Denver voters can have the chance to handle the town’s patchwork of too-narrow, uneven, cracked or, in some locations, nonexistent sidewalks come November as long as they’re on board with passing a brand new property tax.
The Denver Deserves Sidewalks initiative has been licensed for the poll, the Denver Elections Division announced on Twitter Tuesday.
The measure would exchange Denver’s exiting system the place property homeowners are on the hook for the price of repairing, changing and putting in sidewalks alongside their properties with a pay-by-the-foot annual charge system. The accountability of repairing and sustaining sidewalks could be transferred to the town ought to the measure cross.
“It’s a really complete resolution,” Jill Locantore, government director of the Denver Streets Partnership, stated. “Whether or not you don’t a have sidewalk in any respect, your sidewalk is simply too skinny or your sidewalk is in disrepair, it could tackle all three of these points.”
As specified by the poll language filed with the town’s election workplace, the charges would range based mostly on what sort of streets a property is subsequent to.
For householders who dwell alongside a neighborhood road or residential collector, the charge could be $2.15 per foot. If a property is 50 ft lengthy, that provides as much as $107.50 per yr. For properties alongside arterial streets downtown, the place sidewalks must be wider, the price per foot could be $4.30 or $215 a yr for a property with 50 ft of sidewalk frontage.
The charges could be adjusted each 5 years based mostly on modifications to the buyer value index. Price could be discounted by 20% for folks residing in neighborhoods the town has deemed susceptible to gentrification and displacement.
Town has been grappling with its sidewalk community for years. That included launching a neighborhood-by-neighborhood inspection and restore program in the summertime of 2018. In its first 16 months, this system’s lone inspector checked out greater than 1,100 properties all in the identical neighborhood. That work was suspended amid the pandemic-spurred recession in 2020, the town’s web site says.
Locantore and a community of supporters for the sidewalk charge are uninterested in ready.
“We began our Denver Deserves Sidewalks marketing campaign again in 2015 and the ask has been constant: Fund the development and repairs of the sidewalks citywide,” she stated. “We have now been very affected person ready for the mayor or the town council to take substantive motion and it simply hasn’t been forthcoming.”
Now it’s time for the voters to determine.
Asking for what is actually a property tax enhance after a yr of file inflation might be a harder promote than in prior years when metropolis voters have been supportive of tax measures to cowl urgent wants.
Former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb has been essential of the buildup of recent charges and taxes falling to metropolis residents when metropolis leaders might prioritize these issues by means of common fund spending.
“I’m not supporting that,” he stated of the sidewalk measure. He’s against something that may have made his late mother-in-law alter her price range whereas she was residing on a hard and fast earnings.
“Individuals have to start out looking for the little man and the senior residents,” stated Webb, who led the town from 1991 to 2003.
Supporters of the measure counter that the present system leaves property homeowners uncovered to the total value of sidewalk repairs or set up in lots of circumstances. Metropolis knowledge in 2020 confirmed that in roughly one in 5 circumstances of a sidewalk restore, the invoice exceeded $1,000.
Monetary help is obtainable to low-income households. Town additionally has gobs of bond cash devoted to putting in new sidewalks round city and shutting gaps together with $47.7 million from the record-setting bond package deal voters accredited in 2017.
Town’s Division of Transportation and Infrastructure this summer season began incorporating sidewalk restore into this annual concrete upkeep program across the metropolis, spokeswoman Nancy Kuhn stated. The division has a $1.2 million price range to dedicate to that work this yr.
For Locantore, it’s all too little, too sluggish in relation to constructing out a key element of infrastructure that may profit the complete metropolis by making it simpler for folks to get out of their automobiles in favor of different modes of transportation. The poll measure would direct the town to finish a sidewalk grasp plan. Locantore estimated that with the charge income, that community might be accomplished in 9 years.