Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
AMBROSE BIERCE, The Devil’s Dictionary
A story from the Rocky Mountain News (April 6th–Stuart Steers), entitled, “Developers build campaign coffers,” offers the following:
“If money talks, Denver developers are aiming to have a big voice in city government.
“Political contribution reports reveal that developers involved in major projects in Denver have become important backers of campaigns. Many of the developers likely will ask the mayor and City Council to approve rezoning for their projects in coming years.”
Seems obvious that, other than special interests, the electorate in pretty much sitting this one out. A feel-good mantra permeates this city. I mean, hell, the self-effacing, ah-shucks, fingers through those boyish bangs, perambulations of John Hickenlooper and his minions–including the Denver City Council–have struck a dangerous chord with the electorate, much as an opiate quells the addicted, they, the electorate, buy this shuck and jive as kids in a candy store. Really! For heaven’s sake, if ya’ll don’t just feel so good pumpin’ those quarters into parking meters for the homeless.
Back to the Rocky story. Does anyone doubt that the siren call of “New Urbanism,” hasn’t enveloped this city in a ravenous frenzy of development; a high-density glob of cubbies piled atop one another where, in many cases, the essential charm of old Denver once graced our neighborhoods? Sure, the development of the Platte Valley has been a Godsend. And, if there ever was a needful location for “New Urbanism,” it surely remains the central Platte Valley. But, come on! West Highlands? Nope. Not here. (I’ve got a project in mind, that I haven’t gotten around to yet. I want to show you (pics) some of the abortions that have emerged from the damn-the-neighborhood-character machinations of developers who’ve blighted the West Highlands neighborhood with what can only be described as cheap heaps of multi-unit ticky-tacky.)
I’m reminded of an observation from the Hick–and I paraphrase–that New York City is the Greenest city in America. Ya’ll buy that crap? The de facto Green of New York City represents, of course, the giddy philosophy of “New Urbanism,” that we all should live in high-density enclaves, with common open spaces (no back or front yards); with transportation from here to yon right outside our front doors; with water, heat, AC all commonly pooled. Have you ever been to New York City? Of course you have. I have. And, after the second day in that monstrous ant farm, I long for home; my front and back yard, my single family unit where MY trees, MY flowers, MY grass, MY option to drive or walk or take the bus is MY little slice of heaven, shared with neighbors who still value the individuality of life in big cities that is slowing being eroded by “New Urbanism:” a phenomenon engendered by Hick and his hacks and financed by, yes, developers who, as the Rocky noted, are paying big bucks to politicians to keep that lucrative ball rolling–for them, not us.
Susan Barnes-Gelt wrote in the April 13th edition of the Post that, “Denver seems to be going through a period where dissent and disagreement are viewed as disloyal, and get-along-go-along (as long as it’s on time and within budget) rules the day. The climate reflects too much group-think leading to a faux election where important issues (and there are several) aren’t debated.”
You go goyl!
Barnes-Gelt goes on to note: “A citizen task force has been working for more than two years to update Denver’s archaic zoning code. How can we maintain the character of mature neighborhoods without changing current density rules in parts of the city? How can we ensure lively streets and public spaces without encouraging mixed use and greater density? The mayor and council members should be talking about the appropriate balance between neighborhood character and individual property rights.”
Yup. Barnes-Gelt is right on.
As an aside, I was–I guess??–surprised to read in the introduction to “Implementing Blueprint Denver,” that, “Some misunderstanding may exist regarding the definition of ‘single-family residential.’ Developers generally define dwelling units with separate ground floor entrances as being ‘single-family’ even when they are duplexes or town homes, creating the expectation amongst some residents that all projects planned in their neighborhoods will be detached single-family homes.”
Ah, duh, yeah! But, obviously–as noted even in the above City-generated document, “developers” are, apparently, given the opportunity to interpret the present zoning code to their best interests–certainly not the neighborhood’s–by defining what exactly a “single-family” home is. That seem a little, um, odd to you?
My tangents do roam.
Anyway, witness the disinterest this upcoming election has generated in West Highlands, there is on our little street (forget the blue and white “Garcia for Denver,” yard sign grunge on Lowell), one, and only one, yard sign that extols the virtue of a candidate running for Council District 3–West Highlands is in Council District 1. Niccolo Casewit! Who the hell… What the hell… (P.S. April 19th Rocky Mountin News identifies Niccolo Casewit as–wouldn’t you just damn know it–an “architect,” who served on the Hick’s Infrastructure Priorities task force. OMG!)
I’m writing in for both Mayor and Distritct One Councilperson the name: “Soulful Sarah.” Who better to serve and protect the best interests of the good folk in West Highlands?