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Robin Kniech 

 

Q1

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? 

 

The answer isn’t just about money. I am involved in a committee reviewing changes to the city’s Group Living ordinance that will create greater flexibility with rooming and boarding homes, shelters, community correction facilities, and other categories that fall under this ordinance, including allowing for more permanent locations for tiny homes. We also need to work with the large developments proposed along the I-25 corridor to address housing affordability. We should continue discussing suggestions that were put on the table during the last round of funding options.

 

Q2

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?

 

I firmly believe that as a city we need to periodically look at what projects we are funding and to find resources in the city budget that can be directed to our priorities - with affordable housing at the top. In addition to the recent $300 Million Bond Issue, much of which was designated for Public Works projects addressing bike and pedestrian safety, Denver voters just approved approximately $97 million in sales tax initiatives to address healthy food, mental health, green spaces, and college affordability. 

 

Q3

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? 

 

The five-year plan that Parks and Recreation will bring to City Council will identify how they are prioritizing the projects submitted by the public in the Glan Plan part of the Deveright/Blueprint update. This will allow the City Council to make sure projects like the Globeville flooding issues are addressed. The city should also be looking at the big picture of proposed commercial and residential development to determine which areas of the city are park deficient. This data will help identify where more parkland is needed and factor that into proposed new growth area plans.

 

Q4 

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?

 

Denver has not been addressing the impact of development on adjacent low-income communities, leading to gentrification and displacement. I have worked with Mayor Hancock to ensure that housing mitigation funds from large public development projects go to affected communities. I also pushed Mayor Hancock to implement Race & Equity programs into the development project process on the front end, before development occurs. We need developments across the city to include a mix of incomes to ensure we are creating an inclusive Denver. 

 

Q5

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?

 

City Council has helped shape the direction of the city budget through identifying priorities.We always need to prioritize basic city services, including human services, police, fire and safe neighborhoods. We also must revisit the funding priorities of previous mayors to determine if they are still what is right for Denver. City Council has created an employment working group. We have worked on tying employment and apprenticeship goals to RFP and contract language on large city bond projects, including National Western and DIA. 

 

Q6

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 put this into affordable housing and use the Housing Advisory Committee to help identify the area median income priorities that would complement the city’s annual housing plan.

 

 

Tony Pigford

Q1

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 stop thinking about "affordable housing" as a place we put people, like a reservation; people want to be in the neighborhoods they choose, and want it to be affordable too. We also need to rethink the idea that affordability comes down to some equation based on someone's median income and all that---if you're paying more than 30% of your income on rent or housing costs, you need affordable housing, full stop. We can start getting creative, right now, and thinking about how we can go into each and every council district in the city and start community land-trusts, co-ops, and other new living models, as well as rezoning to allow for more people living in spaces available to them now.

 

Q2

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?

 

I propose something along the lines of the "Billionaire's Tax" that the Seattle City Council passed, but instead of fund dedicated solely to housing, we can begin bolstering our public transportation system (Uber, Lyft, and other companies would be the ideal first choice---they have put many hundreds more cars onto the roads, and are essentially banking Denverites' data. They can begin paying their fair share).

 

Q3

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? 

 

I believe we are thinking about how to go about making housing more affordable wrong. People want to *stay* where they're living, now. How can the city best intervene to keep them where they are? Why does "affordable housing" have to be something that Denverites are shipped off to, away from their neighborhoods? Surprisingly enough, the parks proposal floated by the Downtown Business Partnership shows that green space can be thought of creatively---we should adapt and adopt the ideas they're coveting for their neck of the woods, and in communication with community groups and everyday people around the city, see how we can be creative in making parks for other places around the city.

 

Q4 

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?

 

The first step would be to stop framing issues of class and race as ones of "equity"---there is no "market" for race or class, nor are they businesses, so they can't be essentialized as something people can buy into or that can be valued like a stock option; conceiving of and trying to advance a justice agenda this way is starting off wrong. So, quitting that term first off. Issues of grammar and framing aside, it's not rocket science: Denver has become a hard place to live because of gentrification. It is a top-down process. It starts with the political leadership in the city that allows corporations, developers and real estate interests to the capture cultural commons and redivert city resources to a wealthier cohort, and to open up neighborhoods to speculation. The solution would be to starting shift the burden of higher-cost housing and real-estate interests onto developers; establish a renter oversight commission at the city level; reign in the police department, and make it answerable to the people; move from a "public safety" budget to a safety net budget.

 

Q5

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?

 

As I note above, the majority of our budget is eaten up by policing and penal services, ie "public safety." Not one piece of the remaining pie gets more than 9% of funding. The city can be using monies allocated for "public safety" to intervene more readily and ably into the lives of Denverites: more social services, more health services, and not only fund diverted for "affordable housing," but to adapt and adopt the "Housing First" model used in Utah for homelessness issues, and to pay for renter protections (like arbitration and lawyers).

 

Q6

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.

 

Line item 1: The whole thing, $20 million into new and more robust public transit. This can be new (more energy efficient) and longer buses we use for rush hours, or more neighborhood-specific options with an eye towards bolster communities like Globeville-Elyria-Swansea, Green Valley Ranch, Westwood, and Montbello. Additionally, we can use a great big chunk of that to subsidize monthly or even yearly passes. We also need to divvy up that amount to improve driver salaries and benefits.

Tony Pigford

Q1

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 stop thinking about "affordable housing" as a place we put people, like a reservation; people want to be in the neighborhoods they choose, and want it to be affordable too. We also need to rethink the idea that affordability comes down to some equation based on someone's median income and all that---if you're paying more than 30% of your income on rent or housing costs, you need affordable housing, full stop. We can start getting creative, right now, and thinking about how we can go into each and every council district in the city and start community land-trusts, co-ops, and other new living models, as well as rezoning to allow for more people living in spaces available to them now.

 

Q2

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?

 

I propose something along the lines of the "Billionaire's Tax" that the Seattle City Council passed, but instead of fund dedicated solely to housing, we can begin bolstering our public transportation system (Uber, Lyft, and other companies would be the ideal first choice---they have put many hundreds more cars onto the roads, and are essentially banking Denverites' data. They can begin paying their fair share).

 

Q3

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? 

 

I believe we are thinking about how to go about making housing more affordable wrong. People want to *stay* where they're living, now. How can the city best intervene to keep them where they are? Why does "affordable housing" have to be something that Denverites are shipped off to, away from their neighborhoods? Surprisingly enough, the parks proposal floated by the Downtown Business Partnership shows that green space can be thought of creatively---we should adapt and adopt the ideas they're coveting for their neck of the woods, and in communication with community groups and everyday people around the city, see how we can be creative in making parks for other places around the city.

 

Q4 

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?

 

The first step would be to stop framing issues of class and race as ones of "equity"---there is no "market" for race or class, nor are they businesses, so they can't be essentialized as something people can buy into or that can be valued like a stock option; conceiving of and trying to advance a justice agenda this way is starting off wrong. So, quitting that term first off. Issues of grammar and framing aside, it's not rocket science: Denver has become a hard place to live because of gentrification. It is a top-down process. It starts with the political leadership in the city that allows corporations, developers and real estate interests to the capture cultural commons and redivert city resources to a wealthier cohort, and to open up neighborhoods to speculation. The solution would be to starting shift the burden of higher-cost housing and real-estate interests onto developers; establish a renter oversight commission at the city level; reign in the police department, and make it answerable to the people; move from a "public safety" budget to a safety net budget.

 

Q5

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?

 

As I note above, the majority of our budget is eaten up by policing and penal services, ie "public safety." Not one piece of the remaining pie gets more than 9% of funding. The city can be using monies allocated for "public safety" to intervene more readily and ably into the lives of Denverites: more social services, more health services, and not only fund diverted for "affordable housing," but to adapt and adopt the "Housing First" model used in Utah for homelessness issues, and to pay for renter protections (like arbitration and lawyers).

 

Q6

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.

 

Line item 1: The whole thing, $20 million into new and more robust public transit. This can be new (more energy efficient) and longer buses we use for rush hours, or more neighborhood-specific options with an eye towards bolster communities like Globeville-Elyria-Swansea, Green Valley Ranch, Westwood, and Montbello. Additionally, we can use a great big chunk of that to subsidize monthly or even yearly passes. We also need to divvy up that amount to improve driver salaries and benefits.

Q1

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? (Under 600 characters)

I think it is important to not just try to solve this issue thinking linear.   We need to start implementing several strategies beyond increasing funds.   I would like to see us embrace developers that use lower cost Green resources that allows them to provide a lower cost product.  I'd want to see more variety of housing types and styles.  Tiny house communities could be an option for some and in the right area's.  I think we need to follow the examples of some SMART cities that are implementing these ideas like Quayside Toronto.  Maybe we could provide incentives to new developments that are more creative.  We also need more housing in general as a lack of Supply drives the prices and rents up.  So we need to look at what our current land availability and zoning is and maybe re think the space use that we currently have.

 

Q2

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? (Under 600 characters)

Yes i would like to see dedicated local source of funding for transit.  As to how much is needed, I would like to seek the advice of those who are experts in these areas.  I am not opposed to a tax to fund these improvements.  I would like to explore the possiblity of Denver having its own internal and new transit system that fills the gaps and that hopefully would encourage people to leave their cars at home and that they would be enthusiastic to use because of its convience.  I lived in Hong Kong for several years and they have an amazing transit system that people want to use.

 

Q3

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? (Under 600 characters)

Each new housing development should have a park or green space incorporated in their plans.

 

Q4

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? (Under 600 characters)

I have spoken with Denver citizens directly on this issue.  Most of them told me they are unhappy as over the last 5 years there has been a surge of developments going up at a rapid pace. all at once which in many areas has made sidewalks and streets all over town unusable!  All this new development to them seems to have been done with very little thought and or regulation.  They expressed to me that they are concerned about the motives and relationships that the Current City Council at Large members have due to the  money that they have received from developers who support them.   A recent City Council meeting  had many local neighbors a large majority of whom only spoke spanish, and were low income protesting because the applicant who applied for rezoning to put in a housing development had made  miminal effort to communicate and work with the neighbors to solve their concerns and compromise.   I was shocked that something like this was even up for a vote .  The current City Council member were not even aware of many of the details of what the applicant wanted to do on the location.  They admitted and appologised to the community for their mistakes.   MY PRIORITY WOULD be to MAKE SURE WE IMPROVE THE DIALOGUE with the community members and make sure that they are INCLUDED in any new developments or rezoning that takes place from the start!  Not at the last minute and NOT at a bare minimum effort.   I am not taking any money for any developers or individuals to ensure the public that I will represent EVERYONE FAIRLY !

 

Q5

Running a city the size of Denver is a massive under-taking 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? (Under 600 characters)

I would like to increase funding for Transportion and infrastucture improvements / safety issues, for aid to rehibilation of those in our society that need it ( as there will always be people in society that need assistance ), and making sure we keep our green spaces in top shape as those are the places that make Denver and our love for the outdoors special.  As far as decreasing funding to any departments, I would need to have more hands on job insite to make that determination.

 

Q6

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. (Under 600 characters)

I would divide it up equally and to the following;

New mix housing projects and aid lower income housing issues.

providing new & better homeless/rehabilitation centers

upgrading our transporation and infrastructure