Denver District 5 | January 2021
Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer | District 5
720-337-5555 |
Chief of Staff: JoyAnn Ruscha | Senior Aide: Logan Fry
Aide: Sara Visser | Aide: Jenn Gross
Dear Neighbors, 

Happy New Year! As we launch the month-long Southeast Denver Gives Blood Drive today, I'm heartened to see so many people from our community already signed up to give blood, plasma and platelets through Vitalant Blood Centers.

The need for blood donations is real and immediate, and giving blood is always a meaningful way to support our local community. During challenging times, the need reaches critical levels, and the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed donations drastically, Throughout Colorado, Vitalant must collect more than 3,000 blood donations each week to meet the demands of their hospital partners. With that need in mind, we hope you'll come together for this cause and help us reach our goal of 75 donations by February 15!

Click here to learn more about Vitalant and the need for blood donations, find out if you are eligible to donate, and learn about other ways to contribute if you aren't eligible to donate. If you are, we hope you'll schedule your blood donation today - Vitalant's Lowry location is at 717 Yosemite St., just north of the Great Lawn, and you can donate at any Vitalant location throughout the state. I'll be donating on January 15 and sharing photos via social media tagged #SEDenverGivesBlood. If you feel moved to do so, I hope you'll do the same, and tag both Council District 5 and Vitalant when you donate!
  • Facebook – @VITALANTCOLORADO, @denvercoucil5
  • Instagram, Twitter - @VITALANTCO, @denvercouncil5

Click the link below - unique to the #SEDenverGivesBlood drive - to schedule your blood donation appointment and ensure it counts towards our goal. Thank you for your participation!

As of today, Vitalant has already received 25 Pledges, 9 appointments, and our residents have made 9 donations. Thanks to those of you who have already helped kick off with a strong start! If you have questions specific to the Blood Drive, please email Jenn in our office.

As always, the District 5 team is here as a resource for everyone in the District 5 community. Please don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything we can do to assist you.


Councilwoman Amanda Sawyer 
District 5 
Community Office Hours With Councilwoman Sawyer
Speak with Amanda to discuss the issues that are on your mind! Out of an abundance of caution during the current public health crisis, the Councilwoman will not be holding in-person community office hours for now. She will instead offer private phone or Zoom appointments. Please email our office or call 720-337-5555 to reserve a time. If you're unable to make any of these dates, please contact our office to schedule an appointment at another time. Dates and times are subject to change.

  • Thursday, January 21, 11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Thursday, January 28, noon - 2:00pm
  • Thursday, February 4, 11:00am - 1:00pm
  • Thursday, February 11, 11:00am - 1:00pm
Community Safety
The District 5 team extends our most sincere condolences to the entire Montclair community after the robbery and homicide there on December 28th. This has been an incredibly difficult and frightening time for all of our residents. Our hearts go out to the victims' family and friends.

Violent crime throughout the entire city has gone up significantly this year, and the Denver Police Department is doing everything they can to manage it. Our office has been working for months with Commander Bancroft, Division Chief Thomas, and Director of Safety Murphy Robinson to apply for a grant that would bring additional officers on foot patrols along the East Colfax corridor from Monaco to Yosemite and focus staff in this area. The grant application is due in February. We will update you as soon as we know more and may ask for letters from neighbors in support of our application.

This effort won’t bring back victims of this or other acts of violence in our community, but it may stop something similar from occurring again. In the meantime, please watch out for your neighbors, report suspicious behavior, and, if you have firearms in your home, please lock them up. The guns used in the December 28th crime, which has been determined to be random, were stolen from homes in previous burglaries. You can help us keep these guns off the street.

In addition, Jeannine Shaw with Denver Water offers the information below to help us identify people posing as utility workers, which is how the suspects in Montclair gained entry to the home.

How to spot a scam or a fake water worker and to stay safe:
  • Before opening your door, look for clearly marked vehicles and equipment outside. Denver Water crews drive a white vehicle, clearly marked with the blue Denver Water logo. Check for the Denver Water logo on clothing and hats, and always ask to see an employee identification card.
  • Denver Water also works with contractors on projects, including pipe replacement and the Lead Reduction Program. Click here and scroll down to see a list with logos highlighting those construction companies
  • Denver Water employees typically only visit homes to alert residents of an emergency like a water main break or a major construction project that will impact their street. It is rare for employees to actually go inside a home, but if they do, the resident typically called Denver Water to initiate or schedule service.
  • When in doubt about a Denver Water employee or someone from any utlity company, call them out. If someone says they’re from Denver Water and they look suspicious or you feel threatened, don’t let them in and call 911 right away.

Homeowners also can contact Denver Water Customer Care at 303-893-2444 to verify if an employee has been dispatched to their home. Additional information is provided by the Denver Police Department and the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Watch this video for more information and awareness.

Lastly, here are tips from DPD to prevent crimes of opportunity, particularly theft:
  • Do not set out whole, empty product boxes on trash day, which can alert potential thieves to what type of items are inside your home.
  • Good lighting deters crime. Turn on your porch lights at night. 
  • If you have a garage, be sure you close the door after each use. 
  • Lock your vehicles and remove valuables from sight.
  • Use a steering wheel lock like the CLUB (2 prong) device, available at Ace Hardware for $24 and on Amazon for $26.
  • Be aware of how your home looks - try to leave an appearance that you are home at all times. 
  • Collect mail and packages from your porch ASAP. 
  • Get a Ring or other camera doorbell.
  • Install an alarm system on your home. If you are unable to do so, even having a sign or sticker from a local alarm company in your yard or at your door has been shown to deter criminals.

Click here to search crime stats for specific neighborhoods. Please stay safe.
Please Share Your Thoughts About ADUs on East Colfax -
Attend Town Hall Meetings and Take Our Survey
In partnership with Councilman Chris Herndon, our office is considering pursuing rezoning that would allow Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on all single unit parcels in the East Colfax Neighborhood (see map below). An ADU is a second, smaller residential building located at the back of a single-family residential property. ADUs are also known as mother-in-law suites, granny flats, casitas, backyard cottages, or carriage houses.

Click here to learn more about ADUs and their potential benefits and click here to access the City's East Colfax ADU webpage which has additional information, including photos of sample structures and common misconceptions about ADUs. If you would like to learn more, have questions answered, and/or share your thoughts, please plan to attend one or both of our Town Hall Meetings later this month:
We'd also appreciate your feedback via our ADU survey. Thank you!
Be a Great Neighbor, Be a Great Business! Please Promptly Clear Snow From Sidewalks
Everyone enjoys safe, clear sidewalks – and it’s each of our responsibility to keep the sidewalks adjacent to our home and/or business clear and accessible. Shovel all sidewalks, wheelchair ramps, and bus stops around your home or business as soon as it's practical and safe. Businesses have four hours after the snow stops to shovel, and residents have 24 hours. Did you know that RTD only shovels bus stops with a shelter? If it’s just a sign with no shelter, the resident/business is responsible for this sidewalk.
Show kindness and offer to help your neighbors if they aren't able to shovel. Click here to volunteer to be an official “snow angel” or if you need help with shoveling. There are all sorts of reasons why people may need assistance, or they may be unaware of the City’s rules for clearing sidewalks. A quick chat with a neighbor or simply lending a helping hand will almost always resolve a snowy sidewalk faster than the City can, and will preserve City resources for Denver’s 3,000 miles of sidewalks. Click here to learn more.
Tips for safe and effective snow removal:
  • Use the shovel to push the snow; don't lift it.
  • Shovel early, before snow gets packed down and becomes ice. Shoveling all the way to the pavement will also prevent ice from forming.
  • Shovel into your yard, so the snow plow doesn't push it back onto your sidewalka, plus your yard will get some moisture.
  • Shovel away from roadways and bike lanes, so plows don't push the snow back onto your sidewalks. 
  • Salt can be damaging when it runs off into your lawn or the storm sewer with the snowmelt. Look for ecofriendly and pet-safe deicers.
  • Be proactive and come up with a plan for addressing sidewalks now, before it’s snowing.
DHA Changes How Eligibility is Calculated for Denver's Property Tax Relief Program: You May Now Be Eligible!
In November, Denver Housing Authority (DHA) implemented changes to their Property Tax Relief Program, and the agency is accepting applications now through April 30. The changes are now effective, impacting the current program year, and alter the types of income that does/does not count toward eligibility to receive benefits from the program. Homeowners may be eligible if they are age 65+, are a person with a disability, or have dependent minors living in their household. Renters may be eligible if they are age 65+, or are a person with a disability.

Income sources DHA uses to determine eligibility includes, but is not limited to:
  • Employment wages
  • Spousal maintenance/alimony
  • Rental payments
  • Old Age Pension
  • Aid to the Needy Disabled
  • Pension or annuity benefits
  • Veteran benefits
  • Taxable and nontaxable interest
  • Dividends
  • Worker’s compensation payments
  • Unemployment compensation payments

Income from these sources is not used to determine eligibility:
  • Outright gifts
  • Child support
  • TANF benefits
  • Medicare payments
  • Social Security Administration benefits
  • Dependent income.

Because DHA now does not count Social Security benefits or dependent income when calculating a person’s income for eligibility, more people may be eligible for the program. Denver DHA is planning to make a presentation regarding this program at the City Council Safety Committee meeting on January 27. We will update you as we learn of any additional changes to the ordinance.
East Mississippi Drive to Close Until This Fall for Underpass Construction
Begining this month, E. Mississippi Dr. will close between S. Quince Way and S. Rosemary Way so Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) construction crews can stage equipment for a pedestrian/bicycle underpass beneath S. Parker Rd. This project seeks to create a safer, more convenient connection for people who walk and ride bikes on the High Line Canal Trail. Currently, trail users cross at street level, amid heavy vehicle traffic.

Signage will be posted about the clsoure and detour. DOTI says that people can still access the neighborhood by taking the detour shown in the map below. DOTI anticipates that the road will re-open, with the underpass ready for use in Fall 2021. Click here for more information.
Denver Waives 2021 Restaurant Renewal Licensing Fees to Support COVID-19 Recovery
As part of a continued effort to support restaurant and bars who have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City ais waiving the 2021 renewal fees for the required retail food establishment license, which include any retail operation that serves, stores, prepares or packages food for sale for consumption to consumers directly, or indirectly through a delivery service. Renewal fees for this license range from approximately $125-$400 per location. Licensing is still required. Business that have already paid their retail food establishment renewal fees for 2021 can call 311 and request a refund from the Department of Excise and Licenses. Click here for more information.
The City and County of Denver continues to support restaurants and bars to expand safe serving capacity outdoors with the temporary outdoor dining program. Click here for more nformation and an online application for the program.
Near Southeast Area Plan
The Near Southeast Area Plan for the neighborhoods of Washington Virginia Vale, Virginia Village, Indian Creek and Goldsmith will launch in 2021. If you would like to take an active role in the process, complete the interest form to let planners know how you want to get involved and sign up for email updates to stay up on what’s happening. You can learn more about the plan and the process at the official project website.
Denver Water Virtual Map Shows Areas of Construction Activity
Denver Water has just launched a map that will help community members see where Denver Water is doing work. Click here to access the searchable project map, which shows work areas for water main replacements that are complete, in progress or coming up, as well as work areas for the Lead Reduction Program this year. See a screen schot of D5 map below. As always, customers with general questions can also contact Denver Water Customer Care at 303-893-2444, Monday-Friday, 7:30am – 5:30pm.
RNO Renewals are Due Sunday, January 31, 2021
If you are active in your Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO), please note that January 31, 2021 is the deadline to renew with the City of Denver. All RNOs are required to re-register each year between December 1 and January 31. Groups that do not re-register by January 31 will be removed from the City's list of registered neighborhoods in February, as required by ordinance. Click here renew your RNO and for more information. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to our wonderful District 5 neighborhoods!
Current City of Denver Public Comment Opportunities
If you are interested in commenting during a hearing, please click here for guidelines and FAQs, and click here to sign up. Sign-up begins 45 minutes prior to the Committee’s scheduled start time and ends 15 minutes before the meeting begins.

There are currently two open re-zoning requests in District 5:
  • An ADU request at 1112 Verbena Street was filed on August 20, 2020, and a revised application was received on November 25, 2020.
  • Land Use, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee public meeting will be held on January 19, 2021. You can read the proposal and other information here.

Upcoming hearings on re-zoning requests in other Districts are listed below - dates are subject to change. For more information on proposed rezonings and their public hearings visit the Denver Community Planning and Development website.

Tuesday, January 19 - No Council meeting on January 18 due to MLK Holiday
  • 20-1414: 3397 S Geneva St
  • 20-1435: Zoning classification change proposed for multiple properties along East Hampden Avenue in Hampden and South Hampden

January 25
  • 6400 Montview Designation

February 1
  • 20-1477: 4144 Hooker St.
  • 20-1457: 4680 Quitman
  • 20-1471: 3217 E Yale Way

February 8
  • 20-0888: Group Living

If you don't have internet access, you can still attend all Denver City Council meetings by phone. Call 720-928-9299 and enter the Meeting ID of the meeting you wish to listen to. Click here to learn more and to see a Meeting Calendar.
Two Additional Programs Offering Support to Denver's Small Businesses Marketing Efforts
Grants to benefit Denver’s most vulnerable small businesses
Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) launched a new round of relief grants to support the City’s small businesses most affected by the restrictions in place due to COVID-19. In anticipation of receiving funds from the State of Colorado’s Small Business Relief Program, administered through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the City has opened its application portal for this latest round of grants, which are being accepted until January 26, 2021 at 5 p.m. Per state guidelines, grants will range from $3,500 to $7,000 depending on the businesses’ annual gross revenue from the previous year. Click here to learn more, find out if you are eligible and complete the application.

Free Marketing and Professional Services Training
The Indie/Visible program works, free of cost, with small, independent business owners to develop their online marketing - from training on using social media to professional video and photography services, to gain the skills and professional services to help them reach customers online. Whether your business has no online presence at all or you wish your online marketing were more effective, Indie/Visible can help you.This year, Denver's Economic Development & Opportunity (DEDO) will offer this 8-week course to a select group of businesses. Click here for program information and to access the Indie/Visible application, or email Carla Castedo or Case Drury.  

Click here for more information about the City of Denver COVID-19 Business Support.
Monaco Parkway Tree Removal and Replanting
The Office of the City Forester will be performing tree removal and replacement work over the next 3 to 4 years between 1st and 6th Avenues.

Many of the honey locust trees in the area are declining due to thyronectria canker, an incurable disease common in those trees, that eventually kills the tree.

The Forester will replace the diseased trees and plant vacant sites with a mix of tree species locating those that are similar in shape and form next to the parkway to restore the historic look and feel while improving the overall diversity for a more sustainable tree canopy.

The project will start this winter with removing the trees that are in the worst condition and it will continue over the next several years as other trees continue to decline. Soon you will begin to see trees marked with ribbons to indicate the need for removal and replacement. The Office of the Forester asks that for you help in maintaining the trees adjacent to your property to keep them healthy and vibrant with supplemental water and avoid wounding them when mowing or string trimming.

If you have any questions about tree care or the upcoming work, please call 720-913-0651 or email the Forester here.
Apply for the James Beard Foundation Investment Fund by January 22
The James Beard Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone. Application for the James Beard Foundation Investment Fund for Black and Indigenous Americans is being accepted until 1:00pm MST on Friday, January 22. For the first round, the Foundation will provide a total of 18 grants of $15,000 each, divided evenly among the six regions across the country. As funds become available a new application period will be announced. Click here to read more about the Fund and apply.
Free Virtual Townhalls Offer Help for Homeowners Facing Forclosure, Bankruptcy, Financial Difficulties
If you’re facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, or other financial difficulties, it is important to understand your options. Learn about the foreclosure process, find trusted resources, and explore strategies for preventing and avoiding foreclosure at this series of virtual town halls, hosted by the Office of the Clerk and Recorder, Denver Housing Authority and the Office of Financial Empowerment. The next Town Hall is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9 at 6:00pm. Click here for more information and meeting links. Spanish and Vietnamese translation is available.

Future meeting are planned for these dates, with the following topics:
  • February 9 - Housing counseling and other resources
  • February 16 - ¿Que es una quiebra hipotecaria? ¿Qué puede esperar y donde puede encontrar apoyo?
  • March 23 - Budget strategies
  • March 30 - Phá sản là gì? Bạn có thể mong đợi điều gì và bạn có thể tìm trợ giúp ở đâu?
  • April 13 - Fraud prevention
  • May 11- Foreclosure documents and paperwork to expect
  • June 8 – Bankruptcies
Denver Public Library Updates: Best & Brightest Book Lists for Kids and Teens; Winter of Reading; Free Streaming Movies
Best & Brightest
Each year a group of library staff from Denver Public Library (DPL) comes together to choose the Best & Brightest books for children and teens. These lists include DPL's favorite books published in 2020 for babies through high schoolers.

Winter of Reading
DPL presents Winter of Reading, a challenge that encourages people age 17+ to read, complete library-related activities for prizes and explore other library services, like virtual events, and electronic resources like eBooksmovies and music. Participate online by creating your Beanstack account, or you can request Winter of Reading challenge brochures at any library branch during curbside hours 
Access Thousands of Movies & Shows Free with Your Library Card
Kanopy is a free, online film streaming service available from DPL for Denver residents. Cardholders can stream classic films, indie cinema, award winning documentaries and The Great Courses, plus kids' movies and TV. Access Kanopy from any device, including iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.
Take the One Water Citywide, Community Survey
Water is a fundamental human need and essential to our quality of life.That’s why Denver One Water is working with to create a framework to manage water in Denver in a holistic and collaborative way. Please take a few minutes to respond to the Denver One Water survey. Thank you!
Energize Denver Task Force Starts Strong in 2021
Some data indicate that we spend 90% of our lives indoors, and commercial and multifamily buildings are responsible for 51% of the greenhouse gas emissions in Denver. The Energize Denver Task Force has a goal of helping to develop a policy paired with supports and incentives that can make our buildings healthier, create good jobs, and require our existing buildings to achieve Net Zero Energy by 2040. On January 7, the new Energize Denver Task Force held its first meeting to develop a building performance policy that will create jobs and transform our commercial and multifamily buildings into healthy, climate friendly buildings of the future. Click here to see a video of the first meeting.

The second meeting is planned for Thursday, February 18, and the public is welcome to attend through Facebook Live. For more information abut Energize Denver and to see the meeting schedule, click here.
Denver City Forester Shares Winter Tree Maintenance Advice
Denver's trees are treasures! Michael Swanson, City Forester with Denver Parks and Recreation reminds us that while we may think our trees are self-sufficient in the winter, snow won't provide enough moisture to sustain them until spring. Trees need water year-round, especially in our arid climate.
Here are a few signs that your trees may be in distress:
  • Trees exhibit premature autumn color or shed leaves prematurely
  • Advantageous shoot growth along the branches and/or trunk or near the tree's base
  • Deadwood throughout the crown of the tree

This winter has been especially dry, so we are encouraged to water their trees when temperatures exceed 40 degrees. Without consistent moisture, trees become stressed and will not have enough energy to ward off pests, disease, root death and crown dieback. Water using the flood-irrigation technique: leave a hose on low-flow for at least 15-20 minutes, moving it around the base of the tree every few minutes until the entire root area is moist. It's important to note that tree root systems are wide, so water under the entire canopy. The goal is to water enough so that it can seep at least 12" deep into the soil to reach the root system. Because the ground is cold, this may take a couple days of watering to accomplish. Let the soil dry out before watering again. Click here to learn more about winter tree watering.

Click here to learn more about Denver Forestry and their programs, including a Tree Walk Map, of trees in City Park, and a list of State Champion Trees in Denver.
Virtual & In-Person Events

Through February 28
Walk around Cranmer Park’s sundial and see if you can find all 10 featured books from DPL's Ross-Cherry Creek Branch. Bonus: answer the trivia question and be entered to win library swag.
JCC JAAMM Festival Commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Thursday, January 21 at noon
Author Ariana Neumann will virtually discuss her book,
"When Time Stopped: A Memoir of My Father’s War and What Remains.”
Stevie Nicks Concert Film: Exclusive, One-Night Screening

Friday, February 5
24 Karat Gold Concert film at Lowry's Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum, part of a series coming to the museum.

Pre-purchase required
Central, East Central & Southeast Elected Officials Town Hall October Meetings on Zoom and Facebook Live

Thursday, January 28 - Tentative
4:00pm - 5:00pm
Members of the DPS Board and the Interim Superintendent will discuss the return to in-person learning and the search for a new Superintendent.
Click here to sign up.
District 5 Neighborhood Organizations
Denver is a unique city in promoting greater citizen involvement through organized neighborhood associations. Currently, there are 78 statistical neighborhoods represented by more than 200 registered neighborhood organizations (RNOs), Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Homeowner Associations (HOAs).

In its defined geographic area, an RNO will normally address neighborhood quality of life issues - such as traffic, development and zoning, crime, communication and licensing - and promote social activities to enhance residential spirit, developing a sense of community, and encourage resident participation. RNOs meet regularly and many send out newsletters to keep residents informed on neighborhood issues and events.

Get more involved in your community by joining your Registered Neighborhood Organization (RNO). Below are a list of Council District 5 community community organizations. You can also find out which RNO you belong to by clicking HERE and entering your address or selecting a location on the map.