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?
Our approach needs to be multi-pronged. We must build new units and protect their affordability long term; we must ensure programs in place are sufficient to ensure at-risk individuals and families have access to those units; and we need to do everything possible to keep people in the homes in which they live. I do believe we need additional fund commitments to accelerate and expand the programs in place. While I do not know what the dollar number is that solves the problem, I think it’s reasonable to aim toward a doubling of our current effort and increasing the requirements for affordable units in new developments. I don’t think we can solve the problem in two to three years, but I believe we can up the ante significantly.
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?
As chair of our Sidewalks Working Group I led the effort that brought historic levels of investment in pedestrian infrastructure. I have been a vocal supporter of bike lanes, and participated in implementation of two way bike lanes from University Blvd to Colorado Blvd along Buchtel Blvd, as well as along Florida Ave. from Steele St. to Monaco.
I support creating a dedicated source of annual funding for mobility improvements weighted toward non-auto mobility – bike, pedestrian, mass transit. Using New York City as an inspiration, I believe we can make major improvements with paint on the pavement and other inexpensive solutions. I would favor an SCFD style approach, but am willing to support a Denver-only.
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?
Meeting both of these needs – affordable housing and adequate open space - are critical to maintaining quality of life in Denver. The Denveright planning process that is moving toward completion holds out equity as a guiding value. That value must be followed in all our citywide initiatives. I would look to maximizing density in affordable housing construction wherever we can appropriately do so, to minimize the acreage needed to meet that need. That would leave more land open for open space and other city needs. There are guard rails in place to ensure the Parks money goes where it is intended, and our affordable housing money goes to its rightful destination.
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?
I think historically wealthier communities have been able to lobby more effectively for city services, and I believe increasing housing values have made it more difficult for under-served populations to spread across the city. I will continue to work to include truly affordable housing in projects across our city in all new developments. Blueprint Denver calls us to use equity as a high value in our planning processes and we should certainly do so at all costs.
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?
I support shifting civic priorities to under-served communities until basic city services are equitably distributed. I would increase funding for affordable housing, Safe Routes To School, and housing for the homeless. I would look for new sources of funding to cover these costs.
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 devote $10-million to Safe Routes to Schools citywide, employing a combination of sidewalk improvements, bike lanes and other safety-improvement modalities. I would invest $10 million in restructuring our shelters and developing new housing options for those currently unsheltered.