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.