Feb 21, 2024 - News

Denver considers tweaking sidewalk fees for property owners

Illustration of a price tag made out of concrete.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Property owners in Denver are closer to knowing how much they will pay to build and maintain city sidewalks.

Catch up fast: Voters approved Ordinance 307, or Denver Deserves Sidewalks, in November 2022 and shifted the responsibility to pay for upkeep from property owners to the city, while enabling the city to charge a fee.

The latest: A stakeholder committee has been meeting since August to determine the measure's fee structure before billing is scheduled to begin.

  • The committee, established by Denver's transportation and infrastructure department, included local residents, municipal staff, and members of Denver Streets Partnership, an advocacy group that backed the measure.

By the numbers: Single-family homeowners would pay $148.64 annually under the committee's new proposal, while multifamily homes — places with two or more units, like an apartment complex — would pay $27.83 for each unit every year.

  • The original measure would have cost $2.15 per foot.

Why it matters: The proposal is a significant change to the original ballot measure intended to manage sidewalks.

The big picture: Jill Locantore of Denver Streets Partnership says Ordinance 307 is intended to provide a larger sidewalk network for residents by creating dedicated funding sources for its maintenance.

  • Locantore says 40% of city streets don't have a sidewalk, or have one that is too narrow for wheelchairs or strollers.

Between the lines: She says the measure passed by voters used the linear footage of properties to determine a fee, which could have led to residents with larger homes footing larger bills.

What they're saying: During a council meeting last year urging her colleagues to delay billing residents, Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval said she heard from people in her northeast Denver district that the fees should be more nuanced.

  • "I don't think it takes into account seniors who may be on fixed incomes and allowing them to opt out," Sandoval told the Denver Post.

Of note: A separate proposal from the committee calls for a discount program for low-income households, including a 20% discount on a fee for properties in neighborhoods the city has identified as having a high risk of displacement.

  • It also calls for an instant 20% rebate for housing complexes where at least 25% of its units are income-restricted.

Be smart: Denver is asking the public to submit feedback on the recommended changes by Feb. 27

What's next: Locantore tells us the recommendations and public feedback will be presented to the Denver City Council, which would need to formally vote to change the bill's language.

  • The fees could take effect as soon as July.
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