Humboldt Street Neighborhood Association Prefers Parking to People

Members of the Humboldt Street Neighborhood Association have a message for potential new residents of their enclave in City Park West: No vacancy.

The group is petitioning to revoke zoning permits from two impending apartment buildings before home builders break ground at 16th and Humboldt streets. If successful, these residents will block 108 homes (and likely more than 108 people) from living in a place where walking and biking for daily errands is easy and transit is decent. Oh, and these homes will cost $1,000 to rent, which is $371 less than the average rent in the metro region according to a University of Denver survey.

The main reason these people want to obstruct 108 new homes? So they can park their personal vehicles at their front doors, in the public right of way, for free. Newcomers threaten this ability, which they deem a right. As Humboldt Street Neighborhood Association member Bob Hickman told City Council at a public hearing last month, “The street parking potato sack is full. There is no more room for more potatoes.”

Or people, apparently.

Hickman’s organization vocally opposed a long-existing zoning code that allows developers to opt out of building off-street parking for developments on smaller lots in mixed-use neighborhoods. They were successful in getting Denver City Council to press pause on allowing these parking-free buildings, but not before several projects already in the pipeline, including this one, made it through. Now the neighborhood organization is collecting signatures to squash those buildings through the Denver Board of Adjustment for Zoning Appeals.

Here’s a gem of a claim from the petition:

Local businesses and residents will be forced to subsidize parking for the development so the developers can maximize their return on investment.

This statement makes no sense. Will developers make money from their investment? Yes, that’s what they do. Will residents and businesses “subsidize” on-street parking? No, because they don’t own any in the first place. Their argument stems from a delusional premise that because they live there now, they have some kind of control over who gets to park on a public street. They do not.

Second, if the city compels home builders to include parking, they’ll pay $26,000 per off-street parking space for an underground garage, and $18,000 for each above ground stall, according to a report by parking policy expert Donald Shoup. That cost gets passed along to tenants and the new addition to the city’s housing stock is suddenly rendered much less affordable.

So in a supposed attempt to oust greedy developers, Humboldt Street Neighborhood Association members are actually making their neighborhood less affordable for newcomers — locking them out of City Park West because they can’t fathom walking a few minutes to and from their vehicles.

  • John Riecke

    Hear, hear!

  • Frank Silady Locantore

    I like potatoes a lot – mashed, hashed, baked, and fried. If I ate more and ate them more quickly, would we be able to fit more people into my cool ‘hood? I’m willing to try.

    • ANM

      If you biked more then you could probably fit more potatoes in your belly. 🙂

      • Frank Silady Locantore

        Good point. I don’t own a car and biking and walking and transit are how I get around. And, btw, I do live in this neighborhood. (I wish more people would use their real names in their profile.)

  • TakeFive

    lol, You have an interesting way of demonizing certain things or people that often is hardly fair… not that the world is ever a fair place mind you. Just sayin’.

    The original intent of the small lot parking exemption was not to encourage new development but rather to benefit preservation including adaptive reuse. Lawyers call this the classic “Law of unintended consequences.”

    Being a bit of a curmudgeon I’m still trying to wrap my head around “micro-apartments.” But I’m trying to go with the flow; I understand it’s time for the next generation to start making their imprint on history. Actually I had no issue with Nichols’ Turntable Studios in the old Holiday Inn by Mile High nor do I have any issue with his downtown proposal, for examples.

    So “subsidized parking” wasn’t the best or most correct useage. Aside from legalities it a common understanding that street parking is for the convenience of those who live on that street. Sounds very reasonable to me that one would prefer to park in front of their own home as opposed to a few blocks away. Not at all hard to understand that.

    I can’t recall specifically every block and street but I do have a good sense of the neighborhood. Anyway, I don’t have a position for or against this development. Just needed to rant a bit. Rant over.

  • Walter Crunch

    I am sure everyone there has a front yard. Make a driveway. Or, pay the city what the parking spot is worth per year.

    • Louis

      If you knew the neighborhood, converted front lawns would yield a single parking space at best — and permanently remove one from the street in the process. Net zero impact.

      Why should current residents suffer for the self-serving actions of Pando Holdings LLC? Current residents own *low-density* housing for which street parking was a reasonable solution. This development is higher density and expects the same parking solution to suffice. That is near sighted and will damage the community.

      Pando Holdings demonstrates its values and character with these decisions and actions — profits over people.

  • Vertigo700

    I am getting really tired of home owners being the only ones allowed to dictate city policies about their neighborhoods. According to the Piton Foundation, about half the people who live in City Park West are renters and more than a third of them are “rent stressed” meaning they are paying more than the recommended one-third of their monthly income on housing. This is a neighborhood with two large hospitals that employ thousands, not to mention the numerous retail and restaurant jobs on 17th, 18th and Colfax. For some reason, I am guessing that these petitioners are primarily focusing on homeowners and not on the many renters and workers in the area who may be perfectly happy to see a more affordable housing choice in the neighborhood and may be willing to give up their cars if they can afford to live close to work.

    • TakeFive

      You have an interesting attitude about homeowners, one I’m not familiar with. Participating in the process seems like a good thing to me, sorta like grassroots Americana.

      The charm of Denver owes a lot to the style, character and personality of its neighborhoods. The people who care are the ones who foster and help maintain that. They don’t have to be homeowners but more typically renters couldn’t care less; some will.

      Investor/developers are in it for the profit and generally could give a wit about the neighborhood. Neighborhoods are a good thing, not a bad thing.

      • Vertigo700

        I just don’t think the city should make policy simply to appease one part of the city’s population. If nearly 70 percent of a neighborhood’s population are renters and more than 40 percent are rent-stressed (as is the case with City Park West), then the city should consider their voices in any debate, not just those of a few people who show up at a meeting.

        (See: http://denvermetrodata.org/neighborhood/city-park-west)

        • TakeFive

          I hear you; that’s fair.

      • Aaron

        Not to mention, fewer and fewer people will ever become homeowners if they are forced to put all of their income into their rent. Why aren’t millennials buying condos or homes? They have too much debt from student loans and can’t put any money into savings.

  • mckillio

    I support no parking for apartment buildings in certain areas but this area is not a good place for it. The neighborhood is just not that walkable.

    • Vertigo700

      Actually, according to Walkscore.com, 1600 Humboldt Street (where this development is located) has a score of 83 or “very walkable.” In addition the bike score is 98, which is “biker’s paradise,” the highest available score. So this area actually is extraordinarily bike-friendly and very walkable.

      • mckillio

        I know the scores and still disagree that it’s a good place to have an apartment building with no parking. The scores for transit, walking, and biking should all be in the 90s.

  • neroden

    These jackasses need to be told in no uncertain terms to go to hell. I suggest that Denver start by putting parking meters on every single block in the neighborhood. Which Denver can do unilaterally.

  • Louis

    The article incorrectly assumes that parking expenses are invariably passed onto the renter — if no demand exists, the investors will eat those costs until demand rises.

    If there IS demand, then the renters make the choice to spend more $ on rent, not saving for a home. Homeowners of City Park West did not make that choice for them, or force rent to go up — only demand does that. Homeowners and renters have put in the time and resources to contribute to the community and improve the neighborhood. Why shouldn’t they protest a developer who skirts the heart of the law and impacts the community negatively?

    Come out to the rally and the appeal!

  • Walter Crunch

    I am tired of subsidizing rich home owners. Time for parking meters!

  • Louis

    $371 less than the average rent, but also 800sqft less than the average property in the area. On a price/sqft breakdown, these units are far more costly for renters and profitable to the developers — who cannot be moved to use that $ to provide fair parking capacity for the units they are building.

  • robinbird666

    Clearly there are many comments here from people who don’t live in this neighborhood. I live within blocks of it and the situation has become untenable. Beyond the residential (and projected residential) growth, half a dozen new restaurants and other businesses have launched (and/or expanded) along the same area of 17th with ZERO parking allowance forcing people into the 1600 block from Marion through York. Also… consider the alternative. How many people on this forum have attended a concert at Botanic Gardens and been unable to find street parking due to a strong neighborhood association that has managed to pass stringent restrictions? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have measured development that includes parking when Denver remains a car culture-driven city. These new buildings are not a sound representation of Transit-Oriented Development. I urge dissenters in this comment section to drive through this neighborhood on a Friday or Saturday evening. You’ll have to drive through as you won’t be able to park.

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