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The latest take on an old standoff between pro-growthers and growth controllers

Author: Dan Njegomir - August 28, 2017 - Updated: August 28, 2017

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A growth-control proposal would have reined in residential construction, like these units at Lakewood’s Belmar redevelopment. (via YouTube)

ColoradoPolitics.com has reported before on a couple of ballot proposals to curb growth in Lakewood, the old, inner-ring Denver burb that has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years.

The pending Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative would among other things place a 1 percent annual growth limit on new residential construction. Meanwhile, a proposal by a Lakewood City Council member to ask voters in November to place a moratorium on new building permits has stalled after failing last month to get support from a council majority.

Critics of both efforts say they would undermine the city’s ongoing economic revitalization. Opponents of the ballot proposals include Mayor Adam Paul and most council members.

Such push-back from the status quo is duly noted by the authors of an anonymous blog covering Lakewood politics. LakewoodPols.com, which is sympathetic to the growth-control measures, offers some insights into the face-off defining local politics — pitting what the blog refers to as the “establishment” against “reformers.” Under the headline “Establishment Loss in 2017?” the blog sketches out potential scenarios in the November municipal election’s council races:

Five Council seats are up for election in November.  Two seats are open since the incumbents Scott Koop (W2) and David Wiechman (W4) are term-limited.  In Ward 3 Shakti is stepping down to run for the state house thus creating an open seat.   In the other two wards, incumbents will be running for a second term – Ramey Johnson (W1) and Karen Harrison (W5).

Of the five seats contested, two are currently held by reformers – Johnson and Wiechman.  If these two seats are held by independent candidates then the balance remains at 6-5 in favor of the establishment.  If the independents pick up one of the other three seats currently held by the establishment (Koop, Shakti and Harrison) then the balance of power could swing to a 5-6 vote in favor of the independents.

LakewoodPols also blogged last week on what it contends are “strange bedfellows” in the dust-up over growth — an alliance between left and right:

Reformer Ramey Johnson, supported by the Council independents, proposed a six-month moratorium on new building permits for large multi-family residential projects.  The liberals led by Max Tyler, supported by Tom Quinn, Gary Harty, et. al. opposed any slow down in the City’s current high-density growth program claiming even a temporary time-out might decrease the supply of new low-cost housing.

This time, the extreme left was joined by the extreme right, led by the out-of-state Koch Brothers lobbying group (Americans for Prosperity).  The right claimed slowing down growth could affect the property rights of the developers.  This strange alliance is the latest example of the extremes of politics (left and right) having a shared interest in keeping the political environment in constant turmoil.  This is not the first time the extremes have joined together to oppose the moderate middle ground’s efforts to fashion reasonable solutions that actually work.

An interesting take that certainly challenges conventional thinking: Moderates back growth control; growth is supported by the extremsts.

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir

Dan Njegomir is the opinion editor for Colorado Politics. A longtime journalist and more-than-25-year veteran of the Colorado political scene, Njegomir has been an award-winning newspaper reporter, an editorial page editor, a senior legislative staffer at the State Capitol and a political consultant.