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Group Living Equity Claims Ring Hollow 20% of Denver exempt, not disclosed in public process

In the words of a movie classic, “You keep using that word, but I do not think you know what it means.” City officials keep saying equity, but that’s not what they really mean. Equity: noun;  freedom from bias or favoritism The 184-page Group Living Zoning Code Amendment is touted as addressing problems of equity and inclusivity, but the reality is 20% of Denver is exempt from the new amendment. Denver operates with two zoning codes: the 2010 revised code and Chapter 59. Chapter 59 consists of areas where Planned Urban Development (PUD) with conditions and waivers made it difficult to roll into the 2010 revision. Those areas were to be incorporated after the fact, but Community Planning and Development has not done their job. Instead, they rolled out another massive zoning effort and the Chapter 59 areas are exempt. There was no disclosure of the exemption during the two-year process. Even more outrageous are elected officials, with key roles in the legislative process, who reside in exempt areas:

  • Mayor Michael Hancock

  • City Council President Stacie Gilmore

  • Councilman Christopher Herndon, Chairman of LUTI Committee

The public legislative process has been co-opted, as evidenced in the timeline. ________________________________________________________ AUGUST 17, 2020 Andrew Webb confirms Chapter 59 exemptions from new amendment. The Group Living webpage contains no disclosure of the exempt areas; documents, summaries, and presentations from 2018 to present fail to disclose the exempt areas. ________________________________________________________ AUGUST 18, 2020 Notice of the Amendment’s consideration in Land Use Transportation Infrastructure (LUTI) Committee is made. A public hearing and vote of the Planning Board is necessary to advance the amendment to LUTI Committee. This Notice was sent before the public hearing and Board vote had occurred. The notice fails to disclose exempt areas. ________________________________________________________ AUGUST 19, 2020 The Denver Planning Board, appointed by the Mayor, holds an 8-hour public hearing; CPD Staff Report and testimony fails to disclose exempt areas. The CPD Press Release, sent 11:08 p.m., reports 8-0 vote of Planning Board to approve Group Living Zoning Code Amendment. The press release fails to disclose exemptions to the Amendment. “Opening new opportunities for more housing options is key to addressing our city’s housing needs, and that need for those housing options has only grown more urgent in the wake of COVID-19,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “It’s more important than ever that we have a zoning code that reflects how people live now, as well as the values of the more equitable city we want to live in.”  ______________________________________________________ A Denver Auditor’s report in 2015 identified the ongoing problems with two zoning codes and urged CPD to remedy the inequity and inefficiency, five years after the 2010 zoning code revisions. We are now 10 years down the road, with no conversion. “The existence of two zoning codes in the City and County of Denver is challenging for City administrators and external stakeholders alike. According to the Department of Community Planning and Development (CPD), these challenges include difficulties associated with the implementation of the City’s long‐term goals and staff training, as well as citizen inequity. CPD believes that converting to a single zoning code could help reach established goals and address inequity and inefficiency. However, CPD has not developed a comprehensive strategy for undertaking this conversion.” The Group Living Zoning Code Amendment is a disaster for our neighborhoods, residents, and stated goals. We stand in opposition and urge City Council to JUST VOTE NO.



Legislative Timeline

9/1       LUTI Committee

10/12   City Council Public Hearing/Vote

Oct       Implementation

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