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.
Pursuant to the City Charter’s initiative rules, Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships has started a petition drive. The city rules require a petition must be signed by 5,165 registered Lakewood voters. Although legally the group has several months to gather signatures, in order to get the issue on the November ballot, LNP is seeking to get nearly 8,000 signatures by the beginning of August.
Of course, the establishment will fiercely oppose any attempts to limit development. However, if it appears the citizen effort is successful, the establishment may try to devise some schemes to either deter the group or discourage citizens from signing. If enough signatures are gathered, Council will have the option of accepting the proposal without going to a vote of the people.
Assuming the establishment won’t be able to tolerant any limits on growth then the developers and their special interest allies will pour huge amounts of campaign funds to try to confuse voters into not voting for the measure. One scheme the establishment is looking at is to turn their long-time desire to get their hands on any city TABOR refunds by putting a de-TABOR measure on the November ballot. The strategy will be to link the de-TABOR issue to a promise to use the funds for open space purchases. Linking the de-TABOR measure to open space acquisition will try to confuse voters into voting for the de-TABOR measure instead of the strategic growth initiative. While that may seem to be a hopeless task, we are impressed with the ability of lots of money to buy an effective PR campaign that can get voters to do things contrary to their self interests.
In addition to limiting residential building permits to a cap of 101% of the permits granted in the previous year, the initiative would require developments of more than 40 units receive City Council approval. There would be an allocation process that would give preference to new residential development in older, blighted areas of the city that need rehabilitation.
Details are available at www.LakewoodStrategicGrowth.org and www.savelakewood.org.