Special Election to Implement a Smart Growth Plan – Question 200
Vote YES FOR 200 –
YES 200 FOR Slower Growth
The Background –
In 2013, City Council loosened up the rules managing growth. The intent was to encourage developers to engage in unlimited apartment growth:
(1) The new rules removed the previous residential density limits – now developers can basically cram in as many units as they can manage to fit in the space.
(2) Allowed the conversion of commercial properties into more dense, multi-family housing (apartments)
The Resultant Problems – Overcrowding & Destruction
(1) There has been an explosion of apartment construction.
(2) The population explosion is destroying Lakewood’s special suburban way of life, threatening to turn us into another Denver. An incomplete listing of the problems cropping up includes:
(a) Traffic – backups and delays are becoming common all hours of the day. Major intersections are near failure.
(b) Loss of open areas – the remaining undeveloped areas of Lakewood, like Rooney Valley (designated as a “growth area” in the city’s plans), are slated to be built over with more apartments.
(c.) The dramatic increase in population and traffic is threatening our natural environment.
(d) The flood of newcomers are using more of our scarce resources like water. Conservation efforts on the part of current residents CAN NOT OFFSET the shear volume of new users. When droughts come in the future, all users (current and newcomers) will be equally impacted.
(e) Crime – despite having the state’s best police force public safety continues to decline. According to Channel 9, Safewise’s ranking of Colorado cities now rates Lakewood #61 out of the 64 cities they ranked. The only three Colorado cities with a worst public safety ranking were Denver, Sheridan and Pueblo. Even Aurora had a better ranking than Lakewood.
(f.) Higher taxes – since additional housing generates LESS revenues than the new costs of providing existing government services to newcomers, the additional demands must be made up by more taxes on current residents. We have already had an increase in school taxes and the City had to keep our TABOR refunds six months ago.
The additional demands on county services is causing Jeffco to ask voters in November if they can keep the TABOR refunds they owe us. The flood of newcomers throughout Colorado is forcing the state to request voter permission (also in November) to keep the state’s TABOR refund to us. When the TABOR refunds are used up, the various government entities will eventually be forced to ask for additional tax increases just to continue providing the existing basic level of service for more people. (see article in recent Sentinel)
The Solution – a responsible, smart growth management plan
(1) Learning from other Colorado cities – Over a quarter century ago (in 1995) the citizens of Golden, Colorado petitioned, by initiative, the implementation of a smarter growth management plan. Their plan limited the number of building permits granted to housing developers each year to 1% of the city’s total housing stock
The program turned out to be so successful that not only did Golden keep the program all these years but they actually strengthen it further by reducing growth even more. Golden found growth management did NOT hurt economic development, and the city has maintained its vitality and diversity.
After years of a lack of any meaningful growth management by the City, the citizens of Lakewood realized they had to take matters into their own hands and do what the politicians failed to do. Following the example of Golden, they devised a building permit allocation plan with special allowances to encourage more affordable housing and fight urban blight.
In general terms, the number of building permits issued each year would be limited to no more than 1% of the total number of current residential dwelling units. Each year as the total number of housing units in the city increases, the number of building permits will increase.
While the initiative rules allow the petitioners to take time to gather signatures, in order for the proposal to be placed on the November 2017 ballot, the organizers calculate they need over 8,000 signatures (to give a sufficient margin for disqualified signatures) by the end of July/beginning of August.