The Issues

Expanding Environmental Stewardship

Environmental stewardship goes way beyond remembering to turn off lights when you leave a room or taking shorter showers. We need to ensure that the Poudre River, our open spaces, and natural areas are protected for generations to come, and a few easy fixes are within reach: infrastructure updates that connect critically disconnected Fort Collins neighborhoods.

Most neighborhoods in District 1 cannot reach their local elementary school by any other way BUT car, and we wonder why “ground travel” CO2 emissions are up 22% since 2005. At just one local elementary school with 500 students, we can assume 350 cars with 2 trips of at least 2 miles per day to get the kids back and forth to school.

If the average passenger vehicle puts out 404 grams of CO2 per mile, that’s over a half-ton of CO2 created DAILY for these island neighborhoods to take their kids to school (1,245.8 pounds of CO2 to be precise).

Multiply that by 180 for an average school year… just over 112 TONS of CO2 generated just for trips back and forth to ONE school that could easily and to a large degree be offset with safe pathways for the kids to bike or walk to school. And that’s just the environmental cost for getting the kids to elementary school. Imagine adding middle school, high school, recreation, and work into that mix.

When you add in the economic, equity, and quality of life costs our single-car working families have to bear due to our disconnected, backward policy-stalled infrastructure on top of that… the status quo is TOO expensive for every neighbor of Fort Collins, but especially our most vulnerable neighbors.

Here are some immediately actionable ideas:

  1. Invest in our community’s future by connecting and completing trails and bike lanes immediately without requiring developers to do this for us (which results in disconnected island neighborhoods), especially to neighborhood schools, and build parks concurrently with neighborhoods. Allow developers to buy-in with connections, augmentation, and repairs as needed.
  2. Insist that proper infrastructure is completed concurrently with responsible development. Responsible development should include fully walkable neighborhoods and offsets for creating new open spaces and natural areas in our community.
  3. Expand conservation and xeriscape programs to our neighbors on ELCO and SFCLWD who cannot currently access these grants and services despite being inside City Limits.
  4. Focus on expanding the tree canopy and xeric areas in partnerships with business improvement districts, HOAs, and metro districts. Establish xeric areas as the default for all new communities.

Supporting Local Business

As a small business owner, I know the daily struggle of just trying to keep your employees employed, food on the table, and a roof over your head.

As the lead organizer of Fort Collins Startup Week, my team and I helped provide peer-to-peer resource sharing for over 1,000 local businesses in our community last year alone. As the lead organizer of Fort Collins Comic Con, my team and I helped provide a venue for over 150 local artists and creatives, generating a significant sales tax impact (the average attendee spends around $100 with our local artists and we see around 3,000 attendees per year) and raising over $120,000 for the Poudre River Public Library District over the last 6 years.

My campaign also commissioned a paid project to create a coloring book from 7 local artists in Fort Collins. You can download it here for free.

Supporting local businesses goes WAY beyond shopping locally. We must:

  • Ensure a future for our world-class gig-speed economy with strong business support policy, partnerships, programs, and funding,
  • Expand skilled and unskilled labor vocational training and talent retention programs in partnership with CSU, PSD, and Front Range Community College,
  • Expand job placement and retention programs alongside partners at the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Fort Collins Creative District, and our local business improvement districts, and
  • Bolster opportunities, events, platforms, and canvases for local businesses and creatives to showcase their best work to survive, thrive, and reopen safely and quickly.

Here’s a small sampling of interviews from our local business community to explore:

Ease Affordable Housing Crisis

We can make housing more affordable in Fort Collins through better policy. We have to pair responsible development with responsible infrastructure, flip the script and invest in our neighbors by connecting our neighborhoods with trails, bike lanes, and sidewalks without requiring development to get there. We can ensure walkable, usable neighborhoods with creative integrations, bolstering local businesses to help improve the earning ability of our skilled and unskilled workers through expanding vocational training, partnerships, and job placement services. We can also ease arbitrary rules regarding Additional Dwelling Units on lots in and around Old Town where it makes sense to help augment density, work along with purposeful micro-rezoning to allow for mini commercial areas (like open markets, coffee shops, and small home goods stores) nearby neighborhoods.

Reconnect North East Fort Collins

Most neighborhoods in District 1 and on the edges of the City share a similar issue: they are not connected to the rest of Fort Collins by way of sidewalks, bike lanes, or trails.

As a result, the quality of life for our neighbors is significantly impaired and they spend more of their disposable income on commute-related expenses, leaving less time and money for unexpected expenses, let alone shopping and playing.

This has horrendous equity, environmental, economic, and quality of life consequences, and as a result, we have a wide array of book, park, food, and service deserts throughout the city which further degrade our quality of life.

The Council’s current policy requiring developers and community builders to pay and plan for literally everything, but especially roads, bike lanes, parks, and trails, is backward and has externalities now writ large throughout District 1 – disconnected island neighborhoods that are overly dependent on car travel to work, play, shop, or learn.

This isn’t a simple matter of switching to a more efficient mode of transit – this is a critical infrastructure policy failure – the status quo is WAY too expensive for our most vulnerable neighbors who have to struggle daily with getting the kids to school, getting to work on time, juggling childcare concerns during COVID, and figuring out how and when (or IF!) to recreate and shop for staples in between.

Our neighborhoods MUST be made more walkable to offset these rampant externalities.

Some easy fixes within reach:

  1. Flip the script on our current policy and invest ourselves in our community’s future by connecting and completing trails and bike lanes immediately without requiring developers to do this for us, especially to neighborhood schools, and build parks concurrently with neighborhoods. Allow developers to buy-in with connections, augmentation, and repairs as needed.
  2. Bolster cell phone connectivity and access to networks across Fort Collins as a critical safety measure.
  3. Augment the Transfort connective routes to include more of District 1 (at the VERY LEAST connect a bike lane or trail to the nearest Transfort stop).
  4. Plan, partner, and rezone to eliminate park, food, book, and service deserts in our communities to make them more walkable and usable.
  5. Establish proper infrastructure before or concurrently with responsible development. Responsible development should include fully walkable neighborhoods and offsets for creating new open spaces and natural areas in our community.

Fight Homelessness with 360° Partnerships

From the Murphy Center to Outreach Fort Collins, there are so many organizations working to help our most vulnerable neighbors. What’s missing? Well, Homeward 2020’s Final Report says this: “Decisive leadership and multi-sector cooperation must overcome significant system failures and inequities.”

From my perspective, grassroots efforts are best conducted from the community itself – not a top-down technocracy, but rather, a community-driven groundswell of effort that is unified and supported through good policy and comprehensive partnerships between the City, the County, neighbors, businesses, service providers, transportation, and affordable housing pathways.

We can create a 360-degree community-supported approach to bring our neighbors in out of the cold. Responsible policy in this area might look something like this:

  1. Actively recruit a paid volunteer force from the existing homeless community to serve as ambassadors to the City, County, local neighborhoods, businesses, and service providers.
  2. Work with local HOAs, Neighbor to Neighbor, and the City’s Neighborhood Services Department to help provide case tracking and support for our neighbors at risk of homelessness.
  3. Expand job placement and job training efforts in partnership with the City of Fort Collins parks department, Chamber of Commerce, the Larimer SBDC, the Poudre Libraries, and more – to help provide high-quality, easily-accessible, benefit-augmented, and community-supporting jobs.
  4. Establish partnerships between service partners and employers to provide on-site storage, showers, and laundry services alongside other crucial survival needs that are sorely needed.
  5. Establish tiny home communities with work-to-own and right-size-buyback programs so our neighbors have a clear and easy pathway to homeownership.

Prioritize Equity and Representation

Our community is wonderfully diverse and the best ideas come from smart, representative teams with coordinated neighbors working collaboratively to make our community better.

Working for equity and representation through community connection and outreach, the creation of a multicultural resource center, built-in interpretation services for every City service, affordable housing, and pathways to keep our best and brightest talent in Fort Collins are common-sense initiatives that we should all be able to support.

A more representative community would:

  1. Facilitate outreach efforts across each District to provide purposeful canvases for representative artwork and culture building.
  2. Establish an ongoing, District-by-District municipal civics education program to help empower and elevate leaders at the neighborhood level to create a dialog with City leaders, run for Council, and find funding through City programs and grants for the best grassroots ideas from our neighbors.
  3. Create events and platforms for our neighbors to connect, share their stories, and learn from each other through targeted Fort Fund and Art in Public Places funding of these events and platforms.
  4. Provide inclusive training methodologies for HOAs, Boards, and local businesses (especially in the realm of funding + business equity building) to ensure that local neighborhoods and businesses have the best information possible to build truly representative boards, teams, and engaged communities.

Reconnecting North East Fort Collins