Lake­wood vot­ers should re­ject anti-growth mea­sure

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Adam Paul

The mem­bers of The Den­ver Post’s edi­to­rial board are William Dean Sin­gle­ton, chair­man; Mac Tully, CEO and pub­lisher; Chuck Plun­kett, edi­tor of the edi­to­rial pages; Me­gan Schrader, edi­to­rial writer; and Co­hen Peart, opin­ion edi­tor.

In Lake­wood, we have it all. We have great ameni­ties and an ideal lo­ca­tion be­tween Den­ver and the moun­tains. Most im­por­tantly, fam­i­lies can still af­ford to live here. With care­ful thought and hard work, our com­mu­nity has grown in a smart way, mak­ing new hous­ing avail­able, bring­ing new busi­nesses to the area and preserving the beloved char­ac­ter of our city.

Un­like some ci­ties in Colorado, we have de­lib­er­ately not be­come an en­clave for the wealthy. We are a wel­com­ing city, and as Lake­wood’s mayor, I want to keep it that way. Lake­wood’s his­tory of in­clu­sive­ness makes it spe­cial.

That’s why I op­pose the re­cently filed bal­lot mea­sure to cap res­i­den­tial growth in Lake­wood. It’s a mis­guided and con­vo­luted mea­sure, more than 4,800 words long and rife with un­in­tended con­se­quences. If passed, it will make life more ex­pen­sive for peo­ple al­ready liv­ing in Lake­wood.

Let’s un­der­stand why we have growth and new con­struc­tion in the first place: Lake­wood is a highly de­sir­able place to live and work. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Yes, there are grow­ing pains, but our city is manag­ing growth in a re­spon­si­ble, cal­cu­lated and bal­anced way.

City of­fi­cials care­fully re­view new pro­pos­als for res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ments on their mer­its and re­ject any­thing out­side the vi­sion and char­ac­ter es­tab­lished for our com­mu­nity. We have over 100 parks and more than 180 miles of trails and bike­ways. In fact, we have 11 square miles of parks and open space — over 25 per­cent of the city’s land mass. And to main­tain our bal­anced ap­proach to growth, Lake­wood has a longterm Send let­ters of 150 words or fewer to open­fo­rum@den­ver­post.com or 101 W. Col­fax Ave., Suite 800, Den­ver, CO, 80202. Please in­clude full name, city and phone num­ber. Con­tact in­for­ma­tion is for our pur­poses only; we will not share it with any­one else. You can reach us by tele­phone at 303-954-1331. com­pre­hen­sive plan, which new pro­pos­als are al­ways mea­sured against on a case-by­case ba­sis. No ex­cep­tions.

New growth has brought new es­sen­tial ameni­ties: shops, restau­rants, re­cre­ational op­por­tu­ni­ties, light rail and more. Can you imag­ine liv­ing in Lake­wood with­out places like Colorado Mills or Bel­mar? Those de­vel­op­ments would not have hap­pened un­der a growth cap. Look­ing ahead, the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of West Col­fax and other wor­thy projects will be threat­ened by growth caps or mora­to­ri­ums, which are also fa­vored by anti­growth cam­paign­ers.

Our city coun­cil re­cently de­bated — and re­jected — a pro­posed mora­to­rium on mul­ti­fam­ily hous­ing projects. The dis­cus­sion was in many ways a pre­view of the fall cam­paign over the anti-growth bal­lot mea­sure.

I vividly re­call the tes­ti­mony of a Lake­wood teacher who has strug­gled and sac­ri­ficed to live near her school and her stu­dents. At one point, she was “liv­ing on some­one’s couch try­ing to save money — in Edge­wa­ter in­stead of Lake­wood.” Even­tu­ally, she found an af­ford­able place in Lake­wood, but she wor­ries about new hous­ing re­stric­tions driv­ing up rental costs.

“I live very fru­gally … but I can barely af­ford to live here,” she said. “You want to talk about traf­fic con­ges­tion? What’s go­ing to hap­pen when I have to com­mute 20, 30, 40 min­utes to be here?”

She’s right. Ar­bi­trary lim­its on the sup­ply of avail­able hous­ing will drive up rental costs, mort­gage pay­ments and prop­erty taxes in Lake­wood. In ci­ties like Boul­der and San Fran­cisco, re­stric­tions on devel­op­ment have dra­mat­i­cally in­creased the cost of hous­ing, push­ing work­ing fam­i­lies and se­nior cit­i­zens out. Only the rich can af­ford to stay.

We don’t want that in Lake­wood, which is why the anti­growth bal­lot mea­sure makes no sense. It would cap growth at 1 per­cent a year and im­pose a bizarre new “al­lo­ca­tion sys­tem” for build­ing per­mits.

The bal­lot mea­sure it­self en­tails 14 pages and 4,800 words — three times longer than the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence. There’s a com­plex for­mula for set­ting the cap on al­lo­ca­tions and even a new bank­ing sys­tem for build­ing rights. In the ex­tra fine print, the bal­lot mea­sure also al­lows the city coun­cil to tighten the cap “at will” to lower than 1 per­cent, but any in­crease re­quires a costly spe­cial ref­er­en­dum by the vot­ers.

Sim­ply put, this anti-growth bal­lot mea­sure would make life harder in Lake­wood, not easier.

Please vote no.

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