Aurora lawmakers soliciting input from businesses tired of government ‘red tape’

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Aurora Municipal Center
Photo by PHILIP B. POSTON/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | If you’re an Aurora businessperson frustrated with local licensing, regulations, taxes, fees and other conditions for doing business set by the city, members of Aurora’s City Council want to hear from you.

On Thursday, a newly-minted “red tape reduction” committee called for at least three hearings to be held in the coming months, where business owners, developers and others will be invited to share what they think could be done to make the city easier to work with.

“I think being able to capitalize on and hear from as many voices as possible is the ultimate goal,” said Councilmember and committee chair Dustin Zvonek, who spearheaded the group’s creation. “I’m hopeful they’ll give some examples of things here they deal with that they don’t elsewhere. … But also we want to be able to explain things if there’s a clear reason.”

The three hearings which the committee talked about convening in February, March and April would be held at different times of day and give community members the chance to talk specifically about city rules and regulations, taxes and fees, and other city processes.

Zvonek and fellow council members Francoise Bergan, Curtis Gardner, Danielle Jurinsky and Juan Marcano were appointed to the committee in December.

The committee members on Thursday proposed attendees be given five minutes each to speak, and that hearings could last around an hour and 40 minutes, with the option to convene more than three hearings if many people show interest.

Kim Stuart, director of communications for the city, told the committee the city would also open up its Engage Aurora platform to invite comments online.

Council members mentioned some of the frustrations that they had heard from entities that work regularly with the city. Marcano said he’d heard the city’s RFP process is “cumbersome” and also that he wanted to make sure public-facing departments were adequately staffed.

“I want to make sure we’re cognizant of that, because it does impact our development community, obviously,” he said.

Jurisnky, a real estate agent and restaurant and bar owner, also said one of her “biggest complaints with the City of Aurora is there’s no communication when there’s an ordinance changed and things like that.”

She and Zvonek suggested the city use the contact information submitted by businesses that have obtained licenses from the city to perform outreach ahead of the hearings.

Other committee members encouraged the city to get the word out through local chambers of commerce, the Aurora Economic Development Council and the Aurora-South Metro Small Business Development Center.

Once the committee finishes gathering public input, it will return with policy recommendations to the council as a whole, though a firm deadline for that has not been set.

The committee is currently scheduled to meet on the third Thursday of each month and will meet next on Feb. 17 at noon.

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Joe Felice
Joe Felice
3 months ago

I hope they start with Aurora Water. That department has become nearly omnipotent. The ways in which it treats customers is abhorrent.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
3 months ago

What a waste of time and resources! This city council gives businesses everything they want (provided you make the appropriate campaign contributions first!)

How about a committee to focus on the corruption in the Public Works Department where the city’s building code explicitly permits builders to deliver extremely hazardous sidewalks expressly designed to ice up even after the homeowner has shoveled the snow. The builders–not the city — owe expensive drainage fixes to well over 150 homeowners–all while the shoddy design standard remains in place allowing the builders to create even more hazardous public sidewalks. Everyone should be outraged at the city’s attempt to use public funds on this matter. After all, development is supposed to pay its on way, right?

Also, how about a committee to focus on metro district abuse and issues created when developers treat their customers’ future property taxes as a cookie jar inside a black box with zero oversight or accountability. Yes, the city’s modal Service Plan does include homeowner protections. Unfortunately, the city’s policy is to never enforce them so those protections are wholly fictional. Yet the Service Plans are legal source documents to both the bonds the district sells and the homebuyers’ mortgages. How is it that the city is not complicit in both mortgage and securities fraud with these fictional protections?

Its time to address this corruption in our city government head on.

doug
doug
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Lot of accusations there Mr brown. Have you taken these up with the proper authorities??

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
3 months ago
Reply to  doug

Yes, Doug. In November 2020 over 40 victims from across south Aurora – including many seniors –signed and submitted a criminal complaint to then District Attorney George Brauchler in which assert and document (1) Reckless Endangerment, C.R.S. § 18-3-208 (2) Abuse of Public Office: First-degree official misconduct, C.R.S. § 18-8-404, (3) Bribery and Corrupt Influences: Attempt to influence a public servant, C.R.S. §18-8-306 and (4) Racketeering as defined within the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act and as applied to offenses involving governmental operations, C.R.S. §18-17-101. The complaint asserts and documents criminal acts by five current and former engineers in the Public Works department. We filed the complaint after nearly three years of very patient discussion and good faith on the victims part failed.

The metro district abuse is not criminal in large part to rather sizable loopholes in the state’s Special District Act and the metro districts chartered by city council under the Act. Aurora attorney Brian Matise wrote in the January 20 Denver Gazette about the abuse future homeowners in the Aurora Highlands can anticipate. Homeowners will be precluded from voting on, or running for the board of their main metro district. See https://denvergazette.com/opinion/columns/column-metro-districts-need-common-sense-reforms/article_0cdf98b7-2a6f-54e3-97c5-d2db53028743.html

Dean
3 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Brown

Jeff, I agree to a point and have witness some what I would classify as unethical but not unlawful. Some of the policy exceptions pushed the line. The recent overturning voter ordinance to accommodate felon Bailey vs let the case be tried was a sham. Lots of these lawsuits are settled and approved by council before the voters have much input. Some of the other matters that you would likely label corruption, I would put it in the incompetent pile. That I believe, comes from part of a culture of looking the other way when things get a tough. Something we have all seen here in Aurora city Gov. I’m expecting accountability, I’m most hopeful with these new faces they make these changes in the department standards. It’s way past overdue.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
3 months ago
Reply to  Dean

Dean- Let me quote both the reckless endangerment statute and the city’s code on sidewalk sidewalk drainage:

CRS 18-3-208: A person who recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person commits reckless endangerment, which is a class 3 misdemeanor.

City of Aurora Roadway Spec 4.03.6 Sidewalk Chases: Within multi-family, commercial, or industrial developments storm water from concentrated points of discharge from a minor storm event shall not be allowed to flow over internal, private sidewalks and perimeter, public sidewalks, but shall drain to the roadway by the use of chase sections. Within single family developments side yard points of discharge from a minor storm event may be allowed to flow over the public sidewalk, unless the drainage design exceeds three lots draining through a side yard swale. Then, a chase will be required.

Public Works has acknowledged responsibility for the loophole in above spec being responsible for over 150 extremely hazardous sidewalks but has spent three years NOT reinstating the prior prohibition against ever draining water to the sidewalk surface. We allege that its because of either illegal undue influence OR a sick, sadistic cult that takes pleasure in breaking the arms and skulls of our children and seniors with these ice rinks.

Susan Carr
Susan Carr
3 months ago

This is a change. A city council not actively trying to destroy our city.

Now we need to vote out the remaining communists on city council.

Susan
Susan
3 months ago

I hope this is truly for the benefit of Aurora and not for the personal gain of council members Zvonek and Jurinsky’s own businesses and self-interests.

Dean
3 months ago
Reply to  Susan

“I’m hopeful they’ll give some examples of things here they deal with that they don’t elsewhere. … But also we want to be able to explain things if there’s a clear reason.”
He’s asking for clear examples. Unlike your ridiculous statement. Here’s your newfound opportunity to present all the evidence of this “personal gain”.
I’ll be the first to get in their face if I smell a rat.

Joel Dusek
3 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Sure, it’s probable that any improvements in business processes, reduction of regulations, and lowering taxes will benefit the business owners on the Council, but they will also benefit every other business – including their employees – in Aurora.

It is much better to have business owners setting business policy than people who operate from theoretical models and academic supposition and have no experience in running a business.

doug
doug
3 months ago
Reply to  Joel Dusek

Taxes aren’t going to be lowered to any significant degree. 4 cents on a dollar now. Would half a cent make a major difference in your life?

DICK MOORE
3 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Well, Susan, of course it is for Zvonek and Jurinsky’s own personal gain. Along with every current and future business person doing business in Aurora.

DICK MOORE
3 months ago

Great idea. I hope it works. It’s been tried without much success many times since I’ve been in Aurora over 40 years. It’s very difficult to defeat bureaucracy.

I wonder what Marcano, the socialist, has to offer. The first thing he worries about is city staffing making more employees. Then he mentioned the development community which he has shown complete distain in the past. Poor choice to be on this committee. It’s not the number of employees, it’s too many rules and regulations.

doug
doug
3 months ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

Well your conservatives can now remove all those rules and regulations right? Which ones should they start with???

DICK MOORE
3 months ago
Reply to  doug

Doug, that’s easy. The one’s that do the most harm restricting business because of City rules. That’s the nature of this committee. Then they go to the next level of business restricting rules.

If you’ve ever owned a business and met a payroll, then you would understand how invasive government can be and how important this committee could be.

doug
doug
3 months ago
Reply to  DICK MOORE

As usual there’s no answers. The ones that do the most harm?? Tells us nothing. Could be if we knew what those were we would agree with you. Otherwise? You’re blowing smoke.

None
None
3 months ago

This is a bad idea for tax payers