly to register their opinions. Sen. Williams’ Capitol telephone number is 303-866-4864. State Rep. Leslie Herod and Rep. James Coleman, who also represent portions of Park Hill, can be reached at 303-866-2959 and 303-866-2909, respectively.
Park Hill Commons Update
Nina Khosravi of HM Capital provided an update about the block-long Park Hill Commons project being built on Fairfax Street between 28th and 29th avenues. HM Capital is the developer for the project, which includes residential townhomes, micro-unit apartments, office and retail spaces, and restaurants. A small public park, which has been the subject of past controversy, is also part of the project.
The 2,300 square-foot townhomes, at the south end of the block, are nearing completion and the company will begin renting them, for $2,300 per month, on March 1. Offices and retail space are scheduled for completion and occupancy in April and May, including 10,000 square-feet of co-working space, and “micro-retail” spaces that will be 200 square-feet and rent for $1,600 per month. Signed tenants so far include the Denver restaurant chain Sexy Pizza, as well as a chiropractor, a family dentistry business and a children’s hair salon. Other expected tenants include an adult hair salon, a coffee shop and home-goods store. Khosravi said other restaurant spaces have not yet been leased.
The next phase of the project will be 21 micro apartments at the north end of the block, which will be 400 square-feet and rent for $1,200 to $1,300 per month.
The public park, which will be inside Park Hill Commons, will be the last part of the project completed. The park is currently scheduled to open in the fall of 2021.
Group Living Code Changes
City Planner Andrew Webb provided an update on Denver’s code governing group living. Currently, the city allows two unrelated adults, plus an unlimited of related minor-aged children, to live in residential homes. The group home code, Webb said, is very out of date, and the city has determined that the two-adult rule is much more conservative than peer cities, which average a five-adult maximum allowed. Denver is proposing the code be modified to allow up to eight unrelated adults and unlimited minor relatives to live in residential homes that are at least 1,600 square-feet.
The number of people who are living with roommates and families has grown substantially in Colorado because of the rising costs and shortages of affordable housing, Webb said. The city views the code change as a potential solution that legally allows people to pool their resources. One audience member asked Webb why the city is recommending the number of allowed unrelated adults be quadrupled, when other cities allow five adults. Webb said the State of Colorado’s group home statute allows for up to eight unrelated adults in residential group homes, and the recommendation is to adopt consistent standards.
Webb said the planning department is holding public meetings on the proposed group home code changes throughout February. The planning board will take up the debate in late March/early April, with final recommendations likely to go to the City Council in June. More information is available at denvergov.org/groupliving.
Morgenstern Makes A Pitch
Donna Morgenstern, a Park Hill resident who is running for the State Board of Education in District 1, introduced herself and gave brief remarks about her candidacy. Morgenstern is a retired data analyst and accountability manager with the Colorado Department of Education. She is challenging incumbent Val Flores and Lisa Escárcega, the executive director of the Colorado Association of School Executives, in the June 30 Democratic primary. Morgenstern said she is focused on equity, safe and healthy schools, accountability for how the State Board of Education’s money is spent and working to stop the school-to-prison pipeline.