EDITORIAL: Colorado Springs City Council defends the working class — and should be proud

The Broadmoor Bluffs Neighborhood Association won’t give up its opposition to affordable housing near the upscale enclave’s Safeway supermaket.

Their major concerns are for the health, safety and welfare of prospective low-income occupants and their children. They would deny these families a place to live, only out of concern for them.

Should they succeed in stopping the homes, one wonders if they will continue their extraordinary and costly efforts to care for the prospective residents.

At issue is The Ridge apartments, a 60-unit, $14 million complex proposed near Colorado 115 and South Academy Boulevard. The City Planning Commission, the planning department and the City Council approved it.

The council voted 6-3 this week against an appeal by the association, which claims the complex will be too high and its retention walls too large. They say the sloped terrain, common throughout the city, is no good for building safety. Complainants called the project a geologic hazard in the making, which would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Myriad agencies — including the Colorado Geological Survey, the city Fire Department and the Colorado Department of Transportation — have dismissed those concerns and signed off on the project,” explains a Gazette news story by Jakob Rodgers.

The lack of proposed sidewalks was a major point of contention among neighbors trying to stop the complex. Without sidewalks, they said, Safeway trucks might run over the children living in the apartments.

Councilwoman Jill Gaebler didn’t buy it. She pointed out the same people worried about kids and trucks denied developers access to the land they needed for sidewalks. If the opponents truly care about the safety of children, she said, “that doesn’t make any sense to me, why you would do that.”

Councilwoman Yolanda Avila, who is blind, asked why the group had become so suddenly concerned about the needs of residents with disabilities. She had never known the neighborhood to seek transit funding or other assistance that would enhance safe mobility for children and the disabled. “You really don’t want this development to go,” Avila said.

Gaebler did not mince words in telling opponents they simply don’t want “low-income community members” in their presence.

After losing the appeal, association leader Cynthia Grey said her organization may continue to fight by seeking a District Court injunction against the apartments. Asked how much money they have for the fight, she said “enough.”

Councilman Bill Murray, who voted in favor of the appeal, warned Colorado Springs residents on Facebook of future affordable housing.

“Be careful, the properties next to you could be next! Does the Council and Mayor really listen?” Murray posted.

He praised the neighborhood association for an “incredible job” trying to stop the housing, adding “you should be proud.”

“Hold the entire Council accountable in making this work,” Murray wrote.

The median home price in Colorado Springs approaches $300,000, and this will only increase. Our city ranks among the hottest housing markets in the country, which does not bode well for entry-level homebuyers and those who need to rent. People who work at Safeway stores, or at small businesses, hotels, restaurants and schools typically cannot afford homes that cost $300,000 and up. Neither can many young professionals with MBAs who are beginning families and careers.

If Murray and others forbid low-income priced housing, they will move us in the direction of Aspen and Boulder. They will create barriers for young families who desire to live here. They will cause the working class to commute long distance, putting them out of sight and mind when they aren’t policing our streets, staffing our fire departments, waiting on us and educating our kids.

Common sense, tolerance and compassion prevailed when City Council, the Planning Commission and city staff chose to allow affordable housing and reject NIMBY politics. Incredible job. You should be proud.

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