As I write this month’s missive, City Council is in process of ironing out the details of Denver’s first permanent funding stream designed to increase the availability of affordable housing in Denver. Mayor Michael Hancock has asked us to authorize a slight increase to the property tax (about $1/mon. on the average homeowner’s bill) and to add an impact fee (well under $2 per square foot) on all development taking place in the City and County of Denver. The fund is designed to raise at least $150 million over 10 years, to facilitate the construction, retention and rehabilitation of 6,000 affordable units. This new program will provide affordable housing across the full breadth of housing-burdened families, not just those in the homeless community. While their need is great, we cannot ignore the needs of our lower- and middle-income families who are spending far too much of their monthly income on housing-related expenses.
The Denver Forestry Department urges you all to “Be A Smart Ash!” in response to the threat of an Emerald Ash Bore infestation that could decimate our urban tree canopy if not addressed pre-emptively and aggressively. There are nearly 1.5 million Ash trees in the metro area, including 330,000 in the City and County of Denver. That equates to 1 of every 6 trees that provide us shade, visual relief, and oxygen-producing greenery. Forester Rob Davis has begun a robust program treating trees on city property, including parks, and in an effort to head off an arboreal disaster, has taken the unprecedented step to begin treating streetside trees in the city right of way - normally the responsibility of the adjacent homeowner - at no cost to that homeowner. For information, visit beasmartash.org
City Council recently approved an ordinance which, for the first time, legalizes some short-term rentals of less than 30 days. To the great dismay of those who had been renting investment properties on a short-term basis, Denver’s ordinance only allows such rentals in a person’s primary residence, defined as the “place of customary return.” To rent your property, you need to purchase a license at denvergov.org/str
for $25, and pay lodger’s tax, income tax and Denver occupational privilege tax. You can rent a room or two while you’re in the home, or rent the entire home while you go on vacation, as long as you assign a local person as a manager in your absence. Enforcement has been a major concern for many of us on Council and in the community. The main tool to make enforcement possible is the requirement that hosts must include their business license number on all advertising. The presence or lack of a license number allows Denver’s Department of Excise and License to encourage compliance to all elements of our regulations. Failure to put your license number on your ad, or renting a property on a short-term basis without purchasing a license are crimes in and of themselves, subject to fines of up to $999/day. Should problems arise with an STR property, the director of Excise and License can not only issue fines, but can also suspend an individual’s license immediately pending investigation of complaints. For questions, visit denvergov.org/str
At our last meeting, July 11, Council initiated the first pure public comment period in city history. Seven residents spoke to Council on a variety of issues. While we have long welcomed public comment on agenda items both at City Council committee meetings and our regular Monday night meetings, there has been no chance for the average citizens to address the Council body as a whole on city matters that concern them, but are not on the Council agenda. Public Comment is held from 5-5:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month. Speakers get 3 minutes to speak. Sign up begins at noon on the Friday before public comment and runs until 4:30 p.m. on comment day. To sign up: call 720-337-2000, email email@example.com
or sign up in person in room 451 of the City and County Bldg.
The City Council Sidewalks Working Group, which I am pleased to serve as chairperson, has completed the information-gathering phase of its work, which focused on evaluating the condition of our sidewalk system, considering the process currently used to encourage repairs of existing walks or installation of new walks (the responsibility of the property owner) and hearing about what other cities are doing to improve their pedestrian infrastructure. Beginning on August 10, we will begin considering options for Denver, with the goal of coming up with recommendations sometime this fall or winter.
In his recent State of The City address, Mayor Hancock announced his intention to go to voters with a General Obligation bond package in November of 2017. The last such effort was a decade ago, when voters approved a $550 million Better Denver Bond Program that financed a myriad of capital and deferred maintenance projects across the city. The mayor has stated his intention that the process to determine the specific projects, a bond issue would be used to finance will include great opportunity for public participation. We intend to lend a hand to ensure that the public voice is well represented in that bond package.
I continue to hold in-district office hours at Pete’s Café, 2345 S. University Blvd. every Thursday morning, 8-10 a.m. Beginning in September, I will extend those hours to 8 a.m.-noon. If you need to see me at any other time, just call my office and I’ll arrange to meet you at a convenient time and place. For questions, call 720-337-6666 or 720-260-0638 or email firstname.lastname@example.org