Archive for May, 2006

The Toll Road Fight Heats Up (Again)

May 29, 2006

If you haven’t yet seen the most recent Denver Post articles on toll roads, they are worth checking out. Today's was called "No 2-Way Street". The others so far include "Roads to Riches: Paved With Bad Projections" and "Northwest Parkway: Has Roots in Suspect Mergings". They do a good job of exposing the pattern of financial failure and community impacts of so many toll roads about the country.

Incidentally, you'll find two good posts on the Denver Post stories in Daily Kos and unbossed.

As for our own fight, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) will soon be making some critical decisions that will have a considerable effect on our fight to protect Golden from the Owens-Norton Billion Dollar Boondoggle. I represent Golden on the Board and have spent lots of energy building relationships with other board members, especially trying to illuminate how so many of us – Douglas County, Aurora, communities on the I-70 mountain corridor – are fighting exactly the same fight: challenging CDOT’s arrogant view that they should be able to build whatever they want wherever they want without regard for actual effects on transportation and the impacts to local communities.

The upcoming Colorado Municipal League conference in late June is an important opportunity to cement these relationships with elected representatives from other communities and ensure that we succeed in our collective fight to force CDOT to consider the needs of local communities in their decisions. I will be there.


Memorial Day

May 29, 2006

Rick Gardner compiled a list of Goldenites who have died in the service of our country. In the spirit of remembering those who have served, and especially those who have died, I am reprinting his list here.

CIVIL WAR (UNION) Daniel Miffitt

Oliver Bengson Jr.
Fred Lovely
Charles Neeley
Albert Shepherd
David Williams

Max O. Beaty
Irwin Blankenship
Robert H. Blankenship
Hubert M. Bussert
Cyrus Coyle
Allen Arthur Davis
Robert Charles Eggleston
Melvin W. Evans
John A. Farrington
Donald E. Goodrich
Lorenzo Sherman Harris
David Henry Helps Jr.
Charles A. Jaycox
Donald D. Jerred
Ralph Keeler
James Miller
Clarence Johanas Norby Jr.
Marcus Lyndon Ostlee
Eveart L. Ostrander
Charles R. Pyle
Walter E. Ramstetter
Billy W. Spieles
Melvin C. Steele
Ross Gailon Van Hooser
Ben P. Wood

Ronald Dean Layton
Michael Charles Odell
Norman Douglas Peery
Jerry Len Phillips
Michael Gregory Scherf
Raymond Vincent Stolpa
Michael Walter Warren
Thomas Hansford Williams
John Wright

Henry C. Risner

Golden Wins “Cool Cities” Award

May 28, 2006

Among the very long list of very cool things we do in Golden you’ll find planting trees. We plant lots of trees, averaging 155 each year over the past four years (according to our City Forester). Trees are great for all the obvious reasons, but they also make an important contribution to diminishing the impacts of global climate change. By capturing and holding carbon, they help reduce the effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this is the connection that Sierra Club is making with their Cool Cities awards. If anyone knows of particularly good discussions of the role of trees and other carbon sinks you might post a reply below with the links.

Golden is such a hotbed of renewable energy research, technology, and economic development, and getting some attention for our tree planting just underscores that much more the opportunity we have to be a regional and national sustainability leader. This stuff is great in part because most of the time it means saving money in addition to reducing our footprint.

Along those lines, we are still trying to make the solar panel proposal for the new city shops work, but regardless they will integrate key technologies and design features that both reduce its environmental impact and save the city (i.e., you) money.

Incidentally, “An Inconvenient Truth” will be opening in Denver (at the Esquire) on June 9. This is Al Gore’s feature film on climate change. I have no idea if it’ll be good but it’s generating quite a bit of buzz.

Adriana Raudzens of the Sierra Club will present the award to City Council at the beginning of our June 8 City Council meeting.

Helicopters and Golden City Code

May 26, 2006

A while back, at the request of a bunch of folks, I said I’d inquire with city staff on the issue of how our existing code addresses helicopters.  As we suspected, there isn’t much.  Although the code prohibits “unreasonable noise” (Section 5.15.020), aircraft operated in accordance with federal laws and regulations are specifically exempted (Section 5.15.040(c)).

There seem to be two possible points of leverage under our existing code:  through the regulation of business activities (i.e., sale tax licenses) and through the zoning code.  The biggest problem is that I don’t think we can simply ban helicopter landings and take-offs, since air traffic is regulated by the FAA and it’s not clear that local governments can supercede their authority.  Just how much ability we have to regulate helicopters is unclear.

For this reason I’m inclined to stick with our current course of action, which is to wait and see how much of a disturbance their normal operations cause (compared to the considerable disturbance caused by their demonstration day).  If they really have as few flights as they’ve anticipated, it may be seldom enough that it doesn’t really cause any problems.  If their numbers go up, though, then we’ll need to sit down with them and figure how to make it work, acknowledging that federal law may give them the right to land and take off but that we probably have the right to adopt some limitations.

I hope that helps clarifies a generally complicated situation.

Traffic Noise Enforcement Update

May 24, 2006

Some folks have asked for an update on our relatively new noise enforcement strategy so I asked Chief Kilpatrick to put something together.  As a refresher, the city’s code on noise (with a specific decibel maximum) is difficult to enforce, so we explored alternatives that would be easier to work with and get us the desired result (less noise).  We settled on an approach focusing on illegal mufflers, since most excessively noisy vehicles are so loud because their mufflers are illegally modified.  Our police officers can pull someone over if the vehicle is making too much noise and then write the ticket for the illegal muffler causing the noise, since that’s very easy to enforce (either it has the required components or it doesn’t).

A couple highlights:- Between April 21, 2005 and the end of 2005 we issued 31 muffler/noise violations.  Most of these (20) were written on S. Golden Road.  Eight were issued near the junction of 58 and 6, and the others were scattered around.- Between January 1, 2006 and the present (as of the May 15 memo) we’ve issued twenty additional tickets for muffler violations.  All of these have been the result of a collaborative effort with the Colorado State Patrol to target large trucks.

I assume but will confirm that with the summer coming on they’ll focus more on the areas that get a lot of motorcycle traffic, since illegal motorcycle mufflers seem to be the major cause of the noise problems.

Avalanche Damages Golden’s Vidler Pipeline

May 23, 2006

In the Department of Strange News, an avalanche took out part of the Vidler Pipeline, on which we spent a bunch of money last year repairing and upgrading. We use the pipeline and tunnel to carry water from Peru Creek in Summit County to Clear Creek where the City of Golden can then use it. We didn't expect this because the tunnel is typically buried under the snow and thus protected from avalanches. No such luck this time. The really strange thing is that the slide didn’t actually damage the pipeline at all, it just broke it apart and scattered the pieces, so the repair will mostly consist of putting everything back together. The photos (one from last fall and two new ones) are pretty wild.

finished pipeline.jpgpost-avalance 1.jpgpost-avalance 2.jpg

National Peace Officer’s Week

May 23, 2006


I was out of town most of last week and fell behind on the blog but I’m back and slowly catching up . . .

I’ll post more later this evening but wanted to mention that part of my trip was in Washington, D.C., and while I was there I met some folks who were there for National Police Week. May 15 has been National Peace Officer’s Memorial Day, and the week containing May 15 has been National Police Week, since 1962 when President John F. Kennedy signed the law creating them. In honor of fallen law enforcement officers we – City Council – also declared last week as National Peace Officer’s Week in Golden.

As an aside, you’ll find a memorial garden behind the Jefferson County Courts and Administration Building (aka the Taj Mahal) for crime victims and county employees. There is at least one gazebo there dedicated to a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy slain in the line of duty.

Golden in the News: Renewable Energy and the City Shops

May 11, 2006

I've been working with folks on our city staff, the Environmental Protection Agency, NREL, and our architect over the last couple of months to figure out how to integrate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies into the design of our new city shops project. Today's Denver Post has a really supportive column about some of those efforts.

I also noticed that the Colorado Fuel Cell Center celebrated its grand opening this week. The Center – located on the CSM campus in Golden – is a project of the Governor's Office of Energy Management and Conservation, the Gas Technology Institute, the Colorado School of Mines, Versa Power Systems, Inc., and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

A Few More Thoughts About Golden’s Public Art Program

May 10, 2006

I really, really appreciate the widespread and energetic interest in this conversation about Golden's public art program.  I strongly support all of our arts and cultural programs, and think they are a vital part of what makes Golden the amazing community that it is.  The number of folks that have written emails and posted here on the blog in support of our art program is a testament to how important it is to Golden and how much support it enjoys.

This all started with my asking about how the decisions about public art in Golden are made now and are there ways to do it better.  I was aiming for a thoughtful, respectful conversation among City Councilors, the Civic Foundation, and others in the community, at the end of which we'd either decide to keep doing exactly the same thing we are doing now, make a few small changes, or do something entirely different.  I think that part of my job on Council is to ask questions about how we do things and how we might do them better.  Sometimes the answer is simple:  what we are doing right now works great.  Sometimes there are ways to make bad things good and good things better. 

Some folks thought that simply by asking these questions and offering a proposal about how we might improve on our art program that I was attacking the program.  I wasn't.  I was asking if we could take something good and make it better.

Some folks thought I was attacking or criticizing the Civic Foundation.  I wasn't.  I deeply respect and value their considerable contributions to our community, and despite the hoopla I've been having really good conversations with the Civic Foundation board about these questions.

Some folks thought I was criticizing the art we have now around Golden.  I wasn't.  As I've said before, in my view the Civic Foundation and others have done a tremendous job creating our public art program.

Some folks also thought I was suggesting the City Council take control of the art program.  I wasn't.  I think that having City Council make decisions about art is a terrible idea and wouldn't support it.  My suggestion was that we create a citizen advisory board – that has public meetings (that anyone can attend), that accepts public comment, and that makes its decisions in public – to make those decisions.  That may not be a good way to do it, but it's very different than taking control of the program.  Councilor Weaver did seem to support that City Council get to make decisions about our art but I don't share her view.

All that said, I have heard loud and clear that lots of folks like the way we do it now, and I will gladly respect that.  I've also heard a ton of support for installing Checkmate, and as I told the Civic Foundation board several days ago, I will gladly support installing that as well.

A Robust Discussion About Golden’s Art Program

May 9, 2006

Heard those rumors that Golden’s public art program is under attack?

Not true.

I strongly support our public art program as well as the rest of our arts and cultural organizations and opportunities, but it seems I’ve caused a bit of a fuss by suggesting that maybe the community should have more of a voice in its own public art.

Rather than engage in a thoughtful dialogue about the questions and issued I raised, some inflammatory emails are circulating that mischaracterize my suggestion.  Those kinds of email are an effective way to get people fired up – if I weren’t on Council and read those emails I’d be upset as well – but it makes it difficult to have an honest community conversation.

For a long time, decisions about what art the city spends public money on and where this art is installed have been made by a group of folks known as the Public Art Committee. This committee formed about fifteen years ago, and with the blessing of the then-City Council proceeded to create a public art program in Golden where one didn’t really exist. Basically, the committee raised money to purchase art (or managed to acquire donated pieces), tapped into a small city fund to supplement its own fundraising, and decided where the art would be installed. As best as I can tell, City Council ok’d pretty much everything that came its way.

I am deeply grateful for the committee’s hard work over the years, the result of which is a robust collection of art throughout the community, but just because it’s the way we’ve always done it doesn’t mean it’s the best way to move forward.  I asked this question because under the current process City Council is basically asked to rubber stamp decisions that involve spending public money and using public land without any public participation. The current process isn’t transparent to the community, the community has no meaningful opportunity to participate in the process, and the process has essentially no accountability to the community.  I’m not criticizing the existing process but I am asking if it’s the way we’d like to proceed from here.

My suggestion:  that we create a community advisory board to make decisions about public art in Golden, and do so in the open, in a way that allows for meaningful public participation, and in a way that’s accountable to the community.  I suggested that City Council appoint the committee for the simple reason that it’s the only entity that is directly responsible to the community.  Interestingly, it turns out that tons of our neighbors do exactly what I’m proposing. Lafayette, Aurora, Littleton, Arvada, Broomfield, and Greeley, and western Colorado towns like Delta, Breckenridge, and others all have City Council-appointed committees that are appointed openly, work in the open, invite public comment and participation, and have primary responsibility for making these kinds of decisions.

Every one of the folks who serve on City Council are going to have ideas about good ways to make decisions and make good things happen in Golden.  Some of them will be good ideas and some will be bad, and it seems to me that the best way to sort it out is to have thoughtful, respectful community conversations.  I don’t mind at all if folks disagree with this proposal, but at least now you’ll have the benefit of knowing what exactly I proposed and why.

In that spirit, I invite everyone who has some thoughts on this question to either write a reply to this blog post (which you can do below) or send an email to the City Council list (