Local Host Sessions
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Millennials, Mountains, & Mobility: The Impacts on Housing in Colorado’s Front Range

Denver is the second-fastest growing city in the U.S. Millennials, retirees, marijuana capitalists, IT professionals, people priced out of the coasts, and others are flocking to the region for jobs, access to the mountains, a perceived lifestyle, and yes, legal marijuana. The build out of the light rail system has stimulated development and investment throughout the region. However, this growth is creating pressures across the housing market—once-affordable central neighborhoods are being gentrified by millennials; since 2014 rental rates have increased by 20% and home values by 45%; mobile home parks in formerly forgotten areas are now in TOD zones; and only three of the 50 metro suburbs are still considered affordable. Planners and policymakers are seeking to create and preserve affordable housing within Colorado’s uniquely restrictive policy landscape, which includes budget and tax restrictions, constitutional prohibitions against inclusionary zoning for renters and tenant protections, and three failed attempts for a statewide housing trust fund. A fourth housing trust fund is working its way through the legislature, organizations are fighting to save mobile home parks through tenant buyouts, dozens of towns are supporting ADUs; densities are increasing; the Denver TOD fund has been expanded to the region; and the housing finance authority has initiated rolling 4% tax credit applications. Yet, these measures are not enough to meet the demand, and densification, traffic and NIMBY concerns are generating pushback from many neighborhoods. What else can be done to ensure that people across the income spectrum can find a place to call home in Denver?

The panel will include housing researchers from CU Denver, Jennifer Steffel Johnson and Carrie Makarewicz, and local housing advocates, policymakers, and funders.


Planning for Pot

Friday, October 13
10:15am - 11:45am

Medical marijuana is now legal in 29 states while 8 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use and sales for recreational purposes. Yet we know very little about the implications of this multi-billion dollar industry on urban economies, neighborhoods, and built and natural environments. Speakers in this local host session will address some of the most pressing questions facing urban planners attempting to accommodate this new and controversial land use. How does this burgeoning industry affect property values, industrial lease rates, housing prices, gentrification, and displacement of underserved residents? How do municipalities and environmental justice advocates ensure that nuisance uses are equitably distributed and environmental externalities are properly managed? How does dispensary and growhouse density affect personal and property crime? And what are the local and regional economic development factors associated with the industry, including its impact on tourism?

The panel will include researchers on marijuana planning, as well as representatives from state and local governments and non-profit organizations.

Kristi Kelly is the executive director of Marijuana Industry Group, Colorado’s oldest, largest and most diverse trade association for licensed marijuana businesses, where she also served as vice chair and a board member. She recently launched Root Strategies, a national consulting company focused on cannabis strategies and business services. Kristi was an owner, and remains an investor in a group of marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and dispensary business in the Denver area, where she served as COO until December 2015. She is a founding board member of the Fourth Corner Credit Union, the world’s first marijuana financial institution.  She currently sits on the Governor’s Marijuana Education task force, Denver's Social Consumption Advisory Committee, the Colorado Task Force for Drunk and Impaired Driving, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment's Marijuana Occupational Health and Safety Workgroup, and Denver's Odor Advisory Workgroup, and has participated in numerous other appointments, workgroups, and rulemaking committees. 

Professor Sam Kamin joined the faculty at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver in 1999 and is currently the Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy. Holding both a J.D. and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley as well as a BA, summa cum laude, from Amherst College. He has become one of the nation’s leading experts on the regulation of marijuana, and in 2012 he was appointed to Governor John Hickenlooper’s Task Force to Implement Amendment 64 and the ACLU of California’s blue ribbon panel to study marijuana legalization.

Jill Jennings Golich is Deputy Director of Community Planning and Development Department at the City and County of Denver, where she serves as point person all issues related to regulation of the marijuana industry. Prior to this, she was the Director of Campus Planning for Denver’s Auraria Campus, where she updated the campus’s master plan and managed the creation of a companion strategic implementation plan, the development of new campus design guidelines, creation and installation of monument and pedestrian signage, the renovation of the campus’ library, installation of the campus’ first bike lane, oversaw the design review process for six new buildings, and led the effort to relocate a RTD light rail station. Jill has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver, and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington. 
Tina Axelra is the Zoning Administrator of the Community Planning and Development Department at the City and County of Denver.
Margie Valdez is the Chair of the Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation Zoning and Planning Committee.

Aubrey Lavizzo is on the Department of Excise and License's Social Consumption Advisory Committee and Denver Department of Environmental Health's Odor Advisory Group.


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.


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