About three years ago, the Department of Community Planning and Development gurus began to work on the ECAP, which is easier to remember than the full name. The six neighborhoods include North Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, City Park West, City Park, Cheesman Park, and Congress Park. That’s a lot of acreage and residents, with neighborhoods that are not totally homogeneous, though they are among the oldest neighborhoods in Denver. Although the East Area Plan, or EAP, is even less homogeneous; Montclair and East Colfax are included, which are on two different planets. Do these planners drive around and look where they are?
Before virtual meetings for the ECAP, I attended a couple of the regular meetings, which included stations where we were asked to put dots on areas/concepts we liked. If only they were candy Dots, I would have been a lot more interested in that. But when everything went virtual, well, we could read the various drafts of the plan and stick comments on them. Well, not on my agenda.
The concept of density achieving affordability doesn’t make much sense, as some of the city council members last night agreed. It certainly has happened in my neighborhood, with a series of scrapes.
The steering committee members appointed by two previous council members – Albus Brooks and Wayne New – included two high-powered developers. I watched a couple of those meetings, and realized that regular people living in the six neighborhoods didn’t stand much of a chance. The stretch of East Colfax between, say, Sherman Street and Colorado Boulevard, looks like in places a war zone: boarded windows, places fenced in, and just waiting for development (along with other areas in the ECAP).
But now, the plan is done, and in the books. The plan is aspirational and utopian. The Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT, which is supposed to zip along on East Colfax, has been developing for several years. There is general obligation bond money to help support it. And it will support more development, no surprise there – if it ever happens.
The only coverage of the city council meeting last night was in Denverite as of this morning. Here’s my favorite paragraph:
“In general, the Department of Community Planning and Development believes the transit project will make the area more attractive for developers. So they’re urging the city council and mayor to lure developers to build homes for low- and middle-income residents or other ‘community benefits’ in exchange for taller building allowances on Colfax.”
What I have seen is the real approach to scrape a few small homes or small buildings and then build, let’s say, four to six townhomes that will be A.) fancy and tall, and B.) really expensive. As for “community benefits,” I’m not sure what that actually means. As rents and mortgages have climbed, and pushed some people out, that’s not what I would call a community benefit. When I moved into North Cap Hill, I was seeking a range of prices, and diversity among residents. That’s not what I see now.
One of the city council members, Amanda Sawyer, lives in the East Area Plan area. Last night, she noted that her area (and my area) have been “settled.” And the earlier Far Northeast Area Plan included Montbello, Gateway – Green Valley Ranch, and DIA, and far from being settled.
The first meeting about the East Area Plan basically attracted those who almost brought torches and pitchforks, as I heard from some friends. And, for those who really appreciate a discussion by the Denver Planning Board, the EAP will be on the agenda on Wednesday at 3 p.m. – virtually.
There are just a few links below. But honestly, there are so many other things going on in Denver – and the country (like a major election) – that trying to cover something that has gone on for three years (or more), it is hard to remember. The links below include last night’s Denver City Council meeting, to the Denveritestory, and links to the East Area Plan information to the Planning Board and a compilation of comments and a lengthy list of people who have signed a petition.
East Area Plan info at Planning Board