BY FREDA MIKLIN
A Regional Perspective
On March 3, South Metro Denver Chamber sponsored a panel discussion of six area mayors to gain a regional perspective on issues impacting our communities in the areas of economic development, including attraction, retention, and growth of local businesses, public safety, and workforce needs, particularly housing. Stephanie Fujii, president of Arapahoe Community College, moderated.
When Fujii asked the mayors to share a unique characteristic of their city, Mayor George Lantz told the crowd, “Everyone thinks of Greenwood Village as being a single-family home community, and there are a lot of single- family homes,” but there are also multi-family residences, adding, “You could find (GV’s multi-family residences) in the middle of the Tech Center, which is where you would anticipate they would be, with proper planning and preparation.”
Mayor Jackie Millet shared that Lone Tree has more jobs than residents, and, “We are very excited to be growing our residential on the east side of I-25,” with significant investment in infrastructure and transportation, “concentrating the density around our light rail stations, while preserving open space, and creating a walkable, bikeable, drivable community.”
Mayor Stephanie Piko said, “What makes Centennial unique is that we have access to a variety of lifestyle options, for education, recreation, and employment.”
Mayor Kyle Schlachter emphasized Littleton’s arts and culture facilities, which will be further enhanced through revenue generated by a new tax approved by the city’s voters for that purpose in November. He also pointed to Littleton’s historic downtown, including the large collection of midcentury modern buildings along Littleton Boulevard.
Englewood Mayor Othoniel Sierra said that having its own water utility gives his city the ability to control its water future, adding that it was scheduled for $150 million in improvements in the next few years.
Mayor Tracy Engerman shared that the state demographer has called Castle Pines one of the fastest growing cities in Colorado.
Mayor Schlachter said that housing is Littleton’s number one priority and that his city had recently updated its land use code “to allow more diverse options.” An “Inclusionary Housing Ordinance” recently adopted by its city council will require all new residential developments in Littleton to include five percent affordable housing.
To get more attainable housing in Englewood, the city council is looking at allowing multi-family housing in the form of duplexes, triplexes, or fourplexes within its single-family zoned areas on the edges of the city. Mayor Sierra shared that it will require more targeted communication for the city’s residents to understand the plan before the policy can be considered for adoption.
Department policy for Greenwood Village police is that officers should spend 60% of their time “free patrolling–going about the city, seeing if they see things out of order, making people comfortable,” per Mayor Lantz, and 40% responding to calls for service. He added that the national average response time for emergency police calls is five to six minutes, but in GV, it is only four minutes and ten seconds.
GV uses automatic license plate readers round Arapahoe Road & I-25, which is a high crime area, Mayor Lantz shared. Using those, he reported that the license plates “of about 1,100 cars out of one million,” which is 0.11% of the plates read, “had some anomaly with them.” Many were stolen cars, which Mayor Lantz explained were often “used in other crimes, such as shoplifting and drugs.”
Mayor Piko pointed to mixed-use developments Streets of Southglenn and The District as examples of where Centennial is already adding significant housing by increasing density. She noted that those projects garnered lots of public input and discussion before being approved, so intrusion by the state into the city’s land use policy, as is being considered presently, seems unwarranted and unnecessary, “because we are already doing it,” noting that Centennial has 5,000 residential housing units in the pipeline.
Mayor Millet agreed that cities should make their own land use decisions, noting that it is important to local businesses, as well as residents, that cities have the autonomy that comes with formulating land use policy.
Millet also talked about the components of a safe, accessible, vibrant community that businesses are seeking for their employees. In Lone Tree, “We have made significant investments in transportation,” she said, pointing to the Lone Tree Link, a “free on-demand service that can be accessed by an app on your phone,” or called, to get from one place to another in the city. Lone Tree has also added bike lanes and sidewalks where necessary to make it possible to get around without a car.
FirstBank and the City of Lone Tree sponsored the event, including breakfast from Panera Bread. Jarrod Lassen, President, First Bank, South Market, welcomed the full house of over 100 people representing government, business, and education, including Chief Bob Baker and Mike Dell’Orfano from South Metro Fire Rescue, Centennial City Council Members Mike Sutherland, Christine Sweetland, Don Sheehan, and Marlo Alston, Arapahoe County BOCC President Carrie Warren-Gully, Castle Pines Council Member Geoff Blue, Lone Tree Council Member Wynne Shaw, RTD Board Member Doug Tisdale, and GV Deputy City Manager John Sheldon.