Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative will finally go to voters

The initiative will be decided in a special election this summer

Posted 4/19/19

It’s finally happening. After first being proposed in June 2017, Lakewood residents will soon have the chance to decide if the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative should be implemented. At an …

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Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative will finally go to voters

The initiative will be decided in a special election this summer

Posted

It’s finally happening. After first being proposed in June 2017, Lakewood residents will soon have the chance to decide if the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative should be implemented.

At an April 8 Lakewood City Council meeting Council decided to send the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative to a special election on July 2. Mail ballots are expected to be sent out during the week of June 10. The initiative calls for limiting new home construction to one percent per year and Lakewood City Council to hold a public hearing and vote to approve residential projects with 40 units, or more.

“I’m glad that the voters will finally have their say. It turned into a fight over our basic constitutional right to initiative,” said Cathy Kentner, the woman who spearheaded the initiative. “That right was upheld and our perseverance paid off.”

Steve Dorman had challenged the initiative in court, claiming that it violated constitutional matters, property owners in Lakewood and that it would limit future Lakewood City Council’s municipal powers. In December, a Judge ruled against Dorman’s claims, but shortly after, he filed an appeal against the court ruling. Due to Lakewood’s Municipal Code, City Council couldn’t move the initiative any further while it was under protest. However, at a Feb. 25 meeting, Lakewood City Council voted unanimously to remove all language from the city’s municipal code that stops any initiative, or referendum petition from moving forward while a registered voter has legally protested it, as was the case with Dorman.

The election will be mail-only, and cost the city around $300,000. George Stern, Jefferson County’s clerk and recorder, said he anticipates that the more than 100,000 registered Lakewood voters will receive a ballot.

“For the most part, we are ready to hold elections at any time. The nice thing about Colorado’s election model is that every voter in Lakewood is going to receive a ballot with the question and background information in their mail,” said Stern. “It’s a great way of making sure everyone has that information, and I know Lakewood is planning additional efforts to inform voters that this is going to take place in time.”

The initiative garnered over 7,000 signatures in support of it in what Kentner described as a grassroots effort. Around 6,192 of those signatures were certified, and that was more than enough for initiative to go to City Council.

“I don’t know the (number of signatures) represents people who were going to vote yes for it. I just know there were people who wanted it on the ballot,” said Lakewood City Councilmember Barb Franks.

Boulder has a similar growth cap in which it has a one percent population growth cap.

“It all sounds great on paper, but it doesn’t allow anyone in my age range to afford housing,” said former Boulder resident Kristin Anderson during public comment at the April 8 meeting. “You’re stifled, and you’ll just end up renting endlessly. By stifling the growth in this community, you’re stifling my growth as a millennial.”

Kentner has repeatedly said that the Lakewood Strategic Growth Initiative requires affordable housing. The initiative requires an affordable housing pool that calls for Council to set aside some allocations for affordable and attainable housing.

“All of the facts support the need for a strategic growth plan. What we’re doing now isn’t working,” said Kentner. “We want green space, our air quality is increasingly unhealthy, and housing continues to be unaffordable and unobtainable.”

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