The Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships submitted more than 7,500 signatures from community members on July 28 to place a 1 percent annual limit on residential growth and return decisions on large multifamily projects to city council.
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Cathy Kentner, board member of Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships, a nonprofit started by citizens in 2014 to help residents deal with neighborhood issues and problems with city hall, said the group needs 5,165 signatures of qualified Lakewood electors in order to place the proposal before city council. From there, council can either choose to adopt the ordinance or send it to the November ballot.
The city clerk must verify the petitions contain enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.
As part of the initiative, annual city growth would be capped at 1 percent, and projects with 40 or more units would require approval from city council at a public hearing.
"For the past four years, decisions about large projects have been left to the city planning director, an administrator who has routinely approved high-density, high-profile, high-end apartments with as many as 300 units.” Kentner said in a statement. “Returning these decisions to city council would allow the community voices to be heard again.”
Opposition to the initiative say it makes it too difficult for development in the city, and residents should be aware of the full language they're voting on.
"Instead of a common sense, case-by-case review of applications on their merits, the ballot measure would impose an arbitrary cap on residential growth and a bizarre new bureaucratic system for allocating new housing permits," said Cassie Tanner, a Ward 1 resident who is leading the effort to oppose the initiative, in a letter to city council. "Rather than ensure balanced growth in our community, it will chase investment out of our city, artificially restrict the supply of housing in our community, and drive up the cost of living for working and middle-class families and seniors."
The initiative includes a separate pool of allotment for affordable housing and provides a vehicle for locating such projects throughout the city instead of isolating them in one area, Anita Springsteen, a co-petitioner with Kentner and Heather Wenger, all of whom are board members on the Lakewood Neighborhood Partnerships, said. She also said it would allow Lakewood's infrastructure to catch up to development's needs.
“We want our neighborhoods and local businesses to decide the vision for our community, and not leave it up to the whims and bottom-line profits of developers,” Wenger added.
Tanner wants to ensure voters know everything in the 4,800-word, 14 page measure, and is urging the city to publish the full text in the ballot.
"I am positive that many Lakewood citizens signed the petition without seeing the additional 14 pages and 4,800 words, and therefore have no idea what they were signing up for," Tanner wrote. "They should have the opportunity to read through the Byzantine proposal and soak in all the anti-growth details. They deserve the chance to ask themselves whether an anti-growth ballot measure is really the best way forward for Lakewood, when we already have a planning and zoning process overseen by elected officials and city elections every two years."
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