Denver news in 5 minutes: What you need to know today, Nov. 6

Development in River North, bugs as food, empanadas with no bugs, money in politics, the opioid crisis and more. Oh, and vote!

This might be the first face you see when you stop in — Austin Cope for Denverite
This might be the first face you see when you stop in — Austin Cope for Denverite
Mutiny Information Cafe on South Broadway. (Austin Cope for Denverite)

Good morning. I hope you enjoyed your extra hour yesterday. Don’t think about the early darkness that’s coming; focus on the morning sun instead. We’ve got news about development in River North, bugs as food, empanadas with no bugs, money in politics, the opioid crisis and more.

Read on. Oh, and vote!

Development

Housing in the Denver metro area is expensive and in short supply. So why aren’t builders filling the gap? They’re trying to, as Molly Armbrister reports, but high land prices, a shortage of construction crews and lengthy and complicated entitlement processes all contribute to slowing the pace of new construction and increasing costs to builders, which they, in turn, pass on to consumers as long as the market will bear it. (DBJ)

Denver is working to finalize the regulations that will allow builders to go high around the 38th and Blake station on the RTD’s A Line. Developers of residential projects will have to include affordable housing to take advantage of 8, 12 and 16-story maximums. But what about the developers of commercial projects? That question remains to be answered. (Denverite)

An effort to limit development in Lakewood isn’t dead yet and could still appear on a special election ballot in the spring, as John Aguilar reports. (DP)

Texas shooting

Devin Patrick Kelley, identified by law enforcement as the perpetrator of Sunday’s mass shooting at a Texas church, lived in Colorado Springs as recently as 2014. We’re still learning about this person and his motives, and it remains to be seen if his time in Colorado will shed any light on what happened. (DP)

In the tragic tally that we keep in this country, Sunday’s murder of at least 26 people means that the Columbine school shooting, in which 13 people died, no longer ranks among the 10 worst mass shootings in U.S. history. (Kyle Clark, ABC)

Opioids

The Harm Reduction Action Center on Colfax wants people to be able to inject heroin in their building — to help save lives. Supervised injection sites operate in dozens of cities around the world. Council President Albus Brooks is supportive, and an interim committee at the Capitol moved forward legislation that would allow for a pilot program. But making this happen still requires approval from the Colorado General Assembly and the Denver City Council and is sure to be contentious. It’s also not clear what the federal stance will be. (Denverite)

John Frank has a comprehensive look at what Colorado is and is not doing to address the opioid crisis, which seems to be worsening here, even as we haven’t been as hard hit as other parts of the country. (DP)

Legacies

The debate over whether to change the name of Stapleton continues. The neighborhood is named after the old municipal airport on whose grounds it sits, and the airport in turn was named for Benjamin Stapleton, a Denver mayor known for his role in developing the city’s infrastructure and his close ties to the KKK. You can see why this is uncomfortable.

Activists have been fighting to change the name, but now people who want to keep the name are saying they’re nervous about giving their opinions in public. A number of Stapleton organizations are making plans for a meeting with a facilitator skilled in handling difficult conversations about racial issues. (Front Porch Stapleton)

Food

Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch’s vision is to provide nutrition-packed food to the world without the large environmental footprint associated with raising livestock. They think they can make an impact on American sustainability, but only if they can bring insect fare into the mainstream. They’re doing that by putting bugs on the menus of some of Denver’s trendiest restaurants, as Kevin reports. (Denverite)

Lorena Cantarovici started Maria Empanada by making empanadas she sold out of her garage. Four years later, Cantarovici has three locations, a string of accolades and now, $3.5 million in Series A funding from the Colorado Impact Fund, as Ashley tells us. (Denverite)

Politics

Gubernatorial candidate and former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy has called on the people seeking the Democratic nomination to limit spending to $3 million. “An obscene amount of money gets spent on our elections these days, and people are tired of it,” Kennedy said in a pledge her campaign distributed Saturday to Democratic rivals. “Let’s agree to scale back campaign spending in the Democratic primary.” The ability of Rep. Jared Polis to self-fund his campaign is one factor driving what is widely expected to be the most expensive gubernatorial race in Colorado history — the other being the presence of so many candidates who have to fight to distinguish themselves, as Ernest Luning reports. (Colorado Politics)

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s 2018-19 budget includes calls for changes to the state employee pension system that are different from the changes recommended by the board that governs PERA. Brian Eason looks at how this is likely to play out in the legislature, with public sector unions putting pressure on Democratic lawmakers and Republicans feeling emboldened to take a harder line. (DP)

House Republicans want to see a major reform to Colorado’s budget process. Instead of having the six-member Joint Budget Committee make the most significant decisions about the state’s nearly $30 million budget, they want the entire legislative body to have a much more important role much earlier on. Reps. Cole Wist and Patrick Neville made their case in an op-ed. (DP)

Civic duty

Confession: I haven’t voted yet. I’m a chronic procrastinator, and I’m still waffling on the Denver Public Schools races. But it’s OK! You have until 7 p.m. Tuesday to vote. Just make sure you drop it off instead of mail it in at this point.

Chalkbeat Colorado has all their 2017 election coverage, from candidate Q&As to analyses of the less-than-noble campaign mailers we’ve been getting, in one handy place. (Chalkbeat)

And I rounded up the other questions you’ll see on your ballot here. These would be the 2017 general obligation bonds (Questions 2A to 2G), the name change for the health department (Question 2H) and a proposal to require living green roofs on larger buildings (Initiative 300). (Denverite)

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.