The Denver Planners of the East Area Plan are constantly telling us that we need more density. Why? The existing zoning of 3-5 stories along Colfax in the East Area of Denver allows for plenty for sustainable growth.
Density doesn't equal affordable housing. According to Natrience Bryant, a deputy director at the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the greatest need for housing is with the lowest income brackets, even though the highest end is primarily what's being built in the private market. Denver would need over 26,000 additional units with monthly payments below $487 to have enough affordable housing for those whose incomes are below 30 percent of the area median income of $65,000. Source: Westword But that's not what they are building – they tell us they want to increase the heights so that the developers can build higher buildings right next to our small historic homes. They say that they need to do this in order to incorporate low income or affordable housing. But the reality is that these buildings will primarily be filled with expensive mid-to-high end units. The city has acknowledged that the cannot and will not enforce that any affordable housing be included. This isn't going to help our lower income residents, it's just going to put more demand on our already burdened infrastructure and roads (yes, most people will have cars in these units, as our public transportation is so limited, and there isn't any public transportation options to get to the mountains!) We need to keep the East Area Zoning the way it is with NO height increases, as it already allows for plenty of room for 3-5 story buildings for sustainable slower growth along Colfax.
Denver also should focus on creating more homeless shelters and affordable housing downtown–the public transportation hub of Denver. This makes more sense for density as there is much better existing sidewalks and public transportation to Denver and surrounding areas in the Front Range. Along Colfax, a rider would have to first go downtown, then jump on another bus to get to other areas. You can't take a bus from Monaco and Colfax to Thornton, Boulder, the Tech Center, etc, etc – first, you'd have to go downtown. So why are they focusing on trying to pass height increases to our zoning over here in our historic neighborhood? City planners, if you really care about homelessness and affordability, let's discuss converting empty office buildings to affordable housing units. The Metro Denver office market vacancy rate is currently at 10.6 percent. Additionally, there is 3.68 million more square feet currently under construction, while at the same time many companies are leaving downtown offices due to the pandemic.
We don't need height increases for density, we need better city planning. Our existing zoning allows for plenty of room for sustainable growth. We need to stop allowing developers to control the conversation.
The residents should be heard, and we've confirmed again and again that the existing zoning is sufficient. Please listen to the tax-paying residents who actually live here. We value our small, historic homes and open spaces as well as the buildings and open spaces along Colfax.