Blueprint Denver: Leaders lay out vision for ‘inclusive' growth over the next 20 years

Our Colorado: Plan includes focus on social equity

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DENVER – After two years of work, the city and county of Denver has released a draft version of its vision for the next 20 years of growth.

The new Blueprint Denver plan includes a wide range of policy recommendations, strategies and goals for how – and where – the city should grow between now and 2040, with a large focus on making sure that growth is as “inclusive” as possible.

The plan includes a heavy focus on social equity and its recommendations came about in large part due to public input collected over the past two years.

The plan’s recommendations are divided into three main categories: Land use and built form – zoning, building design, housing, etc. – mobility and “quality of life” infrastructure – parks, street trees and other amenities.

Land use/Housing

As home prices and rents continue to climb, housing has become a big area of concern in Denver in recent years and the plan includes many recommendations aimed at making the city more affordable for everyone and preventing people from being displaced by growth.

Those recommendations include things like focusing on a greater diversity of housing options, including more options for low- and middle-income families through development incentives and other policies. The plan also recommends focusing that housing growth around regional hubs and transit corridors to make sure that people are able to get around easily.

Because the look and feel of new construction also is a concern in many neighborhoods – think of the recent controversy involving so-called “slot” homes – the plan also calls for taking steps to preserve the character of existing neighborhoods through zoning changes and design review.

Mobility

Blueprint Denver includes a large focus on mobility and the various modes of transportation people use to get around the city and one of the many recommendations the plan makes is that growth be centered around areas that can accommodate that growth and that have multiple mobility options, such as light rail, buses and bike infrastructure.

While the plan calls for encouraging more transportation diversity, it also recommends a heavier focus on pedestrians, making safe walking a priority on all city streets. Part of that means filling the existing gaps in the city’s sidewalk network and eliminating exemptions that allow developers to avoid building sidewalks, in addition to continuing to implement the city’s “Vision Zero” pedestrian safety campaign.

The plan also includes recommendations for making public transit more affordable, accessible and convenient.

Quality of life

The final group of recommendations in the plan focus largely on green space and beautification of city streets, calling for supporting existing park spaces and parkways, adding more trees throughout the city, better managing flooding and encouraging more environmentally-friendly development.

Also included in the “quality of life” section are recommendations for increasing access to healthy food, whether that be through community-supported agriculture, farmers’ markets, or incentives to build grocery stores in areas that need them and protect existing stores at risk of closing down.

Next steps

Denver’s Community Planning and Development department aims to keep track of the plan’s progress every year and report on its progress.

The Blueprint Denver plan is available for public review until Oct. 31. The plan will then be revised based on input from the public. The plan will then go to the Denver City Council for review in 2019.

To read the plan in its entirety, log on to denvergov.org/denveright.

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