This post was authored by Alexandra Haggarty. Alex is a summer clerk at Otten Johnson, and a rising 3L at the University of Colorado Law School.
This post is an update on three earlier posts about a citizen initiative to limit residential growth in Lakewood, Colorado.
With a near 53 percent majority, voters in the City of Lakewood approved Ballot Question 200, capping growth of residential unit construction by one percent annually and requiring city council approval of projects with forty or more units. The city joins Boulder and neighboring Golden in responding to Colorado’s population growth by capping development.
Proponents of the initiative argue that it will preserve Lakewood’s culture and environment. Specifically, the initiative was pitched as a way to preserve open space, protect single-family development, ensure that infrastructure and services are not overburdened, and curb alleged problems of unmanaged growth, such as crime and urban decay.
Opponents fear the initiative will hinder development of much-needed affordable housing, inflate home prices, and precipitate an increase in property taxes. As previously reported by this firm, reports estimate that the initiative will result in the displacement of thousands of households over the next ten years (https://www.rockymountainrealestatelaw.com/2019/04/update-lakewoods-strategic-growth-initiative-to-go-to-voters-in-special-election-on-july-2/). Further, some worry about the wide ranging effects that the initiative may have on the greater Denver area as a whole. Primarily, the growth cap could disproportionately push development to nearby areas and encourage other cities to pass similar measures.
Under the new process, developers must receive a site-specific allocation, available from four different pools, for each proposed dwelling unit before applying for a building permit. Pending availability, one allocation will be automatically issued to each applicant in the open pool (favoring single family development). As the initiative is also aimed to encourage redevelopment of distressed and blighted areas, proposals to build in such areas are excepted from requirements.
With 68,000 residences currently in Lakewood, 680 units could be permitted for construction in 2020. The annual allocation will be calculated based on the number of residential units in Lakewood on December 31 of the prior year.
Lakewood City Council is set to hold a special meeting at 5:30 on Monday July 11, 2019 to consider whether to immediately enforce the initiative’s growth cap. Until that time, it is unclear what effects the measure will have on currently pending development applications.