I’ve written this letter to communicate to each of you how strongly I believe that the next SANA meeting scheduled for October 2 – our final meeting of the year – is perhaps the most important meeting we have hosted in my nearly two years as president. Even if you have never been to a meeting or just don’t regularly come, I encourage everyone who lives or owns property in our neighborhood to attend and participate. While the matters concerning our neighborhood are complicated and will be covered in more detail at the meeting, I’ve endeavored to provide a brief explanation here so that the gravity of what SANA has been working hard to manage is clear.
When trying to decide if you can make the time to attend our October meeting, please consider that while SANA has been actively engaged in the issues detailed below, our ability to command the City’s attention and influence change is dependent upon our being able to truthfully represent that we are voicing the opinion of our members, so participation in the discussion by as many people as possible is critical.
First let me acknowledge that it is no secret that Denver is growing, and while we welcome these exciting changes SANA also wants to maintain the integrity of our neighborhood, the safety of our streets, and our sense of community.
That said, I believe our neighborhood is facing a crisis – a crisis, in my view, resulting from the scope of the unprecedented and under-regulated development happening around us. We are now experiencing the impacts of this development, and absent our participation and engagement the negative effects we are already faced with threaten to grow more severe and irreversible.
Our neighborhood is uniquely positioned, and because of this we have felt the impact of development around us more than many other Denver neighborhoods. Changes in zoning and increased density in both Cherry Creek North and at 9th & Colorado have had serious consequences for our historic neighborhood. The combination of the significant increases in new residences, retail, and other commercial square footage in Cherry Creek and at 9th & Colorado threatens to further compromise our delicate and valuable historic neighborhood, and forever change our ability to quietly enjoy our homes and streets.
During SANA’s recent general membership meetings, a major topic of discussion and concern has been SANA’s continued problems with parking, traffic, speeding, failures to stop, and other traffic and safety concerns. Following two major traffic accidents and an increase in drivers using the Parkway as a first choice driving path or as a cut-through to avoid more congested roads, SANA has made it a priority to pursue tighter traffic controls, planning, and enforcement.
Despite the SANA Board’s extensive efforts and our members’ grave concerns, in recent months there have been groups organized that have undertaken efforts to implement plans that threaten to thwart SANA’s efforts to protect our safety. While we would expect the City of Denver and our surrounding RNO’s to participate in helping us to cure the issues facing our neighborhood, some of the initiatives being pursued by these organizations would undoubtedly be contrary to SANA's best interests.
The two primary sources of concern are:
- The “East Central Area Plan”, as proposed by the City of Denver’s Community Planning and Development department under its “neighborhood planning initiative”; and,
- Some of the remaining Congress Park Neighbors’ “Safe Streets” committee report’s recommendations and requests to the City Through the hard work and commitment of members of the Sana board, we have already successfully opposed some of the more concerning proposals that we believed would have created immense problems in SANA. For instance, one recommendation was a proposal to create a worse traffic jam for eastbound 6th Ave at Josephine than already exists with the suggestion of creating a "road diet" by reducing 6th Ave from 3 lanes to 2. Absent SANA’s opposition, this would have undoubtedly increased the evening rush hour spillover traffic that already pours onto Williams, High, Race, and Vine and then onto 7th Ave.
Despite some of these successful engagements, some of the remaining changes being proposed that continue to raise concerns for SANA include:
- Identification of 7th Avenue Parkway as a “transit priority”, which would include the addition of buses and other increases in commercial traffic on the Parkway
- A proposal for a “high comfort bike lane” for Detroit and Steele streets from 6th Ave to 17th Ave, which may also include similar modifications on both York and Josephine streets
- York/Josephine Streets Between 6th and 23rdhave been identified as needing to “Improve transit speed and reliability & add amenities at stops,” and “Increase transit frequency and hours of service.” This includes a proposed study to consider converting York and Josephine Streets from one-way to two-way roads.
- Installation of a “protected bike lane” (i.e. similar to the bike lane on Broadway) on 7th Avenue Between Colorado and Williams
- Steele Street Between 6th and 12th: Reroute St. Paul bike lane and extend Steele bike lane between 6th and 12th
- “Traffic Calming” measures (i.e. traffic-slowing) proposed for both 6th and 8th Avenues that we believe will increase the amount traffic using 7th Avenue as an alternative, further increase failures to stop, and cause other traffic safety concerns. These proposed “calming” measures include:
- Narrowing of lanes on 8thAve, installation of curb extensions at each of the Steele Street arterial crossings, and adding and/or moving of stop lights and crosswalks to slow and/or stop traffic
- Conversion of 6th and 8th Avenues from one-way streets to two-way operation between Colorado Boulevard and York Street
With respect to the “traffic calming” measures being proposed, while SANA of course supports increased safety in surrounding neighborhoods, we believe that much of what is being advocated for would most likely only serve to shift traffic from 6th and 8th Avenues onto 7th, exacerbating the traffic and safety issues repeatedly voiced by our members, and further compromising the safety and quiet enjoyment of the neighborhood by SANA’s residents and visitors.
The SANA board has been actively engaged on these issues and has done our best to represent the interests of our neighborhood in order to protect our members and our historic district. We’ve held additional board meetings to discuss our views and concerns, have attended the local community meetings with city planners as well as participated in the “safe streets committee” meetings with CPN, have been coordinating with neighboring RNOs regarding the ECAP, and held a meeting with Councilman Chris Hinds to voice our concerns regarding both plans.
Despite our efforts, little to no consideration has been given to eliminating the remaining measures we oppose and to investigating and considering alternative measures proposed by SANA to increase safety on 7th and north/south streets between 6th and 8th. Some of SANA’s proposals include:
- Installation of additional stop signs along the Parkway
- Painted crosswalks on 7th and side (north/south) streets
- Painted “stop” demarcation on streets at stop signs
- Signs instructing drivers to only drive in the vehicle lane on 7th Avenue, not in the bicycle lane or parking lane
- Narrowing of the paved width of the driving lane on 7th Avenue with the “extra” width added to the parkway median
- Closure of the turn lane from Northbound Colorado onto Westbound 7th
- Solar powered “Your speed” signs
- Roundabout intersections
- Reconfigured placement and size of medians to reduce cut-through traffic
- Imposition of vehicle weight limits and other restrictions to address the increased use of 7th Ave by construction vehicles and other heavy trucks
- Recognition of our neighborhood’s historic designation to prevent blanket zoning changes that would allow for Accessory Dwelling Units or multi-family housing within the historic district
Moving forward, the SANA board is continuing to engage in discussions with the City, Congress Park Neighbors, and our other surrounding RNO’s, and we will do our best to represent the interests of SANA in the face of what we believe are significant and concerning proposals for change. As indicated above, though, SANA’s ability to influence change is reliant upon our ability to represent that we are voicing the opinion of our members, so participation in the discussion by as many people as possible is critical.
To be clear, SANA’s position has not been in opposition to all the proposed measures. The Board believes that some changes are justified and appropriate, but others have raised serious concerns. As an RNO, SANA needs to come to a consensus regarding what the neighborhood supports and what we oppose, but we can only do this with participation and input from YOU, our members.
To this end, we are asking you to attend our membership meeting on October 2nd, and we encourage anyone who has studied the East Central Area Plan to please bring any notes or thoughts you have so we can understand your concerns or things you believe should be supported. To ensure that it is indeed the facts that are discussed and that questions can be answered, we have been assured that we will have city planners at the meeting to discuss the East Central Area Plan in greater detail with our members.
Finally, SANA’s access to communicating with our neighbors is limited to the email addresses we have from people who have already signed up for our updates, and some limited access to social media, so we also request that you actively communicate with your neighbors about these important and time-sensitive matters and encourage them to attend the October 2 meeting as well!
Thank you for your time, and we look forward to seeing you on October 2nd!
President, Seventh Avenue Neighborhood Association
In addition, Congress Park Neighbors RNO has coordinated with the City Planning Department about two future planning meetings that will focus on Congress Park and the East Central Area Plan, and have invited SANA residents to attend. The meeting dates follow:
- TBD – Land use/urban design
- Wednesday, Sept 25– Mobility/green infrastructure - 6:00-8:30 - Carla Madison Recreation Center Community Room
These may be the only meetings CPD will hold on Congress Park so it is important for residents to attend and let the city hear their comments. Please visit https://www.congressparkneighbors.org to RSVP for these meetings.