Denver Releases “Near Northwest” Area Plan Initial Findings

Phase I Community Engagement Summary. Photo courtesy of the City and County of Denver.

“From what we’ve heard, there’s a lot of pride in this area. People love their neighborhood.” Ella Stueve, a Senior City Planner with the department on Community Planning and Development (CPD), said this was her biggest takeaway from reading community responses.

CPD kicked off their Near Northwest Area Plan process a year ago and released their initial findings last month. The neighborhood planning initiatives are a way for the city to understand and set priorities for several neighborhoods together. The Near Northwest Area includes the Chaffee Park, Sunnyside, Highland, and Jefferson Park neighborhoods. These plans can ultimately impact zoning proposals, public improvements like parks, and signal potential businesses about the needs of a community.

During the initial stage, city staff was soliciting broad feedback of what the community likes and dislikes. They held in-person and virtual events specific to plan, created an online survey, tabled at community events like the Sunnyside Music Festival, and, of course, advertised in the local community newspaper. Through that process, they received 555 responses to the full survey as well as additional qualitative responses like heat maps where residents could point to things they liked and disliked across the area.

Residents could place sticky notes on the map to highlight aspects they like – or don’t.

Some of the responses are likely unsurprising: respondents love the culture of the community, historic homes, independent small businesses, and transportation nexus North Denver has, including access to downtown, light rail, and highways. Respondents disliked home scrapes and rising home prices, property taxes, and increased traffic. Some responses, especially proposed ideas, may be surprising to some residents though, especially those who don’t live in the immediate affected area. Chaffee Park’s lack of businesses came up frequently, including a need for large businesses like a grocery store and small, independent shops, restaurants, and more as well. Accessory dwelling units, which were an unfamiliar concept not long ago, are increasingly welcomed as a means of gentle density (for more on ADUs see our story on page 1). Protected bike lanes and other transit enhancements came up in the top ideas as well, despite what appears to be a negative response from some in the community every time more bike lanes are proposed. 

City officials recognize that survey responses are not always fully representative of the community, though. Residents over 40 were overrepresented, while those under 30 were underrepresented in responses. Respondents were also whiter and wealthier than the community as a whole and while homeowners now only make up an estimated 44% of the community, they represent 82% of respondents. CPD staff members said they don’t shy away from those issues, instead including it in the front of the report. They also use that information to help them better understand balancing data and how they can do better outreach to ensure more working class, diverse voices are included going forward. 

The full 27 page report is available online at This spring, city officials will be using the data to refine recommendations in order to create a draft plan that will be circulated in the community this summer or fall, with the goal of a finalized plan by early 2023. We’ll be following their progress in future issues as well as coverage of area neighborhood planning initiatives.


1 Comment

  1. Not sure if this was a miss or not presented well but mid Feb-May will begin community outreach to share assessment and vision and to ask what is missing. Only 1 live session is planned in each neighborhood as open house style. Rest will be virtual or pop up events.

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