Ernest LuningErnest LuningSeptember 14, 20175min3740

Two Lakewood Republicans are considering whether to challenge U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter's bid for a seventh term in the 7th Congressional District, Colorado Politics has learned. Jerry Natividad, who mounted a brief campaign last year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Michael Bennet, and Mark Barrington, who has run for legislative and city council seats, both said they're thinking about running for the seat — particularly after Perlmutter said in April he was running for governor and wouldn't seek reelection, then dropped from the gubernatorial field in July and then declared in August he was back in the congressional race.


Adam McCoyAdam McCoySeptember 11, 20173min5300

The opening salvo in the court fray over a Lakewood ballot initiative aimed at curtailing city growth turned into a six-hour marathon hearing late last week.

The Lakewood Sentinel’s Clarke Reader detailed the second day of administrative hearings which dragged on over half a dozen hours on Thursday and took testimony from 44 “petitioners, circulators and notaries, about the process leading to getting enough signatures to put the initiative before city council or on the ballot in November.”

The court battle started after citizens group Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships (LNP) canvassed the city, gathering petition signatures in support of a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth. The group’s 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 submitted the required number of petition signatures to the city, and the City Council was set to consider pushing the initiative to the ballot but had to delay action due to a legal challenge.

That formal protest was from Lakewood resident and Vice Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party Steve Dorman, contending the ballot initiative lacks an “adequate description.”

On Thursday, counsel for both sides — Dennis Polk for Dorman and former Secretary of State Scott Gessler for LNP board members — gave arguments centered on the validity of petition signatures, Reader reported. Polk argued that signatures were not submitted in accordance with city election law.

His point was that the bulk of the circulators’ affidavits were not signed and submitted under oath. Since the affidavits did not include language stating the circulators took an oath when they turned in the signatures, those petitions and signatures are not valid.

Countering that argument, Gessler argued that the act of signing was an affirmation of the validity of signatures, and that not making customers swear an official oath is common practice for notaries.


Jeff HuntJeff HuntSeptember 7, 20175min4140
Centennial Institute Director Jeff Hunt
Jeff Hunt

Conservatives believe that the most influential government should be local governments – not bureaucrats thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C. If you’re going to make decisions that affect our lives, you better look us in the eye.

That’s why we take local government so seriously. Because when people are working hard to make their lives better, the difference between success and failure can be a local government’s decision to stand in the way, or get out of the way.

Unfortunately, local government can make bad decisions just like Washington, D.C. bureaucrats can. If conservatives fail to challenge the culture of big government at the local level, these defeats in city halls and county courthouses will send a powerful message to lawmakers and bureaucrats in state legislatures and the nation’s capital. We must first look after our own backyards, even as we champion limited government at the federal and state level.

Therefore, I am opposing the anti-growth ballot measure in Lakewood this fall, and invite other conservatives to join the cause. This measure is bureaucratic in the extreme. It ignores basic economic principles, tramples property rights and promises to drive up taxes and living expenses for working families. It’s more than 4,800 words of red tape that authorizes even more red tape. It’s the opposite of limited government.

Dive into the details and you’ll find the measure caps residential growth at one percent per year. Why one percent? Why not a half percent, or one and a half percent or some other rate? Central planners and social engineers love setting arbitrary goals, but these made-up numbers should ring major alarm bells for everyone else.

Lakewood’s growth is the product of many different factors, including supply and demand for housing, employment opportunities in the region, and case-by-case permitting and zoning decisions by city officials. Imposing top-down, command-and-control limits on residential growth will throw the local economy out of balance, inviting all kinds of unintended consequences.

Consider transportation, for example: If people with jobs in Lakewood can’t afford to live here, how much worse will traffic get when they start commuting longer distances?

Then there’s the matter of enforcement. The one-percent growth cap would be policed with a complex new system of building rights – or “allocations.” Without an allocation, it doesn’t matter if a property owner has a project meeting all the relevant zoning and permitting requirements. Their project, and their right to invest in their own property, will be denied.

In the end, of course, only the biggest property owners and developers can afford the lobbyists and lawyers needed to secure their allocations. Smaller businesses and property owners will be mostly shut out, forced to sell or partner with a handful of large and politically connected players in the real estate market.

This kind of cronyism is inevitable when governments try to ration goods and services. It always results in higher costs for the average consumer. The anti-growth ballot measure in Lakewood is no different.

By artificially restricting residential development, and limiting competition only to firms that can navigate the new allocation system, the ballot measure guarantees supply won’t keep pace with demand. This pressure will drive up property taxes, rents and mortgages to levels that many Lakewood families cannot afford.

As conservatives, we have a responsibility to defeat this ballot measure. But I also see an opportunity to show how the principles of limited government can help working families, seniors and other residents in Lakewood who may be forced out if the ballot measure passes.

Finally, we should recognize this ballot measure for what it really is: A throwback to the discredited “limits to growth” philosophy of the 1970s. That philosophy lives on today in elitist liberal enclaves like San Francisco and Boulder, but it’s wrong for the country. It certainly has no place in Lakewood.

Please, join the fight against the forces of big government in our own backyard and defeat the anti-growth ballot measure in Lakewood.


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 28, 20175min780 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., 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.


Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 24, 20175min96
A formal objection has been filed against a proposed initiative aimed at curtailing construction growth in Lakewood. Lakewood resident Steve Dorman says proponents would need to amend the city charter to accomplish limiting growth until a strategic plan can be developed. “I am calling on the proponents of this poorly crafted ballot measure to withdraw their petition […]

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Ernest LuningErnest LuningAugust 12, 20179min7311

After cutting a provocative path though Colorado’s political scene for half a decade, conservative spinmeister Jonathan Lockwood pulled up stakes and decamped for a strange land with strange customs, a place unaccustomed to his rapid-fire, unrelenting attacks on liberals and his take-no-prisoners approach to making a point — a place called Oregon.


Peter MarcusPeter MarcusAugust 2, 201710min167
Efforts aimed at curtailing construction growth in Lakewood until a strategic plan can be developed are drawing political fire. The Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative and a separate effort by a city council member to place a moratorium on growth have faced a backlash from the right-leaning Americans For Prosperity, and within the community. On Monday, […]

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Adam McCoyAdam McCoyJuly 24, 20175min1692

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.”


Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 17, 20176min2611

Americans for Prosperity-Colorado — part of the pro-free market, Koch brothers-funded national political behemoth — typically has bigger fish to fry. Like challenging renewable-energy mandates or advancing school choice.

The state AFP chapter’s latest initiative, however, involves a matter of hyper-local importance in west metro Denver’s Lakewood. At a study session scheduled for tonight, the City Council will have a look at a sixth-month moratorium on new multi-family housing developments in the city. Apartments, condos, townhouses — construction of any and all would be frozen under the proposal by council veteran and onetime Republican state Rep. Ramey Johnson. The growth-embracing AFP thinks that’s a bad idea.

In a press statement last week, AFP-Colorado State Director Jesse Mallory called the proposal “government intrusion in the free market system” and elaborated:

“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. This cost of living increase will hurt the citizens of Lakewood. As for developers, they have no incentive to spend their money and overbuild, which would lead to a poor return on their investment. We say, let the demand of the market take its proper course.”

AFP promises “social media advertising and grassroots efforts” in its fight against the proposal.

Johnson’s campaign website (she’s seeking re-election) devotes a page to her proposed moratorium:

High density and high profile building is bringing traffic congestion to the point of near de-fault on our streets, increased crime and negatively impacting our schools. Obviously these things were NOT intended.

Since 2014 City Council has been lobbied by YOU the people regarding the way Lakewood is developing and growing and we must act. Frankly, we can not wait any longer. We will not have a second chance to get our growth right. A moratorium is NOT looking at any price point of building, but rather ALL high density.

This is not a “zero sum game” where it is us vs them or who is a winner vs loser.

The GOAL is to keep Lakewood a desirable place for those who already live here and those who will join us.

The moratorium as proposed, according to Johnson’s website:

  • Allows time for City Council to “listen” to what the people are telling us about the kind of city they envision and what we are actually creating without the pressure of on-going development.
  • A way to give City Council a short “pause” or “time out” to spend on language in the zoning ordinance dealing with density. …

…among other touted benefits.

The blog refers to Johnson and fellow council member David Wiechman as “reformers” at odds with what it calls the council’s “establishment” majority, led by Mayor Adam Paul. In a June 10 post, the anonymous blog — which seems to be no fan of development — casts the mayor and majority as pro-growthers and points to an even more far-reaching effort afoot in the community to rein in growth:

Since the current City Council, under Adam Paul, is unable (or unwilling) to control or limit the rash of new residential development (mostly apartments), a citizens group has proposed a Strategic Growth Initiative to place an issue on November’s ballot that would impose a 1% per year growth limit on residential construction.

The post references for more information on the pending initiative.