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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyMarch 5, 20183min2041

As part of an ongoing campaign to combat the high cost of housing in Denver, Mayor Michael Hancock is suggesting throwing more money into the city’s affordable housing fund.

That news according to Denverite’s Andrew Kenney, who reported on Friday that Hancock has “asked city staff to look for more money soon after the city revamped its housing policy in 2016.” Created in fall 2016, Denver’s fund has promised an estimated $150 million will be dedicated to affordable housing efforts, including development and preservation, over a decade.

The fund operates on a mix of property tax revenue and a one-time fee on new development, according to the city, but the city’s Department of Finance and Office of Economic Development is exploring other avenues to generate more money, Denverite reports. The news outlet also noted new polling shows affordable housing is at the front of residents’ minds.

In fact, as the city considers more funding, the new polling shows a majority of residents would support a hike in property or sales taxes to address the issue, the Denver Business Journal reports. The poll, conducted by Strategies360 on behalf of advocacy non-profit All In Denver, surveyed 404 likely voters in Denver about the top issues in the city.

With housing topping the list, Denverites also identified education, homelessness, cost of living and transportation in that order as top issues in Denver. The survey noted that 73 percent of poll respondents said they would support a sales tax increase to address affordable housing, according to the Business Journal.

The survey also suggested Denverites aren’t satisfied with the city’s affordable housing efforts, with 66 percent saying officials are doing too little to address homelessness and housing.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchDecember 26, 20172min542

Tickets are on sale for the the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic forecast breakfast Jan. 19 in Lone Tree.

A panel of experts will examine the trends and forces that could affect the Colorado economy in 2018.

 

Pete Casillas, publisher of the Denver Business Journal, will moderate a panel that includes:

  • Tim Jones, director of political communications for First Rule Media and the former Republican speak of the Missouri House of Representatives.
  • Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the head of the Campaign to Fix the Debt.
  • Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division and senior associate dean for academic programs at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The cost is $60 each for members, $85 for non members and $750 for a table.

The breakfast is from 7 to 9 a.m. at University of Colorado South Denver campus at 10035 S. Peoria St. in Lone Tree.

Register by clicking here.

 


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyNovember 27, 20173min703

You’d be hard-pressed to find a public place that welcomes smokers nowadays in Denver. The city has even recently moved to ban smoking and vaping along the 16th Street Mall.

However, like a relic from another era, Denver International Airport still has a dedicated indoor space, the Smokin’ Bear Lodge Smoking Lounge on concourse C, where passengers can light up before their flight.

Three DIA smoking lounges have already closed, and the Smokin’ Bear space will shutter when its lease expires in 2018, according to the Denver Business Journal, but DIA still landed on a health list that some call the smoky list, compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC study looked at the smoking policy of the 50 busiest airports in the world, and Denver was one of just three in the U.S. (and 27 worldwide) without a smoke-free facility. McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta were the other two U.S. airports to join DIA as smoking facilities.

To be considered a smoke-free airport, a facility must “completely prohibit smoking in all indoor areas,” the study said. Even though smokers are separated, in designated or ventilated smoking areas, from non-smokers, “studies have documented that secondhand smoke can transfer from designated smoking areas into nonsmoking areas in airports, where nonsmoking travelers and employees can be exposed,” the study read.

“In addition to subjecting nonsmoking travelers who pass through these areas to involuntary secondhand smoke exposure, designated or ventilated smoking areas can also result in involuntary exposure of airport employees who are required to enter these areas or work near them,” the study said.

“Smoke-free policies substantially improve indoor air quality and reduce secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers.”

DIA has plans to eventually become a smoke-free facility, the Denver Business Journal reports.


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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyOctober 10, 20173min861

As cities jockey in the bid for Amazon’s second headquarters, preparing proposals likely heavy with tax breaks and financial incentives, Denver and state officials might go a different route to appeal to CEO Jeff Bezos and company.

Instead, officials will harp on “the region’s highly educated workforce, quality of life and global connectivity through its international airport” in its bid to the retail giant, the Denver Business Journal’s Monica Mendoza reports.

“We are not the biggest incentive state — and we won’t do anything differently for Amazon than we would for any other company that is looking to locate here,” J.J. Ament, president and CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., told me Thursday.

Ament’s agency is representing the region in preparing a bid for Amazon.com Inc.’s sprawling second headquarters campus.

Amazon announced it would start accepting proposals for a location for its second headquarters in September, promising to invest more than $5 billion for construction and operation of HQ2 and create 50,000 jobs. With the construction and operation of an Amazon HQ2, the surrounding community should expect to grow tens of thousands of additional jobs, and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment, Amazon said. There’s an Oct. 19 deadline for proposals.

Amazon does note it is looking to set up in a region with “strong local and regional talent,” but it will also surely expect financial incentives as part of a package. As Forbes points out in an article on the race for Amazon HQ2, states like Wisconsin have shelled out billions in financial incentives to attract giant companies (in that case Taiwan-based Foxconn), and the math often doesn’t add up for the return on job growth.

Whether Metro Denver’s approach will hurt or help Colorado in the competition for Amazon HQ2 remains to be seen, but Ament is confident Denver will make it through the initial heat:

“We don’t have to lure them with financial incentives,” Ament said. “We are not going to be that [kind of] proposal.”

 


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 28, 20173min581

It isn’t exactly politics per se, but the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless‘s ongoing joust with the federal government — over a parcel of surplus land in the Federal Center in Lakewood — raises questions about responsive government. Or, the lack thereof.

The news this week is that the U.S. General Services Administration is going to delay taking bids in an auction of the land in the face of a lawsuit by the coalition that alleges the sale would break the law. The coalition had sought an injunction against the sale earlier this week, contending a 1987 law “requires federal agencies to identify and make available surplus federal property, such as buildings and land, for use by states, local governments, and nonprofit agencies to assist homeless people.”

A follow-up press statement by the coalition Thursday, announcing the land sale’s delay, suggests the sale has been riven by confusion, unanswered questions and possibly conflicting decisions by federal agencies (like that would be a first):

“This is a great first step in stopping the sale of the property to commercial interests,” said John Parvensky, President and CEO of CCH.  “It continues to confound us that HUD could have determined that the Federal Center Station property, located adjacent to the RTD station and St. Anthony’s Hospital, was ‘unsuitable for use to assist the homeless’, while GSA determined that it was more than suitable for high end residential and commercial development.  We hope that this pause will give all parties the time to correct this potential injustice, and make this property available for development of supportive housing and services needed by a growing homeless population in Lakewood and throughout the Metro Denver Area”.

The Denver Business Journal’s Molly Armbrister meanwhile reports:

The GSA did not respond to a request for comment Thursday, but on Wednesday declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

In other words, they have to figure out what’s going on before they can tell the rest of us.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 22, 20173min861

As the legislature wound down last month, ruling state Senate Republicans stopped legislation that would have prevented employers from inquiring about the criminal past of job applicants. The Democratic-sponsored House Bill 1305 would have prohibited job applications from asking job seekers to disclose if they ever had been convicted of crimes — typically by asking them to check a box on the application form.

Civil-rights advocates say the box is unfair to those who once had a record but had mended their ways and simply wanted a shot at being considered for a job opening on a level playing field with other applicants. Employers and business groups, who lauded the Senate GOP’s action, say they have a responsibility to customers and other employees to know in advance if a job applicant has a criminal record. Subjecting co-workers and customers to those with a criminal past could expose the employers to liability, they say.

The “ban the box” proposal was part of a national movement that spawned the catch phrase.  And although the legislation was killed in Colorado, the movement nationally is moving ahead, according to a human resources consultant who penned a piece in the Denver Business Journal this week. The headline pretty much told the story: “Ban the box initiatives gain momentum.”

Writes Anna Brewer:

So far, more than 150 cities and counties have adopted ban the box initiatives. Depending on the location, they have taken on a variety of names, including The Fair Chance Initiative (Los Angeles, California), the Opportunity to Compete Act (New Jersey) and the Criminal Background Check Bill (Minnesota).

Could “ban the box” turn up again in Colorado’s legislature? On the statewide ballot, by way of citizens initiative?