“The concept of a view plane was codified about 70 years ago in an ordinance by the City and County of Denver, preserving the views of the mountains to the west. They serve as a backdrop for beauty, and for residents and visitors who love those views. Driving into Denver from the east to move here, it was like that purple majesty of the mountains stuff, which sounds corny, but it was true.
“For years, view planes were discussed, but now, for many people they seem quaint. After all, planners and developers in Denver now have decided that density is the way to proceed to continue to build Denver. Perhaps a decade ago or so, there were discussions on view planes; now, not so much. Rezonings of many parts of the city have made changes so that buildings can keep climbing.
“But there is still an organization that is watching out for view planes. It’s called the Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill, a Registered Neighborhood Organization, or RNO. The issue lies in a plan being discussed in the Golden Triangle.”
The three paragraphs above topped a blog in May 2020 that involved the Cheesman Park / Botanic Gardens view plane. Some things never change, apparently. Back in 2020, there was a discussion in the Golden Triangle’s future zoning guidelines, and up popped the idea of “point towers.” These new concepts would be taller than any other projects, but the city planner noted that it would not be a problem in terms of the view plane. A member of an RNO called Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill challenged the planner because of where the taller buildings would be a roadblock.
So, yesterday, BusinessDen ran a story about the Golden Triangle again dealing with the view plane.
For some, this may seem esoteric, but these view planes actually are smart. Perhaps some developers don’t really care, but the Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill understand these view planes have a role to play. Some view planes have been ignored at times (there are more than a dozen view planes in Denver), but as more and more developers want to plan buildings more than 300 feet tall: People need to learn about this.
At a City Council committee meeting earlier this month (the Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure, or LUTI) tiptoed into the concept of the point tower. City Council Representative Amanda Sandoval (District 1) brought it up during the discussion of the Golden Triangle zoning update.
So in the story yesterday, two city council members – Council Representative Sandoval, and City Council Representative Chris Hinds (District 10) – were interviewed, with different takes.
Hinds represents both the Golden Triangle and Cheesman Park, which is where the view plane measurement begins at the Cheesman Park Pavilion.
He was quoted as this:
“Hinds also pointed out that there is more at play than just views. The growing city needs more housing, so ‘developers have to be a consideration,’ he said.
“ ‘Do we cave or appease them unrealistically? No,’ he said. ‘But they’re a consideration. And neighbors are a consideration, too. Should they get everything they want? No. A lot of neighbors prefer we turn Denver into a museum. “I’m here, I got mine, and who cares about who’s next?” But the secret’s out, people want to move to this beautiful city, and we can, as city leaders, either shape the change or have it shaped for us.’
Hmm. Turning Denver into a museum? That’s not the issue. Denver can’t turn the city into a museum because so much has been lost to wayward development; after all, the slot homes are still belching out of the pipeline.
Then, Sandoval, who is well-versed in zoning, noted this:
“Sandoval gave as an example the Coors Field view plane, which has a hard cap on building heights to allow Rockies spectators to see the mountains from their seats.
“That’s what she’d like to see in the Golden Triangle.
“ ‘The mountains and Denver, they’re not separate,’ Sandoval said. ‘People think about them as the same. They think Denver, they know you can see the mountains. I feel it’s important to be able to have sensitivity around that as we develop the urban core.’ ”
Oddly enough, a meeting of the Denver Planning Board yesterday afternoon was addressing the proposed map amendment for Loretto Heights’ development. And the Ruby Hill view plane was mentioned, because it might be involved in one particular building to be considered.
The links below include the story in BusinessDen about the view plane, an earlier story about the discussion about the committee meeting earlier this month, and a link to the city’s information about view planes. Finally, here is a link to a golden-oldie story from 2007 from Westword about view planes.
2 Replies to “Call it a re-run, but it holds up after almost a year: We still want to see the mountains.”
In many cases it is the increase in the carrying capacity of a piece of real estate that determines its value. By increasing that capacity through a public policy change the owner often gets a financial windfall and those changes are often not consistent with the overall plans in place for the city. There is rarely a good reason for this kind of one-off give away and the community rarely benefits from the special treatment of the developers involved. To imagine that granting these favors is the pathway to affordable housing seems misguided. We need to seriously expand the feasibility of adding units in a widely distributed way to existing neighborhoods. That does not require tall buildings nor does it require overcrowding neighborhoods in a way that changes their character or their quality of living.
Thank you, David. I agree. The concept of “affordable” needs to be worked on, since it is considered something that makes developers happy. Again: thanks!