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Amendment 71 gets its first test: a limit on Colorado housing growth

Author: Joey Bunch - August 9, 2017 - Updated: August 11, 2017

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Surrounded by supporters of what would become Amendment 71, a proposal that would make it harder to amend the Colorado constitution dubbed "Raise the Bar," Gov. John Hickenlooper kicks off the petition drive to put the measure on the state ballot on June 1 at the Aurora Municipal Center. (Photo by Joe Megyesy for The Colorado Statesman)
Surrounded by supporters of what would become Amendment 71, a proposal that would make it harder to amend the Colorado constitution dubbed “Raise the Bar,” Gov. John Hickenlooper kicks off the petition drive to put the measure on the state ballot on June 1, 2016, at the Aurora Municipal Center. (Photo by Joe Megyesy for The Colorado Statesman)

The first ballot initiative to test an amendment that makes it harder to change the state constitution will seek to limit housing growth in Colorado, the Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday.

Initiative 4, as it’s called, would allow county or municipal voters across most of the state to cap housing. In the nine metro Denver counties, the ballot question itself would seek to limit the growth of privately owned residences to 1 percent a year.

Amendment 71, passed by voters in November, requires those who attempt to get something on the ballot to get signatures from 2 percent of the registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state Senate districts. Before, they needed to get the equivalent of 5 percent of the registered voters in the secretary of state’s race in the most recent general election.

The backers of the proposed Initiative 4 have until Nov. 30 to submit a total of 98,492 valid signatures to get on the 2018 ballot.

If the measure we to make it on the ballot, it would face furious opposition from well-financed chambers of commerce, builders and others with a stake in Colorado housing, who would cite the need for more housing to help control costs for those already struggling to find an affordable place to live.

The question is being proposed by Daniel Hayes of Golden and Julianne Page of Wheat Ridge. Hayes helped pass growth limits for Golden 22 years ago.

Hayes (and others) are  challenging Amendment 71 in U.S. District Court in Denver.

A press release from the Secretary of State’s Office Wednesday cited a portion of the plaintiffs’ motion:

“Because Amendment 71 forces proponents to collect signatures in these rural districts, it coerces them, on pain of losing a place on the ballot, into speaking to people they do not choose to address in places they do not wish to speak.”

And if petitioners do get on the ballot, they must get 55 percent on Election Day, no longer just a simple majority.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.


One comment

  • Lee Church

    August 11, 2017 at 5:20 am

    Oh so commercial housing can build unfettered however “Joe Blow” can’t???? Hmmm. Commerial property preference???

    Bogus!

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