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Guest column from OWN: Pedestrian access law; city infill guidelines

       By Welling Clark, President, Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN)

       Update: protecting pedestrian public access
       The Pedestrian Access Ordinance (known before as “Sit-Lie”) has received a major changeover. The objective of this ordinance is to improve public health, safety, general welfare, economic vitality and access to and enjoyment for pedestrians in downtown Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City. The ordinance prohibits the act of sitting, kneeling, reclining or lying upon the surface of a sidewalk, trail, street or other public right-of-way that poses a safety hazard both to the person sitting, kneeling, lying or reclining upon the surface, as well as the person using the pedestrian right-of-way.
       The ordinance does not apply to a person who has a medically confirmable disability; who operates or patronizes a commercial establishment located in the public right-of-way; or who attends a parade, festival, performance, rally, demonstration, meeting, or similar special event with a permit or license issued by the city.
       Sitting on objects intended for sitting or on a public sidewalk at/near a transit stop while waiting for public transportation is totally OK.
       The penalties for inhibiting public access have been reduced in scope from the original sit/lie ordinance proposal. However, multiple offenses inhibiting public access could still result in fines and/or jail time.
       The first reading of this updated ordinance is scheduled for the Jan. 26 City Council meeting, which starts at 1 p.m.
       For more information, contact Eileen Gonzalez, City Council administrator, at 385- 5452.
Proposed city infill guidelines
       The public is invited by the city of Colorado Springs to review and comment on a proposed new chapter in the City Comprehensive Plan that provides direction, priority and emphasis for infill and redevelopment throughout the mature areas of Colorado Springs.
       A draft of the infill chapter is available for review at coloradosprings.gov.
       Planning Commission will consider the issue at its Jan. 21 meeting, followed by City Council in February.
       Infill greatly affects the Westside. Many times over the years, we have seen development plans for properties that were not fully sensitive to the established neighborhoods nearby, in terms of issues such as traffic, noise or aesthetics.
       Better late than never - neighborhoods can make a difference
       It's nice to know that government can learn from neighborhood residents. Seven years ago OWN recommended that the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) complete the Cimarron/I-25 interchange prior to initiating major improvements to Highway 24 (also called Cimarron Street) that could adversely affect a number of homes and businesses.
       Guess what? CDOT is doing just that. (See Westside Pioneer story, Page 1.) The Westside neighborhood has lots of retired and still working subject matter experts that local government can draw upon. Doing so can result in projects being completed that local residents support as well as provide free consulting services.

       OWN contact info
       OWN is a volunteer advocacy group for the older Westside. For more information, call 471-4023 or e-mail info@westsideneighbors.org.

(Posted 1/13/16; Opinion: Guest Columns)

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