One of the un-discussed issues of all the non-stop development in Denver is the air pollution from the tractors, trucks and other machinery involved with razing properties. Denver is in the top 10 for having the worst air pollution, and there is no wonder why. In addition to the traffic-clogged streets, we also have developers pillaging our neighborhoods with pollution-chugging tractors, trucks and machinery.
Neighbors have to inhale the toxic diesel exhaust and dust from the countless machines used to destroy historic homes, trees, and landscapes for the insatiable greed of the property owner developers. Above, a small diesel tractor runs for 30 minutes unattended while workers take a lunch break at 765 Jersey Street in Denver. The entire block is polluted with diesel exhaust while this machinery idles uselessly on a regular basis. When the workers were asked if they could turn off the machinery when not in use, they shrugged and ignored the request.
While Denver City Council touts that we need more affordable housing, our city continues to grant permits for to rich investors who purchase and immediately destroy what were formerly a historic, affordable smaller homes by turning them into an unaffordable monstrocities and 5-car garages to house BMWs.
Homes with any open windows or using evaporative coolers quickly fill with the toxic exhaust and dust created by heavy machinery hired by the new property owners who decide to build giant additions and scrape homes. We live in a neighborhood where we have had people who have lived for 20-40+ years, and, unfortunately, when homes are sold (due to elderly passing away, having to go to assisted living, or otherwise), developers pay for homes with cash and then promptly begin the process of destroying these smaller, affordable homes by tearing them down, and/or adding giant parking garages or additions. Healthy, mature trees are mistreated and/or cut down. Former landscapes are constantly being scraped off by noisy, polluting tractors, and the lot is covered with as much building square footage as they can negotiate with the city.
Heat Islands are gobbling up our former tree-cooled neighborhoods while our air turns turn a toxic haze.
Why are our rights not considered? Neighbors should have the right to clean air, and the years-long construction projects in the heart of our established neighborhoods is a huge contributor to air and noise pollution. If you work from home, your work is constantly interrupted by the loud banging, engine noise, dust and air pollution that fills nearby homes of construction sites.
The city of Denver, for example, continues to grant permits for non-stop construction projects on entire blocks, subjecting the residents to air pollution and noise pollution for years upon years.
And believe us, years of construction, especially when you work from home and during a pandemic, is enough to drive one mad.
We purchased a home in historic Park Hill, and, sadly, we've watched house after house be destroyed after being purchased by greedy developers. We lived in our home for just a couple years before the investors started buying up the homes from elderly who moved or passed away. Since then, we've endured over five straight years of constant construction by two direct neighbors, and other affordable homes have recently been bought and are on the hit list for tear down and building. It's like we live in a new construction neighborhood, but we don't. We live in a neighborhood with homes around 100 years old. These well-built brick homes with turrets and quality wood windows were built to last the test of time. They are mostly smaller homes, with under 2000 square feet, and large landscapes with trees and gardens. When developers find these properties, they outbid familiess, couples and single people who would love to buy these homes, and then proceed to tear them down to build giant overpriced single-family homes with giant garages. They are stealing our historic neighborhood and it's affordability away from us! They are NOT building affordable housing, either, they are building rich McMansions with the goal to be able to sell it for millions. They aren't buying homes in our neighborhood to live in, they are buying them as solely an investment to make money off of our formerly quiet, historic neighborhood. And the Denver City Council and permit office are all too happy to grant permits to do it. One house after another after another, block by block. It's an atrocity.
Where is the neighborhood consideration? What happened to do unto others as you would have done to you? What happened to being neighborly?
It seems in Denver, anything goes, and the people buying the last of the most affordable properties are just in it to make more money. They purchase our only smaller affordable homes and then they turn them into construction zones while they live somewhere else. They don't care that they ruin years of peace for the neighbors, as long as they get to make another $500+K when they sell – after cutting down the trees and paving over permeable landscaping by adding giant additions or garages. They don't care if they steal the sunlight from neighbors by building higher and blocking the sun, or privacy as they build giant structures overlooking neighbors backyards. They don't care if the neighbors have to inhale diesel exhaust and live with loud noise pollution on a day-to-day basis while these monstrosities are built. They don't care if they purchase the only affordable homes in the neighborhood and turn them into McMansions. We live on a block that formerly had the most affordable homes in the area, but they were all recently sold and then the city of Denver granted permits for the purchasing developers to destroy these properties as we know them, and "upgrade" them with unaffordable homes that will never again be able to be purchased by lower-income families. Denver City Council claims that they want to help with affordable housing, but all we see if them allowing for the destruction of all the affordable homes in our area, transforming affordable homes to ridiculously un-affordable over-priced homes.
We purchased a home in Park Hill nine years ago, and have been under seige by greedy developers all around us since for the past 6 years. What happened to common decency? We've watched as developers tear down and prop up their fencing and other materials onto our neighbors' house – rather than propping it up on their own – because why not damage the neighbors house versus the one they're working on? They destroy our alley concrete and streets with their heavy equipment, and leave debris, nails, and trash all over the construction sites. We recently found over 6 screws and nails in our alley in the area around the construction behind us, and one of our neighbors recently had a flat tire caused by a nail that resulted in having to replace their tire – and, when the developer and his contracters were confronted about the nails and screws, their answer was " that's not from us" and, "you can get flat tires anywhere". What is wrong with people?!
These neighborhoods have history. Families have lived in these homes for close to 100 years with no trouble, why do these new owners fill the need to tear down 1200 square foot homes that are perfect for couples or small families to build huge monstrocities in their place? When is enough room, enough? Why do they think that the large green landscapes surrounding these homes is just more room to "expand" the house into? Wendigo comes to mind. It seems the people buying homes in Denver today never have enough, and the houses they buy are no longer homes, they are a commodity to use to make money. It's not about neighborhoods and being neighborly, it's about taking. And Denver's formerly quiet, beautiful neighborhoods are being taken, used and abused and then sold off to the highest builder. Our tree canopy and permeable landscapes disappear under development, and the City Council is all too eager to make it more enticing to developers.
This is unacceptable. It's time to fight back.