Wed, Nov 24, 2021 12:15 PM
By Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor, The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Denver needs to "raise its standards" when it comes to public notices and engagement, the city auditor said in a report published on Tuesday.
“Communicating with the public is important but difficult to do effectively – and not all city agencies take it seriously enough,” Auditor Tim O’Brien said in a statement. “When you’re building a bike lane or doing road work, for example, those are projects residents want to know about ahead of time, not find out about when they’re already commuting home.”
The audit looked at three case studies of projects that were required to provide extensive public notice: a zoning map amendment from Community Planning and Development (CPD), two bike lane projects by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI), and 10 volunteer commissions working with the Office of Human Rights (OHR).
According to the findings, CPD was the only agency that adhered to all its public notification requirements. However, those requirements were only to email City Council members and registered neighborhood organizations about upcoming meetings.
Both DOTI and OHR could not demonstrate that they met all their public notice requirements, while the audit described “a pattern of noncompliance with open meetings requirements” within the OHR network.
While some other agencies went above and beyond their requirements, the audit concluded that the city needs to do more to “ensure consistent and effective engagement across all agencies.”
“The city isn’t asking enough of itself,” O’Brien said. “The city should raise its standards permanently so meaningful inclusion and engagement aren’t ‘above and beyond,’ they’re just part of doing business.”