Letters : Denver sidewalk fees — Voters sold a perpetual bill of goods

Denver sidewalk fees: Voters sold a perpetual bill of goods

I just checked my estimated sidewalk fee Denver plans to charge me. It is $542 a year, partially because I live along a “mixed-use collector,” and those rates per foot are higher than for “local streets.”

Living along a busy street already makes my property worth less, yet I pay more for the sidewalk? Zillow puts my home at $611,000, but I paid only $300,000; I could not afford to buy it now. Meanwhile, an acquaintance just built a $2 million home nearby with the same sidewalk frontage, although not on a busy street. She has an estimated sidewalk fee of $378 a year.

Whatever consultant developed the algorithm for this could have focused a little more attention on equity. Adding a few more variables to the algorithm to include things such as our newly assessed property values or home purchase price should be an easy task for a database scientist to include.

Jessica Nolle, Denver

Denver estimates it will cost me $107.50 in fees for my 50 linear foot sidewalk next year.

My house was built 94 years ago. Since the installation of the sidewalks, no work has been done on the sidewalk and no work is needed.

• Cost for sidewalk repair for 94 years: $0.

• Cost in fees for next 94 years (assuming no increase in the annual fee): $10,105.00.

• Angi’s estimates the cost to replace a 4-foot by 50 linear-foot sidewalk ranges from $1,000 to $3,000.

It is a much better deal to pay for your own sidewalk replacement (if you ever must) than to pay a perpetual annual fee for work that may never be done to your sidewalk.

Denver voters were sold a bill of goods.

Shaun Sullivan, Denver

Time for the “have-nots” to step up against NIMBYism

Re: “Colorado’s affordable housing projects face an obstacle,” Aug. 17 opinion column.

I don’t always agree with Krista Kafer, but her column about NIMBYism is spot-on.

For too long, politicians have kowtowed to neighborhood organizations (mainly made up of single-family homeowners). These “haves” stifle density and affordable housing opportunities for the “have-nots,” yet they are often the first to complain about the presence of the homeless.

Another inequity foisted on the rest of us is “permitted parking” for mostly wealthy neighborhoods. Residents in those areas get to own the public parking on their block, and the rest of us taxpayers can’t park on our tax-supported public street.

It’s time for the have-nots to step up, organize, vote and demand their rights.

Jim Hannifin Sr., Denver

Tax money for Catholic preschool?

Re: “Archdiocese is at it again with hypocrisy of denial,” Aug. 18 letter to the editor

WWJD? Certainly not what the Denver Archdiocese is doing.

Kudos to letter-writer David Thomas for summarizing the same feelings many people have for the Denver Archdiocese’s hypocritical behavior.

Kathleen Fitzgerald, Denver

Re: “Archdiocese sues state over right to exclude LGBTQ people,” Aug. 17 news story

The Archdiocese of Denver and two Catholic parishes sued the State of Colorado over its “universal” preschool program. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues that the conditions set forth by the Polis administration “effectively penalizes the free exercise of religion.”

The preschool mandate might well be construed as a statement of contempt for parents and children who do not go along with the state’s non-discrimination requirements.

But haven’t we heard this before? The Catholic Church has long been under assault for rightly refusing to march in step with the public schools. That Catholic teachers should be expected to submit to a mandate that clearly inveighs against their religious beliefs is, quite simply, beyond the pale.

Brian Stuckey, Denver

Don’t wait to curb property tax grab

Re: “We need a special session, not Prop HH,” Aug. 20 commentary

State Sen. Paul Lundeen’s call for a special legislative session on property taxes is spot on. The governor and the legislative leadership need to provide bipartisan legislation to provide substantive property tax relief rather than the minuscule outcome in the 11th hour of the legislative session. Property taxes need to be capped with no increase larger than the level of inflation.

Rising energy costs, home insurance, and egregious property taxes continue to erode affordable housing in Colorado. Gov. Jared Polis and the legislature need to ensure a robust legislative solution rather than an anemic ballot proposal.

Mark Boyko, Parker

Your articles on Proposition HH cause me to think it should be renamed “Proposition Shell Game” or even “Bait and Switch.” I have lived in Denver many years, and I have never seen city and state administrations so eager to increase taxes and fees.

Gary Hall, Denver

Open minds on climate concerns

Re: “The Earth is Burning: Convert extreme heat into political action,” Aug. 17 commentary

After listing the climate hysteria talking points, Steve Zansberg asks, “So why, then, are we not all rising to our feet … and taking to the streets to demand change from our governments and carbon-spewing industries?” Because, hopefully, people of the world know the need for energy is ever-growing, and they know the alternatives are a long way (decades) from supplanting fossil fuels affordably, reliably and efficiently. Simple as that. Innovation will get us there. Earth and humanity won’t die off in the meantime. (Nuclear anyone?)

If The Denver Post ever had the guts to publish anything besides climate hysteria, readers might know that there are smarter ways to get us to cleaner energy. How about Bjorn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus? How about really challenging your readers to think differently with something from professors emeritus William Lindzen (MIT) or William Happer (Princeton)? I won’t hold my breath for that.

Finally, when someone calls something an existential threat to humanity and says the missing ingredient for action is a fake slogan based on fear, you know they’re not serious. They’re just deceiving you. And when someone suggests that a sniveling brat (Greta Thunberg) could be today’s Martin Luther King Jr., an iconic and estimable figure in U.S. history, you know they are not serious. In fact, they insult us.

Jeff Wakelee, Highland Ranch

Public transport is not the desired DIA solution

Re: “Peña Boulevard: Expand or not?” Aug. 13 news story

If we choose not to widen Peña Boulevard and instead “invest” heavily in public transit, what will happen? Well, we already have a pretty good idea:

Thanks to RTD’s Zero Fare for Better Air program, which offered zero-dollar fares in all of August last year, and all of July and August this year, we know most people don’t want public transit. So few people want public transit that RTD can’t give it away. If public transit is a product that people really want, nearly every RTD train and bus would have been overflowing with passengers during the zero-fare months.

Sure, people will vote for public transit because it makes them feel good about doing something for the environment. Unfortunately, investing in public transit instead of widening congested roads is more harmful to the environment because so few will use public transit, and autos will spew more pollutants into the atmosphere than they would if the highways had been widened because congestion causes autos to repeatedly slow down and speed up. All that slowing down and speeding up is energy inefficient and results in more pollution.

Time is money. The more time people spend on congested highways, the less time they have to be productive. Congested highways cost our economy dearly.

Investing in public transit is both climate and economic arson. Widen Peña but have the highway users — not DIA — pay for the widening and ongoing maintenance with tolls. And widen heavily congested Interstate 270 too.

Chuck Wright, Westminster

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Letters: Finally, Denver Broncos star of the ’70s and ’80s headed to Hall

Finally, Broncos star of the ’70s and ’80s headed to Hall

Re: “After 35-year wait, ex-Bronco Gradishar on doorstep of Canton,” Aug. 24 sports story

It’s a darn shame that so many of Randy Gradishar’s admirers who were old enough to have actually watched him play in the last century couldn’t live long enough to see the final crowning moment in his career, a belated, seemingly begrudged election to Football’s Hall of Fame. Now we can sit down and explain to our adult-with-families-of-their-own grandkids just what a marvelous player Randy was.

Harry Puncec, Lakewood

Road rage? No. These were good Samaritans

Despite our automatic local news stories filled with hate and violence, I would like to share a recent experience I had driving Denver streets.

Happily heading south on Colorado last Monday, I suddenly was harassed by a guy, the passenger in the car next to me, window down, screaming, “Get off the street! Pull over! Get out!” while shaking his fist. Of course, instincts (and fear) set in, and I ignored him and kept going. Then again, he was screaming and fist-waving from his car right at my driver’s window, now joined by someone else in another car. At this point, I had no choice. So, frightened, I pulled across the rush-hour traffic and into a nearby parking lot. This man followed me, jumped out of his car and raced over toward me, again fist shaking, yelling, “Now! Get out of your car now!” and then added, “Your car is on fire!”

It was true, flames dropping down under the engine to the pavement, totally engulfed. My now-hero and his wife continued to check on me and the car while guys from nearby shops came out with extinguishers and put out the fire. Of course, all was followed by myriad “thank you”s as my kids arrived to help, and my heroes went on their way.

In the craziness, I didn’t get any names or phone numbers, but the whole event was an experience of genuine care and kindness I shall never forget! Thank you all, wherever you are!

Christie G. Murata, Denver

Dear Mr. President,

Time to let go, Joe. Time to pass the torch. Pass it on to Pete, Amy or Cory. Pass it on.

David L Stevenson, Denver 

Cheers to BLM whistleblower

Re: “BLM whistleblower says illegal grazing ruining land,” Aug. 22 news story

I’m writing to voice my anger at the complete lack of managing the grazing on our lands and to commend Melissa Shawcroft, who has the integrity to stand up and plead for enforcement that has gone unchecked for years but ignored by the managing powers that be.

I remind them that our tax dollars pay their salaries. We, the people, depend on you to manage lands properly, follow the regulations and abide by them. This includes strict punishment and fines to those who illegally impact these lands. I’ve watched as our wildlife and lands parish further because of poor leadership. Round up the illegal cattle instead of the wild horses! We need actual management, but all I see is our tax dollars going to nothing but the destruction of our lands.

We are vastly losing our native plants and animals. Shawcroft deserves a raise! She deserves a promotion! She is what the BLM stands for.

Wake up and manage!

Susan Sturbaum, Arvada

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Letters: Book bans in Colorado? Don’t tread on reading rights

Don’t tread on my reading rights

Re: “Douglas County: Library board to consider banning four LGBTQ+ books,” Aug. 23 news story

It seems to me that if a parent doesn’t want their child to be reading a certain book, then that parent has a right to forbid it. But it does not necessarily follow that that book should be forbidden to everyone else. That parent has no right to forbid access to that book to everyone else

A library should be an open market of ideas; a person can select those that interest them and ignore the rest. Just because you reject a book (idea), don’t try to tell me I can’t have access to it. You’re just trying to force your point of view onto me.

We are Americans. We don’t ban or burn books. The Nazis did.

Robert F. Ward, Highlands Ranch

It is a sad day when someone thinks reading a book will damage a child psychologically. I doubt reading a children’s book about a drag queen is, as Aaron Wood wrote, “a cruel means of hardening children’s hearts and taking away their innocence.” How about all the gun violence and swearing that you read about or hear on television? I am an adult and violence takes away some of my trust and “hardens my heart.” The real damage would be not teaching children that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality or “gender ideology.”

My mother taught me to treat all people with kindness, respect, and compassion. She would have welcomed reading to me “The Hips on the Drag Queen go Swish, Swish, Swish” — even using different voices as she did with Dr. Seuss books!

Kristen Krentler, Colorado Springs

Keep these books out of children’s section

Thank the Lord! I am so happy to see this group, Freedom Fathers, bringing before the library board these reprehensible books that are presenting inappropriate sexual content to children!! Thank you, Mr. Woods; I honor your willingness to stand for what is right! If the library wants these books in the adult section of the library, I find it horrid, but that is OK. Not in the children’s section. Don’t sexualize children.

Deanna Walworth, Brighton

Too hot for school

Re: “Schools to close early today over heat,” Aug. 23 news story

Another year’s gone by, and in the news they’re complaining again that the classrooms are super hot because there are no air conditioning units in all the classrooms. And at no time can any of these brainiacs who are supposed to be in education think about starting the school year in the second week of September.

Leroy M. Martinez, Denver

I’ll never understand why Colorado kids go back to school before Labor Day when it is so hot.

Why not start two weeks later when average daytime temps have typically moderated? It seems this might help save the planet as well by using less energy for cooling.

Jonathan Williams, Denver

Rep. Boebert’s downfall?

Re: “Frisch leads Boebert in poll,” Aug. 23 news story

It is interesting that recent polling indicates a lead by Adam Frisch at this point and that his fundraising has exceeded that of the incumbent for Colorado’s Third Congressional District in consecutive quarters.

Since Rep. Lauren Boebert missed the congressional vote on May 31 on the very important debt ceiling bill (claiming that the video showing her hurried late arrival was actually a “protest”), she has evidently taken on a new “silent and invisible” strategy. It is actually refreshing.

Come 2024, the 3rd Congressional District voters may tend to forget how ineffective and vitriolic she has been as a Congressperson.

Peter Ehrlich, Denver

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Editorial: Frustrated by Denver’s new trash fee? It’s likely worse than you know.

In June 2022, the Denver City Council concocted a scheme to begin charging residents a fee for trash services with the goal of increasing composting and decreasing the amount of trash headed to Denver landfills.

The “pay as you throw” plan hasn’t failed by every metric, but Denverites’ frustration over the added fees and poor service is palpable.

Sure, the city claims that since the program began six months ago the amount of trash headed to landfills has decreased by 3%. That is likely almost completely in response to the increased recycling service, which now comes weekly instead of every other week. It is hard to believe that the improvement is in any way a reflection of composting or the new “pay as you throw” policy with different-sized bins costing different amounts.

Despite the fee starting months ago, most residents haven’t received the promised increase in services for compost or even the smaller, less expensive bins that would help reduce the amount of trash and help encourage more recycling.

And, to add insult to injury, the city was caught by CBS News Colorado reporter Brian Maass throwing away at least 3,000 of the larger trash carts that customers had traded in for smaller less-expensive carts as part of the program.

Maass reported that the manufacturers of the larger trash carts reported that they were “fully recyclable.”

The joke is on us as even the City of Denver doesn’t seem to be taking the mantra reuse, recycle and reduce seriously. About 30,000 people have received new smaller carts, which is the epitome of failing to live by the reduce and reuse mantra. And then to have 3,000 of those carts, perhaps more, sent to the landfill when one of the companies that manufacture some of Denver’s carts has a buy-back for recycling policy is just the height of indifference even if those carts were a mere drop of water in a sea of trash.

“Any plastic product we produce, we offer to buy it back at the end of its useful life and recycle that and get it back into our products. That’s really the truest example of the circular economy — it’s taking an old recycling bin and making a new recycling bin with it, and that’s exactly what we do,” Erika Daley with the manufacturing company Rehrig Pacific told Maass.

Those customers who requested the smaller trash bins were also relying on getting compost bins to help reduce their trash. The Denver Post’s Joe Rubino reported that at least half of solid waste customers who don’t already compost won’t get their bins until 2024.

Yes, customers without compost bins are getting a $9 a quarter credit on their bills, but they are still paying $21 a month for a large trash bin and $13 a month for a small trash bin.

The city should have listened to Councilmember Kevin Flynn and delayed the entire program until it could roll out with success instead of failure. A delay would have allowed the city to develop a plan for old and broken bins turned in for smaller, newer units. A delay would have allowed people to get smaller trash bins at the same time they got compost bins. A delay would have given Denver residents a sense of confidence that their money was going to a good and worthwhile project.

But, wait, there’s more.

Many diligent gardeners who make the time and effort to compost at home were thrilled with the prospect of getting “free” composting as part of their $21 fee. There are many things that cannot be composted at home, everything from greasy pizza boxes (which can’t be recycled) to many of the plastic bags, utensils, plates and take-out containers that are made specially to be composted in an industrial facility.

We learned in March that the company Denver uses for commercial composting – A1 Organics – stopped accepting many of those items, almost completely negating the benefit of this service to those who already compost much of their food waste and yard waste for their own gardens. Yes, most backyard composters don’t put meat, bones, or even cooked foods in their compost, and that can now go to A1 Organics, but that is a small volume of items compared to paper towels, napkins, and food-stained boxes.

It also is simply a blow to the premise behind Denver’s big plan to reduce waste.

All of this adds to the frustration of Denver residents paying for a service that used to be included in their property taxes and seeing limited benefits.

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Updated Aug. 21, 2023 at 11:19 a.m. Due to an editor’s error this editorial had the wrong price for the small trash can. The small cans are $9 a month and the medium cans are $13 a month.

Editorial: Colorado agency permitting Suncor pollution is derelict in its duty to protect the environment

Suncor Energy’s pollution permits in Colorado for both air and water are outdated and out of touch with modern expectations for environmental protection.

For unknown or perhaps inexplicable reasons, updating the expired permits for the Commerce City refinery has been elusive for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. We can describe the years-long process as a boondoggle, but really it’s a dereliction of duty to protect Coloradans and our land, water and air from pollution.

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected CDPHE’s latest attempt to update a permit, regulating the harmful particles and gasses emitted by Suncor’s Plant 2, which refines oil into fuels like gasoline and jet fuel.

KC Becker, the head of EPA Region 8, said that the EPA is prioritizing air quality for those who live near the Suncor facility in Commerce City and northwest Denver.

“Improving air quality for the underserved communities affected by harmful air emissions from the Suncor refinery is a shared priority for EPA and CDPHE,” Becker said in a news release. “EPA will continue to work with Colorado to secure the refinery’s compliance with laws and regulations and protect the health of nearby residents.”

This is the second time the EPA has rejected a permit proposal for Plant 2. Suncor is operating on a permit from 2006 that is supposed to be updated every five years. CDPHE is behind in its permitting process. In the interim, Suncor has not only been operating under less stringent regulations for emissions of air and water pollutants but has frequently exceeded even the limits of the old permits.

And the permit for Plant 2 is just one of three working its way through the system.

CDPHE is also working on an overdue air permit for both Plant 1 (oil refinery) and Plant 3 (asphalt production) and an overdue permit that regulates the entire facility’s stormwater and discharge into Sand Creek.

Suncor can release volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide into the air every day that passes while these air permits aren’t updated.

And we now know much more about the chemicals Suncor releases into Sand Creek than we did just a few years ago. The EPA proposes a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation to limit the amount of PFAS in drinking water to between one part per trillion and four parts per trillion depending on the PFAS compound being detected.

Suncor emits PFAS into Sand Creek via stormwater runoff and a 12-inch-wide pipe known as Outfall 20 that can pump up to 3.5 million gallons of water daily into the small creek. The creek is a water source for communities downriver and has been flagged for excessive PFAS contamination.

The City of Thornton has been buying water from other sources to dilute out the PFAS in its drinking water, and this permit renewal is an opportunity for CDPHE to shut off one source of PFAS flowing into Sand Creek. Suncor should be required to treat its runoff and discharge waters not to exceed the EPA’s proposed regulations. Thornton pulls water from Sand Creek upstream of Suncor, but the Burlington Ditch that supplies the water to the city also runs by Sand Creek. The draft proposal suggests Suncor line Burlington Ditch to prevent potential contamination.

Yes, we understand it could be expensive for Suncor to build a water treatment process on their grounds and line Burlington Ditch. To their credit, the top executives at Suncor – headquartered in Calgary, Canada – have already temporarily begun treating some water before it flows into Sand Creek.

Suncor pledged to invest $300 million into the refinery before 2023 to make the plant less prone to exceeding pollution permits and other incidents like shutdowns that can cause emissions to increase.

We are not experts in the balancing act CDPHE must strike between protecting our environment and not putting a major supplier of fuel and asphalt out of business. But CDPHE has not helped the situation by refusing to sit down with journalists and openly and honestly answer questions about how they are striking a balance with these permits.

Given the EPA’s rejection of proposed air quality permits, and the new regulations proposed by the EPA for PFAS when it comes to drinking water, CDPHE must tip the scales toward increased regulation and be transparent with the public about the expected costs and tradeoffs associated with that decision.

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