August 18, 2017

Radio Golden #7: Councilor Bill Fisher, Keller property development, East Downtown plan, and more

Listen to (or download) Radio Golden Episode #7.
Curious about how City Council is doing so far this year? Want to know how City Council and staff are getting along? Been wondering about renewable energy, creating jobs in Golden, GURA, or downtown development? Council Fisher covered all of this ground and more today on Radio Golden. We also spent some time exploring the implications of the proposed Keller property development and the status of the East Downtown plan.

City Council’s Retreat: Setting the Agenda for 2012-2013

The first priority on City Council's list for 2012-2013 is supporting Golden's schools and libraries.


The Golden City Council held its biannual retreat earlier in February, focusing on their work plan for the next two years. They identified nine general areas they want to focus on: (1) supporting Golden’s schools and libraries; (2) improving public space; (3) promoting a healthy community; (4) moving the ball forward on key transportation issues; (5) strengthening Golden’s neighborhoods; (6) fostering a strong relationship with Colorado School of Mines; (7) supporting a strong economy; (8) improving on the city’s capital improvement plan; and (9) meeting the city’s sustainability goals. It’s a great list but also a pretty expansive one, and I’m looking forward to learning more about how Council is planning to prioritize among those goals.

An Economic History of Golden

A little side project: tracking Golden’s economic history. Google has a very cool tool called Gapminder (which they bought from the remarkable Hans Rosling) that’s ideal for displaying complex data over time. Based on a simple dataset (sales and use tax generated by commercial district in Golden, total sales and use tax, and total general fund revenus), and with some help from someone savvier than I at databases and code, and with help getting the data from Golden’s rock star Finance Director Jeff Hansen, I created a visualization of change over time in the importance of each sales district to Golden’s overall economic health.

The visualization shows how Golden’s commercial districts have changed in relative economic importance over time between 1994 and 2009. It’s pretty simplistic because of the data I had to work with, and because the city’s overall sales and use tax revenues track pretty closely to overall general fund revenues the bubbles all move in a very linear fashion over time. But even this very simple visualization shows some interesting things, like the change in importance of outside dollars, the rise of South Golden Road, the rise of Corporate Center, and the relative stability of Downtown Golden as an economic center over time.

I couldn’t figure out how to make the visualization itself accessible on the web, so I created a screencast showing each of the elements. The screencast first shows you the normal Gapminder display, which is very cool. Then it shows you the underlying line graph. Finally, it shows you two versions of the bar graph visualization. The entire video is about sixty seconds long.

You could do some really interesting things with these data and this display, like swapping out either the x- or y-axis with other data like the number of business licenses in each district in that year or the overall city population (which has grown steadily at times and unevenly at other times), treating sales tax and use tax independently from one another, or tons of other approaches that I haven’t thought of. You’d probably see some different and interesting relationships.

This little project underscores the value of making the city’s data as readily available to community members as possible. It’s trickier than you might think, since much of it isn’t digital and isn’t stored in the most accessible manner, but the city has a lot of data that might be of interest or of use to community members, and there are tons of people in Golden cleverer and more skilled than I at doing interesting things with data, so I’m hoping City Council and city staff will start looking for more ways to push these datasets out and see what folks come up with.

City Council Adopts 2011 Priorities

On Thursday night City Council formally adopted priorities for 2011.  This is generally a continuation of the priorities we established last year, but it’s worth formally identifying them to help us stay focused and help keep the community informed about what we are focused on.

We adopted five major priorities:

1) Protecting the city’s financial health and sustaining the community’s economic vitality.

2) Supporting and strengthening our neighborhoods (“The Year of the Neighborhood”), including implementing our new neighborhood grant program, completing pending neighborhood plans, and considering all of the policy recommendations in the adopted ones.

3) Maintaining our aggressive efforts to keep the beltway out of Golden and working to protect Golden from the impacts of growing regional through the Golden Plan or similar improvements.

4) Updating the Comprehensive Plan and revamping/updating the land use process to give neighborhoods a stronger voice in shaping their own future and to make the process less adversarial and combative.

5) Revisiting and updating the city’s long-term streets plan.

Other 2011 priorities include:

1) Making sure Golden is ready for light rail in 2013, including our own community bus.

2) Adopting a preliminary strategic transportation plan (in advance of preparing a thorough one in 2012).

3) Finalize our new performance evaluation system for the city and city manager, including performance metrics

4) Review and update the long-term plans for the city’s major recreational facilities.

5) Update the city’s economic development tools, structures, and strategies. This may extend into 2012.

6) Support the Quiznos Pro Challenge Professional Bicycle Race.

And some additional 2011 projects:

1) CSM Master Plan (although the timing is up to Colorado School of Mines).

2) Clear Creek Master Plan.

3) Evaluate and consider sewer/waterline insurance. DONE – Council decided to educate community members about the value of having this insurance but not to enter into a special agreement with any specific insurance providers.

4) Consider adjusting the cost of special use permits for chickens. DONE – Council reduced the special use permit fee for keeping up to six hens.

5) Evaluate and potentially update the strategy for managing amplified outdoor music.

6) Evaluate and consider updating traffic fine schedule.

7) Evaluate and consider updating leash laws.

8) Initiate long-term city financial health evaluation.

9) Evaluate and update medical marijuana regulations.

10) Update noise mitigation priorities.

11) Complete the City of Golden web site revamp.

12) Further development, testing, and training on the new Emergency Operations Plan (primarily staff).

13) Plan for major software updates (finance, planning, police, fire, courts) (primarily

14) Major public works projects: South Reservoir and office building reconstruction (primarily staff).

15) East Downtown Vision and Plan (potentially).

Golden's Good Economic News

May sales tax in Golden (collected in June) was up 3% (compared to a 6% decline during May of last year). Our year-to-date numbers are up by about the same amount (compared to a 10% decline year-to-date during the same period last year). Downtown Golden saw a substantial increase of more than 7%, and Corporate Center (where Home Depot and Kohls are) and North Golden both saw significant increases as well. Another favorable sign is that spending at restaurants – a good sign of consumer confidence – went up by more than 7%. We seem to be on the road (albeit a slow road) to economic recovery.

Golden’s Good Economic News

May sales tax in Golden (collected in June) was up 3% (compared to a 6% decline during May of last year). Our year-to-date numbers are up by about the same amount (compared to a 10% decline year-to-date during the same period last year). Downtown Golden saw a substantial increase of more than 7%, and Corporate Center (where Home Depot and Kohls are) and North Golden both saw significant increases as well. Another favorable sign is that spending at restaurants – a good sign of consumer confidence – went up by more than 7%. We seem to be on the road (albeit a slow road) to economic recovery.

Keeping Golden's Economy Strong: Primary Employers

There are three pillars to Golden’s long-term economic vitality: a healthy retail and restaurant economy, retaining and attracting good primary jobs, and sustaining our quality of life. Over the past year and a half, Steve Glueck (the city’s Planning and Development Director) and I have spent a lot of time talking with many of Golden’s primary employers and with other economic development experts about why they are here and what their needs will be in the future. We presented a report to City Council (Sustaining Golden’s Job Base – Report and Recommendations 2010-05) summarizing our findings and making recommendations for City Council’s consideration.

I invite you to read the report and welcome your thoughts. Two things I particularly want to highlight: Golden has an astonishing array of exceptionally cool businesses doing exceptionally cool things, and that these businesses provide a critical long-term foundation for our continued economic health. Also, we are mid-way through a thorough evaluation of our entire system of promoting economic vitality in Golden – including our community marketing fund, support for downtown and our other business districts, urban renewal, and job retention and attraction. We will probably consider some significant changes later this year. Stay tuned.

A few of the recommendations that City Council agreed to move forward on now:

  • Send a letter of welcome from the mayor to all new businesses in town.
  • Review our land use codes in Golden’s three business parks to make sure they don’t create any unintended obstacles.
  • Do a better job of promoting within Golden – educating Golden’s residents – to the many, many amazing businesses that call this town home.

I’ve blogged about some of our business visits, if you’d like to learn more about some of Golden’s amazing companies:

Keeping Golden’s Economy Strong: Primary Employers

There are three pillars to Golden’s long-term economic vitality: a healthy retail and restaurant economy, retaining and attracting good primary jobs, and sustaining our quality of life. Over the past year and a half, Steve Glueck (the city’s Planning and Development Director) and I have spent a lot of time talking with many of Golden’s primary employers and with other economic development experts about why they are here and what their needs will be in the future. We presented a report to City Council (Sustaining Golden’s Job Base – Report and Recommendations 2010-05) summarizing our findings and making recommendations for City Council’s consideration.

I invite you to read the report and welcome your thoughts. Two things I particularly want to highlight: Golden has an astonishing array of exceptionally cool businesses doing exceptionally cool things, and that these businesses provide a critical long-term foundation for our continued economic health. Also, we are mid-way through a thorough evaluation of our entire system of promoting economic vitality in Golden – including our community marketing fund, support for downtown and our other business districts, urban renewal, and job retention and attraction. We will probably consider some significant changes later this year. Stay tuned.

A few of the recommendations that City Council agreed to move forward on now:

  • Send a letter of welcome from the mayor to all new businesses in town.
  • Review our land use codes in Golden’s three business parks to make sure they don’t create any unintended obstacles.
  • Do a better job of promoting within Golden – educating Golden’s residents – to the many, many amazing businesses that call this town home.

I’ve blogged about some of our business visits, if you’d like to learn more about some of Golden’s amazing companies:

New Wind Turbine Jobs Coming to Golden

Some great news for Golden on the jobs front: A Danish company called PMC Technology is moving to Golden.  The company builds hydraulic components for the wind turbine and other industries and will locate in the Coors Technology Center just east of North Table Mountain.  They expect to create about 40 jobs within its first five years of operation.  One key reason PMC is landing in Golden is our proximity to Vestas in Brighton, which is PMC’s largest U.S. customer (one of many, many spinoff benefits that Vestas brings to the Denver Metro region).

You’ll find articles in the Denver Business Journal and InsideRealEstateNews.com if you want to read more.

W9BZBXMUP2BR

Buy Local, Buy Golden

Among the many community efforts to support our local restaurants and retailers is a new “We Are Golden: Buy Local First” campaign.  The top ten reasons you should buy local before shopping elsewhere:

10 Reasons to Buy Local First!

1 Golden is unique.
We have our own small-town character and our local stores reflect our interests and attitudes. How many towns do you know that have stores for gold panning, mountaineering, fly fishing, kayaking, and bicycling all within a mile of each other?
2 Golden merchants support the community.
From sending free pizzas to the schools to donating merchandise for fund-raising auctions, our local merchants are part of what keeps Golden such a special place.
3 Shopping in Golden keeps your sales tax in Golden.
Every purchase you make supports walking trails, pedestrian bridges, and parks, as well as street repairs, snow removal, and all the other things we’re able to take for granted in Golden.
4 Golden merchants are part of the community.
Many of them live here, shop here, and send their children to school here. It’s nice to see local business owners at a PTA meeting or walking along the creek.
5 Golden’s stores are already here.
Why encourage urban sprawl by shopping at a new mall where there used to be a prairie or a pasture?
6 Golden’s stores are close.
Shopping locally saves time and gas, reduces air and water pollution. Walking or riding a bike to stores is both environmentally friendly and heart-healthy!
7 Local stores provide choices.
Chain stores serve an important role, but we need small independent stores as well, to ensure competition and a wider selection of merchandise. Locally-owned stores provide outlets for local industry, artisans, and farmers.
8 Golden merchants value you.
It doesn’t take long to become a “regular” at a local business. Business owners like to provide special customer care and service to people who shop in their stores regularly.
9 Golden merchants reward you just for having fun.
Take the Coors Brewery tour or attend Golden special events and you can snag a Golden Ticket, good for discounts of up to 20%!
10 Golden doesn’t charge you just to hang out.
There isn’t a single parking meter in Golden. Our parking is free and plentiful!