Neighbors for

Greater Capitol Hill

A New Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO)

For people who want to be actively involved

in setting a direction for the greater Capitol Hill neighborhood

Who we are:

A group of neighborhood activists who believe that more focus is needed on Greater Capitol Hill's core issues of:

  • Zoning
  • Transportation, including walking, biking, transit and - yes - even driving. This includes parking issues, which create headaches throughout our neighborhood.
  • Historic Preservation, because our neighborhood is host to so many historic structures, including some iconic ones.
  • Licensing, including for establishments that sell alcohol and marijuana.

The boundaries of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill are generally: York/Josephine Streets on the east, 6th Avenue on the south, Broadway on the west, and Glenarm Place/23rd Avenue on the north.

Become a Member of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill

We will do our best to keep you informed and represent the interests of the residents of Capitol Hill. Individual memberships are just $10 for the calendar year beginning January 1.

Download the application at https://tinyurl.com/s5caf79 and mail it with your check.

We accept donations, too!

Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill

P.O. Box 18516

Denver, Colorado 80218


Officers:

  • President: Brad Cameron
  • Vice President: Caroline Schomp
  • Secretary: Michael Henry
  • Treasurer: Hilleary Waters

Board members: Shayne Brady, Mike Harr, Matt James, Kevin Logan, and Kathleen Reilly

Committees:

  • Historic Preservation - chaired by Michael Henry.
  • Zoning, Land Use, Transportation & Licensing: co-chaired by Brad Cameron, Shayne Brady, and Kevin Logan.
  • Communication: chaired by Caroline Schomp.

This slate of members was re-elected to serve through 2020 at the Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill annual meeting on November 19.

July 8th Homeless Town Hall Recap from Michael Henry

Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill Board Member, Michael Henry tuned in and listened to City Councilman Chris Hinds’s on-line “town hall on homelessness” on July 8, which lasted for 2 hours. Much of it focused on the encampments for persons experiencing homelessness around Morey Middle School. Councilman Hinds said that he may have another town hall in the next week or so with some Denver Public Schools board and administrative representatives as panelists, who were unavailable on July 8.

The format had about 15 pre-selected panelists speaking, with no opportunity for those listening (about 250) to make any comments although they could present written questions, many of which were responded to by the panelists.

The discussion presented a good explanation of how the Covid19 pandemic is affecting homeless folks and, specifically the increasing number of “encampments” in the inner city and how the city is responding.

A few items of note:

· A homeless woman who lives in a tent near Morey and who is trying to help find a solution said that Saint Francis Center “is offering a site for a tent village.” She also said that “we do care about the concerns of the community.” I have no idea what St. Francis Center’s suggested site might be.

· A woman who had lived in a condo on Clarkson Street across the street from the Morey encampment until she moved awhile ago because she felt threatened by vandalism, drug use, etc. and almost no police response said that the burdens fell unfairly on the Capitol Hill neighborhood and that people in neighborhoods must be involved in any solutions, particularly site selection.

· Evan Dreyer from the Mayor’s Office gave a vague explanation of the Mayor’s announcement last week about trying to set up one or more “safe outdoor spaces” that would be somewhat self-governed by the residents and the nonprofit Colorado Village Collaborative. He said that the city would “identify the first location in the next few days.” He also said that on July 8 the Mayor has written to all City Council members who had supported establishment of such “safe outdoor spaces ”to suggest sites in their districts.” He said that the persons living in the Morey encampment would be “decamped.”

· The principal of Morey said that she hopes that the decampment will be completed by July 20, when staff will return to the building. This greatly surprised the city panelists, who said they had thought they had until August 17, when the students will return.

· Terese Howard of Denver Homeless Out Loud said that some encampments in the city are now getting some trash collection from the city.

· Lisa Ravelle of the Harm Reduction Center said that her folks have had several “outreach” visits to Morey and helped with disposal of used syringes.

Comments to Councilman Hinds may be sent to Chris.Hinds@denvergov.org and/or district10@denvergov.org.

Neighbors Suggests Campsite location: Bannock Plaza

N.B. As of July 17, it appears that the preferred site is at the Denver Coliseum Parking Lot, according to a "Westword" report.

The following letter was sent to District 10 Councilman Chris Hinds, other council members and Mayor Hancock in response to the mayor's request that councilors who voted for a sanctioned camping site for people experiencing homelessness come up with a potential location in each of their districts:

To: Mayor Michael Hancock and Councilman Chris Hinds (Denver Council District 10)

From: Board of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill

RE: Efforts to house ALL of the residents of District 10 and the City of Denver

First, thank you to Councilman Hinds for hosting the on-line forum on July 9th regarding homelessness in District 10. Issues regarding public camping within District 10 have become of serious concern, and your facilitating a public dialogue on this issue is much appreciated.

Second, the media has reported that Mayor Hancock has requested that Councilman Hinds suggests a location within District 10 for a " designated campsite for people experiencing homelessness" with enough room for 60 socially distant tents, restrooms, showers and a common area, with the total area being about 10,000 square feet.

As you know, Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill is a Registered Neighborhood Organization, formed one year ago, which encompasses the area bounded by Broadway, East 6 th Avenue, York/Josephine Streets, and East 23rd Avenue. Our area includes a number of encampments of residents experiencing homelessness.

If a designated campsite is to be established in District 10, then we strongly recommend that it be Bannock Plaza, which is located on the former Bannock Street on the east side of the City and County Building between 14th and Colfax Avenues.

Recently the City closed Bannock Plaza to vehicular travel, and toward that end has had it painted and blockaded at both ends.

Bannock Plaza would be the best location within District 10 for a designated public camping site for the following reasons:

  1. Bannock Plaza would squarely place the issue of homelessness front and center before the public's and the politician's attention. It would be impossible for the issue of homelessness to be ignored so long as camping continued at that location. Therefore, Bannock Plaza should be the first campsite established by the City, and the last one to be removed so long as the problem of homelessness continues.
  2. Bannock Plaza is located a considerable distance from other residential areas so that some of the concerns that have arisen from other residents of District 10, for example some of those around Morey Middle School, would not be a problem.
  3. Bannock Plaza is immediately adjacent to Civic Center Park, which would provide a respite area of shade and cool grass to the residents of Bannock Plaza during the hot days of the summer.
  4. Bannock Plaza is paved, and therefore camping on it would not result in any damage to the underlying infrastructure, which might be the result of camping on a grassy area.
  5. Bannock Plaza currently has no other use, and therefore is readily available to serve as a designated campsite for people experiencing homelessness.
  6. Site analysis of Bannock Plaza shows 38 feet between the plaza curbs and 290 feet between bollards, yielding 11,020 square feet of usable space, which exceeds the requested 10,000 s.f.

Again, thanks to both of you for your attention to this problem, which is a concern to most residents of District 10 and the City.

Yours truly,

Board of Directors of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill

Adopted on July 9, 2020

cc: Other members if City Council; Board of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill

UPDATE REGARDING THE RISK TO MOUNTAIN VIEWS FROM CHEESMAN PARK

On April 11th, 2020, the Board of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill (NGCH) adopted a Statement (shown below) regarding the risk to the mountain view from Cheesman Park presented by a proposal to rezone the Golden Triangle to allow 300-foot so-called "point towers."

In response to NGCH's Statement and comments from others, on April 15th Denver’s Community Planning and Development Department (CPD) released modeling of what it then predicted would be the impact of 300-foot towers in the Golden Triangle on Cheesman Park’s mountain view. CPD’s analysis, however, did NOT include any photograph that actually showed the mountain view from Cheesman Park, nor did it model how 300-foot tall buildings located at the southern end of the Golden Triangle would affect that view.

Given these omissions, NGCH reached out to a local architect asking for modeling help to understand how 300 foot towers located at the critical southern end of the Golden Triangle would appear from Cheesman Park. In response, we obtained the depiction shown above.

In this depiction, the horizontal green line represents the 300 foot height limit just to the west of Broadway, while the vertical red line represents a direct line from the center of the Cheesman Park Pavilion to the peak of Mount Evans. The vertical red line also represents the southern tip of the Golden Triangle.

CPD also did additional modeling of the critical southern Golden Triangle area, and its results were similar to ours.

As this new modeling shows, were they to be constructed, 300-foot tall buildings located south of 9th Avenue in the Golden Triangle would significantly intrude into and detract from the view from Cheesman Park of Mount Evans and the adjacent foothills.

Based upon this new modeling, Board members of NGCH requested a video meeting with CPD staff and a few members of the Golden Triangle Advisory Board.

That meeting occurred Tuesday, May 5th, with 9 people online. It provided a forum for an open and frank discussion of the perceived need for 300 foot point towers in the Golden Triangle, and the possible risk those towers would present to the mountain view from Cheesman Park - especially the risk from any towers at the southern end of the Golden Triangle.

No decisions were reached during this meeting, but our hope is that it will be the start of further public dialogue of this issue. Given the restrictions currently in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, public meetings – both “on-line” and in-person - are problematic. When public assemblies are once again allowed, NGCH hopes to partner with CPD, the Golden Triangle Advisory Board, and other Registered Neighborhood Organizations to promote further public discussion on this issue.

The Board of Directors of Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill on April 11th unanimously approved a resolution:

  1. Opposing allowing zoning in the Golden Triangle that permits "Point Towers, "
  2. Supporting expansion of the Cheesman Park View Plane.

CHEESMAN PARK MOUNTAIN VIEW AT RISK!

A proposed rezoning of Denver’s Golden Triangle to permit so-called “point towers” of up to 300 feet in height threatens to block views of the Front Range from Cheesman Park. Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill opposes allowing these structures, and is calling for expansion of the existing view plane ordinance to protect these iconic mountain views.

Why Do We Have View Plane Ordinances?

It has long been recognized that mountain views are a source of great civic pride among Denverites. Given where our city sits, at the foot of the mountains, these vistas are among the attributes that make Denver unique and special. They are something that residents and visitors alike greatly appreciate. Many years ago, the City adopted ordinances designating a series of view planes that would protect views of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

The Cheesman Park-Denver Botanic Gardens View Plane

One of the view plane ordinances starts just east of the Botanic Gardens and extends west over the Cheesman Park Pavilion. (SEE attached map.) It has been enshrined in the law for decades. Using an equation that allows building heights to rise slowly as the distance increases from the point of origin, this ordinance protects a stunning view of Mount Evans that many visitors to Cheesman Park cherish. (SEE attached picture).

Now that view is threatened. Currently, the land area covered by the Cheesman Park - Botanic Gardens mountain view ordinance stops at Broadway. This iconic mountain view is now threatened because the view plane does not extend far enough to block an upcoming proposal to rezone the Golden Triangle area to allow some extremely tall buildings.

The Golden Triangle Zoning Proposal

Currently, buildings in the Golden Triangle are limited in height to a little under 200 feet – or approximately 20 stories. This is well below the limit that would exist if the Cheesman Park – Botanic Gardens mountain view ordinance extended past Broadway to Speer Blvd.

The proposal being considered is to allow certain buildings (so-called “point towers”) to rise up to a height of 300 feet. This would permit buildings of up to 30 – 35 stories. Such a “point tower would extend 90 feet into the mountain view protected zone. (SEE attached graphic.)

This poses a clear risk to the treasured mountain views from Cheesman Park.

The Time to Act Is NOW!

Fortunately, this proposed rezoning is still in development. The Denver Planning Board will hear information about the rezoning proposal – including the impact of 300-foot “point towers” – at its online meeting on Wednesday, April 15th. Public comment will not be allowed during the meeting, but can be submitted in advance. Here is a link to the Planning Board’s comment page.

Expand the Cheesman Park View Plane

It would be tragic to lose one of Denver’s great amenities – its prized mountain views – in service to unnecessarily tall development projects. Neighbors for Greater Capitol Hill, a Denver Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO) in which boundaries Cheesman Park sits, believes reasonable and profitable development projects can continue to be constructed in the Golden Triangle without unalterably destroying our beloved views of the Rocky Mountains.