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Denver residents express frustration with Mayor Mike Johnston's micro community proposed sites that neighbor homes, businesses

Residents frustrated by micro community proposed sites that neighbor homes, businesses
Residents frustrated by micro community proposed sites that neighbor homes, businesses 02:59

Two southeast Denver properties remain at the center of controversy among residents, as city leaders consider creating micro communities at those sites.

"It just doesn't make sense to put a micro community into this neighborhood. We have a lot of young families, little kids," said Tom Maloney.

Maloney is among dozens of residents who came out to Mayor Mike Johnston's latest town hall Tuesday night at the Dumb Friends League, showing his opposition to building a micro community on 5500 East Yale Avenue, one of the 11 proposed locations.

"What about property values," said Maloney. "I can't imagine that they can police that on a continual 24-hour basis."

Both District 4 and 6 councilmembers attended the town hall meeting showing their support for the sites in question. District 4's site is the one located on 5500 East Yale Avenue. Meanwhile, district 6's site is a lot at 1380 South Birch Street, which neighbors a residential area as well and is blocks away from an elementary school.


"Get folks off of streets, where they're most at risk," said Mayor Mike Johnston, in response to some residents' concerns about building micro communities in these areas.

Even businesses have expressed concerns to building homes for those experiencing homelessness in these locations.

"This is my career my life," said DJ McDermott.

McDermott has been building a life and clientele, serving as a hair stylist at Timothy D's Salon. He and his partner have been renting space at 5500 East Yale Avenue for over 12 years.


 "We have honestly enjoyed the view, the clientele," said McDermott. "It's specialty, because you have to buzz to come up to the fourth floor, so we know who's coming up. We've always had control."

Now, he is feeling out of control, learning back on Aug. 26 after returning from vacation that the lot where his business exists is on the mayor's list of proposed sites to create a micro community.

"Are they going to let us ride out the rest of our lease? Like nobody in the building knows nothing," said McDermott. "I just feel that he didn't work with us. Even the neighborhood, they're in an uproar."


The property also sits near the border of Arapahoe County, which residents in the neighborhood adjacent to it say presents an unusual set of challenges for how this micro community will be managed.

"We live in a piece of Arapahoe County that's unincorporated and having a site that close to a spot where you're going to have jurisdictional troubles between who responds to a call, those types of things, didn't make a whole lot of sense," said Tyler Burgett, a resident. "We don't get to vote on the mayor, don't get to vote on a lot of things in Denver. It seems like it's being put here because there's not a lot we can do about it."

Tom Greene, who is another resident in the same neighborhood, says he also does not understand why the city would consider a site that is next to East Yale, deemed dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists in studies conducted by the city.

"It's unsafe now," said Greene, "Now you're going to put 100 people who are going to be pedestrians or bicyclists right on that busy intersection. It's just not smart."

Johnston answered some questions as to the decision to include these sites on the list of proposed 11 locations. He said a number of factors including proximity to resources and transportation were a factor.

Mayor Mike Johnston meets with residents on Tuesday night. CBS

 As for what the site will look like at the Yale location, he said that is something the city is still looking into.

"I have not seen the site plan for this site yet, we're in the early stages of figuring out the permanent possibilities," said Johnston.

He also added that he is open to other possible locations in these council districts, but he also believes, overall, communities across the Denver metro will improve in terms of safety and stability when these micro communities are created.

"Our vision for Denver is we can build a city that's both a great city and a good city," said Johnston. "A city where people can pursue their dreams and start a business or find a job and raise their family, and it is a place where you can feel proud of the fact that you can walk in any neighborhood in Denver without anybody that has to sleep on the streets."  

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