Andy Bosselman’s piece suggesting that the effects of racist policies can be undone by allowing upzoning in the East Area, and painting those who oppose upzoning as a group of racists, is wrongheaded and belied by the facts. Indeed, Denver East Neighborhoods First and its supporters are opposed to the upzoning proposed in the City of Denver’s East Area Plan in large part because upzoning harms the very people harmed by the racist policies of the past.
Contrary to Mr. Bosselman’s apparent belief that upzoning will solve the housing crisis and create equity, studies by Andrés Rodríguez-Pose and Michael Storper of the London School of Economics, and Yohan Freemark, a doctoral student in urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have shown that upzoning leads to increased housing costs and the displacement of minority communities. The studies further suggest that the affordability crisis faced by Denver and other cities is attributable primarily to wage and income inequality, rather than to the over-regulation of urban housing markets.
The sections of the East Area the City has proposed to upzone are among the most affordable sections of the East Area, but they will not continue to be if the City permits affordable single-family homes to be replaced with more expensive multi-family units. We have seen the effects of such policies in Sloan’s Lake, the Highlands, RINO, and other neighborhoods where gentrification has pushed poor and minority families out.
Denver East Neighborhoods First has consistently called on the City to address the root causes of the housing crisis and to enact policies that will actually increase the amount of affordable housing stock. Until such policies are in place, upzoning will benefit only developers while harming the very people Mr. Bosselman and the YIMBYs claim to want to help.
For the record, Denver East Neighborhoods First has never sent any demands to the city planners. The planners did solicit recommendations (as they did with the East Colfax Neighborhood) and those recommendations were provided. Since Mr. Bosselman partially quoted from one of those recommendations, here is the full quote: “We do not support any effort to change zoning to accommodate greater density, and understand that the area can absorb the number of units the city has targeted for inclusion in the East Area without any change to zoning.” As to Mr. Bosselman’s assertion that Denver East Neighborhoods First has little community support, our neighbors have purchased 500 yard signs and 1,300 have signed a petition opposing the East Area Plan.
Finally, Denver East Neighborhoods First evolved solely from the fact that the EAP planning process failed to hear the affected communities. The city has stated that it has learned from the process in the EAP and is making changes going forward with other neighborhood plans.
Gary Martyn, Park Hill
Jeanne Lee, Hale
On behalf of Denver East Neighborhoods First