Category: Housing

City Councilor says he sees cronyism creeping into G.J. City Council

Scott Beilfuss

At the regular May 1 meeting of Grand Junction City Council, Councilman Abe Herman was voted in as the new mayor of Grand Junction and Randall Reitz as Mayor Pro Tem for the next year by all attending city council members present except one, and that hold out was perhaps the more important story that Grand Junction citizens should know about.

The vote was 5-1, with current Mayor Anna Stout absent from the meeting.

The lone hold out vote was Councilman Scott Beilfuss.

Curious about the vote, I contacted Beilfuss to ask why he didn’t vote for Herman and Reitz along with the rest of Council.

Former CMU Professor Tom Acker to run against Cody Davis for County Commissioner

Retired CMU Spanish Professor Tom Acker

A Democrat has joined the race against Cody Davis for Mesa County Commissioner. Tom Acker is currently the only Democrat running for local office in Mesa County.

Acker was a professor of Spanish language at CMU for two decades. He is now a retired professor emeritus, an honorary title conferred upon him for his distinguished service to the academic community. He is a founding member of the award-winning Hispanic Affairs Project.

Originally from the east coast, in the 1980s Acker worked with refugees from the Mariel Boatlift, after over 125,000 Cubans piled into boats and headed for Florida after the Cuban government announced that anyone who wanted to leave the country was free to do so.

While he lived in Pennsylvania, Acker worked with a federally-funded agency to help farmers interact with agriculture workers.

United Way to host Poverty Immersion Experience to increase understanding of what life is like for people living in poverty in Mesa County


The Poverty Immersion Experience allows participants to spend a simulated month in the life of an individual who is experiencing poverty in Mesa County. It is an interactive event that promotes awareness of poverty in Mesa County, increases understanding of people facing poverty situations and that will inspire local change. The intent is to shift the belief and paradigm about poverty from being seen as a personal failure or character flaw to the understanding that poverty is a systemic and societal issue.

The experience offers a unique opportunity to step into the shoes of a low-income family, navigating life with limited resources, while providing for their children and accessing essential community services.

Soils report at heart of lawsuit against Cody Davis & Chronos Builders recommended alternative foundations, but plaintiffs say Davis never disclosed the report to them as Colorado law requires

Swelling clay soils can triple their volume when they get wet, causing them to exert tremendous force on a home’s foundation, and hence damage, if no measures are taken to mitigate the potential damage. Clay soils are very common across Mesa County. [Click photo to enlarge for better view.] (Photo: Colorado Geological Survey)

The geotechnical soils investigation (pdf) done on a building lot on Horseshoe Drive in Fruita where Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis and his construction company, Chronos Builders, built a spec home in 2015-2016 stated clearly that expansive clay soils were present on the site and that “Based upon our experience with the Mancos shale in the vicinity of the site, the shale is anticipated to be slightly to moderately expansive.”

Michael A. Berry, the professional engineer who authored the report, recommended three types of foundations that would better protect the structure from “heave related movements” than a typical shallow foundation, but also admitted such foundations are “usually cost prohibitive.”

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.

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.