Joseph Richardson, an investigator with Denver's parking management division, was patrolling 25th Street in Curtis Park last month when he noticed a green 1993 Suburu Impreza with Texas license plates that he'd immobilized with a parking boot two days earlier. Only now the vehicle was parked five spaces up the street and was conspicuously boot-less.
Missing parking boots -- officially known as "escaped" -- are nothing new to workers in the city's most maligned department. According to Lindsey Strudwick, Denver's manager of parking enforcement, about 6,200 boots were affixed to vehicles in 2004; of these installs, eighteen escaped with the car's driver.
"Most of the time, they just jump in their car and drive it until the boot clamp falls off," he says. "But that usually results in pretty severe damage to their tire rim and fender." Other scofflaws get "professional" by using commercial power saws to slice off the suckers. Such acts of desperate automobile liberation often reflect the business climate. "When the economy is up, escaped boots are down," Strudwick explains. "When people have less money, they're less willing to pay their parking tickets, and they'll do stuff like that."
Last year, Boulder suspended its booting program after losing four of the $465 Rhino-brand devices to late-night desperadoes with cordless power tools. A couple of the boots were discovered in motorists' trunks; one was being used as a living-room conversation piece.
But Denver's not about to give up on its most famous export, which was invented in 1953 by Frank Marugg, a violinist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, to help his pals in the Denver Police Department deal with problem parkers. From these humble origins, the contraption spread to municipalities around the globe, spawning dozens of imitators -- and inspiring lots of curses impugning the name of our fair city, because even the phonies are invariably referred to as the Denver boot (or Denver clamp, if you're in London). Here at home, damaged or escaped boots are reported as theft of government property -- each boot is valued at $315 -- to the DPD.
Soon after Richardson spied the renegade Subaru, it was slapped with a second thirty-pound yellow handcuff, towed and impounded in the city lot, where it remains today.
Boot #28595, where are you?
Collective call: Over the past eight years, Revoluciones Collective Art Space has amassed enough street cred to fill a warehouse. The gallery/music venue/school is the only place in Denver where hip-hop throwdowns and graffiti-art shows share billing with fine-photography exhibitions, political brainstorms, martial-arts theater and guerrilla dance parties.
Last June, Revoluciones moved from its home on West Eighth Avenue to a huge complex at 3519 Brighton Boulevard, an invigorated arts enclave that also housed the Construct Creative Arts Space. But eclecticism doesn't come cheap: Revo's rent quadrupled along with its vision, and the group's leadership began to feel the pinch of all that progressive artistry. So at the end of this month, the collective will close its doors and begin another phase in Revoluciones' evolution: fundraising. The members hope to raise money for a new home while they pay off some debts and reorganize as a non-profit organization.
As if, with this kind of cutting-edge art, there is any other kind. "When we first started, we all thought that if we work hard enough, it should turn around," says Terry Beck, one of Revoluciones' founders and curators. "We wanted to do everything on our own. But we realized that we need more help if we're to get it off the ground and do everything we want to do. We've already done the super-hard stuff; maybe it's time to accept people who want to help."
Before the collective moves on, though, it'll ring out the old -- and its old home -- with a "Last Blast" party on Saturday, May 28. Then, starting with a July 3 event at the Mercury Cafe, the Revo family will host monthly benefit concerts around the city.
Don't start the revolution without us.
On the Record
Soon after John Hickenlooper was elected mayor, he announced a goal of ending homelessness in Denver within ten years. To lead the charge, he appointed Urban Peak executive director Roxane White to head the Denver Department of Human Services and chair the Denver Commission to End Homelessness. On Monday, May 23, White released a plan that was eighteen months in the making -- and then took a few minutes to talk with Off Limits.
Q: Was it difficult going from Urban Peak and working with teens to addressing homelessness on a larger scale?
A: It was certainly a broader scope of issues, but I felt like we held two huge assets: One was a group of community people with expertise in all of the population, and the other was that we had broad representation from people who were homeless. I never felt like there wasn't someone who hadn't lived what we were talking about.
Q: What did you learn or discover in this process that you didn't expect?
A: I didn't expect the community to feel so strongly about the prevention efforts. And I didn't expert the community to be so receptive to the cold-weather temporary shelters.
Q: What is the most innovative idea that came out of the plan?
A: I think the most amazing piece that is truly innovative is the combination of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau and Urban Peak coming together to do this incredible job program. On Monday, they had their first graduation of people who made it through the paid-training program and are now working in the hospitality industry. That was just an example of the business community walking the talk.
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Q: How did you manage to keep the ideas and needs of 41 members and all of the stakeholders in check? That's like trying to herd cats.
A: I think the mayor said it right when he said there was a fair amount of bullying for a cause on my part. There was a fair amount of setting limits and saying we have to more forward, we have to make a decision. Unlike my cats, who are not headed in the same direction, we often went back to our core values to ground ourselves.
Q: What was the most difficult part of the process?
A: The length of time it took to really get consensus on the recommendations. We oftentimes spent six meetings talking about an issue before we'd get to resolution. One of the things I'm most pleased with is that every commission member signed the report, because we were not always a happy camp.