Category: Housing

Schwenke is helping realtors and developers oppose City plan for more pedestrian & bike-friendly development

Many Grand Junction streets lack curb, gutters, sidewalks and other pedestrian and bike-friendly amenities. City Council is trying to fix this by making transportation corridors safer and more user-friendly for pedestrians, bicyclists and people using public transportation. Realtors and developers oppose the effort, assisted by former Chamber president Diane Schwenke.

Former Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, who has a consulting business now called “Schwenke Solutions,” is working as a consultant for the Grand Junction Area Realtors and Homebuilders Associations, helping them oppose the City’s new proposed Transportation Engineering Design Standards (TEDS) that are designed to make streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and people taking public transportation.

Diane Schwenke lobbies against higher wages

Former Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke appears in a 2016 TV ad opposing an increase in Colorado’s minimum wage

To that end, Schwenke authored a strange letter to the editor to the Daily Sentinel November 26 that praised a new housing development on former farmland in Nebraska that lack curbs, gutters and walkable sidewalks. She praises the beautiful agricultural setting of the development, saying it has “a layout that maximizes the view of fields of corn and soybeans on the adjourning hillsides,” but doesn’t seem to understand that such developments destroy the lovely fields and farms she likes to look at, and will cost taxpayers in the long run as cities have to add curb, gutter, drainage, adequate sidewalks and other amenities to make them safer and more attractive.

Schwenke wrote the letter to help her realtor and developer clients oppose the new transportation design standards the City of Grand Junction is proposing that are aimed at improving safety and mobility for walkers and bikers. Plans include things like widening sidewalks from 4 ft. to 6 ft in subdivisions and require sidewalks on both side of many streets, designs to slow traffic down on smaller streets to make them safer, adding lighting to subdivisions and other tweaks that will make the City more pleasant and attractive to live in.

Realtors, developers and the G.J. Chamber of Commerce don’t want the changes in the new plan

Realtors and developers argue the changes will cost them more money, which they will pass on to homebuyers, make it harder to build housing developments and anyway people don’t complain about things like narrow sidewalks. The Chamber is taking their side.

But city planners back the new plan, saying say narrow sidewalks make it hard for two people to walk side by side, pass those who are pushing strollers or using wheelchairs, and that big mirrors on vehicles parked alongside narrow sidewalks encroach on pedestrians’ already small space and make it even smaller.

There are lots more interesting back and forth on comments about the specifics of the plan on the website

City Council has a hearing on the new TEDS proposal on Wednesday, December 6

A Grand Junction Chamber newsletter is urging its members to “Help the Government Affairs team fight GJ’s overpriced new planning regulations.”

Schwenke is helping realtors and developers fight these new standards.

In short, if you enjoy a town that is pedestrian and bicycle friendly and not just geared to vehicular travel everywhere, tell the city you support the new TEDS plan by leaving a recorded message on the City Council Comment line at (970) 244-1504, or by emailing City Council at

WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS – The developers on the far side of this street were required to put in curb, gutter and sidewalk alongside their subdivision, while the developer in the foreground (left) was only required to put a big concrete pipe under the subdivision entrance and gravel alongside the road, leaving taxpayers holding the bag to complete the drainage and sidewalk here in the years to come. City Council is trying to stop this kind of inconsistent, pedestrian-and-bike unfriendly development that will cost taxpayers more to remediate in the long run, and make sure new development is up to modern standards for safety and quality.

Local Business owner weighs in on rec center, affordable housing, the workforce, development

Octopus Coffee on Horizon Drive

Alexis Bauer owns Octopus Coffee on Horizon Drive. Last week she emailed me to talk about the proposed community recreation center on the upcoming April ballot. (We differed on what we think about it. I am for it). As we got into a longer conversation, Alexis sent a follow-up email in which she offered a variety of  insights from her standpoint as a western slope resident and local business owner. She talked not only about the Rec Center, but also other issues facing Grand Junction, like the housing shortage, the cost of doing business, her experience with the local workforce, City Council’s recent approval of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and what it portends for the City, the buzz she hears from customers, and more.

I found Alexis’s insights interesting and felt they deserved a wider forum, so with her permission I am sharing her email to me below, edited slightly for clarity, in hopes others find it enlightening as well.