Axios Denver

Picture of the Denver skyline with DEN written across it.

It's Monday, welcome back.

  • Today's weather: Drier and cooler today. Mostly sunny, with highs near 85Β° and just a slight chance of storms.

Situational awareness: Colorado's U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both Democrats, voted Sunday for a $740 billion reconciliation package which was decided by Vice President Kamala Harris' vote.

Today's newsletter is 916 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Denver ballot measures are locked for November

Illustration of a ballot being dropped into the Denver skyline.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The signatures are in.

  • Denver voters will weigh four citizen-led initiatives in this November's midterm, the city's elections division tells us.

Why it matters: The ballot questions mostly seek to increase taxes and fees to cover the cost of the projects.

  • In recent elections, Denver residents voted openly for tax hikes. But this year's ballot, which comes at a time of economic constraint, may test voters' mood.

Details: From mitigating the effects of climate change to protecting low-income residents, the measures vary widely.

1. My Spark Denver, which made the ballot Friday, would use a 4.5% sales tax on marijuana products and a portion of the existing tax on cannabis to fund out-of-school enrichment and learning opportunities for local kids.

2. Denver Deserves Sidewalks β€” backed by Denver Streets Partnership, an advocacy group for people-friendly roadways β€” would charge property owners a fee for the construction and maintenance of sidewalks citywide.

  • An average single-family home could expect to pay about $107 a year β€” roughly $9 per month. A 20% discount would apply in historically underserved areas, including East Colfax, Elyria-Swansea and Montbello.

3. No Eviction Without Representation would raise taxes roughly $12 million (​​which would increase in future years based on the Colorado consumer price index) to provide free legal representation for people facing evictions.

  • The proposal β€” pushed by a group of renters' advocates called NEWR Denver β€” would also charge a $75 yearly fee per rental unit for larger landlords.

4. Waste No More would require all Denver businesses, including restaurants, hospitals and hotels, to offer compost and recycling services.

  • Organized by local activist and mayoral candidate Ean Tafoya, it would also mandate construction companies to dispose of materials more sustainably.

What to watch: The Colorado ballot is expected to feature at least seven statewide measures, with more possible.

  • Today is the deadline to submit signatures to qualify.

What's next

2. Tell us! What will you do with the TABOR check?

Illustration of checks falling
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Colorado is sending refunds to taxpayers this month β€” $750 for individuals and $1,500 for joint filers.

We want to know: What will you do with it?

  • Spend or save it?
  • Pay bills or donate to charity?

Tell us: Complete our three-question survey here, and we'll share some responses in a future newsletter.

3. The future of Denver's big eyesore

Xcel Energy's Zuni generating station. Photo: John Frank/Axios
Xcel Energy's defunct Zuni generating station. Photo: John Frank/Axios

One of Denver's prominent eyesores is getting a second look as a possible community hub.

What's happening: The Sun Valley neighborhood wants the city to transform Xcel Energy's defunct Zuni generating station between I-25 and the Platte River into a food hall and public market.

Why it matters: The century-old power plant, defunct for six years, is one of the most prominent structures in the city, with its towers as noticeable as the downtown skyline and Mile High stadium.

  • Denver council members and Historic Denver want Xcel to reconsider its plans to demolish the plant and possibly build a power substation on the site, calling it "an environmental justice issue and opportunity to create long overdue community benefits," Denverite reports.

The big picture: Denver is one of many cities seeking to reimagine its legacy energy infrastructure to revitalize neighborhoods that took the brunt of negative environmental impacts.

The backstory: Xcel halted its $22 million plan for the site in December, after neighboring residents spoke out.

  • The utility is looking to build power substations to help handle the city's growth, but it's open to discussion about selling the property if Denver takes over its remediation.

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4. Nuggets: News bites to start the week

Illustration of a pattern of gold nuggets.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

😷 A new COVID-19 Omicron variant known as B.A.2.75 is now in Colorado. Officials are warning it could more easily evade a person's immunity to the virus. (Denver Gazette)

🍎 The Jefferson County teachers union reached a deal with the district that will put starting salaries at $50,000 and allow the most experienced teachers to make more than $100,000. (Chalkbeat)

🚩 Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O'Dea said on KOA radio that he doesn't want Donald Trump to seek re-election in 2024, but didn't rule out voting for the former president. (CPR)

🎡 The 25th anniversary celebration for "South Park" takes over Red Rocks this Tuesday and Wednesday, with concerts featuring popular songs from the Comedy Central show, along with a memorabilia exhibit. (Denver Post)

New jobs to check out

πŸ’Ό See who’s hiring around the city.

  1. Customer Success Manager at Alviere.
  2. Marketing Manager, Design and Messaging at BrightTALK.
  3. Senior Associate Marketing Design at Personal Capital.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

5. This Colorado town just set a new heat record

Data: Southeast Regional Climate Center; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The Eastern Plains town of Limon is one of 43 localities across the U.S. that set or tied their hottest July on record.

By the numbers: Limon's average July temperature this year was 79.6Β° β€” well above its normal average of 75Β° β€” according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via the Southeast Regional Climate Center.

Of note: Denver hit its second-hottest July on record, with an average at 78Β° β€” just below the average of 78.9Β° in 2012.

Go deeper

6. πŸ₯Ύ 1 number to go

Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest 14er, looms in the distance. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest 14er, looms in the distance. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Colorado's iconic 14ers saw hiker traffic fall 27% in 2021.

By the numbers: About 303,000 people climbed the state's 54 mountains above 14,000 feet in elevation last year, according to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, which uses remote sensors to log traffic.

  • That's about 112,000 fewer hikers than the prior year.

Yes, but: The steep decline is partly due to the fact that the mountains saw record traffic in 2020, amid the pandemic.

  • The 2021 figures still represent an increase from 2019.

Between the lines: Limited access and trail closures on some 14ers are part of the problem, the Colorado Sun reports. "The most popular signature mountains closest to the Front Range were sort of knee-capped in terms of access," said Lloyd Athearn, the initiative's director.

Our picks:

🏰 John is still marveling at this crazy structure he saw over the weekend.

✌Alayna is on vacation

πŸ‘‹ Esteban is back today.

You're the best. Thanks for reading!