Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative in spotlight at forum

Proponents, opponents weigh in as vote nears on possible growth limits

Posted 5/14/19

Things are starting to heat up for the July 2 special election in Lakewood regarding the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, a citizen-crafted proposal that would cap permits for new homes to 1 …

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Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative in spotlight at forum

Proponents, opponents weigh in as vote nears on possible growth limits

Posted

Things are starting to heat up for the July 2 special election in Lakewood regarding the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative, a citizen-crafted proposal that would cap permits for new homes to 1 percent of the existing stock per year and would require city council to approve multifamily projects of 40 or more units.

Residents packed Bear Valley Church for a Ward 5 meeting on May 4 to listen to opposing views of the initiative. Those who spoke in favor of the initiative included Cathy Kentner, who spearheaded the initiative, Rick Ash, a member of the Lakewood Advisory Commission, and Lakewood residents Linnea Hauser and Carol Baum. Those who spoke in opposition to the initiative included Tom Quinn, former Lakewood city councilmember and director for Alameda Connects, Trish Merkel, president of O’Kane Park Neighborhood Association, Tim Keady, a real estate broker at RE/MAX Professionals and a Lakewood resident and Troy Gladwell, president of the Colorado National Association of Housing and Redevelopment.

Here is a quick rundown of what happened at the forum.

The argument for

Kentner said she and others got together to look at what other cities have success doing. The Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative was modeled after Golden’s growth cap ordinance. In 1995, Golden residents voted to limit growth in residential dwelling units to 1 percent per year. She discussed a lack of green space and gave a rundown of what the initiative contains.

“It requires a pool for affordable housing, it preserves green spaces and it is sustainable economically and environmentally,” said Kentner.

Ash, who is a regular speaker at Lakewood City Council meetings, said he has owned a home in Lakewood for nearly 24 years. He referred to the city’s comprehensive plan, which he says predicts that Lakewood’s population will grow to 199,000 people by 2035. There are around 155,000 people who live in the city now.

“If you think we have parking, traffic and crime problems now, imagine what things are going to be like when there are another 35,000 people living in this city,” said Ash. He said he’s not against development, but he’s against development that is going to ruin the quality of life in his or others’ neighborhoods.

The argument against

Quinn discussed how Lakewood has added one housing unit for every three jobs from 2000 to 2015. He said that a lack of housing supply for workers increases traffic and air pollution, because people are coming into Lakewood to work, rather than living there to work. Quinn helped work on the Lakewood Comprehensive Plan that guides development and redevelopment in Lakewood. He said the city knew growth was going to take place in areas where it is happening.

“We’ve already done a lot in Lakewood. We are all smarter and stronger together than we are alone,” said Quinn. “Let’s work together on what we have to build a better community. Let’s not take a sledge hammer to it with this initiative.”

Keady has lived in Lakewood for 50 years, and he’s been a real estate broker for 40 years. He said the initiative would cause citizens taxes to go up, and it would price out first-time home buyers. Keady believes the initiative isn’t necessary, because growth is already being addressed through the Lakewood Planning Department. Around 85 percent of Lakewood is already built out, according to Keady.

“(Lakewood is) respected around the metro area, and we’ve been known to be progressive. We are moving forward, and many feel that this initiative could be taking us a step backward,” Keady said.

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