Today’s Headlines

  • Developer to Build 30-Story Traffic Magnet at 15th and California with 12 Levels of Parking where None Is Required (DBJ)
  • RTD Wants Drivers to Try Transit Today — “Dump the Pump Day” (9News)
  • Blame Sprawl, Subsequent Car Dependence for High Denver Housing Costs (CNU)
  • Bike to Work Day Is Next Week, and It’s Meant to Change Entrenched Behavior (CBS4)
  • Lovers and Haters of Hick’s Stricter Vehicle Emissions Standards (DBJ)
  • Today: Ribbon Cutting and Party to Celebrate Brighton Boulevard Street Overhaul (Denverite)

National headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • JZ71

    Developer To Build 30-Story Building With The Amenities Tenants Paying Top Dollar Want And Are Willing To Pay For

    • MT

      Those amenities have external costs to the rest of the city in the form of increased vehicle traffic. We’d be well within our rights and responsibilities as a city to regulate them in the form of parking maximums.

      • rct

        You want parking maximums ….Why so you can drive downtown with less traffic? Let the market place work. With more traffic, more people will probably start to use mass transit instead of being stuck in grid lock. It fixes itself as long as the mass transit service is decent and in the right areas. Like maybe there should be a street car/light rail service down Speer.

        • Devin Quince

          There is the lies the rub. Our transit system bites

          • TakeFive

            Good start but paltry follow through, I’d have to agree.

        • MT

          I’d love to improve our transit. Speer would be a fantastic place for a light rail line. Of course we have to deal with complaints from drivers if we use any street space for buses or rail.

          There’s still no reason we can’t have parking maximums. Building parking encourages driving, driving has harmful effects on the surrounding public streets.

          I don’t see it as any different than traffic impact fees where new developments have to pay for things like adding turn lanes and traffic lights to accommodate increased car traffic to their development. But instead of asking them to pay for increasing car capacity on the surrounding streets, we’re asking them to reduce the car capacity of their development to prevent increasing car traffic on the surrounding streets.

          • TakeFive

            Light rail is a much easier sale for many and obvious reasons than removing a lane of traffic for buses. Everybody wanna ride the rail; buses, not so much. I’d agree that bus only lanes should only be used on key corridors where you can move enough people to do the job right and make it worth the investment.

          • MT

            Bus only lane is a pretty cheap investment. Paint, signs, done.
            Light rail is a huge investment. Better be sure that will pay off. Bus lanes are a small bet that can pay off big, if they don’t pay off, no big loss.

            If bus lanes are successful, you’re on your way to increasing ridership to a point that upgrading to rail will be a logical next step.

            I love rail, but growing incrementally is going to be the best way to put rail where it’s needed instead of where it’s easiest to build like we’ve been doing. Much safer plan financially to grow step by step instead of billions at a time and hoping development will follow.

          • TakeFive

            If you do restricted bus lanes on the cheap it’s likely to backfire, blow up in your face. It may please transit fans but there’s even more who couldn’t care less about dirty, rumbling buses. Compliance could be poor along with a noisy backlash. Politicians still need to get elected.

            East Colfax is up to ~$175 million estimate and that doesn’t include many additional complimentary improvements. While a progressive bus lane on So Broadway worked well enough but So Broadway had the capacity to do this w/o any real pain other than the adjustment of changing habits.

            Denver really needs good transit as opposed to a flea market approach; nothing against flea markets; they’re fun and an affordable marketplace for many but they don’t inconvenience anybody.

          • MT

            Different situations call for different approaches. Waiting around for billions of dollars to do full BRT or light rail on every route means we never get anything and the existing service stays the same (or gets worse as buses get stuck behind increasing car traffic.)

            Colfax only has two lanes each way, something more substantial than paint is going to be necessary to keep cars out of the bus lanes. Going full BRT is going to be awesome.

            I’d love to upgrade every route but it’s not possible. What is possible is continually making improvements instead of letting things languish. Once in a while we might get a big bump up to BRT or rail, but there’s a lot we can do to improve existing service, and those improvements will help get us closer to the really good stuff.

            The more we let bus service suffer the more the public response will be “our transit sucks, I’m driving.”

          • TakeFive

            Sounds nice…

          • MT

            There’s also no shortage of cities that have been adding bike lanes and bus lanes all over town, and are doing just fine. If you’re looking at cities that are more urban than Denver you’re looking at places where drivers are not the majority. Traffic is terrible in Chicago but the bus and bike lanes there serve the people that live there, they’re not getting ripped out.

            We’ve had a lot of complaining from a small number of people, but haven’t had to remove any bus or bike lanes so far.
            Maybe we’d see a bigger backlash if our streets were anywhere near capacity with car traffic, but they’re not.
            Denver’s streets are way bigger than they need to be, we should never have a problem dedicating space for bikes or transit.

        • TakeFive

          There’s a lot to be said for just letting the free market work its magic.

      • David Sachs

        A lot of people don’t realize that banks who loan developers money for the projects are huge players in this process. Many insist on an inordinate amount of parking before okaying the loan, and chances are they don’t have an expertise in urban transportation and land use policy and trends. Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender that some of the smaller, less traditional banks have stopped that practice and places with no marking minimums have begun to see less parking-first development, but there’s no more sure-fire way than regulating them. The idea that there isn’t enough parking downtown is not and will never be true.

        • MT

          Very true. Financing has a very big influence.

          • TakeFive

            With the kind of money invested in these projects it’s understandable. It’s not just banks; in fact it goes more to investors whether from the get-go or subsequently. Banks are merely making construction loans… but yes they want to feel comfortable that take-out funding will be available in whatever form when the project is finished.

          • MT

            Banks are playing it safe, doing what they know. We can either wait around for decades for them to come around to the idea that massive amounts of parking are not necessary, or we can regulate parking and they can play by our city’s rules or make room for someone else who will.

            Other problem is that the few places we don’t have parking minimums are downtown where the projects are going to be big and going to need big funders. I we allowed no/light parking development in more places we’d get some smaller developers and different investors involved who are willing to take those chances. Smaller bets, less risk. Prove the concept.

        • TakeFive

          Smaller banks for smaller projects; I’d agree this is a good place to start.

          In addition to Block 162 there are three other high rises in the works. If Tabor Two is built I don’t look for any more parking as they built enough when they developed Tabor One afaik. The other two potential towers would be residential of at least 30 stories so parking will no doubt be included.

      • TakeFive

        Sorry, I don’t particularly believe in growing the Nanny Government. Otoh, I’d be all for some form of incentives to address the issue.

        • MT

          So we can get rid of all the nanny parking minimums then?

          • TakeFive

            Fine by me; presently most developers build over the minimums anyway.

            I wouldn’t prefer not having any zoning like Houston… but it’s been awhile since I checked what that means. I do support minimum (fire) safety and habitability standards. I also support (within reason) for neighborhoods to solicit on their own behalf… the right to petition is a time honored tradition.

          • MT

            What you’re not seeing is all the projects that could happen but never do because of the added cost of parking minimums. A lot of smaller projects become unworkable when you add in the required parking. Small apartment buildings that fit on the same size lot as a single family house used to be common, I’ve lived in a few. None of them would be legal to build anymore because they had far fewer parking spots than units.
            To build them today you’d have to start going underground with the parking, massively increasing the cost of the project. So it either wouldn’t get built, or the units would become much more expensive. Another thing that adds to our housing affordability problem.
            In the extremely limited areas where you can built without parking there’s been such a hissy fit from neighbors it’s no wonder developers shy away.
            Plus the financing element, especially on the big projects downtown.

  • TakeFive

    “Blame Sprawl, Subsequent Car Dependence for High Denver Housing Costs”

    If I can find the time I’d really like to read Richard Florida’s follow-up book. So far as Robert Steuteville’s piece I read only far enough to say “that’s enough of that.” Not that he’s wrong but the constant bemoaning of what came before is an exercise in futility. What he overlooks initially is that the big push into the urban core has happened with and since the recovery of the Great Recession at least so far as an everywhere event.