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Vote YES on 2F for safe and stable neighborhoods

2F is an important ballot measure, brought forward by a grassroots collaboration called Safe and Sound Denver. 2F offers all Denver neighbors a voice and choice about the Group Living Zoning Code Amendment (GLA), which was approved by City Council in February 2021.

I am one of those hundreds of volunteers talking with neighbors, sharing emails and information, placing yard signs and flyers, and asking for a YES on 2F. Hundreds of Safe and Sound Denver volunteers carried petitions, held 44 signing events in 30 days, and gathered over 19,000 signatures in 60 days to place the amendment on the ballot. 2F offers all Denver neighbors a choice for their community. It offers a difference from the power and influence of elected officials and organizations who were instrumental in crafting and approving the massive zoning change and who directly benefit from it.

The Trojan horse argument — from the opponents of 2F — is that the GLA guarantees affordable housing by sharing housing costs with roommates, communal living and affordable housing. This is a false narrative coming from both the Denver City Council and some local media. There are no guarantees — only an unproven experiment with our lives, and with our neighborhoods.

In stark contrast to the grassroots individuals who support 2F are the opponents to 2F: elected officials, City appointees, as well as powerful organizations. The good news is we can finally see some of the previously "hidden hands” behind the Group Living Amendment. The bad news is they are working against unsuspecting residents who may not realize how their communities will change.

In the words of the Vice Chairman of the Board of Zoning Adjustment: “The Zoning Code…is written for the protection of everybody.” The Group Living Zoning Code Amendment was written for the advantage of a few.

The fact is that the GLA did not arise out of the community but was initiated by the Mayor and sponsored by the at-large Councilwomen. This was verified through an open records court case in early 2021. Yes, a Denver neighbor actually had to go to Denver District Court to obtain records that were denied by the Mayor’s office due to a false claim of attorney-client privilege and deliberative process privilege.

Due to the success of the court case, we know the facts that the goal was to move halfway houses, homeless shelters, and transitional/supportive housing into single-family neighborhoods, and treat single-family homes like apartment stock by increasing the number of unrelated people who could share a single-family home. We know that the Group Living Advisory Committee (GLAC) had three deliverables which included an impacted study to determine the possible effects of this amendment. Sadly, an impact study was never issued. Why?

Back in 2010, when Community Planning and Development created the new Denver Zoning Code, it also committed to addressing the inequities of the city operating under two separate and distinct zoning codes. Yet, here we are today with this massive zoning change to only the Denver Zoning Code, resulting in a significant portion of the amendment (residential care and congregate living) not applying in Chapter 59 zone districts -- 25% of the city. And yes, the final draft language of this amendment does not even include the term “group living.”

The truth is that the GLA is NOT about a couple of extra roommates.

It is NOT about affordable housing.

It is NOT about changing “racist and classist” zoning of the past – the Denver Zoning Code was created in 2010 as a progressive update to the 1950s Chapter 59 code.

It is NOT about equity, since one quarter of the city still sits in Chapter 59.

It is NOT about communal living as quoted in a recent article, with a quote no less from the for-profit Queen City Cooperative that was represented on the Group Living Advisory Committee and financially benefits from the GLA.

It is NOT about Denver neighbors being racist, as has been described in many public forums.

Our Denver City Council had its turn in February. Now it is our turn and our voice! Vote YES on 2F for safe and stable neighborhoods. Vote YES to repeal the massive Group Living Zoning Code Amendment. Vote YES on 2F to tell Denver leadership that we don’t want experiments with our lives and our communities!

Paige L. Burkeholder is a 30-year, southeast Denver resident and a member of Safe and Sound Denver — a grassroots collaboration of hundreds of Denver neighbors across the city who have worked together to build awareness and opposition to the City of Denver’s Group Living Zoning Code Amendment.

Published in the Denver Gazette, October 31, 2021

VOTE YES ON 2F Safety and stability in our neighborhoods -- details matter!

Authorized and paid for by Safe and Sound Denver Issue Committee

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