Making changes after 10 months of meeting: Of course.

Landmark disc Screen Shot 2019-09-03 at 10.53.20 AM

  1. I will not post an image of Tom’s Diner until everything is sorted out.
  2. After all, seeing an image of Tom’s Diner might hurt City Councilwoman Kendra Black’s conscience.

Why? Read the first three paragraphs of Donna Bryson’s story in today’s Denverite:

“City Councilwoman Kendra Black says her conscience and Tom’s Diner led her to circulate ideas on how to make it harder for preservationists to have a site designated historic against an owner’s wishes.

“The District 4 councilwoman is considering a bid to amend landmark preservation regulations even as the Denver City Council prepares to take up proposed changes to the rules that emerged from a yearlong discussion that preceded the battle over Tom’s Diner’s history and future.

“ ‘My conscience is just demanding that I try to create some sort of higher bar for owner-opposed designations,’ Black told Denverite, adding that the Tom’s Diner episode ‘really hit home for me.’ “

When I read that story, two things crossed my mind:

  1. Developers in Denver are clapping their hands.
  2. And what about the 16 or so people who spent a year going to 3-hour monthly task force meetings to come to some kind of consensus about updates to the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission? I attended seven of these task force meetings. Sometimes it was really interesting,  sometimes it was dry as dust. The landmark staff offered a lot of information, some proposed changes and language, and a real plus: build in some time for people to come together when there is a non-owner designation application. This is called “the pause,” and it’s a good idea.

So here we are: Next Tuesday, the Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure will take up “revisions” to the landmark ordinance update, and I can imagine that Black will repeat her wish at an earlier meeting that people who submit a non-owner designation application have to spend more money to apply. At an earlier meeting, aside from the “taking” comment, she asked one of the applicants where the money came from for the application to protect Tom’s Diner.

At another earlier meeting, a staff member noted that there had been perhaps four applications by someone not the owner that had succeeded. Black said that those “four properties had value to their owners.” She asked a landmark staff member if they could provide an analysis of owner-opposed applications. “Might you consider doing that if I asked you nicely?” And, “We need to have higher standards for owner-opposed” applications. I thought, so something like a two-tier good guy and bad guy concept – higher standards and more money?

Even City Councilman Kevin Flynn, who was on the preservation task force, said something about adding more criteria for an owner-apposed application – more explicit language even if it met all 10 criteria.

So a week from today, it will be so interesting to how many new changes are offered by members on the Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure committee. If I were a member of that preservation task force, I would be there. The committee included people who had absolutely no interest in preservation, and then there were people who were ardent preservationists. They ended in somewhat of a consensus. This continuing process slowed down to deal with the municipal elections and offer community meetings, and now is lumbering along again. My sense is that the first reading will be later this month.

A couple of other paragraphs from the Denverite story also are telling:

“City Councilwoman Robin Kniech sat on the preservation task force and said the recommendations it generated should get a chance before changes are made.

“ ‘You just can’t say that they’re broken when they haven’t even been tried yet,’ she said.”

So true.

Below are links to the story in today’s Denverite, to Denver’s Channel 8 to view a Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure meeting on August 13, and to the city’s page on the landmark ordinance update process and meeting notes.



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