July 21, 2018

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).

Fact Check: The Voice of Golden’s Troubles With the Truth

It’s election season once again in Golden, and unfortunately that means more issues of Marian Olson’s vitriolic and honesty-challenged opinion mailers.  I know many folks just throw it away, and many others read it for entertainment value, but I’m happy to answer any questions and provide any background or documents on anything you might be curious about.  This issue is mostly a rehash of inaccurate and previously discredited claims.  Here are some responses to a few of the issues:

  • In September of 2007 I bought my first home in Golden.  My next door neighbors and I each bought a virtually identical unit for exactly the same price, although my neighbors added $5,000 in buyer’s assistance to the mortgage (i.e., the seller paid $5,000 of their closing costs and added that to the amount they paid him).  Read my previous post (“My Home: A Straightforward Transaction”).
  • Late last year, the city conducted an open Request for Proposals process to select the operator or operators for a new contract to run the three community-owned history museums.  Our process included numerous public meetings and hearings, a formal audit of the museum operations by an outside expert, a Request for Proposals to run the museums that was open to everyone, an impartial technical panel of museum and non-profit experts that reviewed all of the submitted proposals, and an entirely transparent decision process.  The City Council selected the option that gave the city the best combination of cost, value, and skill at running historic museums.  Read my previous post (“Golden’s Historic Museums: Fiscal Responsibility in Tough Times”).

Fact Check: The Voice of Golden's Troubles With the Truth

It’s election season once again in Golden, and unfortunately that means more issues of Marian Olson’s vitriolic and honesty-challenged opinion mailers.  I know many folks just throw it away, and many others read it for entertainment value, but I’m happy to answer any questions and provide any background or documents on anything you might be curious about.  This issue is mostly a rehash of inaccurate and previously discredited claims.  Here are some responses to a few of the issues:

  • In September of 2007 I bought my first home in Golden.  My next door neighbors and I each bought a virtually identical unit for exactly the same price, although my neighbors added $5,000 in buyer’s assistance to the mortgage (i.e., the seller paid $5,000 of their closing costs and added that to the amount they paid him).  Read my previous post (“My Home: A Straightforward Transaction”).
  • Late last year, the city conducted an open Request for Proposals process to select the operator or operators for a new contract to run the three community-owned history museums.  Our process included numerous public meetings and hearings, a formal audit of the museum operations by an outside expert, a Request for Proposals to run the museums that was open to everyone, an impartial technical panel of museum and non-profit experts that reviewed all of the submitted proposals, and an entirely transparent decision process.  The City Council selected the option that gave the city the best combination of cost, value, and skill at running historic museums.  Read my previous post (“Golden’s Historic Museums: Fiscal Responsibility in Tough Times”).

Jacob’s Golden Update: Golden Seeks Stimulus Funding for the U.S. 6 /19th Street Intersection and Other News

Jacob’s Golden Update: August 13, 2009

1. Golden Seeks Stimulus Funding for the U.S. 6 /19th Street Intersection
2. Golden’s Light Rail Construction Underway
3. New Noise Berm Along 6th Avenue
4. Bachman Open Space Proposal Earns Jeffco Support
5. Community Bus Feasibility Study
6. Refinancing the City’s Drainage Utility Bonds
7. Museum Lawsuit Settlement in the Works
8. City Council Considers Changes to Trash Hauling
9. Golden Marlins Take High Honors
10. Other Upcoming Events
11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, August 13 (tonight)

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[Read more…]

Jacob's Golden Update: Golden Seeks Stimulus Funding for the U.S. 6 /19th Street Intersection and Other News

Jacob’s Golden Update: August 13, 2009

1. Golden Seeks Stimulus Funding for the U.S. 6 /19th Street Intersection
2. Golden’s Light Rail Construction Underway
3. New Noise Berm Along 6th Avenue
4. Bachman Open Space Proposal Earns Jeffco Support
5. Community Bus Feasibility Study
6. Refinancing the City’s Drainage Utility Bonds
7. Museum Lawsuit Settlement in the Works
8. City Council Considers Changes to Trash Hauling
9. Golden Marlins Take High Honors
10. Other Upcoming Events
11. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, August 13 (tonight)

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[Read more…]

Jacob’s Golden Update: Golden and the Beltway Issue Featured in PBS Documentary on Sprawl

Jacob’s Golden Update: May 25, 2009

1. Golden and the Beltway Issue Featured in PBS Documentary on Sprawl
2. Ramping Up Summer Noise Enforcement
3. New Bike Lanes in Golden (and a new bicycling page on the city’s web site)
4. Report on the All-Ward Town Hall Meeting
5. City Will Postpone Water Tank Project
6. City to Establish Holiday Displays Policy
7. Golden Vision 2030 Survey (get a chance to win Golden Bucks!)
8. Other Upcoming Events
9. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, May 28

[Read more…]

Jacob's Golden Update: Golden and the Beltway Issue Featured in PBS Documentary on Sprawl

Jacob’s Golden Update: May 25, 2009

1. Golden and the Beltway Issue Featured in PBS Documentary on Sprawl
2. Ramping Up Summer Noise Enforcement
3. New Bike Lanes in Golden (and a new bicycling page on the city’s web site)
4. Report on the All-Ward Town Hall Meeting
5. City Will Postpone Water Tank Project
6. City to Establish Holiday Displays Policy
7. Golden Vision 2030 Survey (get a chance to win Golden Bucks!)
8. Other Upcoming Events
9. Next City Council Meeting: Thursday, May 28

[Read more…]

Some Responses to the Voice of Golden

The Voice of Golden has been deliberately spreading some wild claims about City Council, about me, and about Golden.  Every last one of them is misinformed, distorted, or fabricated.  Here are the facts.  As always, I’m happy to answer questions, provide more information, and share copies of all the documents.

Golden’s Energy Efficiency Program: A Responsible Bidding Process

The City of Golden adopted ambitious energy efficiency and other sustainability goals in 2007. As part of this Golden Sustainability Initiative, in June of 2007 the City of Golden published a Request for Proposals for companies interested in conducting an energy efficiency audit in the city and implementing the highest value energy efficiency projects identified by the audit. Six companies responded, four were selected for interviews, and the City Council unanimously (including Councilor Mary Weaver) selected the proposal submitted by the McKinstry firm. The project cost is $1,183,691, but Golden subsequently secured a $500,000 grant from the State of Colorado, dramatically reducing the total cost of the project. Some of the specific energy efficiency elements of the project include upgrading lighting inside and outside city’s buildings, installing a solar water heating system for the community center pool, and improving the city’s HVAC systems. Not only will these projects save Golden money every year, but within about twelve years we will have saved more than the entire cost of the project and we will continue to experience long-term energy savings and lower energy bills. In fact, because Golden received the half-million dollar grant, the payback period has been substantially reduced.

Golden’s Historic Museums: Fiscal Responsibility in Tough Times

The City of Golden owns three historical museums and contracts with non-profits to operate them.  The contracts were all up at the end of 2008, and the City Council conducted an intensive, thorough, and transparent proposal process.  After considering an independent audit of the museums, evaluations of each proposal prepared by a Technical Review Committee made up of museum and nonprofit experts, and considerable public comment, the City Council decided to unify management of all three museums under a single non-profit.  One organization is upset that they didn’t get their contract renewed.

Read more . . .

Golden’s Noise Mitigation Program: Reducing Highway Noise Impacts on Golden’s Neighborhoods

For fifteen years now, the City of Golden has had the goal of reducing noise levels in those neighborhoods affected by highway noise. The City Council crafted Golden’s noise mitigation policy with more than 3,000 citizen comments. Noise mitigation is difficult. Despite the significant challenges, including cost, topography, and the Colorado Department of Transportation, we continue making progress, such as the earthen berm along the west side of Highway 93. After years of wrangling with CDOT, the state finally granted permission to build a noise mitigation wall on the east side of Highway 93 near Virginia St. It is a fully-functional and permanent demonstration project that will substantially reduce the noise levels in nearby neighborhoods while incorporating materials that allow light to pass through parts of the wall so that the adjacent homes aren’t shaded out. Everyone in Golden will have a chance to see how the wall, with its translucent panels, works in a tight space like the one up there and see how it might work in other parts of Golden.

Read more . . .

My Home: A Straightforward Transaction

In September of 2007 I bought my first home in Golden. It’s part of a four-unit condominium complex and the two upstairs units are nearly identical. The builder sold both, one to me and one to a young Golden couple, for exactly the same price – $190,000. The Jefferson County tax records show that my neighbors paid $5,000 more. As our respective contracts clearly show, that’s because the developer paid $5,000 of their closing costs, which they consequently added to the amount they paid the builder above the $190,000 for the condo itself. I simply paid my closing costs directly. In other words, I paid exactly the same amount as my neighbors did for a virtually identical unit. I’m very pleased to be a homeowner in Golden and I love the neighborhood as well.

The Facts About City Council Executive Sessions

Nearly all of the Golden City Council’s business is conducted in open meetings. The meetings are televised and livestreamed on the web, they are archived on the web and at the public library, and anyone can attend in person any of these meetings. In rare instances and only on a very restricted number of issues, the City Council needs to meet in executive session. These nearly always have to do with personnel matters, taking legal advice from the city’s attorney, or discussing legal negotiations, where meeting in open session would either be illegal or would harm the community’s interests. In 2007, Councilor Mary Weaver sued everyone else on the City Council and the City of Golden, claiming that the City Council wasn’t following the proper procedure. She filed this lawsuit against the City Council (including herself!) without ever once having asked Council to consider making changes. We settled the lawsuit, agreeing to review and consider refining our procedures. City Council promptly did so, and made a small modification to our executive session procedures as a result, which we would have done had she simply asked. Councilor Weaver voted against that change and subsequently attempted to undo the settlement, going back on her commitment in the settlement agreement and costing the Golden taxpayers even more money than the lawsuit wasted in the first place.

Read more . . .

Support for my Golden Mayoral Campaign: Broad and Bipartisan

When I ran for mayor in 2007, I knew it would be a tough race. One of my opponents was the well-respected incumbent mayor. Incumbents almost always have the advantage, and I knew I’d have to work hard and raise some money to communicate to everyone in Golden who I am, my track record, and my values. Marian Olson and the Voice of Golden ran a candidate as well – Mary Weaver – and spent $23,000 supporting her. I sent a letter to all of my friends and family asking them to support my campaign. Many of them did, and I thank them for their trust and support. I also received an extraordinary amount of support from Golden residents. More than twice as many Golden residents made contributions to my campaign than both of my opponents combined. In both of my City Council races and in my mayoral race I earned the broad support of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike precisely because my politics are common sense and pragmatic. Although reasonable people will disagree on issues, including some of the most important ones, we should be able to work through our differences of opinion, make decisions, and keep Golden moving forward.

Read more . . .

Funding for Jefferson County Schools

The City Council occasionally weighs in on regional or statewide issues when we believe the issue impacts Golden in a direct and significant way. For this reason, the City Council this fall passed a resolution in support of two bipartisan school funding measures. Both measures had widespread support from Democrats and Republicans, the business community, teachers, parents, and many others. The funding would have been used for school repairs, renovation of older schools, improving safety within the school district, expanding job skills and technical training, expanded math and science offerings, and other related expenses. The quality of our schools is a critical issue for Golden residents: many of our residents have kids in the school system and care a great deal that our schools are adequately funded, our property values are closely tied to the quality of our schools, the quality of neighborhoods is directly affected by the quality of our schools.

How do the city councilors treat members of the community with a wide diversity of perspectives?

Members of the city staff and the City Council work hard to treat everyone professionally and respectfully. Every regular business meeting of the City Council has a public comment period where anyone can make comments about any issue. If there are a larger number of people who wish to speak, I will usually adopt a strict time limit so that everyone gets an opportunity to speak and has the same amount of time as everyone else. City Council and City staff take all comments and suggestions seriously, and seriously consider all opinions offered by members of the community. However, on many issues, any decision that City Council could make will have support from some people and opposition from others. Most people will disagree with at least some of the decisions that the City Council makes, but our decision making is always transparent and respectful. The City Council and city staff’s obligations include listening to everyone who wants to weigh in, carefully considering all of the available information and all of the perspectives, and then using our best judgment to make decisions that are good for Golden even when members of the Golden community don’t agree on what the best answer is.

Does everybody always get what they want from city council?

Most people won’t agree with every single decision the City Council makes. On most important issues, in fact, the community itself is divided in its views. The City Council must carefully consider everyone’s perspective, but on most important decisions there will be people who agree with and disagree with the outcome.

My Day Job

I’ve worked in the non-profit world for about fifteen years now. I am currently the executive director of a small philanthropic foundation that supports education and conservation work. I work half-time and have a great deal of scheduling flexibility, which makes this a great day job to go along with my role as Golden’s mayor. Prior to my current employment, I founded and led a conservation group based in Denver. After nine years of growing the organization, creating jobs, and working to protect wildlife habitat across Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, I transitioned to my current job after become mayor.

The Voice of Golden’s Old Grudges

Marian and the Voice of Golden love to dig up their old grudges. Some of them have merit and some don’t. Either way, things that happened years ago don’t have anything to do with the current City Council.

Golden Vision 2030: Charting Our Own Course

The coming year will include a particularly important community process: Golden Vision 2030. We’ll be asking the entire Golden community to answer a deceptively complicated question: “What’s your vision for Golden in 2030?”

Why is this important? For one thing, despite our 1% residential growth limit, Golden will continue to experience growth pressure, both inside Golden and in the areas around our community. The Golden Vision 2030 process is a critical opportunity to shape those changes rather than have those changes simply happen to us.

Over the past couple of years we’ve already done some work that will help form the basis for our new Golden Vision 2030, such as our neighborhood plans, our Sustainability Initiative, and our Walkability, Bikeability, and Housing Affordability Task Forces. But most of the hard work is still ahead of us, and we’ll need to weave all of this together along with our commitment to sustained economic vitality, our social and cultural elements, and land use.

With financial support through a $100,000 grant from the Orton Family Foundation for our community visioning and planning process, we will energetically invite participation from everyone in the community. We are also creating a diverse “Local Advisory Committee” to help guide the process, which includes someone from the Chamber of Commerce, the Golden Cultural Alliance, the school district, Jefferson County, Colorado School of Mines, and a representative from each of most of the city’s boards and commissions.

If you have any opinions at all about the future of Golden – what you want Golden to be like in twenty years – then please participate in this important process. Stay tuned . . .

Golden’s Noise Mitigation Program: Reducing Highway Noise Impacts on Golden’s Neighborhoods

The City of Golden lies in a narrow valley, and much of the community lies within earshot of one or more highways.  For at least fifteen years now, the city has had the goal of reducing noise levels in those neighborhoods affected by highway noise.  In fact, after a two-year public input process and more than 3,000 comments, Golden adopted a noise standard that is substantially more rigorous than the state’s.

Noise mitigation presents substantial challenges, not least of which are Golden’s topography and the cost of sound walls.  The Colorado Department of Transportation, which owns most of the rights of way alongside the highways, has also often been more of an obstacle than a partner.  We have long sought to build sound walls along I-70 and 6th Avenue, for instance, but CDOT has made it virtually impossible.  Despite these challenges, we have made progress.  The large earthen berm along the west side of Highway 93 between Iowa and Washington is a good example.

One project that’s been in the works for years is a sound wall further north to provide some mitigation for neighborhoods highly impacted by Highway 93 noise, and after years of wrangling the state finally granted Golden approval to move forward with the project.  The City Council included this project in the 2009 capital budget and completed the bid process in October, and we expect the project to be completed this year.  The project consists of a sound wall on the east side of Highway 93 near Virginia Street.  In order to be effective at reducing noise in those neighborhoods, the wall has to be pretty tall, so we’ve designed it with large sections that will allow light to pass through so that the wall won’t shade out the nearby homes.  It is a fully-functional and permanent demonstration project, meaning that it will substantially reduce noise levels for a large number of homes while giving everyone in Golden a chance to see how the wall, with its translucent panels, works in a tight space like the one up there.  It will also give everyone a chance to see how we might apply this approach to other parts of Golden.  We will also construct a bike path along the wall connecting Golden’s northernmost neighborhoods with the rest of Golden.

There are plenty of other areas that need noise mitigation as well, and given the cost it will take years before we can build mitigation in all the neighborhoods that are affected by highway noise.  But we will continue moving forward, taking advantage of good opportunities (like cheap or free dirt) and building the more expensive sound walls as funding allows.

Mountain Ridge Berm Update

This is an update on the berm from Public Works Director Dan Hartman.  The info is from a few weeks back – I haven’t had a chance to post it – but I think it’s all still accurate.  Dan reports that the new berm was hydromulched about two months ago and seeded with native grasses and wild flowers.  Because CDOT cut off additional truck access (because the route crossed CDOT’s right of way) we haven’t been able to bring in any additional dirt.