The Slippery Slope

Tomorrow night, the Historic Preservation Board will be asked to certify that it’s “Appropriate” that a 1948 single family dwelling with garage should be demolished. The property owner wants to replace it with 6 townhouses and 6 two-car garages.

Chances are, the board will approve it. There’s nothing particularly special about this 1948 home on Ford Street.

After that, the developer will go to the Planning Commission with his plans to fill the lot from side to side, front to back, with his proposed condos. Chances are, the Commission will approve it. If a proposed development meets our written requirements, the Planning Commission has little choice but to approve it.

There is growing concern in Golden that somehow, our plans and zoning are serving outside developers better than they are serving current residents.

People live in Golden because they like the “small town feel.” What is a small town? There are many components, but among them is a leisurely pace, little traffic, no trouble finding parking, knowing your neighbors, running into friends at the grocery store or downtown. Golden’s rapid growth is making these way-of-life elements harder to preserve.

The historic neighborhoods near the Creek lost some of their idyllic quality when they were forced to adopt a parking permit system. The historic downtown became a little less inviting when paid parking kiosks were installed. Traffic on our streets grows heavier every day. Residents of the East Street neighborhood, where these new condos will be built, are astonished to find themselves in traffic that backs up for blocks along Ford and Jackson. These changes just don’t fit our vision of living in a small town.

Traffic in Golden Colorado

It’s not your imagination–Golden really is becoming more crowded. Here are some of the recent and upcoming additions:

Recent Construction:  172 units at Outlook Golden Ridge, 99 units at West 8th Street Apartments, 12 condos on 8th Street, Miner’s Point on 12th & Jackson – 3 stories, mixed residential & commercial, Prospector’s Point on 13th & Jackson – 4 stories, mixed residential & commercial

Planned or under construction:  109 Senior Apartments on Golden Gate Canyon Rd & Hwy 93, 12 Townhomes at 19th & Ford, 13 dwelling units plus retail at 24th & Ford (south side of 24th), 60 units of low-income housing at 24th & Ford (north side of 24th), 185 “dormitory”-style apartments (which means shared kitchens) across from Safeway, 4 condos at 8th & Arapahoe

Nor is our 1% growth limit slowing things as much as we had envisioned. It went into effect in 1996, and growth continued at about the same pace.

I don’t mean to pick on the Ford Street development in particular, but similar projects (scrape off the old and replace it with something bigger and/or higher density) are coming faster and faster. The new developments are always multi-story, blocking views from the older, single story houses. The new developments pack in more people per square foot, which puts more people and vehicles on our streets.

A lot of people want to move to Golden, and since most of us love it here, we are in complete sympathy with their desire. The question is–is it possible to accommodate the endless hunger for housing while preserving the small town way of life that attracted us in the first place?