Adam McCoyAdam McCoyApril 18, 20183min352

A marijuana tax hike would help boost affordable housing efforts in Denver under a proposal released Monday by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

The plan would double the city’s Affordable Housing Fund annually – from $15 million to $30 million – and generate an additional estimated $105 million in funding for affordable housing over the next five years. To finance the $105 million funding surge, the city and the Denver Housing Authority would issue bonds.

“This proposal will deploy more funding quicker to support our residents and families without increasing costs on the very households we are working to serve,” Hancock said in part in a statement.

The funding would aid the city in acquiring new land for affordable housing and subsidizing new low-income housing projects. Ultimately, Denver officials say the funding boost would double its creation and preservation of units — from 3,000 units to at least 6,400 units over five years.

“Each additional unit represents a new opportunity for a family in Denver, which is why we continually look for creative ways to increase funding for affordable housing,” Denver City Council President Albus Brooks said in a statement.

Created in fall 2016, Denver’s current affordable housing fund has promised an estimated $150 million be dedicated to affordable housing efforts, including development and preservation, over a decade. The fund currently operates on a mix of property tax revenue and a one-time fee on new development, according to the city.

Denver’s plan would in part pay for the plan through a proposed increase in the marijuana sales tax from 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent, which the city says would generate an estimated $8 million per year. The city would also allocate $7 million per year from the general fund.

The plan has won some early praise from housing advocates like Brad Segal with All In Denver, who told Denverite he was surprised by the city’s “ambition” with the proposal.

Adam McCoyAdam McCoyFebruary 7, 20182min923

As Denver developers construct those tall buildings redefining the city’s skyline, they’ll have to add affordable housing components. It’s part of a proposal being floated by Denver City Council President Albus Brooks to help address the city’s ongoing housing crisis.

Brooks’ proposal is called a “height incentive,” Denver7 reports:

Brooks is trying to strike the right balance, and he is using 38th and Blake as his case study for the ambitious idea, telling developers at the RiNo site that if they want to build higher, they’ll have to add affordable housing.

“It’s a good compromise of what we’re trying to see in the city of Denver,” said Brooks.

Under Brooks’ proposal, areas zoned for five stories could build up to 12 or even 16 stories, but only if developers add ten percent affordable housing and at their own cost.

The height incentive is another Denver approach to city residents being squeezed out of their neighborhoods due to a healthy economy, but surging rents and home prices.

However, at least one developer told Denver7 these incremental steps won’t effectively address the affordable housing crisis in the city. Instead, “serious political commitment” is needed.

Denver has launched other programs to help ease the cost of living in Denver, including working with developers who promise to build affordable housing and launching a dedicated affordable housing fund and offering eviction and rent assistance.

A public hearing to discuss the height incentive is scheduled for Feb. 12.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 19, 20183min539

Government proceedings can typically be filed away in the mundane or tedious category, that is unless you’re attending a Denver City Council budget planning retreat.

Denverite’s Andrew Kenney detailed the “exciting” proceedings earlier this week — which he said included free coffee and at least one handstand — as the council hashed out its budgetary wish list for 2019.

Topping the list, was housing, development and transportation improvements, but council members are also interested in bolstering the city’s recycling program and rebuilding the Denver Police Department training academy.

In 2019, officials say they want to ask more of the Regional Transportation District. As Kenny notes:

“We are the largest city in the district … but we are not taking positions,” said Councilwoman At large Robin Kniech. “It’s good to be respectful … I would like us to be more assertive.”

Others agreed. “They just elected new leadership of their board, and some of them are people who don’t even advocate for transit, for mobility. They’re more ‘anti’ people than they are ‘pro,’” said Councilwoman At-large Debbie Ortega. “We need to gather and be really vocal and obnoxious.”

And on housing, the council members wants to explore more funding for affordable housing.

The advocacy group All In Denver wants the city to issue new debt — and potentially raise taxes — in order to raise tens or hundreds of millions more dollars to pay for affordable housing, potentially doubling the city’s current affordable housing plan.

(Council President Albus) Brooks said that he wanted to figure out some potential “internal” funding sources for housing, but he acknowledged that the city “may have to go out and ask the voters for something,” such as new bonds.

(Councilmember Paul) Kashmann said the city has “to be more aggressive in providing permanent supportive housing for our community,” adding that the council “is missing an opportunity and a responsibility.”

Read Kenney’s full report here.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJanuary 12, 20183min910

It’s a one-of-a-kind project. A village of nearly one dozen tiny homes serving Denverites who were once homeless.

The 11-tiny-home Beloved Community Village touts itself as a “democratically self-governed” community giving people without homes a chance to re-establish their place in a community, renew their purpose and restore their dignity, and most importantly, have a place to call home,” according to Beloved’s website.

But while it provides stability for its residents, the village doesn’t yet have permanency. As Denverite’s Andrew Kenney detailed this week, Beloved is a pilot project, bounded by a six-month time limit set by city planners. The village was on its lot temporarily.

Over the weekend, Beloved’s community of  96-square-foot tiny homes had to move about 100 feet with the expiration date looming. The city fast-tracked re-zoning of the new lot, and residents should move back in within the next week, but as Kenney reports, the city would like to establish a permanent location for Beloved.

The whole process struck some council members as unnecessary. Councilman Paul Kashmann suggested on Monday that the law be changed, and several others joined in.

“What is the difference between six months on one site and six months on another site … ?” asked Councilman Rafael Espinoza.

At least four other council members agreed, and none expressed opposition. Council members Albus Brooks, Kevin Flynn and Chris Herndon were not at the meeting. Councilwoman At-large Robin Kniech said the city should make the permits for the village renewable.

Though the city OK’d Beloved’s new location, they’ll likely have to move again, with both the village’s old and new lots slated for development later this year, Denverite reports.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyDecember 29, 20173min2052

The election isn’t until May 2019, but one community activist is already eyeing Albus Brooks’ seat on the Denver City Council.

Denverite has the report about Candi CdeBaca, founder of the Cross Community Coalition and executive director of Project VOYCE, who told the online news outlet her decision to file paperwork to run for District 9 was centered on gentrification in the city. More so, an interview Brooks gave Colorado Public Radio on gentrification following the Ink! Coffee controversy spurred her to file.

Here’s more from Denverite’s Erica Meltzer:

“He didn’t understand the nuances of involuntary displacement,” she said. “That is directly connected to his power and his purview. He should know all of the ins and outs of it.”

In particular, she was struck by a comment Brooks made that displacement doesn’t affect homeowners.

“Displacement is not in the homeownership category,” Brooks said. “It’s in the rental category and someone cannot afford what their landowner is jacking up the price with, right? And so, that is something that we are working very hard on.”

Brooks has served on the council since 2011, representing a district that encompasses downtown Denver, Five Points and Globeville and Elyria-Swansea. In the midst of battling cancer, Brooks was selected as council president by his peers in 2016.

CdeBaca, who grew up in Elyria-Swansea, told Denverite she opposes the I-70 expansion project and wants to alter the city’s approach to development and growth, Denverite writes. She noted her winning alone wouldn’t effect the change she wants, but rather a slew of like-minded candidates for council and a “strong candidate for mayor” would

Read Denverite’s full report here.


Joey BunchJoey BunchNovember 30, 20171min411

Elected officials and experts are planning a “community conversation” about drug abuse Thursday evening in Denver. The meeting is open to the public.

Let by state Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Denver City Council President Albus Brooks, the meeting is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Mile High United Way at 711 Park Ave. West.

“We are facing a public health crisis in Colorado,” Herod said in a statement. “Opioid and other substance abuse affects individuals, families and our community at large. It is critical that we come together to confront this issue head on. Please join us for a public discussion focused on community solutions to this epidemic.”

Theu will be joined on the panel by Lisa Raville, executive director from the Harm Reduction Action Center, and Dr. Bill Burman, the director of Denver Health Medical Center, as well as representative from the Drug Policy Alliance.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoyAugust 24, 20175min591

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. Denver is thriving and growing and being redeveloped at a rapid clip — to the dismay of some residents grappling to preserve the vanishing character and charm of their neighborhood.

Take the case of a rezoning proposal before the Denver City Council on Monday. Property owner Urban Land Acquisitions LLC requested a 0.24-acre lot at 1208 N. Quitman St. be rezoned to allow for a five-story development with a mix of residential and non-residential (like retail) on the ground floor. The zoning would also allow for an all commericial-use development, though square footage would be limited to 10,000 square feet. There isn’t yet a development plan for the site.

But the possibility of a five-story building in the West Colfax neighborhood filled with single-family homes and three-story, multi-unit buildings didn’t sit well with some residents. About half a dozen neighbors voiced their concern about the zoning proposal during a public hearing Monday night. And, the city received 27 letters in opposition and 26 in support, including the Sloan’s Lake Citizen Group, Senior City Planner Theresa Lucero said.

Bruce O’Donnell, spokesperson for property owner, noted the owner has listened to the neighborhood concerns, mainly focused on the possible height of the building, and has proposed a covenant that would restrict height to four stories and 55 feet on the lot for the next 25 years.

Nonetheless, neighbors advocated for the City Council to recommend the owner amend the rezoning request to allow for three stories, mixed-use on the parcel, to help maintain some of the character of the neighborhood while allowing for redevelopment. (There is a zoning district that would allow for three-story, mixed-use, but it didn’t exist when the owner initially filed the proposal. Council President Albus Brooks was miffed this zoning district wasn’t part of the discussion in light of height concerns before the proposal reached the full council).

But, arguing it is bound to consider a rezoning proposal based on whether it meets defined criteria, the City Council approved the measure 8-3. Brooks and Council members Rafael Espinoza and Kevin Flynn cast the nay votes.

“It’s in compliance with our plans, it’s in compliance with the West Colfax neighborhood plan and it’s not the only development in the neighborhood,” Councilman Paul Lopez, whose district encompasses the neighborhood, said of the rezoning proposal.

Espinoza wasn’t convinced the zoning proposal was in agreement with adopted plans.

“Philosophically, my heart is in this sort of zone district, but I cannot support it because I don’t think it has valid plan support that it needs in order for us to grossly say the criteria has been met” he said.

Acknowledging that Denver is growing, neighbor John Buckner characterized development in his area as both a benefit and a curse. Since moving into the neighborhood in 2013, his block has been inundated with multi-unit developments, leaving unrecognizable the neighborhood he knew when he moved.

The area is rapidly changing, Lucero noted during a presentation. Eight multi-unit developments have gone up in the last three years, and four more are currently under review.

“We are seeing rather rapid redevelopment of the area,” Lucero said.

With the site next to the Perry Street light rail station, high-density development makes sense, Council members said. The city has increasingly encouraged such development by public transit to encourage commuters to use the train instead of drive.

“What good is a light rail station around a bunch of single-family homes?” Lopez said.