Every week, Denverite’s Readers’ Choice series delves into topics selected by the public.
Here is the running list of stories that we’ve written based off of topics voted for by our readers and questions that we’ve received.
Do you have a question about Denver that you’ve always wanted answered? Use the form below to ask us! (Fill out the form here if you’re viewing on mobile).
• The majority of Colorado’s residents are transplants who were born in other states and countries. Here’s where they’re from.
• Among 50 metropolitan areas, Denver ranks second when it comes to new people moving in and it also ranks second when it comes to people moving out.
Here’s how cost of living in Denver compares to Washington, D.C., Portland, Austin and Seattle.
• Do people move to Colorado for legal weed? Probably not, but no one knows for sure.
• Out of 1,500 surveyed people moving to Colorado and the other seven states where recreational pot is legal, about 5 percent mentioned legal marijuana while discussing their move.
Ask a Native: How can a transplant be a good neighbor?
With each new headline about rising rents in Denver, you hear again the lament: “We need rent control.” Here’s why Denver doesn’t have rent control and probably never will.
• The $1.2 billion widening of I-70 has the official approval of the Federal Highway Administration.
• The Central 70 project will widen 10 miles of the highway to 10 lanes, demolishing the aging viaduct that currently holds it high in the air and instead sinking the highway into a 250-foot wide trench.
• Most Denver millennials want to buy a home, but the biggest obstacle was unaffordability.
• Median-earning African-American and Hispanic people in Denver could afford fewer than 2 percent of homes for sale in 2016. White households could afford 8.3 percent of for-sale homes, based on the median income figures.
• Mobile home parks are one of the last remaining forms of affordable housing. Here’s what would happen if they completely disappeared in Denver.
Denver is adding parking requirements to a controversial zoning provision, but this problem won’t be an easy fix.
There are just over 1,000 chronically homeless people in the Denver metro — that’s the highest number in at least a decade and represents about 20 percent of the metro’s 5,116 homeless people (according to the latest survey of local homelessness). About 56 percent of Denver’s chronically homeless population reported a mental illness. Here’s what the city is doing about it.
• Different kinds of tiny home projects are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional homeless shelters and have popped up in cities like Portland, Seattle, and now Denver.
• Denver’s new Day Works program, which hires people — including many who are experiencing homelessness — to work in parks and on other public property, was inspirited by a similar, smaller effort in Albuquerque, and the city of London also offers training in jobs like shoe-shining. Otherwise, very few governments have gotten into the business of directly employing homeless people.
• In 2004, John Hickenlooper, then the mayor of Denver, created an organization called Denver’s Road Home. Its goal was to end homelessness here by 2014. That didn’t happen. Now, Mayor Michael Hancock has the new Office of HOPE (Housing and Opportunity for People Everywhere) with the goal of coordinating services to get people into housing.
• There were an estimated 10,550 homeless people in Colorado in 2016. While the federal government estimated that the number of people experiencing homelessness nationwide had declined, Colorado’s homeless population increased by six percent.
“Three out of four homeless people work, and that’s something that has changed even in the last five years.”
• One challenge of being homeless is keeping your clothes clean for work. Here’s a simple, effective solution that just hit Denver’s streets: a $90,000 mobile laundromat.
• The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless found that 171 people from the Denver homeless community died in 2016. Here’s what happened.
• After living at a youth homeless shelter in downtown Denver, two young women documented their experiences with struggling with housing.
• Fifteen children whose families are living out of Colfax Avenue motels or Salvation Army shelters worked with mentors to photograph what they hoped to achieve — from going to college and becoming a police officer to living in a home and helping other homeless children.
• What’s the difference between an “urban traveler” and a homeless kid? Not much. But there really is a group of traveling young people who loop between Denver and other cities. They don’t call themselves “urban travelers,” but they might say “gypsy” or “traveler.”
• There have been many developments from early 2016 through 2017 with Denver’s urban camping ban, which prohibits people from using any shelter on Denver’s streets. Kevin has documented the controversy for over a year and has broken down what you should know.
• A group of homeless men suing the city of Denver over how it handled their belongings during a series of homeless sweeps last year were granted class action status, which means the case can be used to determine whether the city’s policies violate the rights of homeless people as a group.
• Homeless advocates and activists have repeatedly called for the city to suspend enforcement of the camping ban, but city leaders like City Council President Albus Brooks have said that “repealing the camping ordinance doesn’t help us put homeless individuals in a better situation.”
“I am a retired librarian and a Denver native whose family has lived here for nearly a hundred years. The specter of homelessness is always with me, even though I have worked most of my life. My retirement funds were swallowed up by medical bills for illness and an injury. I was terminated from my last position for a workplace injury that has left me in chronic pain. I now live entirely on Social Security.” Here’s what that means for Susan Dean.
Here’s what Denver public transportation is like, according to a radio host, a councilperson, and the owners of a bike shop and a cafe
By 2018, RTD wants to have a new light rail line operating that could save the agency up to $3.4 million annually. It’s called the L Line and it would act as a new loop through downtown Denver.
• The average Denver transit user spends about 4.4 percent of their income on commuting. That’s above the national average of 3.6 percent.
• Low-income riders already face a fare structure that’s unfavorable to them, according to a report from the Colorado Fiscal Institute. People riding local buses — 60 percent of whom earn less than $35,000 a year — saw fare increases in 2016, while people who ride regional light rail and regional bus routes saw fare decreases. Those riders tend to be higher income — 72 percent of regional light rail riders and 67 percent of regional bus riders earn $50,000 or more.
• RTD’s Nonprofit Program aims to mitigate some of that burden by allowing nonprofit organizations to buy discounted fares and give them to clients who are at or below 185 percent of the poverty line. That’s $21,978 for a single adult. But now that program is changing.
There were approximately five million A Line passengers in the first year of the line’s operation. Here are five more statistics that show what the first year of the train to the plane looked like in Denver.
Last August, Centennial started offering free Lyft rides to get more people to the Dry Creek light rail station. The idea was that by operating alongside those boring old Call-n-Rides, the city could reach three times as many people for the same cost. But instead of tripling ridership, the pilot actually had roughly one-fifth of the Call-n-Ride 2016 weekday average, and each ride cost more than twice as much.
As of June 2017, everybody can finally pay RTD fares with a smart card.
Despite “significant progress” on the action plan developed with the Federal Railroad Administration for fixing the persistent crossing gate issues, RTD was not yet to a point in early 2017 where the positive train control system was operating as intended.
Bicyclists in Colorado are generally subject to the same traffic laws and punishments as drivers at signals and stops. However, cyclists argue that they should be legally allowed to roll through stop signs as long as it’s safe to proceed since so many do it anyway. In fact, a recent study by DePaul University found that only 4 percent of cyclists fully stop at stop signs, and only a third stop at traffic signals when there’s no cross traffic.
• Wealthier areas aren’t more likely to have more bike lanes on the whole. And poorer areas don’t necessarily see fewer lanes aimed at cyclists on the whole either. Likewise, a higher percentage of white people in a census tract doesn’t always mean there are more bike lanes there.
• Here’s a visual tour of Denver’s newest bike lanes.
Homeowners and businesses are supposed to pay for repairs to the sidewalks near their property.
Maybe you trip on them, maybe you hate them, but there’s no denying that Denver’s flagstone sidewalks are distinctive. The reason why Denver has so many goes back to the 1880s.
Currently, Denver requires homeowners to pay to install and maintain the sidewalks that run along their property. As a result, neighborhoods with less money also have fewer sidewalks. That may change, at least a bit. The city will formally discuss a plan to help people with low-income homeowners pay to build or repair sidewalks.
• It’s all but impossible to know how anyone defines authentic food, at least in terms of flavor and technique. Here’s what local chefs think about what makes food “authentic,” and where to find it in Denver.
• Here are the best restaurants to go to on East Colfax and Federal Boulevard, according to the locals.
Here’s everything you need to know about Denver-area farmers markets
Here’s where Denver’s food deserts are, and what the city is doing about them.
• Mayor Michael Hancock says it’s a priority to get a grocery store in Denver’s Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Westwood and Montbello neighborhoods. His Office 0f Economic Development has even gone as far as to set $3 million aside to fulfill that purpose. But so far no supermarkets have announced plans to enter the food deserts, leaving organizations like The GrowHaus to fill the gaps.
• Denver is kicking in another $100,000 as part of its latest effort to address food insecurity in Globeville, Elyria-Swansea, Montbello, Westwood and other areas where access to groceries is limited.
Cults: Remember that time Denver fell in love with a guy who tore up flags and declared himself the new Jesus?
Basements: Most Denver homes have basements, and many of the ones that don’t are condos. OK, that’s not really weird, but we didn’t have anywhere else to put it.
Death: Here are three stories about Riverside Cemetery, Denver’s oldest.
Denver’s iconic neon signs are in danger of vanishing, but there’s still hope for preservation with help from a local movement to “Save the Signs,” including Seth Totten — who’s been bending neon since 1990 and has owned Acme Neon Signs in the Cole neighborhood for about 11 years.
There’s a building on Sherman Street just old enough that you might not notice how odd it is: the KPOF building, more officially known as Alma Temple. The “POF” in KPOF stands for Pillar of Fire, an Evangelical sect founded in Denver by Alma White, a feminist who turned out to be more popular than her minister husband. Also, she was quite racist.
The same wave of development that has filled Denver with “fugly” apartment complexes and lookalike dudes also has indirectly sprayed the city with public art that is by turns unusual, controversial, ugly and inspirational. Here’s how it works, along with the price tags on every modern piece in the city’s public art collection, which includes about 400 pieces total.
Flowers: Here’s how the Denver Botanic Gardens has used its archive of pressed flowers and other plants to study climate change.
Bugs: Westminster’s Butterfly Pavilion collects data that helps scientists understand what butterfly species are present in Colorado, which in turn helps them understand the overall health of nearby ecosystems.
Here’s a summer guide to lakes that are easily accessible from Denver and what you can do there.
• OPINION: You are not sufficiently awed by the process of shooting a man from Colorado into space.
• As the spacecraft Juno hurdled past Jupiter in May, University of Colorado Boulder professor Fran Bagenal was watching for a phenomenon she’s studied throughout her career: the aurora.
• Here are wildlife photographers’ five favorite places to spot wild animals like bison, eagles and big-horn sheep near Denver.
• Every year, like clockwork, we hear about people whose cars are disabled by rabbits and other varmints near Denver International Airport. Here’s how to prevent that from happening to you.
• Sometimes, there are deer that run around Denver’s City Park. Apparently, it’s not a big deal.