Ruby Hill-Godsman March 2016 Meeting Notes
Officers: Sharona Thompson, Ruby Hill President; Scott Bolt, Godsman President
Members: ~20 neighbors and guests
- Commander Mark Fleecs, Police District 4
- Officer Tyler Blakesley, Police District 4 Community Resource Officer
- Anita Bañuelos, aide to District 7 City Councilman Jolon Clark
- Lisa Ingle, Broadway Station Partners
- Commander Mark Fleecs provided an update on crime in District 4.
- There is an uptick citywide for crime, more so for District 4. Since Jan 1, this district has increased 34% for serious crime (property crimes and violent crimes). Juvenile crime has also increased since January. Aggravated assaults with firearms are up 700% over the same time period of last year. 60% of that increase is due to a juvenile gang. DPD knows the prolific offenders, tracks them, spends time attending to them. Commander Fleecs cited the “revolving door” of the judicial system as putting juvenile offenders back on the streets within a day or three. District 4 has been having success in targeting housing for criminal offenders. They have partnered with Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and have 17 – 20 evictions either in process or already completed since the beginning of the year. District 4 is also working with juvenile probation and pre-trial services. The Chief’s office has afforded a lot of resources to District 4 including overtime shifts, the gang unit, the metro auto theft task force, etc.
- Cruising has been heating up along Federal. District 4 gets two to three complaints a week from people living in that area. There’s been an increase in the past year and a half, with a lot of people on the weekends from out of town coming specifically for Sunday night cruising. There are now even vendors setting up and people with lawn chairs spectating. District 4 has started overtime operations and putting more officers out there, but they still need a long term solution. They are looking into some options like creating an ordinance banning cruising (this has been successful in various jurisdictions around the country). Last year, they were helped by a $60,000 grant from City Council to address drag racing and cruising along Federal. They used this money to make a lot of arrests, towed cars, and gave citations, but that hasn’t stopped the cruising.
- Crime analysis and trends have identified an area along Alameda between Federal and Morrison Road with an intensive amount of crime over the past year. District 4 has started outreach in that area, having officers knock on doors in the area to have one on one conversations and interaction with residents. They are encouraging residents to pay more attention to crime, and are letting them know what crime prevention actions they can take, such as putting cars in driveways or garages versus on the street, using lighting to avert burglary, etc.
- Neighbors asked the following questions:
- Has District 4 talked to Denver Parks and Rec about things they can do to patrol the park? Officer Blakesley: We went to the park with the superintendent to see what could be done to make it less inviting at night in the winter—closing bathrooms, raising jersey barriers, have officers stationed in the park to write their reports when they need to. They did implement that, but can remind the officers. Commander Fleecs: we tell the officers to be careful where they set up for reporting. We’ll get that out to have them up there as much as we can during the weekend and especially Sundays. We have a license plate reader.
- North and west Denver neighborhoods have implemented art projects to deter grafitti—is there something like this for southwest Denver? Commander Fleecs: Grafitti is an area where we’ve seen a huge reduction in District 4. Grafitti tracker—the tool we use to capture the images and tie them to individuals—has been a great success.
- Will shot spotter be in before the summer? Commander Fleecs: Shot spotter will be here by the summer. Initial projections were the end of this month; but it will be probably towards the end of April.
- Foot patrols have had a high success in west Denver—will you do that? Are patrols based on crime data or the concerns of residents? Commander Fleecs: a lot of our patrol is data driven, we look at trends, analysis and where crimes are because we have a limited amount of officers. I’m a big proponent of foot and bike patrol when we can, but that depends on call loads, officer availability, etc.
- Officer Blakesley provided the crime stats for all of District 4 to date from February 1st: there have been 11 auto thefts, 4 thefts from motor vehicles, 4 aggravated assaults, 3 business burglaries, and 4 residential burglaries. Puffers [cars left running and unattended to heat up when it’s cold out] are driving the auto thefts. Puffing is illegal in Denver. Since November 1st, one out of every three cars stolen was puffing. District 4 has car clubs available to the public for free; stop by the station to request one.
- Neighbors asked the following questions:
- Why is crime increasing and how can the community help bring those numbers down? Officer Blakesley: We advocate for neighborhood watches. We have some active but are always trying to increase them. It’s easy to do, builds awareness, and is not a lot of work. You get at least half the people on the block, representatives from District 4 will come out to meet with you, will give you crime prevention tips for your home and provide educational material. Then you’re on the registry, and can direct questions to the block captain or directly to your CRO. You can meet once a year or twice a year. It keeps a neighborhood connected so that neighbrs know what’s suspicious and keep an eye on each other’s property when neighbors are out of town.
- Where are we in the hiring process for new officers? Commander Fleecs: There’s been a big push to hire new officers, we’re working with the Mayor’s Office to do that. I don’t know the exact numbers, hiring has increased, we’ll get more officers this year than originally anticipated. We look at a percentage on how much time any officer is able to spend doing proactive policework rather than numbers of officers. We aim for 35% for Class 2 activity (when officers are not responsible for calls but can go out and do proactive policework). Trends show that gang-related crime is driving most of our crime right now up 120%. A lot of the increases in auto theft and aggravated assault and burglaries is related to the gang crime.
- Is there a way to identify gang members, by colors or clothing? Commander Fleecs: Not really. The West Side Bloods wear red, but gangs in the southwest generally don’t fly colors or identify that way.
- How active is GRID (Gang Reduction of Denver) in Southwest denver? Commander Fleecs: Pretty active. The director, Paul Callahan and Commander Fleecs worked together. Next month there will be an intervention meeting with 50 top juvenile offenders with their parents in one room. They will have people who offer resources for jobs, counseling, parenting, plus ex-gang speakers and people who have been victimized in the past.
- Officer Blakesley mentioned a tool that shows reported crime in a geographic area that is a good resource. View the ATACRAIDS (Advanced Tactical Analysis of Crime Regional Analysis and Information Data Sharing) site here. [Ed. note: Another resource is the City’s crime map.]
- A neighbor encouraged the community to know your neighbors’ vehicles so you can tell when one that doesn’t belong may have been abandoned; reminded all that it’s illegal to park on the grass or to disassemble vehicles in the front yard, and to talk to or report violators.
- Neighbors asked the following questions:
- Anita Bañuelos from Councilman Clark’s office encouraged neighbors to call their office with your case number if you report something and don’t get a response or follow-up. She also reminded the group that street sweeping starts April 1st, provided information on short-term rentals, and talked about the current phase of Broadway reconstruction, which has Mississippi from Santa Fe to Broadway down to one lane in each direction. Ms. Bañuelos passed out an information card and survey for City Council District 7, which can also be found on their website.
- Lisa Ingle from Broadway Station Partners spoke about the current focus for the project. Ms. Ingle presented the preliminary site concepts during our October 2015 meeting.
- They are currently preparing for the rezoning hearing before the Planning Board on April 6.
- The next public meeting is on Thursday, March 24 at McKinley Thatcher Elementary School from 5:30 – 7:30. The public meeting will be around the rezoning, their urban design standards and guidelines, and the infrastructure master plan.
- All of the meeting notices and Powerpoint presentations from past meetings can be found at broadwaystation.com.
- Ms. Ingle spoke about the rezoning application process. The current zoning is TMU-30 (transit mixed-use). With this zoning, they can build what they need to build. However, the City asked them to map this over to meet the current code, so they are looking to do a variance on the code, making it a mixed use district (urban center mixed-use—CMX). The height restrictions for what can be built are 8, 12, and 16 stories. The zoning would provide maximum flexibility for height, even though they won’t build to those heights because of the Wash Park View Plane, which will limit them to 8 and 12 stories.
- They are looking at accommodating roughly 2,600 residential units in the area, along with an office component of approximately 1 million square feet. Parking would be underground with a possible parking garage to accommodate a 3:1 ratio of parking to units. Ms. Ingle reminded us that Broadway Station Partners are not the vertical developer(s). They are putting together site plans of what can be built, and the eventual developers will decide what to build depending on trends.
- A question was asked about underground parking near the river. Ms. Ingle indicated that because of the grade level of the river relative to the area around it, the bigger issue is the bedrock, which will be hit before the water table.
- Other subjects touched on were the bridge proposed near Kentucky, tying into the Platte River Trail for connectivity to the west side, and the designated right turn lane on Broadway to Mississippi.
- Brandy announced that the Ruby Hill Community Garden is still accepting new gardeners. Don has joined to head up the garden and has put up some banners. Email them if you are interested; they are hoping to fill all 60 plots. They want to expand the garden this year to do garden workshops and hold classes on building up soil, composting, gardening 101, as well as distribute seeds from what was donated. Check out their Facebook page and stay tuned for news on their monthly get-togethers at Chain Reaction Brewery.
- Sharona and Darlene shared that Sanderson Gulch between Raritan and Zuni needs some help. Darlene toured the area with Councilman Clark and showed him how a small path is mowed around the tables, the willows are laying down from the last flood, and garbage is stuck in them and the rest of the area. They discussed a catch-all to stop the trash flowing from Federal. Darlene would also like to know what the requirements are now that the area is a designated wetlands, if that includes water testing, wildlife preservation, and if it is a state or federal wetlands. Sharona discussed a clean-up
- Neighbors discussed possible dates for a clean-up, help from Schmitt Elementary School, Denver Parks and Rec, and/or Garden Park Church. A weekend between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day was discussed for time frame, and Sharona and Darlene and others will start laying the groundwork.
- Sharona will not be around for the next meeting, so talk to Scott if anyone has something to discuss. We expressed interest in hearing about the ash borer beetle; Ms. Bañuelos will carry our request for education back to Councilman Clark.
- Also a note for the Councilman that street cleaning is the same day as garbage pickup for some neighbors, and we’d like to know if we can change those dates.
- A neighbor asked about the gas line markings all over the streets north of Florida. Councilman Clark’s office recently spoke with Xcel to make sure they don’t dig up the recently repaved streets to upgrade the gas lines. Xcel and Public Works did not coordinate, so the work has been postponed for the streets that had been repaved.
- Update on the vote the Neighborhood Association took last meeting to give $200 from our funds to the family that had lost their house to the fire. The money, as well as the other donations that have been collected will be presented next week, stay tuned if you want to participate in presenting.
- Scott announced that CPR received the letter of support from our neighborhood. The rezoning application will be submitted to the city.
- Question: are they going to put a bus over there? Scott: A bus on Florida is an idea for the amphitheater, also for CPR employees. Discussion has come up on Jewell as well, but there’s been more of a push for Florida. We must petition RTD to do a study. Ms. Bañuelos: Councilman Clark will be meeting with RTD regarding a Ruby Hill shuttle.
- A neighbor mentioned that there has been a lot more big illegal dumping, especially along the river. She uses 311 or pocketgov to report it, though things are now taking longer than usual.
- There was some discussion on the DA race. Scott and David will attempt to get them or their aides to come talk to us or to a larger southwest Denver group.