Denver news in 5 minutes: What you need to know today, Dec. 5

News about affordable housing in the suburbs and giant gingerbread houses that are not affordable. Among other things.

People watch men open cases of liquor from the Blue Valley Distillery Company during a Prohibition arrest in Colorado. The men use crowbars to open the wooden cases. Circa 1920. (Harry Mellon Rhoads/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/Rh-1158)

historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
People watch men open cases of liquor from the Blue Valley Distillery Company during a Prohibition arrest in Colorado. The men use crowbars to open the wooden cases. Circa 1920. (Harry Mellon Rhoads/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/Rh-1158) historic; denver public library; dpl; archive; archival; denverite
People watch men open cases of liquor from the Blue Valley Distillery Company during a Prohibition arrest in Colorado. The men use crowbars to open the wooden cases. Circa 1920. (Harry Mellon Rhoads/Denver Public Library/Western History Collection/Rh-1158)

It’s starting to feel like it’s actually winter. If we could just get some of that white stuff on the ground, we’d be in business. We’ve got lots of news today that couldn’t fit in our morning newsletter, news about affordable housing in the suburbs and giant gingerbread houses that are not affordable, restaurants that are closing and ones that are opening, driverless cars and toll lanes on the way.

Read on.

Housing

Suburban planners and the communities they work for increasingly see affordable housing as their problem too. The redevelopment of the Westminster Mall includes 600 units of housing, and other communities have projects in the works. John Aguilar has that story. (DP)

Education

Douglas County’s controversial private-school voucher program is no more. A newly elected school board — whose members ran on this issue — voted last night to end the program and get out of a long-running legal battle over it that had reached the U.S. Supreme Court. (Chalkbeat)

Justice

When a hearing officer overturned the suspension of sheriff’s Capt. James Johnson, who was the supervisor during an incident that killed inmate Michael Marshall, he cited testimony from former sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Wood, who said Johnson acted appropriately.

Wood once punched an inmate in the face and retired with an open use-of-force complaint, but the hearing officer found that it had no bearing on his credibility. (Denverite)

Denver beat Expedia and Priceline in court and secured a $19 million settlement, some of which will go toward affordable housing. The case hinged on whether online booking sites should pay taxes on the lower rates they pay hotels or the higher rates they charge consumers. Andy reports. (Denverite)

Getting around

The new head of CDOT said toll lanes are the best option to widen I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock, a top priority for the state. Rachel Riley has that story. (Gazette)

It would take seven to 15 years to develop a rail line that travels Colorado from north to south, but don’t mark your calendars yet. The Southwest Chief and Front Range Rail Commission is asking the legislature for $8.7 million, and Republicans, in particular, are not likely to go for that. Jesse Paul reports. (DP)

A driverless vehicle made a test run and successfully avoided a tumbleweed. The vehicle went five miles per hour down a dedicated stretch of road connecting the 61st and Peña A Line station to the Technology and Operations Center of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co. Someday soon, the shuttle could take people from the station to nearby office buildings. Tamara Chuang has that story. (DP)

Health

Yesterday I mentioned that El Paso County might finally do what so many other Colorado communities have done and launch a needle exchange program. Well, they’re not doing that, after a proposal hit a roadblock at the Board of Health. Jakob Rodgers reports. (Gazette)

Denver Water wants marijuana growers to use wastewater that’s been sent through various filters and devices before it’s disinfected with chemicals — a process it’s been running at a plant in Commerce City since 2004. Andy has that story. (Denverite)

Food

This is sad news for a lot of folks. DJ’s Cafe has closed after 12 years as a breakfast mainstay at three Denver locations. When you put it like that, 12 years doesn’t seem like that long, but in the life of a Denver restaurant, it kind of is. Ashley reports. (Denverite)

We’ve also got all the restaurants we know are opening in the coming year. Again, Ashley is on it. (Denverite)

The Broadmoor has an enormous gingerbread house that has to be seen to be believed. It contains roughly 3.7 million calories. Allyson Reedy has this one. (The Know)

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, emeltzer@denverite.com or @meltzere.