2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Racial diversity grows even in ‘gotta wear shades’ white Colorado Springs neighborhoods

    Mon, May 20, 2013 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    A map of Colorado Springs showing its racial/ethnic makeup in 2010 based on U.S. Census data. White neighborhoods are green, Hispanic are orange/red, black are purple and Asian are blue. Courtesy the Timoney Group.

    This map of Colorado Springs shows its racial/ethnic makeup in 2010 based on U.S. Census data. White neighborhoods are green, Hispanic are orange/red, black are purple and Asian are blue. Courtesy the Timoney Group.

    In my mind, I have a visual map of Colorado Springs.

    Maybe you do, too.

    In my map, I see neighborhoods in colors.

    For example, neighborhoods like the Broadmoor, Skyway, Peregrine and towns like Monument are white. Glaring, gotta-wear-shades white.

    These maps from the Timoney Group show how  the racial makeup of downtown Colorado Springs changed from 2000 to 2010.

    These maps from the Timoney Group show how the racial makeup of downtown Colorado Springs changed from 2000 to 2010.

    Others, like my neighborhood in Rockrimmon, are more off-white. Predominantly white but not starched-and-pressed white.

    That image probably is true for most of Colorado Springs, with exceptions.

    Hillside and Deerfield Hills, in my mind, were black and Hispanic. Same for the Lowell School neighborhood, Mill Street, Stratton Meadows and the Widefield/Security areas.

    Now, thanks to a cool website created by the folks at the Timoney Group in Denver, I have a new visual map of the area. And I’m surprised how different the reality is from the 20-year-old image in my mind.

    Brian Timoney, a demographer and social analyst, plugged in U.S. Census data from 2000 and 2010 to allow viewers to easily see how cities along the Front Range changed in their racial and ethnic makeup during the decade.

    Timoney said the website was helpful as Denver was redrawing its city council districts and trying to ensure minority neighborhoods were represented.

    These maps from the Timoney Group show how the racial makeup of the Broadmoor neighborhood changed from 2000 to 2010.

    These maps from the Timoney Group show how the racial makeup of the Broadmoor neighborhood changed from 2000 to 2010.

    “Oldtimers have a mental map that is often 20 to 30 years out of date,” Timoney said. “In Denver, many think of the Five Points neighborhood as predominantly black. But it hasn’t been for 25 years.”

    Similar changes have occurred in Colorado Springs, if not on the same scale.

    For instance, the Broadmoor remains solidly white. But from 2000 to 2010 the diversity of the neighborhood was slowly changing, as evident in Timoney’s maps.

    More dramatic change is evident in the southeast part of Colorado Springs. Take Hillside, long a racially diverse and predominantly black area. According to the map, Hillside experienced a surge of white and Hispanic residents by 2010.

    An interesting neighborhood to look at is around the Lowell School south of downtown. In 2000, it was predominantly Hispanic. Then came the townhomes and condos of redevelopment and suddenly it shows up as mostly white in 2010.

    These maps show how the racial makeup changed after the development of the Woodmen Vistas neighborhood in 2007.

    These maps show how the racial makeup changed after the development of the Woodmen Vistas neighborhood in 2007.

    Then there is the interesting case of the development in the Woodmen Heights region northeast of Powers Boulevard and Woodmen Road. The Cumbre Vista neighborhood is being developed there along with Woodmen Vistas, a 10-acre subdivision where the Habitat for Humanity and Rocky Mountain Community Land Trust are partners in building low-income homes.

    The two agencies launched the project in 2007 and when finished it will have about 70 homes.

    Look at the map and see what Woodmen Vistas has done to the racial makeup of the area. It’s gone from bleached white to predominantly Hispanic.

    It’s actually a little unusual to be able to clearly identify minority neighborhoods in the Springs, said Kee Warner, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

    “Colorado Springs, in comparison with cities across the United States, is not extremely segregated,” Warner said. “Racial minority populations are more evenly distributed here, than even in Denver. It’s not easy to identify certain neighborhoods as strictly African American or Latino.”

    There is no “Chinatown” or Irish or Italian neighborhood, as you commonly find in other cities.

    These maps show how the racial makeup of neighborhoods in southeast Colorado Springs changed from 2000 to 2010.

    These maps show how the racial makeup of neighborhoods in southeast Colorado Springs changed from 2000 to 2010.

    And based on the maps, the city’s predominantly white neighborhoods are trending toward eggshell, if you will.

    “These maps tell us something about how the community is evolving over time,” Warner said. “We’ve got significant diversity in our population below age 21 and we’re going to see that work its way into our broader population. We’re going to have an increasing diversity of our population.”

    Still there will be enclaves or concentrations of racial populations and they can be attributed to economics, whether it’s a public housing project in South Shooks Run or Hillside, or among the mansions of the Broadmoor neighborhood.

    “You’ve got to remember that the city is arranged by income levels as well,” Warner said, adding that while slight shifting is expected, don’t look for dramatic change in the racial makeup of wealthy neighborhoods any time soon.

    But as for the rest of the city . . .

    “Other neighborhoods will continue to shift,” Warner said, noting the folks seeking out specific schools can drive huge population shifts. “It’s part of the aging process of neighborhoods.”

    Check out the maps and tell me what you think you see.

    These maps show how the racial makeup of the Old Colorado City neighborhoods changed from 2000 to 2010.

    These maps show how the racial makeup of the Old Colorado City neighborhoods changed from 2000 to 2010.



    Wed, October 19, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Hey all you fans of the Southern Delivery System water pipeline . . . if you were thinking of moving out of Colorado Springs to escape the cost, don’t bother househunting in Woodmoor!

    Folks there who wanted to move to the country and get away from big-city politics, angry public hearings and big fee increases imposed by public officials in defiance of the will of the people are being disappointed.

    That’s the case for Woodmoor resident Jennifer Davis.

    She and her family moved from California’s Bay Area to Woodmoor in 2008 in hopes of a quieter life.

    But all the issues of the city seem to have followed her to Woodmoor, the unincorporated community of 3,000 homes east of Monument.

    “I’m frustrated,” Davis said Tuesday, still fuming after attending a meeting Monday night of the five-member Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Boardwhere 140 or so residents showed up to protect the proposed $30 million purchase of 3,300 acres of the JV Ranch near Fountain.

    The ranch, owned by relatives of the late John Venezia, who developed Briargate and Peregrine, is coveted for its water rights. (Colorado Springs paid Venezia $3.2 million for 3,680 adjacent acres in 1989.)

    The Woodmoor water board voted unanimously to buy the land after hours of emotional testimony and a near unanimous vote by the people in opposition to the purchase.

    “It was power politics,” Davis said. “They didn’t listen to anything any of us said. Their minds were made up. Basically, they told us ‘We’re buying you a ranch and you’re going to pay for it and you’re going to like it.’ I was so dismayed by the arrogance of those people.”

    Davis and others say they feel betrayed by the five board members. (Gazette IT expert Beth Courrau is on the board.)

    Several Woodmoor residents asked me how the board could ignore the residents and saddle the water district’s 8,350 residential and business customers with a huge debt. Average residential water rates will increase $50 a month to pay for the ranch.

    A large portion of the JV Ranch, southeast of Fountain, is seen on the El Paso County Assessor's website. The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District voted Monday, Oct. 17, 2011, to pay up to $30 million for 3,300 acres of the ranch to obtain its water rights.

     Worse, neighbors say, they will have to spend perhaps $100 million more to build a pipeline to deliver the water uphill to Woodmoor.

    (Where have I heard this scenario before? Actually, Springs Utilities is paying about $2.3 billion in phase one of the SDS pipeline project. The eventual full price is unknown.)

    “I’m shocked,” said Bob Benton, a 15-year Woodmoor resident. Benton left the meeting early, convinced the board would never proceed in the face of such fierce opposition.

    “That’s impossible,” Benton said.

    The 3,300 acres of the JV Ranch to be purchased by the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District includes Calhan Reservoir, seen here. A 3,680-acre parcel purchased by Colorado Springs in 1989 is just east of this property.

    “I’m completely shocked. More than 130 people voted ‘No’ at the meeting. Emphatically no. I’ve never been more disgusted in my life.”

    Carolyn Streit-Carey also attended the meeting and was sickened by the vote.

    “It was a sham,” she said. “The board simply went through the motions of holding a public hearing. They didn’t listen to anyone. I think most of the people in the audience felt betrayed.”


    This is a map of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District service area.

    Water district manager Jessie Shaffer defended the vote as the right thing to do.

    Groundwater is diminishing, he said. A reliable source is imperative. Woodmoor’s future is at stake.

    Tell that to the neighbors.







    To read more about SDS, click here for an archive of Gazette stories.



    Sun, January 9, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with 2 comments

    Round One goes to the Van Wormers. But Round Two is already costing them cash.


    Cynthia Van Wormer kisses one of the birds she breeds and sells from her home in Woodmoor. The neighborhood homeowners association has ordered her to move her business because it violates covenants prohibiting animal breeding. Photo courtesy of KRDO Newschannel 13.

    Cynthia and Thomas Van Wormer convinced the El Paso County Commission on Thursday to wink at state laws and county ordinances and let them keep their Rocky Mountain Bird Farm & Pet Supply in their Woodmoor home.

    Thomas and Cynthia Van Wormer spoke Thursday to the El Paso County Commission in defense of their Rocky Mountain Bird Farm & Pet Supply business that they operate from their Woodmoor home.

    It didn’t bother three members of the commission — Wayne Williams, Amy Lathen and Dennis Hisey — that the business violates state and county rules for home businesses and bird breeding.

    Williams said if neighbors can’t hear or smell the birds, then the government should butt out. I call the policy “Don’t Ask, Don’t Smell.”

    The three commissioners’ attitude incensed the Woodmoor Improvement Association, which is the homeowners association for the 3,000-home community in the woods east of Monument.

    WIA President Chuck Maher called the commissioners gutless and said he wished he hadn’t voted for them. And he vowed the WIA would do what the commission didn’t have the spine to do.

    Thomas Van Wormer, business partner Shawn Rapley, and Cynthia Van Wormer listen to testimony Thursday before the El Paso County Commission.

    “We will enforce our covenants,” Maher said, vowing to use all means necessary including asking a judge for a restraining order to evict the business from the home.

    In fact, the wheels of HOA justice already are turning.

    On Friday, the WIA won a court decision against the Van Wormers over legal fees associated with fighting a restraining order the couple brought against the association in October.

    The WIA submitted fees of about $1,600 in that case.

    And the couple now is liable for daily fines stemming from their home business.

    At a November WIA board meeting, the couple was found to be in violation of two covenants. Board members described it as a tense meeting in which Cynthia Van Wormer shouted and used obscenities in addressing the board and neighbors.

    It fined them $50 for barking dog violations and $50 for having an unapproved home business, according to WIA attorney Debra Oppenheimer.

    Both fines were suspended to let the couple remedy the violations. When their two wolf hybrids were shipped to a sanctuary in California late last month, they avoided the first fine.

    But Oppenheimer said the home business continues to operate and the $50 fine will be reinstated along with a $25 daily fine that will accrue until the business is gone. The daily fine took effect Dec. 31, meaning the couple now owes $250 and counting!

    I tried to talk to the Van Wormers about all this.

    Cynthia Van Wormer called the commission’s decision “fair” but declined to tell me her next move. Instead, she attacked me, accusing me of slanting my original column against them.

    Cynthia got very angry when I asked her about her testimony to the commission in which she said only about 25 percent of her 1883-square-foot home is dedicated to the business.

    I reminded her that she told me her entire basement — about 1,000 square feet — is filled with 50 birds and she had put her living room and dining room furniture in storage to accomodate another 48 birds. That sounded like far more than 25 percent — the legal limit — to me.

    Thomas and their business partner, Shawn Rapley, also criticized me and accused me of being unfair in my portrayal of them.


  • 100 EXOTIC BIRDS, FIVE AKITAS, TWO WOLF HYBRIDS and a patridge in a pear tree

    Wed, January 5, 2011 by Bill Vogrin with 1 comment

    Cynthia Van Wormer can’t understand why her neighbors care if she keeps 100 exotic birds, breeds them and sells them from her modest ranch home in Woodmoor, east of Monument.

    She doesn’t understand why anyone thinks her Akita dogs were vicious or dangerous and had to be destroyed.

    And she’s angry the county forced her to send her wolf-hybrids to a shelter in California.

    She hopes her response to complaints will convince the El Paso County Commission to let her keep her menagerie. At least her birds and her business at her home.

    “It’s really sad I can’t live and run a little business in my own home and be left alone,” Van Wormer said Wednesday.

    She blames her neighbor, John Clark, for her problems. He has filed repeated complaints against Van Wormer over her animals. It goes back to 2002 when one of Van Wormer’s dogs, Kai, left her yard and attacked his golden retriever pups.

    The humane society impounded Kai, held it 101 days before a judge released the dog and it returned home. A few months later, the dog died unexpectedly and Van Wormer blamed Clark.

    Here is a look at the neighborhood from Google Earth:

    Here is the packet of information prepared for El Paso County Commissioners by the code enforcement officers to be presented at Thursday’s meeting. Here is the second violation notice mailed in November.

    Clark denies Van Wormer’s allegation that he poisoned Kai. And tests of the dog were inconclusive. She sued him anyway and won a small settlement.

    Things intensified around 2009 when her bird collection grew to about 100, she got three new Akitas and two wolf-hybrids. She found herself facing complaints from Clark, other neighbors, the Woodmoor Improvement Association and the county.

    In September, the three Akitas were destroyed after complaints about vicious fighting. And Van Wormer sent the wolf hybrids to a sanctuary in California a couple weeks ago after county complaints.

    And she has sought a restraining order against Clark, accusing him of threatening her life.

    He denies making any threats and cites her “erratic” behavior as the reason he’s thinking of moving. He said he is scared of her after a domestic dispute in her home in June 2000 led to her arrest for assault on a police officer. And he cited her use of a gun around 1999, shooting at someone in her home.

    What about the shooting in 1999? She says an intruder threatened her life so she grabbed her husband’s gun and fired, being careful to aim about six inches to the side of the man’s head. The man fled and was not immediately caught.

    Van Wormer said Thursday the man was caught, eventually, and is incarcerated. But she did not give his name and declined to answer any more questions from me about the incident.

    What about that arrest back in June 2000? She said it happened after EL Paso County Sheriff’s deputies answered a call about a domestic dispute at the home. She wanted to throw her husband out of the house. She said he kicked the door in.

    But when police arrived, she said one of the officers sexually assaulted her by placing both hands on her breasts and pushing her up against a wall to restrain her. She responded by slapping him. The slap was minor, she said, and didn’t even leave a red mark.

    Here’s the police report of the incident. The arresting officers paint a much different, and darker, picture of events.


  • NATIONAL NIGHT OUT: Make a friend, protect yourself

    Sun, August 1, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

    Pop quiz: Name the first line of defense against neighborhood crime.

    Answer: Residents, of course.

    Police constantly urge folks to keep an eye on their neighborhoods.

    Look for suspicious people and vehicles.

    Jot down license plates and descriptions.

    Call police and alert your neighbors.

    When it comes to citizen/police cooperation in crime fighting, Tuesday is the biggest night of the year.

    It’s the annual National Night Out when neighbors are urged to turn on their porch lights, go out and meet their neighbors.

    Dozens of Naitonal Night Out events are planned around Colorado Springs and in the communities surrounding the city from Monument to Black Forest to Falcon to Stratmoor Hills and Security/Widefield.

    Many events involve barbecues and games.

    It’s a great chance to make friends, eat a hot dog or burger, and in many neighborhoods meet and talk to police officers or El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies who attend National Night Out neighborhood events.

    ‘The event has an interesting history and is closely associated with the Neighborhood Watch program and the National Association of Town Watch.

    Check this link for information about Neighborhood Watch from Colorado Springs Police.

    Here’s a good place to start if you want to learn more about the national Neighborhood Watch program.

    I’ve written about Neighborhood Watch in the past. Here’s a link to a previous story and the blog that went with it.


    Wed, May 12, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with no comments

     HOAs Gone Mild

    That’s the goal of House Bill 1278, which passed the Colorado General Assembly on Tuesday. 

    Eventually, at least. 

    First the proposal to create a Homeowners Association Information and Resource Center it must be signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter

    That seems a formality given the bill was sponsored by two Democrats and passed the House on Tuesday on a straight party-line vote. 

    State Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument

    Republicans tried to stop it, led by Rep. Amy Stephens of Monument who called it a “terrible bill” and a “ridiculous” expansion of the state bureaucracy. 

    She said it will lead to “state-run, state-controlled, state-regulated HOAs” and was unnecessary because there has been no outcry for change. 

    Stephens said the bill was a response to a few people in extreme conflict with their HOAs.   

    But Democrats pushed it through, giving victory to its sponsors, Rep. Su Ryden and Sen. Morgan Carroll, both of Aurora

    Colorado Rep. Su Ryden, D-Aurora

    Carroll is a familiar name to folks who follow HOA law in Colorado. She co-sponsored the 2005 Homeowners Bill of Rights

    Colorado Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora

     Here’s a link to a blog I wrote recently detailing her work to regulate  HOAs and to rein in the covenants that govern life in the associations.  

    Here’s another link to an interesting blog, HOA Legi-Slate, on the Hindman-Sanchez website where the Denver law firm monitors bills in the General Assembly  including the Ryden-Carroll bill.


  • WOODMOOR MIRACLE — coup tosses out HOA board

    Sun, January 31, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 4 comments

    ========= UPDATE ========= UPDATE ========= UPDATE =======

    At the bottom, I’ve reprinted an e-mail I received Feb. 2 from George McFadden’s wife, Agnieszka McFadden.

    First, the original post:

    The homeowners in the Woodmoor Improvement Association east of Monument have spoken.


    Or at least about 1,000 of the 3,000 who live there have spoken. And the king is dead. Long live the king.

    The dead king, in the words of Woodmoor’s residents, is George McFadden, who was president of the WIA. The new king is Chuck Maher.

     woodmoor-svaeThe emotional election featured dueling Web sites, like this one below.


    Here’s a look at the Woodmoor Fact Check site, scrubbed of most of its campaign literature, post-election:


    McFadden was kicked off the throne in a coup orchestrated by residents who spent several thousands of dollars and countless hours campaigning against him and his slate of candidates in the homeowners association’s recent annual election.

    McFadden wasn’t up for re-election. But he needed his three candidates to win to retain power.

    Instead, the “Save Woodmoor” crowd prevailed in a landslide. He’re’s a look at the vote totals:

    Save Woodmoor slate:

    Nick Oakley – 657
    Paul Lambert – 656
    Jim Hale – 648

    McFadden slate:

    Bill Brendemuhl – 466
    Gary Marner – 437
    George Labesky – 364

    I’ve written a couple columns and blogs about Woodmoor.

    There’s a good lesson in what transpired at Woodmoor. If a group can unite and energize a community as large as Woodmoor, throw out the incumbents and take control, then it can happen in any homeowners association.

    ======= Here’s the UPDATE:

    From: Agnieszka McFadden

    Sent: Tuesday, February 02, 2010 6:36 PM
    Subject: SIDE STREETS: HOA election produces ‘Woodmoor Miracle’

     Mr Vogrin,
    Why do you hate Mr McFadden so much?  Why do you slander him and print lies about him in the Gazette?  What has he ever done to you?   Why do you publish things like: “The upheaval at the WIA is an example of what can happen when folks angry about their homeowners association board unite and decide to take control.”  Do you realize that those “angry homeowners” are just a HANDFUL of people that simply don’t like community events, trails, low fees, low assessments, or anything that is for the common good of Woodmoor?

    What’s laughable is that you equate this election to the big win in MA.  If you want to compare apples to apples, the big win of Brown can be equated to last year’s win for Woodmoor BOD,  This year the Oakeleys, Lamberts and Hales simply regained the “old Kennedys’ seat” back, that’s it.  Gestapo is in the house AGAIN.

    Do you realize that 64% of residents did not even vote in this election?  Nick Oakley, Paul Lambert and Jim Hale received 21% of residents’ vote while the incumbents (the good guys) received 15%.  It’s pretty sad that Oakley, Lambert and Hale won by ONLY 6% considering they spent thousands of dollars in mailing over 3000 fliers, inserted fliers into newspapers, went door to door telling people what they wanted to hear, held special events (at the Country Club) to endorse their candidates, and attacked Mr McFadden multiple times with PURE LIES in the news papers.  They fought dirty through this whole election campaign and I have no doubt will fight dirty with more attacks and lies about Mr McFadden while serving on this board .  I have no respect for such people and I’m ashamed that this new majority of WIA board of directors will make major decisions regarding the future of Woodmoor. 

    I wish you’d stop publishing lies and attacks on Mr McFadden.  Next time if you need a comment, you can can contact me and I’ll set the record straight for you, before you publish more slanderous attacks on Mr McFadden.  Deal?  What happened to reporters finding the truth and not being bias?  No wonder news papers are going out of business. 

    Agnieszka McFadden.


  • WOODMOOR ELECTION — who do you believe?

    Wed, January 13, 2010 by Bill Vogrin with 6 comments

    It’s silly season, I mean election time again. New homeowners association boards are being elected all over the Pikes Peak region.

    An especially contentious race is for three seats on the Woodmoor Improvement Association board.


     The nine-member board governs the sprawling, wooded and affluent golf-course community of Woodmoor, which has 3,000 homes on 2,000 acres east of Monument.

    It oversees $1.3 million in assets, income and spending and enforces covenants.

    One of the big issues this election is a recent decision by the board to spend $20,000 to build a 10-space parking lot and trails on a 13.7-acre marsh on community property in Woodmoor. The marsh is in the middle of this photo from FlashEarth.


    Here’s a look at the planned trails and parking lot under construction on the site.


    Critics say the board should have gone to greater lengths to inform the community about the project, gathering neighbor input and holding public meetings before spending such a large amount of money.

    They also criticize the board for spending thousands on beer and food for neighborhood parties. Critics say the board spent $9,000 last year. The board says it was $5,300 and a justifiable expense because so many homeowners attended.

    The board has been in turmoil for a couple years. Critics say the conflict erupted with the rise to power of George McFadden, the current WIA board president. He is a polarizing figure in Woodmoor.

    Although McFadden is not up for re-election on Jan. 25, three allies are on the ballot. And his name always comes up in conversations about the board, the election and the issues facing the community.

    McFadden, however, declined to talk to me about it. He did the same thing a year ago when I wrote about a string of resignations from the board. At that time, as now, his name came up over and over. But he didn’t want to talk. Instead, he ripped me in emails and letters after the column ran.

    Check it out my Feb. 11, 2009 column at this link. And here’s the blog I wrote, with his flaming rebuttal attached.

    McFadden did write me Tuesday, pointing me to the Web sites of the competing camps: one for his allies:


    The other is for the opposition group


    And here’s McFadden’s e-mail to me on Tuesday:

    Mr. Vogrin,

    I have no desire to become more involved in the WIA Elections as I am not one of the candidates running, so I offer “no comment”.  I would advise all interested in the elections to review the various campaign websites.

    George Labesky, Gary Marner, Bill Brendemuhl – www.woodmoorfacts.org
    Jim Hale, Nick Oakley, Paul Lambert – www.savewoodmoor.org
    Ed Miller is the other candidate.

    I would also point out that both Nick Oakley and Jim Hale were appointed, by the “so called Majority”, to committees with the purpose of looking at our rules and regulations and design standards manual and suggest changes to the board.  George Labesky was appointed to the Legal Audit committee by the board to review our governing documents (Declaration, Articles, and bylaws) and to bring them into compliance with the various state statutes (they are woefully out of date).

    I think any and and all of the candidates running for election will serve the owners well, but the two incumbents have the experience and proven track record that the others do not.

    All the info you need is either on the websites mentioned above or on the WIA webpage at www.woodmoor.org

    I hope this article will be more balanced than your last one on Woodmoor.  I regret that the Gazette did not cover the very successful WIA Community Events, attended by over 1000 owners this year.  If you want to review what was provided in terms of recreation (which is the first listed use of Assessments per the WIA Declaration) the newsletters which provided announcements for the events are available in PDF form on the WIA website.

    George McFadden