Aerial photo of Denver skyline at sunset

The Denveright plan – an ambitious 325-page document three years in the making – attempts to map out what Denver might look like in 20 years by setting goals and values.

It’s the result of 42 community workshops, 40 task force meetings, 17,600 online responses and 1,700 survey responses.

Why does it matter? Well, it’s the first attempt at a comprehensive city planning document since Blueprint Denver was first adopted in 2002.

And as Mayor Michael Hancock  has pointed out, much of the framework for the growth the city has experienced over the last 10 years, was all spelled out in that earlier document.

The Denver City Council is expected to take up the Denveright plan at its meeting on Monday night.

Denveright

Cover of the Denveright comprehensive plan.

The move has generated some controversy. Several mayoral candidates and Denver Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation – a group that includes members from the neighborhood associations – have asked the council to put the matter off until after the municipal election on May 7 and possibly a June 4 run-off.

Hancock disagrees, citing the amount of community input that went into creating the plan.

Colorado Politics reviewed the Denveright plan – which is chockful of colorful graphics and photos from Denver’s neighborhoods.

Here are some interesting details that we’ve found.

Denver by the numbers

Denveright relies on metrics to describe where Denver is today and where it needs to be in 20 years. For example, the plan notes that 44% of Denver households are currently spending more than 45% of their income on housing and transportation. The plan sets a goal of reducing that amount to 35% of all households.

It also calls for reducing the percentage of commuters driving to work alone from 73% now to 50% by 2030.

That may be tough given that the number of Denver residents using mass transit dropped between 2002 to 2016, the plan notes.

Problems with rapid growth

Denveright acknowledges some of the downsides to the unprecedented growth Denver has undergone in the last decade.

“For the first time in decades, the city became less ethnically and racially diverse,” it notes. “There are growing disparities between our neighborhoods, with communities of color often experiencing greater barriers to opportunity and longtime residents and businesses who can no longer afford to stay in place.”

Dealing with climate change

The plan foresees several problems resulting from global warming, including a loss of tree canopy, increased frequency of extreme weather events, reduced snowpack and earlier snow melts.

To help mitigate those changes, the plan calls for encouraging water conserving landscaping on public and private property. It also recommends promoting the value of the South Platte River, with improvements to water quality and flood control.

It also endorses reducing energy use in buildings by encouraging green and cool roofs.

The plan also calls for maintaining and expanding the city’s tree canopy and encouraging increase composting and recycling.

 Three plans in one

Denveright is not the only planning document under consideration. There also is a new version of Blueprint Denver and another document called Gameplan for a Healthy City.

Blueprint Denver deals with the specifics of topics such as population density, racial composition, and improving access to opportunity.

Shifting density and diversity

Blueprint Denver contains some fascinating asides, such as this one on density:

Back in 1950, when Denver was a much smaller city, much of the population lived in the city center, with almost 10 residents per acre. The years of suburban sprawl that followed thinned the central city to the point where by 1990, many neighborhoods had half the density that they had four decades earlier.

Fast forward to 2019 and many of those areas are back to 1950 levels of density.

Denver is 2019 also is not as diverse a city as it was just 13 years ago. Blueprint Denver documents how by 2006, people of color surpassed the 50% mark. But with the growth that has occurred since then, that diversity has declined with whites accounting for 54 percent of the population, Hispanics at 30%, blacks at 10% and all other races at 6%.

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