Candidate for Arvada City Council, District 2
1. Describe your sense of the role of the City Council in planning for climate change. (Please comment on approaches to ensuring air and water quality. Please include your thoughts on the impacts of real estate development and urban renewal, road construction planning, local transit options such as buses, trains, bikes, and walkways, as well as water conservation and zoning decisions.)
I am a LEED Accredited Professional who specializes in the design and implementation of sustainable development and infrastructure investment. My experience in delivering real projects that have a positive impact on the planet and people’s lives is something City Council has never had and is needed to ensure future land use decisions are well-informed. As an example, I was the project manager for the South Sloans Lake Redevelopment, which was the highest-scoring LEED ND Gold project in the State and provided a number of other benefits to nearby residents and attracts visitors from the Metro Area with the Alamo Draft house. The project also was a pilot for new green infrastructure details that have since become standard practice for many Front Range Cities. As a Planning Commissioner and licensed Landscape Architect I have advocated for more trees, waterwise landscaping, reduced pavement, and increased urban permeability to mitigate heat island, poor runoff quality, and thermal comfort. My experience in land use and zone decisions is unmatched within the field and will be a historic asset to Council and the City.
2. Explain how you would use your time on City Council to address the needs Arvada residents have for affordable housing. (In addition, please comment on your sense of the ways Arvada City Council might contribute to providing support for Arvadans experiencing housing insecurity or for those who are in fact unhoused.)
In my 7 years on the Arvada Planning Commission, I have consistently advocated for increasing affordable housing access in the City. My voting history and comments provide a clear history of support and advocacy. I have also pushed for more missing middle housing, but the construction defects litigation environment makes smaller-for-sale products like condos difficult for builders to finance. The for-sale multi-family situation is getting better but it is an area I believe we can continue to advance. Today between 15 and 20% of all residential units in Arvada are subsidized in some way, but the regional affordability crisis is still impacting many Arvadans. Over the years, I have worked with my colleagues on the Planning Commission to recommend hundreds of new affordable housing units throughout the City, like the recent 85 units fixed at 30% AMI on Marshall Street just down the street from my house. The key concerns that need to be addressed if we are to successfully implement more affordable options are:
- Include robust neighborhood outreach in the design process, build bridges, not barriers
- Increase the number of missing middle housing products like condos, duplexes, and townhomes
- City Council, staff, and residents need to have a better understanding of financial thresholds and opportunities for subsidy
- Work within the comprehensive plan to identify affordable housing opportunities across Arvada, do not concentrate efforts on two or fewer areas
- Work with developers, AURA, HUD, and other agencies to bring diverse unit projects to the market. Projects need to feature
a range of unit types and a mix of subsidized and unsubsidized products to ensure long-term vibrancy
3. Though often portrayed as comprised of people from homogeneous backgrounds, Arvada is diverse, with a wide range of ages, races, ethnicities, and socio-economic circumstances. (If elected, what key approaches might you use while on City Council to help ensure all Arvadans feel welcome and valued in Arvada? How might you ensure all Arvadans feel heard on issues that might vary across different parts of our community? Describe how you might have engaged with people experiencing interactions with law enforcement or receiving different treatment; for instance, some issues we have heard described include being followed while shopping, or the elderly being left behind by city plans.)
In my professional work, most of my projects are located in underserved communities. Diversity gives communities strength; we all have unique perspectives, backgrounds, and offerings and everyone should feel welcome in Arvada.
I have advocated for increased diversity and representation in my position as Chair of the planning commission. When Lisa Smith asked for my help establishing criteria for planning commission members in January of 2022, I responded that we need qualified candidates who reflect the community and that we could use additional diversity to achieve that goal.
As an urban designer and planner, I advocate for people, particularly those who are underserved, minorities, disabled, and elderly – public space is for everyone and everyone should have equitable access to it.
4. How would you characterize your views on urban renewal in Arvada, and what do you see as the next steps for urban renewal here? (Please feel free to comment on issues such as Arvadans’ needs for different sorts of commerce (e.g., small, locally owned businesses versus big-box stores) or housing developments (apartments versus single-family dwellings), or residents’ concerns with how Arvada finances its infrastructure or how Arvadans live with disruptions that attend urban renewal or development efforts.)
AURA has a few active locations remaining. I believe the majority if not all blight in Arvada has been redeveloped. The mission of the AURA board will be largely complete soon. I look forward to the completion of their current projects and am open to evaluating the future of the board and their impact on the City.
5. In addition to the issues that APA members identified as of concern, what would you add that would help Arvadans better understand who you are and what other goals you might have for Arvada if you are elected to serve on City Council?
- I have been an Arvada Resident for 10 years
- Father of 3
- Licensed Landscape Architect and Urban Designer
- Background in planning, development, placemaking, and transportation
- Specialize in the design of mixed-use developments, green infrastructure, affordable housing, and multimodal transportation solutions
- I am the Chair of the Planning Commission, served for 7 years
- Chair of the Board of adjustment
- Board of directors for the Olde town BID where I am also the Chair of the placemaking committee
- I work full-time for an engineering firm where I am a Senior Partner and Director of the public realm and multimodal design practice
- I work part-time for the University of Colorado at Denver as an instructor for the professional practice of Urban planning and Design
In my professional career, I have led the design of
The highest-scoring LEED ND Gold development in Colorado, with 850 units and 20% affordable housing (Sloans Lake)
Several miles of people-focused streetscapes that connect people with multimodal transit options and celebrate their communities (16th Street Mall – Olde Town Arvada Street closures)
Reforested the front range with over 500 trees through my urban canopy restoration efforts (Campus – Streetscapes – plaza)
Designed several pilot streetside stormwater facilities that are now included as standards for the City and County of Denver and part of a regional Green Infrastructure strategy (Brighton Boulevard)
and Built bridges with community members and City staff through my outreach efforts on projects like the Arvada Transportation Systems Plan and Federal Boulevard Greenway.
I am running because I have a unique and needed set of skills and experience that will benefit the people of Arvada. I am a firm believer that the decisions we make today will impact generations and if we want to address housing affordability, climate change, sustainability, equity, and build strong resilient communities we need to do more than just talk about it. We need someone with experience advocating for and implementing real change in the built environment. I have 7 years of voting history on the planning commission and 14 years of professional experience delivering a clear message to anyone who cares to listen. We are building our children’s future today, let’s put both hands on the wheel. Vote for Mike Griffith on November 7th!