Lakewood 1% Growth Cap – Horrible Idea

Looks like the risk of a 1% cap on the growth of housing units in Lakewood is back on the table. To recap, a group of local residents collected sufficient signatures to require the council to impose a cap of 1%, or place the measure on the November ballot.  A challenge was filed (on technicality grounds) and it looks like this challenge failed, but is being appealed, stalling this horrible idea for the time being:  http://www.denverpost.com/2017/09/20/lakewood-housing-growth-battle-continues-failed-challenger-files-appeal/ 

Having examined property over the years in Lakewood, the City continues to struggle to climb out of the great recession, lagging behind other metro areas until only recently.  Vacant shopping centers, crumbling parking lots and blight were the norm along the Wadsworth corridor between Belmar and Jewell, up until recently.  Off the main streets, blighted “rural” properties strewn with junk and rotting vehicles still persist in many areas.  Now, with Green Gables in full swing, and continued development around Belmar, things are looking up for places like the Wadsworth corridor – the only thing driving this is residential growth.

Opponent of growth who collected the signatures to force the issue say that their measure is intended to preserve open space and  “…encourage redevelopment of Lakewood’s blights and distressed area…” – what they don’t understand is that pricing for event blighted properties is not sufficiently low enough to justify their removal and redevelopment – due in part to the strong metro area economy and high housing prices.

Lakewood is not Boulder, in that it is not starting from a base of high property values, strong demographics and high desirability. Boulder is able to impose growth caps because pricing is sufficiently high already to allow builders to achieve prices sufficient to take out blight.

If this cap happens in Lakewood, residents can expect blighted areas to only deepen in their despair and drag down surrounding property prices in the process!  The prized “open space” environment these growth opponents are hoping to preserve will look more and more like this gem, which even in its current state is too expensive to justify redevelopment without being able to obtain additional density:

rural blight