The lack of affordable housing remains a top concern of Denver residents, and while we commend the city on increasing resources, more needs to be done. If you agree that more resources are needed to support affordable housing, what type of funds and how much are necessary to address this crisis, and how could you achieve this within the next two to three years?
We need to continue to advocate for more state and federal resources for affordable housing. I am in favor of collaborating, innovating and partnering with our metro area cities, our state, non-profits and the private sector to come up with creative ways to build and preserve housing. I like height incentives that result in affordable units without using public funds. I'd like the city, DHA or non-profits to buy existing units and entire buildings to use affordable units. I am cautious about new taxes and fees as they impact low-income residents making Denver even less affordable.
Transit and mobility remain a top city priority without a dedicated local source of funding. Would you support creating a dedicated source of annual funding for citywide investments in transit, mobility and Vision Zero safety improvements, and if yes, how much money do you think is needed to properly address this need, how would you allocate these funds and how would you propose to fund this?
The total amount needed to address our transit needs is in the billions. I serve on the city’s Transportation Funding Work Group where we are discussing ideas for mobility funding. I’m interested in exploring ways to assess vehicles (increasing the gas tax, a vehicle per mile fee, a fee on car registration and more.) My district borders 4 cities. We need to think regionally and continue to work with RTD and explore buying-up RTD service. I’m in favor of free RTD service for students, and would love to see a 1 or 2 year pilot when RTD could be free for all. It would be interesting to see how habits would change. As with housing, I am concerned about unfairly impacting low-income residents with new fees and taxes.
In the November 2018 election, Denver voters approved a sales tax to increase the yearly investment in parks by more than $40 million. How would you ensure that acquiring land for new parks is done in an equitable way and does not compete with other pressing city priorities, such as acquiring land for affordable housing?
2A funds can only be used for parks, not housing. The city and the Trust for Public Land already know where parks are needed. I don’t think there will be a conflict between acquiring land for parks versus housing. The two needs can be complementary. There will be instances when a project can include land for housing and a park. I supported 2A, started a foundation for land acquisition for new parks, and am working with the University Hills North neighborhood on creating a park.
All In Denver was formed to respond to concerns that racial and social inequity is growing in the city. What do you think are the reasons that we have become a less equitable city and what are your priorities for ensuring Denver becomes more equitable in the future?
Rapid population growth has resulted in a housing shortage, which drives rent and home price increases. Preservation (and creation) of diverse and accessible neighborhoods is a top priority for me. Property tax refunds and home improvement grants and loans help people stay in their homes. We should also change our zoning so that more unrelated people can live in a home. We should encourage ADUs and consider the needs of our seniors. Many thousands of seniors will need to find new housing, and some will need to downsize. Our current housing stock isn't adequate to address this dynamic.
Running a city the size of Denver is a massive undertaking with a complex web of services, departments, budgets and trade-offs. From your understanding of the city and how it allocates its resources, are there areas of the city that you’d increase funding and if so, what are they? And likewise, are there areas of the city where you’d decrease funding?
Balancing the myriad of needs and demands on our city is a huge challenge. City Council’s 2019-2020 priorities are economic opportunity; the environment and sustainability; housing and homelessness; mobility; and neighborhood quality of life. While advocating for my district, most of my requests are around mobility improvements and planning. If we were in a position to have to cut funding, I would look at each department and agency and determine which functions are not essential and are right-sized, and look to technology or other innovations to improve efficiency.
Let’s assume that the City of Denver ends the 2019 fiscal year with a budget surplus of $20 million. As a Councilmember or Mayor, please list up to three program priorities on how you would spend this money. Please provide specific line items and budget amounts.
I would direct funds to our myriad housing and mobility needs. Improving mobility and increasing our stock of affordable and attainable housing would have a positive impact on so many quality of life factors - economic development, preserving neighborhood character, managing growth responsibly and protecting the most vulnerable among us.