August in Denver Round-Up: Proposed Zoning & Street Changes

As of today, August 17, 2020, there are a lot of changes happening in Denver as far as housing and safer street design. The goal of this post is to provide information on these changes, as well as explain how you can provide input.

Group Living

These proposed text amendments to the Denver Zoning Code would update residential use regulations to increase housing opportunities and flexibility for many residents. The draft is available for a 30-day public review, followed by public hearings at the Denver Planning Board and City Council this fall. The next meeting is 3 p.m., Wednesday, August 19. You can submit comments here. Here are answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Generally, the idea is to increase the number of unrelated adults that can live together in housing, which is currently limited to two. There have been some changes to the proposed zoning change based on past RNO and community feedback, but be sure to review and have your voice heard!

Complete Streets

The Denver Complete Streets Design Guidelines are out for public review! Think of “Complete Streets” as zoning for streets. This is very exciting for us living on Lincoln St., as these new street guidelines can potentially help streets like Lincoln become more safe from car crashes! As you know, Lincoln Street is in the High Injury Network, and safer street design can help address this.

You can download & review the new design guidelines and submit feedback by August 24, 2020. For the purpose of this document, please note that Lincoln St. has been designated as a Residential Arterial (the same street type as Logan and Downing) in Blueprint Denver and would also qualify for a “Transit Overlay.”

If you’d like more general information on why Complete Streets are good for safety & health, check out Walk Denver’s information on them.

Reimagine RTD

As you may already know, Lincoln St. is considered a Transit Corridor. As you also likely already know, RTD was in poor fiscal shape before the pandemic and is in worse shape now. This has forced RTD to pivot during its Reimagine RTD process and focus more on system optimization rather than a mobility plan for the future in the short term. Currently RTD is at about 40% of its pre-COVID ridership levels and is concerned about service in 2021. The organization is seeking input from riders on how best to proceed. Should it focus primarily on equity? Should it focus more on service quality? These are the questions that are being asked. To shape the future of transit service in the Denver metro area, please review and provide your thoughts here.

Near Future: Climate Action

The Denver Climate Action 2020 Recommendations Report is here! This is a very comprehensive action plan, which looks at a number of issues, including transportation. Did you know that in 2018, transportation was responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions in Denver, the second largest source after buildings and homes? The majority of transportation emissions results from driving private vehicles and light trucks. Denver has one of the highest single occupancy vehicle commute rates in the nation (73%) compared to other large metropolitan cities. (If you live on Lincoln Street, where you have a front row seat to all this, this is probably not a surprise to you!)

The goal of this Plan is to take a proactive approach to the climate crisis now to set us up for success in the future. It will also potentially help reduce car traffic speeds and volume on Lincoln St. in the long term by allowing for things like congestion pricing, and possibly even restoring tree lawns. Please review and send feedback to Councilman Jolon Clark about how this could potentially improve Lincoln!

Bikeways & Street-Level Noise

Don’t forget provide input on the Community Bikeways! There are three that cross Lincoln: Exposition, Bayaud, and Virginia/Dakota. Please provide feedback to the City on your preferred designs for these bikeways that will provide east-west connections within South Central.

Street noise got you down? Lincoln Street is loud, isn’t it? This is due not only to the high speeds and types of vehicles that travel down Lincoln St., but the type of material that it’s made of—concrete. While concrete is an improved surface as compared with older versions of asphalt, it is noisy as compared with newer composite asphalt mixes that are designed to be noise-reducing. You will see asphalt overlays on streets across the city, from Alameda to 8th Ave., and even Colorado Blvd. to I-70 (where a very low-noise, smooth material was just installed as part of the Central 70 project).

Want to check it out for yourself? Walk along 8th Ave. and listen to the difference! It’s not quiet, but it doesn’t have the extreme levels of noise (75-80 decibels) we experience on Lincoln St. If you want quieter road material, please submit a 311 request for a noise-reducing asphalt overlay or “quiet pavement” for Lincoln Street between Ohio and Speer.