Now that local voters have passed a 1% cap on growth in Lakewood, Question 200’s chief proponent, Cathy Kentner, says it’s time to prove those with doomsday warnings were completely wrong.
“The next thing is to sit down with the other side and to make sure this is implemented correctly to ensure their fears are unfounded,” said Kentner, the Lakewood teacher and mom who filed the petition to get the question on the ballot and led the pro-Question 200 group called the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative.
Heavily outspent, proponents won because of volunteers “and the passion of the Lakewood community and well-informed Lakewood voters,” Kentner said. Those in favor of the campaign raised less than $15,000 while business interests provided the bulk of more than $470,000 spent to defeat Question 200. The National Association of Realtors donated $200,000 to defeat the growth cap, while the Colorado Association of Realtors and Associated General Contractors of Colorado gave $25,000 each.
She said the deep-pocketed political and business interests aligned against the growth measure amounted to “a real-life bully we stood up to.”
A spokesman for the campaign against Question 200 had no immediate response about the loss Wednesday morning.
“I think the voters saw the scare tactics from the other side,” Kenter said. “I think what voters see is that what we have now is unsustainable development. What we have now is causing gentrification. Our current policies are causing our housing prices to go through the roof and rents to skyrocket.
“Our current policies leave all the decisions about large residential developments behind closed doors with the developer and the head of city’s development assistance team. We don’t even have development and review in Lakewood right now. We have development assistance.”
Election results won't be made final until July 11, after delayed military and overseas ballots are counted and ballots with signature issues are remedied. But there are only 587 overseas ballots outstanding and 121 with signature issues, so the outcome is not in doubt.
Nearly 36% of Lakewood's 99,638 registered voters participated in the election, officials said.
Ballot Question 200 asked:
"Shall the City of Lakewood limit residential growth to no more than one (1) percent per year by implementing a permit allocation system for new dwelling units, and by requiring City Council approval of allocations for projects of forty (40) or more units?" (Click here for the full text.)
There are about 68,000 residences in Lakewood. Based on the requirement that growth would be limited to no more than 1%, developers would only be allowed to add 680 residential units in 2020.
Business interests opposed to Question 200 released a report ahead of the election that said the ballot question's growth limits would lead to higher property taxes to pay for city services.
The REMI Partnership, the research arm of an umbrella group called the Common Sense Policy Roundtable, compiled the report, which looked at the effects of similar growth caps in Boulder and Golden. Given the $409,200 median home price in Lakewood, the REMI Partnership forecast that the 1% cap could raise property taxes as much as $790 a year if limiting the supply raised home prices as much as 30%.
The report also warned that a growth cap could "drastically" affect Lakewood's transportation and other infrastructure costs, as housing costs continue to outpace income growth.
“Understandably, residents are frustrated with population increases in Lakewood and around the state,” said Mike Kopp, president and CEO of Colorado Concern, one of the groups behind the Policy Roundtable. “Growth caps are not the answer. Limiting growth will only exacerbate problems with traffic, infrastructure, and affordable housing.”
The Common Sense Policy Roundtable's members also include the Colorado Association of Realtors, the Colorado Bankers Association and the Denver South Economic Development Partnership.
Mark Harden of Colorado Politics and 9News contributed.