Denver Councilman Charlie Brown’s city zoning code cartoons

City planning is an art and a science. It’s theoretical and practical. You have to think like a painter and an attorney, like a chess master and a bus driver.

Like many Denver residents, Councilman Charlie Brown has been wrestling with “Blueprint Denver,” the plan proposed by the city’s Community Planning and Development Department headed by Peter Park, the loquacious department manager and the face of the new plan.

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In August, after months of neighborhood gatherings and presentations– and presumably also department rumination and reflection– Park and his colleagues released long-awaited proposed new zoning maps.

Councilman Brown described his experience with the maps for readers of the August edition of his “Email Express” newsletter to constituents. (It’s actually a pdf.) He used words and pictures– cartoons, that is, created in collaboration with Karl Wimer, cartoonist for the Denver Business Journal.

The initial Council District 6 meeting was held in May at the District 3 police station. A June meeting was the first opportunity for residents to view the proposed new zoning maps. For hours, 80 residents scoured over the maps as if they were planning the Normandy invasion.

“It got a little intense in there,” a Denver Community Planning and Development planner told me as we turned off the lights following the four-hour gathering. Her observations were not surprising since zoning and property rights issues often generate strong emotions.

Driving home that night I thought it might be a good idea for all parties to step back, take a deep breath and try to find a little humor in the process.

I worked with Karl Wimer… to come up with some fun ways to depict various groups and their pet issue.


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