I had the pleasure of attending the Gazette’s forum on Responsible Growth this week. I appreciated the newspaper’s desire to hold such a forum, it is sorely needed right now in Colorado Springs. I admit that in attending, I thought it would be a lot of sound bites and really not at all interesting. I was wrong, it was a fascinating discussion with great discussions that should continue to evolve. The following are a few points I heard, and subsequent commentary:

  • Traffic, the discussion of traffic always simultaneously amuses and frustrates me. The facts that work against each other here, and throughout the country, are: 1) nobody likes being stuck in traffic; 2) adding new lanes and roads are expensive at the onset and in maintenance; 3) the majority of the Colorado Springs Population complains about higher taxes. With all said, and as Dave Gardner accurately pointed out, we cannot solves traffic congestion – transit and other options help but they are merely options, not a solution to solving traffic congestion. The point of disagreement that I have with Dave, is in the notion of growth as a whole. The city needs to grow, I just believe that it needs to grow in the form of infill and redevelopment. Growth on the periphery of the city is also needed. We need a balance, but outward growth needs to be smart, holistic, and sustainable.
  • Smart Growth, the great irony of the evening. All of the speakers of the evening danced around the idea of smart growth, including the editor of the Gazette, Vince Bzdek. It is the notion of providing the basic needs of people including housing, services, shops, restaurants, parks within a walkable community. A place where the automobile is an option, not a lifestyle requirement. If you’re a reader of this blog, you’ve read this before, it is the primary design principle of which I advocate. Our community has no complete areas where this truly occurs – Manitou Springs, Old Colorado City, and Downtown are the most complete. The irony lies in that we do have one community where great strides and attempts are being made – Gold Hill Mesa (south of Old Colorado City). Yes, that Gold Hill Mesa, which is under constant attack by the host of the conversation, the Gazette.

On a side note, I was impressed with the manner that Stephanie Edwards of Gold Hill Mesa sponsored the conversation and restrained from referencing the irony of the situation. Love the Moxy!

  • Affordable Housing, the need is here today, soon it will be dire for Colorado Springs. With the growing population of our city, we will face challenges in accomplishing this necessity. I felt that Tim Seibert, of Nor’Wood, introduced this conversation very eloquently with discussion of how it can be achieved. We need affordable housing, and we need attainable housing. It doesn’t have to be subsidized, it can be in the changing of the zoning code and the allowance of some of the gentle density in the form of accessory dwelling units, or allowing single family homes to have a secondary unit by right. This will bring animosity… not the concept in general, but the fear of it occurring nearby. The NIMBY’s (Not In My Backyard) and CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) People will surface and the politicians and aspiring politicians will have to make the right choice, even if it is against their odds of reelection or desires to seek a higher office. Why? Because that is what they were elected, or appointed to do.

In the end, it was a wonderful discussion and I hope that all parties involved continue the dialogue.