Downtown Denver Partnership 2015 Denver City Council Candidate Questionnaire Distributed: Tuesday, March 3, 2015 Due Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015 at 5 pm – please send to [email protected]
Candidate/Campaign Name: Fran Coleman for Denver City Council Candidate Address: PO Box 19917 Denver, CO 80219 Candidate Email: [email protected]
Candidate Phone Number: (303) 935-2174 Campaign Manager Name, Phone Number and Email: Abe Kaul, (206) 409-5907, [email protected]
District #: 2 Instructions: Please type your answers in the form below and limit each response to 300 words or less. Adjust the size of the answer space to fit your response if necessary. 1. The revitalization of the 16th Street Mall is a key project for Downtown Denver for several reasons:
The 32-year old Mall has failing infrastructure that will cost $55-65 million to upgrade and maintain; It is the top tourist attraction in the region; While the actual crime statistics for the Mall are low, perception of safety remains a concern for residents, visitors and businesses; It is the linchpin of RTD’s transit system, and will become even more significant once the DIA line opens in 2016; and The existing configuration of the Mall itself poses economic development challenges to business retention and recruitment, and to the pedestrian experience as a whole.
What do you believe is the biggest issue facing the 16th Street Mall? What policies, programs and/or funding mechanisms do you suggest to address this challenge? The biggest issue is to keep the mall vibrant, inviting, and safe. The 16th Street Mall and the Central Business District are key investments in Denver’s brand.
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Downtown is one of the most important impressions of any visitor to our city and how our city is measured nationally and internationally. If elected, I would have an open door policy for all stakeholders and would work with you to address your concerns. An important element is to identify potential new revenue streams and strengthen existing revenue in order to meet the goals of a world class central core. Finally I would seriously consider all options that allows for upgrading and maintaining the 16th Street Mall Infrastructure. 2. Do you support a smoking ban on the 16th Street Mall? The proposed ordinance language would ban the public consumption of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, on the 16th Street Mall (16th Street from Broadway to Chestnut, plus 50 feet in the direction of 15th and 17th Streets). The infraction would be a civil offense with escalating fees for repeat offenses. YES or NO: No Please explain your response: While smoking can be troublesome and adds to environmental pollution I believe enforcement of the ordinance would be difficult. Law enforcement resources would be better spent on the now littering ordinance to require the safe deposit of cigarettes. With finite resources we have to make sure they are used the best way possible.
3. The Downtown Denver Partnership and the Downtown Denver Business Improvement District (BID) place a focused approach in working with the homeless population in Downtown Denver. This includes:
Over 10 years of directly funding St. Francis Center outreach workers to connect homeless individuals in Downtown Denver with housing options and supportive services; Helping to create Denver’s Road Home and fundraising over $1 million to support its programs and initiatives; Acting as a key leader on Denver’s Commission to End Homelessness; Supporting the building of facilities such as the Lawrence Street Community Center; and Working with the Mayor and Denver City Council to support several ordinances that better connect the homeless population with housing and services.
What do you believe is the City Council’s role in addressing homelessness in Downtown Denver? I believe the best thing for the City Council to do is to enforce the ordinances already on the books. Specifically, I would be an advocate on your behalf to ensure that existing ordinances are enforced and that the municipal government is coordinating with law enforcement, human services, and nonprofits to further protect Denver’s image and help those in need. One of the first things I DDP City Council Candidate Questionnaire
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would want to identify is whether current policies are being implemented as efficiently as possible. I would also want to know what are the current best practices are and if Denver is following them. 4. The 2007 Downtown Area Plan calls for the addition of 18,000 new housing units by 2027 and states that a “diversity of housing options and price points is essential for creating a vibrant, lively 24/7 world-class Downtown.” While there has been significant development of multi-family rental projects and some townhomes in Downtown over the past several years, Downtown Denver has seen a dramatic decrease in for sale product since 2007, as shown in the following chart: Downtown Denver Housing Production
Rental For Sale Total
2007 112 870 982
2008 442 531 973
2009 1099 565 1664
2010 212 102 314
2011 98 15 113
2012 709 0 709
2013 864 82 946
2014 1632 37 1669
The Partnership believes that construction defects legislation has played a part in the reduction of for sale, affordable product in the Downtown market. While historically the construction defects issue has been debated at the State level, cities including Lakewood, Parker, and Lone Tree have created ordinances to address the issues of construction defects at the local level. Would you support a local ordinance that addresses construction defects issues? YES or NO: Yes Please explain your response: I have been very concerned about the over-building of apartments and the downturn of condo building and thus the low real estate inventory; mostly because Denver’s apartment rentals have become quite expensive. Many would like to at least be able to buy a condo and know that they are building equity versus rental payments that they can never recoup. Colorado’s present law regarding construction defects makes it too easy for individual homeowners to sue and this drives the cost of doing business for developers even higher. The individual’s choice to sue can be problematic for those in condos, because a fair and pragmatic solution needs to occur among all the owners with the builder or developer to rectify the construction defect. In regard to whether Denver should consider its own legislation, I would look first for uniformity at the state level, however if that does not happen certainly I would consider and look for a collaborative solution at the city level. The recent solution in Lakewood on “Construction Defects Reform” seems one to consider should the State Legislature not pass any legislation to address this important issue this session. DDP City Council Candidate Questionnaire
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Total 5168 2202 7370
5. Last year, the Downtown Denver Partnership was the only business association to oppose the numerous amendments to Denver’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO). While the Board appreciated the intent of the changes, they did not believe the amendments were the best solution to creating more affordable housing units in Downtown Denver. Do you support the changes that were made? YES or NO: No Please explain your response: Denver Inclusionary Housing Ordinance has been in place since 2002; however I’m not convinced that the motivation for developers is to build more affordable housing is a good incentive. Developers have to make a profit and meanwhile we want more people to become homeowners and alleviate homelessness. I would think that the way the incentive is written, that a developer would opt to pay the amount as to building more affordable units. Because of this opt-out choice, I believe we should explore whether the tax incentives be changed so that if a developer builds a unit that is worth $200K and he/she sells it at discounted cost of $150K to meet their ‘affordable housing’ obligation, that they be able to get the full worth of the $50K as a deducted tax loss. As the next Councilperson, I would definitely want to explore more options for affordable housing. I would want to explore City wide solutions that would address the continuing challenges of providing affordable housing in Denver. I also believe that affordable housing should be integrated and not stand apart from the rest of surrounding homes. Denver’s inclusionary housing ordinance encourages three types of zones (high, medium and low) and splits up the City into these zones. I believe the architecture of each development should blend with the character of each section of the city and not stand out. 6. Many cities across the nation are taking steps to increase local minimum wages. Should existing state legislation be repealed that currently prevents the City and County of Denver from establishing its own minimum wage, would you support the creation of a higher minimum wage in Denver? YES or NO: Yes Please explain your answer: I believe that the minimum wage should be raised in Denver if state of Colorado does not enact living wage legislation, then Denver should take action. As a former state representative I am prepared to go to the state legislature and advocate for a higher minimum wage. I believe the current minimum wage should be raised in Denver and Colorado as well and preferably that it be a uniform wage. However if the state of Colorado does not act on making the minimum wage a living wage, I certainly will propose changing it for Denver. Presently many cannot buy homes because they just are not earning enough. Costs
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keep going up, but wages remain stagnant. Raising the minimum wage would help a lot.
7. Arapahoe Square is one of the seven transformative projects identified in the 2007 Downtown Area Plan and is Downtown Denver’s largest redevelopment opportunity, as shown on the following map:
With an urban renewal area already established and the rezoning of Arapahoe Square currently being initiated by the Partnership and Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department, what type of economic development or land use opportunities do you believe exist in this part of Downtown Denver? Two of the most important things a member of city council votes on are land use and entitlement issues. The Arapahoe Square revitalization project is a great opportunity to promote historic preservation, mixed-used development, and high density housing. The challenge to this project is identifying the appropriate balance of development opportunities that best benefit the central business district and the existing neighborhoods that are affected by this potential development. I believe that we have excellent guidelines in place through Blueprint Denver and the Denver Comprehensive Plan 2000. It is critical to work with the Downtown Denver Partnership, DURA, Community Planning, neighborhood associations, RTD, and the business community
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to help guide any future development. It is important that the appropriate synergies between commercial and residential are in place so that Denver generates the greatest possible return on investment in the Arapahoe Square project. Because of this proximity to downtown, transit oriented development should be a cornerstone principle for this project. 8. Parks and open spaces in Downtown are some of the City’s most unique places. The Partnership and Denver Parks & Recreation are co-funding and co-managing Denver’s Downtown Outdoor Plan - a cohesive master plan that will outline how Downtown parks and public spaces may be best utilized to serve a rapidly increasing population. Do you believe Downtown parks and public spaces should be maintained, programed and managed differently than other city parks? YES or NO: Yes Please explain your answer: Yes, Downtown parks are unique from many other parks in the park system. I would be open to changes in park management if downtown parks warrant a unique approach to their utilization. Possibly convert old builders or blocks that haven’t been repurposed to block parks. 9. The most recent commuter survey produced by the Downtown Denver Partnership showed a 43% increase in commuters that choose to bike to work. Research also shows that Denver remains the number two city in the country to attract ages 25-34 and this demographic desires a bike-friendly city. To help support these economic development trends, the Downtown Denver Partnership has partnered with the City to create an enhanced bikeways plan and is raising funds for more dedicated and protected bike lanes throughout Downtown Denver. How will you help support a Bicycle City? I feel it is important to maintain the environment and to make sure we can do what we can to keep climate change from getting worse. So I would be an advocate for encouraging a bicycle city, one way to do is to encourage more bike lanes to be built and be an advocate for public education on why a bicycle city program is a benefit for Denver. 10. Studies of American cities have shown that a city’s urban core is a bellwether, and the status and condition of the downtown reflects the health and vitality of the city as a whole. Given the limited resources available, how do you plan to balance investment between Downtown Denver and other areas of the city? I have always been close to Mayor Pena. I remember very vividly the identity crisis that downtown Denver suffered in the 1970s and 1980s. Reinvisioning the look and feel of downtown beginning with Mayor Pena has always been a key issue to me. The reinvestment in the city’s core has been one of the most successful
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investments in the history of this city. Downtown has a tremendous sense of place for Denver residents and visitors alike. Downtown Denver’s transformation has redefined urban centers nationwide. It has allowed for new business development and residential opportunities that are walkable and vibrant. It is no surprise that downtown is one of the most creative communities in the city of Denver and has become one of our crown jewels of Denver’s economic engine. Protecting that investment is an important element of the city’s ongoing economic development plans. As you know, balancing the needs of all areas of the city during a recession is very difficult. I am committed to working with Downtown Denver Partnership to help guide my decisions regarding the competing needs on the city budget. I have always been pragmatic in my approach; however, I don’t believe that we should make decisions on such matters in a “zero sum” environment. Collaborative decision making is the best way to discover how we can arrive at win-win solutions.
11. Is there anything else you want us to know about you or your candidacy? I was born in Denver and grew up in Weld County. My undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Loretto Heights College, a Master Degree of Telecommunications from the University of Denver, and a Certificate in Government Contracting from the University of Phoenix. I’m the best candidate because I have the most legislative and community experience. I have lived at 2221 S. Lowell Blvd for almost 38 years and I’ve seen it change and unfortunately not for the better. I’m running for City Council District 2, because I truly care about its future especially its economy, its public safety, and sustaining its pristine beauty. I’m a former State Representative for House District 1 and served from 1998 to 2006. Because of my legislative experience constituents will get results from day one. With my long-time knowledge of the community I’ll be ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work immediately, by working for better jobs, working families, and smart economic revitalization. I was adopted by a farm worker family and grew up as a field worker; I know first-hand the struggles of working families. Cesar Chavez is a hero of mine and for me and my family gave the voiceless hope. For these reasons I feel I would serve the citizen of Council District 2 well.
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