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'Denver Deserves Sidewalks': Advocates push for public funding of sidewalks

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Posted at 8:06 PM, Apr 28, 2022

DENVER — Almost half of the sidewalks in Denver are either missing or too narrow, according to city documents, and that’s not counting those that are broken or damaged. That's why the Denver Streets Partnership started the “Denver Deserves Sidewalks” campaign.

The group says they are done waiting on the city. They’re now turning directly to voters, asking them to approve a new fee on the November ballot that would pay for faster overhaul of Denver walkways.

Currently, individual homeowners and businesses in Denver are responsible for the sideways adjacent to their properties, which has lead to wide disparities in their upkeep. Under the new proposal, the burden of responsibility would be transferred to the city, funded by a recurring fee for property owners based upon factors like length of property and the type of street it’s located on. The Denver Streets Partnership says a typical single family home could expect to pay an annual fee of about $107, or about $9 per month.

Advocates argue better pedestrian infrastructure is particularly important for those with disabilities. Nica Cave, who uses a wheelchair, has lived in Denver off-and-on her whole life and told Denver7 this issue is particularly personal for her.

“I’ve been disabled my whole life,” Cave said. “It’s my lived experience using the sidewalks as my primary pathway to get where I need to go.”

According to the City of Denver, 40 percent of sidewalks are either missing or too narrow citywide. The number is even higher in low-income areas at 47 percent.

“You see a lot more unmaintained sidewalks, missing sidewalks. Especially around transit stops, which is something I depend on, and a lot of disabled people as well depend on public transportation,” Cave said.

At current funding levels, according to the City of Denver, it would take around 400 years to build, widen, and fix the sidewalks. Advocates for “Denver Deserves Sidewalks” are pushing for the project to be completed in nine years, made possible through more public funding.

“I’ve been working on this issue for seven years, and I’ve talked to so many people who feel like sidewalks are the foundation of a complete transportation system,” said Jill Locantore, executive director of the Denver Streets Partnership. “We should be publicly funding sidewalks just like we publicly fund the streets. That’s how we’re going to create a more fair and equitable and safe community for everybody.”

Advocates have received the clearance and paperwork from the city to begin collecting signatures on their petition. They will need almost 10,000 by July 5 to get the issue on the November ballot.