Lakewood residents launch citizens initiative to rein in growth
Author: Adam McCoy - July 24, 2017 - Updated: July 24, 2017
As greater Denver metro natives and cities struggle to keep up with ubiquitous development and the seemingly fading character of some historic neighborhoods, one community is looking to curtail growth.
A group of Lakewood residents has canvassed the city’s neighborhoods, gathering signatures to petition the city to place a cap on new development while making it easier to redevelop “blighted” areas.
The Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships (LNP) organized the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, which according to its website strives to preserve “the unique environment and quality of life, maintain property values and avoid increases in crime and urban decay associated with unmanaged growth,” among others objectives.
The Denver Channel’s Connor Wist reported last week the group had collected about 4,000 of the 5,200 petition signatures needed to get the proposal on the November ballot. If the signature threshold is met, the initiative also could be enacted through ordinance by the Lakewood City Council in lieu of a ballot question in November.
In an early June press release, the group said its initiative would place a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth. The proposal would also establish a permit system, requiring City Council approval for all projects of 40 units or more while lifting permit requirements for redevelopment of existing units in “blighted or distressed areas.”
The group said it seeks to maintain the character of local neighborhoods through the initiative:
Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships organized the proposal to place a density-limiting initiative on the November ballot in order to continue the city’s suburban appeal, said LNP Board member Cathy Kentner.
“We formed LNP in 2014 to help Lakewood neighbors and neighborhoods maneuver the red tape and, at times, difficulty involved in dealing with City Hall’s procedures,” Kentner said. “We are responding to calls from community members city-wide to remedy the unaddressed consequences of growth in the past dozen or more years.”
Gathering enough signatures might not be the group’s only challenge, however. LNP might have to contend with a social media campaign and grassroots effort promised by the Colorado chapter of behemoth advocacy group Americans for Prosperity on the issue of growth control in the city.
A recent Lakewood City Council proposal looking at a six-month moratorium on new multi-family housing developments in the city drew the conservative, pro free-market eye of AFP-Colorado.
Though the proposal is unlikely to garner majority backing from the City Council, in a press release last week AFP-Colorado labeled the proposal “government intrusion in the free market system.”
“City council is not elected to abuse their power by stopping what the market demands in terms of housing. When the long arm of government reaches in to hinder this process, it artificially forces the cost of rents to go up.”