North Denver, Commerce City exposed to highest levels of pollutant particles in state in late spring

By Seth Klamann, Denver Gazette Aug 26 2021

A smokey haze impacts the view to the west from the river north district in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Katie Klann/The Gazette) Katie Klann

Residents in North Denver and Commerce City had the highest levels of fine particle pollution of anywhere in Denver or any city in Colorado during the past three months, data collected by the state shows. The exposure risked the health of some residents.

The state Department of Public Health and Environment dispatched its mobile lab to the area in May, it said in a press release, “because of department and community concerns regarding air quality in the area.” Between May 14 and July 17, the lab collected pollution data and found that fine particulate matter – emitted by vehicles, coal-fired power plants and wildfires – were high enough to pose health risks to some at-risk people, like children or people with respiratory or cardiac issues. 

The pollution “comes from local sources,” the health department said, like vehicles and the Suncor refinery located in Commerce City. In a settlement with the state, Suncor agreed to spend $12 million on improving its refinery technology and operations. Wildfire smoke, another contributor, contains this type of particulate matter and comes from outside of the state from fires elsewhere. For reasons experts don’t entirely understand, local fires typically do not carry that type of pollutant when they’re fresh, researchers previously told the Gazette.


There’s a shady (and leafy) divide between Denver’s whiter, wealthier neighborhoods and everyone else

A section of Washington Park with a Tree Equity Score of 100 is seen on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, in Denver. American Forest’s Tree Equity Score metric can assist cities in distributing tree cover across neighborhoods. The score is derived from tree canopy amounts, climate, demographic and socioeconomic data. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

Trees and green spaces can make people healthier and happier, but maps show communities of color and low-income neighborhoods across the city have less access to shade.

By Olivia Prentzel The Colorado Sun

Summer days are for shady strolls down a tree-lined street and picnics under a canopy of leaves. But how many trees — and how much shade — a person can find in their neighborhood might depend on how rich it is. 

Not everyone has equal access to trees and the endless benefits they provide, especially when trying to escape the summer’s sweltering heat, according to a map created by a conservation nonprofit.

A recent analysis by American Forests highlights Denver’s shady divide: neighborhoods of color and areas with higher poverty rates have fewer trees than those that are predominantly white and more affluent.

The interactive map highlights the tree canopy in neighborhoods across the city using geospatial and census data to show which parts of the city are less protected by tree cover and more exposed to increasing and unhealthy heat levels.


Two Park Hill Golf Course initiatives are on the Denver ballot this fall. Here’s what each one would do

This writer has written a powerful and accurate piece – sosdenver

The Park Hill Golf Course. June 4, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Why is this so confusing??

By Rebecca Spiess The Denverite 7/28/2021

Developer Westside Investment Partners, which bought what used to be Park Hill Golf Course in 2019, got a measure approved for the November ballot on Tuesday. It’s a counter-measure to an initiative submitted by an opposing group called Save Open Space Denver.

The two organizations have been at odds about the future of the 155 acres of green space in Northeast Denver for years now. SOS Denver wants all of the space turned into a park, while Westside wants to build a mixed-use development, promising some park space, too.

SOS Denver cites the city’s lack of green space as a reason against development, and believes that Westside will go back on its promises. Westside, meanwhile, argues that SOS Denver isn’t listening to nearby residents’ need for things like grocery stores and affordable housing.

Both sides claim to uphold the views and best interests of locals, although everything from city surveys to community feedback sessions have been hotly disputed.

The two ballot initiatives change laws regarding the conservation easement that the land has been under since 1997, but the nitty-gritty is a little complicated. We broke it down for you


Citizen Initiated Ordinance Park and Open Space Preservation

Approved 12-21-20


Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver adopt a measure prohibiting the following without the approval of voters in a regularly scheduled municipal or special election:

  • any commercial or residential development on land designated as a city park and land protected by a City-owned conservation easement except where consistent with park purposes, conservation easement purposes, or for cultural facilities, and
  • any partial or complete cancellation of a City-owned conservation easement unless for the purpose of creating a new park?


Park and Open Space Preservation

The purpose of this ordinance is to submit to the registered electors of the City and County of Denver a proposed amendment to the Denver Revised Municipal Code concerning a prohibition (1) on any commercial or residential construction on land designated as a city park and land protected by a City-owned conservation easement and (2) on any partial or complete termination, release, extinguishment, or abandonment of a city-owned conservation easement without voter approval.

Be it enacted by the City and County of Denver:

Section 1..  The Denver Revised Municipal Code is amended by the addition of a new Section 193 under Chapter 39 (Parks and Recreation), Article VIII (Natural Areas) to read as follows:

CHAPTER 39 (Parks and Recreation), ARTICLE VIII (Natural Areas)

§39-193 – Park and Open Space Preservation

  1. (1) Construction of any commercial or residential building on land designated as a city park or protected by a City-owned conservation easement and (2) any partial or complete termination, release, extinguishment, or abandonment of a City-owned conservation easement are prohibited without the approval of a majority of the registered electors voting in a regularly scheduled or special municipal election.
  2. The prohibitions of this section 39-193 do not apply to: (1) construction of and/or improvements to buildings used for limited commercial purposes related to cultural facilities or for park or recreational purposes, and (2) construction of and/or improvements to infrastructure on land protected by a City-owned conservation easement for limited commercial purposes consistent with the conservation easement, and (3) conservation easement cancellation related to the City’s acquisition of the protected land for designated park purposes.
  3. If any section, paragraph, clause or other portion of this ordinance is held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance shall not be affected.