Emergency City Council Meeting 6/30/20

Legislative and administrative actions to reduce Clear Creek crowding, encourage masks, and improve safety and comfort in Golden.

Golden City Council discusses Clear Creek access and additional mask and face covering requirements at emergency meeting.

View full City Council meeting video (3+ hrs long). The Mayor & City Manager’s Coronavirus Community Update the next day is easier to digest at around 1/2 hour.

Clear Creek and mask update
Clear Creek Access and Mask Update

We believe the various legislative and administrative requirements around the Creek and face covering requirements will combine with enforcement and education, education, education to result in the improvement in compliance culture around masks and social distancing that will increase safety, reduce risk of super-spreader events, and allow residents and guests more comfort in enjoying the outdoors.

Bill Fisher, Ward 4 City Councilor

Actions Taken

  • Clear Creek access closed. To be reviewed by City Council July 9th. Paths and trails remain open. Farmer’s Market remains open.
  • City Manager requires face coverings in public areas when unable to maintain physical distance.
  • City Council agrees to consider comprehensive mask/face covering Emergency Ordinance (1st reading July 8th, 2nd reading July 9th).
  • City Council requests emergency authority from Governor Polis to manage Clear Creek water use during pandemic. If granted, this would allow for potential on-creek usage regulation and allowances.

Below are my prepared remarks for the June 30th meeting

I want to acknowledge a concern being voiced by some: Why did we lock down and sacrifice our mental, physical, and economic health to now see the virus again start to rampage through our communities?

The answer – “Safe at home” gave us something we desperately needed: Time. 

It truly made us safer and DID save thousands of lives, and allowed us to stock up for a battle that’s poorly understood, get better at the fight and learn new tricks, and prepare ourselves and our families for the 21st Century version of trench warfare. 

In Colorado, for example, we have learned that if one of our residents went to the hospital in March with COVID, as opposed to right now, she or he was 50% more likely to die in the hospital then vs now. That’s real. That’s progress.

At every turn during the first few months of the pandemic, officials were behind the curve by weeks or months. In some ways (PPE, testing, and contact tracing), we still are.

In other ways, we are finally catching up here in Colorado – and it is again time to look ahead and make smart, tough choices. We must lead with urgency.

Out of the woods?

  • The World Health Organization Director General warns we are not out of the woods. All countries are facing a delicate balance, between protecting their people, while minimizing the social and economic damage. 
    • “It’s not a choice between lives and livelihoods. Countries can do both.”
  • The United States’ top infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci agrees, stating: “Right now, the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges…”, noting that if we don’t turn things around, “I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 (Illnesses) a day.” 
  • CDC Deputy Director Dr. Schuchat says, “This is just the beginning of America’s New Coronavirus Surge.”

We are seeing it… Similar to Denver, Adams, Arapahoe… Jefferson County has had the highest number of weekly positive tests since late May. 

Many communities across the US also recognize this risk. For example, cities and counties from  LA to Miami are closing beaches or starting to require masks to stop repeat problems and reduce transmission, and leadership across the political spectrum is urging masks.

Finally – The Governor of Colorado just announced a return to closures of bars, etc.

So, do we go “backwards” as people are saying into a complete lock down? Or during the past several months have we learned there may be ways to avoid sacrificing our economic and social health while staying safe enough to have a functioning society?

Every person and every community has a role to play. Golden is no different – we are a popular destination and place to live and certainly have a role to play keeping our community and guests safe and on track.

If we found a drug that reduced your chance of getting COVID-19 disease by 5x, everyone would be clamoring to take it. Well, we do. It’s called the “6 Foot Social Distancing Mask” drug. And right now, it’s the only thing we think works while we figure out testing and tracing and develop a vaccine.

It’s time to use it, and in the same way vaccinations help us and our neighbors, it’s a public health issue where it’s time to stand up, and be neighborly, and ensure we can have the opportunity to keep our economic engine humming and keep safe everyone we care about: our families, our elders, people with immune or other disease issues at greater risk, and our community.

Managing crowds on the Creek will be challenging – and require changes. Unfortunately we have to consider the maximum damage from large crowds initially – and then carve out spaces for reduced risk activities. One person emailed that a person sitting on a park bench reading a book isn’t a danger. Probably not. But that image is not consistent with what we are discussing, and honestly if it was me I would sit somewhere else for now.

I’m in for making changes, and I’m in for the long haul to keep adjusting this program to maximize effectiveness and keep a close eye on fairness and equity. I don’t care how many meetings we have to have to do this, I care that we save lives and do the right thing including leadership with urgency.

Let’s keep our economy afloat. Let’s acknowledge real and present concerns of our fellow Golden residents for COVID and general Creek “busyness,” and let’s do so in a way that references the reality of persistent racial injustice, misogyny and financial discrimination so we can be as equitable as this terrible virus allows.

Even as we invite guests, we must also acknowledge the rights of our residents to have a say in access and use of the Creek through our town – crowding is what, in part, we were already focused on with the Heart of Golden Project!

In an abundance of caution, reviewing Creek access is the right move to keep from creating a super-spreader situation while we get the opportunity to creatively make exceptions and open. Unfortunately as a solution it’s more of a hammer than a scalpel… that must be refined with the appropriate openings, exceptions, etc.

Weekend Update: Black Lives Matter, City Finances, Astor House Options & More…

Marchers walk along 11th street in Golden, CO on June 7th, 2020 to protest the killing of George Floyd among others – Black Lives Matter.

Weekend Update

Black Lives Matter

 Many of us have been rocked by the overwhelming reality of systemic racism and inequality demonstrated so clearly and obviously the last several weeks. The death of George Floyd and others have focused our country on these longstanding issues.

Mayor Weinberg & Golden City Councilors have provided a strong initial response and appear committed to listening, learning and -most importantly- action.

WilliamFisher.com has details and links to responses by the Mayor, City Councilors and Police Department, and ways to get involved.

Key points (see blog for details)
o June 4: City Council responds to George Floyd & many black citizens’ deaths during Regular Meeting
o June 7: Mayor & Council attend Golden United Vigil & March in Golden. Almost all attendees wearing masks!
o June 11: Mayor & City Council unanimously approve Resolution 2736 declaring Racism A Public Health Crisis. Proclamation read for Pride Month (GLBTQ)
o JULY 16: Committed to action – Golden City Council Study Session with Police Department on next steps… stay tuned!

City Finances & COVID-19

Golden Pandemic Financial Crisis Review
The short answer: Revenues are down, but not as much as we predicted. Sales Tax revenues are down about 5.5%, we anticipated 7-8%. Restaurants, retail and lodging has suffered. Groceries, Home Depot, and online sales are up (Amazon, Wayfair, etc.).

As a former City Councilor I faced the 2008-2009 Great Recession with Golden, and we actually improved financial reserves during that time.  We worked closely with Golden’s Finance Director Jeff Hansen and his team.

Fortunately, Jeff remains at the helm for Golden. I trust his thoughtful guidance and deep thinking about how to protect and maintain Golden, weather the current storm, and maybe even come out ahead.

City Manager Jason Slowinski has taken a conservative line on spending since March – City Council has approved the following efforts:

  • Hold non-critical expenditures (travel, training, upgrades, fireworks, etc.)
  • Freeze on employee travel
  • Soft hiring freeze (e.g Park Rangers hired for COVID-19 safety)
  • The City has identified over $2.6 Million in cuts/holds through the end of the year, which should more than match expected losses. There is a 2nd level of deeper cuts identified if necessary.
  • Asphalt/street/sidewalk replacement for this year will be limited, with the ability to make further cuts.
  • It’s also (already) time to start planning the 2021-2022 bi-annual budget, and City Council will be reviewing priorities to share with Staff.
  • Golden is receiving $1.6 Million from Jefferson County for COVID-19 related expenses. The City Manager and Council discussed plans to ensure it is spent appropriately to benefit our community!
  • Listen and watch the June 11th City Council Financial report and discussion.

COVID-19

The City is hoping to partially open the Splash water park. Golden Community Center opening details are still pending. Summer camps for kids are opening.

Want the latest on what’s open or closed in the City? (e.g. parks & rec, Fossil Trace golf course, City buildings and Court, Clear Creak, tubing, etc.). Visit the new Status of City Services webpage

Jefferson County received a variance from Safer-At-Home orders affecting gatherings, graduations, gyms and other G words, review all variance updates.

Mayor Weinberg & City Manager Slowinski continue video updates: Latest update June 10th with Special Guest Councilor Jim Dale.

The BGoldN program continues serving those in need of food assistance as well as our community businesses.

(NOTE Updated LinkVolunteer Golden website now online.

NEW!  Questions, concerns or thoughts on the City’s COVID-19 response and temporary road and parking closures Downtown? Email Recovery@cityofgolden.net


Masks

BilFish with face covering along Clear Creek

Back in March it was not clear face coverings mattered.
More and More evidence supports the value of Masks and 
Face Coverings to reduce COVID-19 transmission!

Education on use of masks is a team effort. Residents, Businesses and the City all have roles to keep us safe and open. 

The City of Golden just received a shipment of 5,000 masks! 2,500 have already been distributed to help businesses provide education and masks for visitors.

Along with staying safer at home and social distancing, masks and even homemade face coverings are proving valuable in reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The more we keep this under control, the more we can open our businesses and get back to life enjoying Golden – and it keeps more people alive. Period.

Read updated Mask and Face Covering guidance.


(image: Wikipedia)

Astor House

I’ve been clear that Golden is not some desperate City needing to sell off our heritage. This certainly includes the Astor House! 

At the June 11th City Council meeting, City Council reviewed Staff recommendations on a thoughtful process to accept offers from long-standing Golden non-profit and other organizations interested in partnering with the City. We authorized Staff and a subcommittee of Councilors to work with community members to make progress and ensure the Astor House doesn’t end up sitting abandoned and decaying.

Our Community Goals include the City retaining ownership and partnering for the greatest public benefit and access (read the memo for details). This dovetails well with the citizen-led recommendations of the Astor House Alliance (Aha!). Read the AHA surveys and suggestions here.  

Community Events

I’ve encouraged Staff to take a deeper dive this Fall into what we as a community want for Events. They’ve agreed. (To be led by Deputy City Manager Carly Lorentz).

Staff report we will have Movies in the Parking Lot  (drive-in) in August and September!

Golden Farmer’s Market had a good start last week with new guidelines and safety measures.

Most event holders through summer have chosen to cancel – notably Buffalo Bill Days and Golden Fine Arts Festival

July 4th – The Lions are going virtual all day on the 4th, check out their Facebook Page for details.

Thanks for everyone who has provided comments on Black Lives Matter, the Astor House, events, the budget, wearing masks and more – keep them coming, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.  

Cheers, 
Bill Fisher, RN
Ward 4 Councilor
Golden, Colorado

Ward 4 FeedbackEmail bill@williamfisher.com and visit www.WilliamFisher.com for regular updates and to communicate your thoughts, ideas and concerns.

Ward 4 Update: Zoning Code Audit, Events, COVID-19, Street/traffic changes

Weekend Update

Thank you for supporting and trusting my candidacy during this Special Election. I am honored by the many folks who believe in my vision, values, and plan for Golden. During my tenure I will work to earn the trust of all residents

Interested in the election results? Visit this blog update
Note: The WilliamFisher.com Blog is updated regularly between email newsletters. 


Council Updates

Zoning Code Audit and Rewrite. As I committed to during the campaign, we are conducting a robust review and rewrite of Golden’s building codes to ensure we maintain our small-town historic character and natural environment.

  1. Phase 1 was the Audit with Community input. This produced the Diagnostic Report (large file, good read, download here).
  2. Phase 2 – The Rewrite. Based on the Audit, Council authorized a round of re-writing portions of the Code through the summer, combined with additional points of community input (which may look odd/virtual due to COVID-19). Speaking of Community Input: Check out the City’s new “Golden Building Blocks” initiative for us residents to help visually define Golden’s character for City Planners.

The Diagnostic Report is comprehensive, and clearly outlines the significant concerns expressed by residents across GoldenIt does not say whether these concerns can be appropriately managed. The rewrite hopefully will propose effective changes to address our concerns (pop-up’s and scrapes, high-density in the wrong areas, ADUs, parking and traffic flow issues, etc.)


COVID-19 & City Finances

Finances: Council’s June 11th meeting will provide a community update and discussion on the City’s financial outlook. This is not “business as usual.” I want the community to hear and hold that discussion before the City proposes any additional major expenditures.

This is why I voted against approving the non-essential $1 Million sidewalk repair bid, which came in over 10% above last year’s pricing (Note: Council awarded the contract anyway. We will have a chance later to decide whether to initiate any work). 

COVID-19: There are SO many updates that I’ll keep it brief.


Street & Parking Changes Support Public Health and Local Businesses

Street lane changes and parking reductions improve social distancing and support local businesses
City Council has acted quickly to continue progress protecting public health and supporting our local businesses. We have authorized the City Manager to make changes in real time to address safety needs. Changes are happening fast: Thank you for your patience and understanding of the need during COVID-19 to be responsive – I appreciate the frustrations this can cause, especially for our West Downtown neighbors and businesses. We have asked the City to communicate through all available channels any updates to road/parking closures.

As restaurants and other businesses re-open, the City will be working with residents to make adjustments based on changing conditions. Council has generally given guidance for Staff to consider Downtown road/parking lane changes and closures, which may look different Monday through Thursday vs Friday/Saturday/Sunday to accommodate safety with increased visitors.

See the detailed City of Golden map of expected closures.


Community Events

Quick update – Council was briefed on cancelations and updates (watch May 28th meeting video at GCO.TV), and has generally directed staff to avoid events wishing to use Washington Avenue downtown. I have suggested Staff considers not only State & County guidance, but also local Golden needs – for example not pushing more event pressure into our 8th-10th Street and West Downtown historic neighborhoods.

  • Staff is looking at options for a “drive-in” version of Movies in the Park in August
  • Most event holders through June, July & August have chosen to cancel (e.g. Buffalo Bill Days)
  • The Golden Farmer’s Market starts June 6 (with new guidelines and safety measures)
  • Not strictly an event… During the May 28th Council Meeting, City Manager Slowinski provided guidance on Clear Creek management for the summer
  • I’ve asked and Council and Staff have agreed to take a deeper dive late Summer or Fall into what we as a community want for Events. 
  • Masks & Face coverings – Lots of community responses on this issue! Council is protecting our businesses by allowing them to require use of face coverings. We’ll have additional discussion at our next Council meeting (June 4th)

Thanks for the great feedback and suggestions we’ve already received! If you have additional thoughts, suggestions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. 

Cheers,

Bill Fisher, RN
Ward 4 Councilor
Golden, Colorado


Ward 4 Feedback

Email bill@williamfisher.com and visit www.WilliamFisher.com for regular updates and to communicate your thoughts, ideas and concerns.