The Protect Arvada Taxpayers proposal is a charter amendment being advocated for by a grassroots coalition of citizens to bring reform to the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority and City of Arvada government.
The $30 Land Deal -- land and tax give-aways to a private developer planned by the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority (AURA) at already traffic congested Wadsworth Bypass and 56th Avenue -- sparked citizen outrage; lack of city council response to the deal has now generated this petition drive to bring more democracy and accountability to City Hall.
This effort, completely organized by average Arvada citizens, has 90 days to collect signatures from 15 percent of the city's registered voters. After review by the City Clerk an election on the proposed amendment could take place early next year.
Your help will be vital to making common sense protection of taxpayers an integral part of the Arvada city charter. Growth and progress for our community is fully compatible with fiscal responsibility.
The Protect Arvada Taxpayers 'PAT' Proposal
Amends the Arvada City Charter to include the following provisions:
• Voter Approval Required for Sales and/or Property Tax Subsidies/Incentives (TIF)
Over $2.5 Million to Private Business
• Voter Approval Required for City-Owned Land Sales Appraised
Over $1,000,000 to Private Business
* * *
Whereas, the Charter of the City of Arvada shall be amended to include the following:
Therefore be it ordained:
13.14 URBAN RENEWAL AUTHORITY REFORM; TAX INCREMENT FINANCING, SALE/TRANSFER OF PROPERTY, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
1) Any action by an agency, agent, authority, commission, committee, city council, department, employee or official of the City of Arvada, approving or changing a sales and/or property tax increment financing (TIF), revenue sharing or cost sharing arrangement pursuant to Part 1 of the Colorado Urban Renewal Law, must be ratified by the Arvada City Council via a vote on a formal agenda item, at a regularly scheduled business meeting, that is advertised as a public hearing.
If the value of the said sales and/or property tax increment financing (TIF), revenue sharing or cost sharing exceeds two million five hundred thousand dollars ($2,500,000.00), the city council action of approval must be ratified by the registered electors of the City of Arvada at a special or regular election.
The base amount for voter approval of any sales and/or property tax increment financing (TIF) will be any financing exceeding two million five hundred thousand dollars ($2,500,000.00). To account for inflation and/or increased construction costs, every third year after July 1, 2018, the base amount can be increased by five (5) percent.
2) Any action by an agency, agent, authority, commission, committee, city council, department, employee or official of the City of Arvada, authorizing the sale or transfer of property owned by the Arvada Urban Renewal Authority or the City of Arvada, must be ratified by the Arvada City Council via a vote on a formal agenda item, at a regularly scheduled business meeting, that is advertised as a public hearing.
If the Fair Market Value of any such property be one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) or more as calculated by an independent Colorado Certified General Appraiser, the city council action of approval must be ratified by the registered electors of the City of Arvada at a special or regular election.
Effective date: This amendment will take effect and apply to all actions undertaken by an agency, agent, authority, commission, committee, city council, department, employee or official of the City of Arvada thirty (30) days after voter approval of this amendment.
We were taught as children that in a republic like the United States of America, we citizens vote for individuals to represent us and act on our behalf. Even at an early age most of us are told about Abraham Lincoln and read the Gettysburg Address that contains the famous words: "... this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
In Arvada there seems to be radiating from the city council an attitude that once elected, members are finished with their duty to represent us and speak out on behalf of the people. In office they appear to adopt the notion that they, themselves, always know what is best for us and that ongoing dialogue and communication with the people is more nuisance than obligation.
Who speaks for you?
Whether some council members believe it or not, we don't elect philosopher-kings to act only as their personal judgement dictates and to ignore us when important and controversial issues arise -- we elect representatives to give voice to our concerns and even to speak up for dissenting points of view.
Yet, except for the mayor (who is a self-appointed member of the Arvada Urban Renewal board and has become the government spokesperson for the $30 Land Deal), not one of the other six members of the city council has responded to the letter sent them by Arvada for All the People asking for them to take a position on this land and tax giveaway.
Almost everywhere from Facebook to emails to conversations, Arvada council members have demurred and evaded the concerns many citizens and taxpayers have on the $30 Land Deal.
The tactic seems to be that since in the near future the $30 Land Deal project will come before the city council as a Preliminary Development Plan (PDP) and since that setting is "quasi judicial" i.e. the proposal is to be considered only as to its compliance to the building codes — then council members must be silent now. This is a wrong, of course. There isn’t a PDP at this point -- meaning that this is a legitimate topic for debate. Furthermore, since Mayor Williams has taken a pro-$30 Land Deal position, it is clearly within the prerogative of the other council members to speak out for their constituents who are opposed to this land and tax giveaway.
This is an Arvada city council that votes unanimously (7-0) virtually 100 percent of the time. Who believes that all Arvadans are in complete agreement on nearly everything confronting the city? Where is the diversity of opinion? The courage of convictions? The will of the people? The defense of taxpayers? The new innovative ideas? The voice of minority viewpoints?
The city council is the governing body of Arvada, a brave council member could take a leadership role and introduce a resolution calling for an up or down vote on all or part of the $30 Land Deal. The council can be more than a mere review board for the decisions of an unelected Urban Renewal board -- it could be a truly representative voice of the people!
Who on the city council is a watchdog for the taxpayers?
If the elected representatives of the people on the Arvada city council will not take the initiative to act for the people on the $30 Land Deal and to reform Arvada Urban Renewal, then perhaps the people, themselves, will need to take action.
* * *
Let the American free market system work!
Put on the $30 Land Deal property on the market
and use the Millions of Dollars of profit to fix and maintain our streets!
Monica Martinez, executive director of The Fax Partnership: "Studies have shown that if you don't do preservation prior to a transit investment what'll happen is that the transit investment will displace the low income residents with higher income residents who then don't use the transit."
Yet higher income residents is precisely what Arvada government wants.
Here is quotation from an article ‘Avoiding the Unintended Consequences of Transit-Oriented Development'
"Rents go up as transit arrives (often along with new shops and restaurants) and more affluent people move in. And guess what? Those wealthier people tend to have more cars. That’s the fundamental paradox: the people who are attracted to transit-rich neighborhoods – and have the money to pay more to live there – don’t use transit as much as less affluent people who can get priced out."
“The other critical conclusion of the study – which seems to be obvious to everyone except city planners and supporters of more market-rate housing – is that “upzoning” – that is, increased density in specific areas, like the Divisadero St. corridor – is not necessarily a good way to bring down housing prices."
Overall, we find that TOD has a significant impact on the stability of the surrounding neighborhood, leading to increases in housing costs that change the composition of the area, including the loss of low-income households.
"Our research found that transit investment frequently changes the surrounding neighborhood. While patterns of neighborhood change vary, the most predominant pattern is one in which housing becomes more expensive, neighborhood residents become wealthier and vehicle ownership becomes more common. And in some of the newly transit-rich neighborhoods, the research reveals how a new transit station can set in motion a cycle of unintended consequences in which core transit users—such as renters and low income households—are priced out in favor of higher-income, car-owning residents who are less likely to use public transit for commuting.”"In some of the neighborhoods studied, the new transit station seems to have set in motion a cycle of unintended consequences that reduced neighborhood residency by those groups most likely to use transit in favor of groups more likely to drive. Utilization of public transit for commuting in this problematic subset of newly transit-served neighborhoods actually rose more slowly (or, in some cases, declined faster) than in the corresponding metropolitan area as a whole. Whether by displacement or replacement, or a combination of the two, in some transit-rich neighborhoods the pattern of change is working against the goal of attracting transit-oriented neighbors: the most likely potential transit riders are being crowded out by car owners less likely to be regular users of transit. This cycle, illustrated above, raises concerns about both equity, because core transit riders are predominantly people of color and/or low income, and about the success of new transit investments in attracting desired levels of ridership.”