Boosters Unite to Fight the 1% Growth Ordinance

By the summer of 1995 Golden's citizens had had enough suburban sprawl and enough of a City Council that seemed unwilling or unable to do anything about it. It was time for a petition. It was time for some law. It was time to get the Golden City Council to do what the community was asking them to do.

The developers and their friends shuddered and them organized to prevent the people of Golden from performing so rash an act as to prevent them from making a killing on real estate speculation. It was unconscionable. It portended doom. It was un-American. It meant. . . accountability to the community!

Join GOLDENCO.ORG on a stroll down memory lane and watch as our booster friends pull out all the fiscal and rhetorical stops to oppose a limit on residential growth that voters ultimately approved by a landslide. Don't forget to click the links.

Webb Aldrich (Golden), "City Will Do 'Fine' Without Growth Limit," The Golden Transcript, Guest Column, 12 September 1995

Growth! Smart growth, NO growth, slow growth, controlled growth. What are we going to do about it?

These are the topics on every tongue in town. There is no doubt it is THE ISSUE in Golden today. Most of the recent letters written to this paper have addressed this issue, and most of them have been very emotional.

I am as concerned as anyone about the increased traffic, the stresses on our schools and infrastructures, and the threat to our small town way of life.

However, I am also concerned about the direction some of this emotion is taking us. I think it's time for a deep breath, some careful consideration of current growth limitation proposals and a good dose of our "small town" common sense.

Now what's got us all riled up is the current grading and construction of the Canyon Point development. It looks terrible!

But the fact of the matter is the Beverly Heights subdivision at the base of Lookout Mountain sits at a higher elevation on our hillsides than Canyon Point does, and in a few years, when trees and lawns are green, it will look much better. Due to our geographic constraints the remaining land for development in Golden is minimal.

Given the dust on the hillside, the increased traffic and all the frustrations that come with it, it becomes easy to walk out of Safeway and put your signature on a petition to limit growth. I understand how it can seem like the thing to do. Consider for a moment some of the unintended consequences a 1% limit on growth will create.

First of all, the notion of passing a law limiting growth suggests that this is a problem the citizens of Golden can's handle on their own, that it's so out of control that it needs to be regulated. I think not

I have been involved in this community for some time, and I have a tremendous amount of confidence in our ability to deal with any issue that comes our way through dialogue and collaboration, not regulation.

The proposed 1% growth limitation states, "Building permits shall be allotted so that those issued in 1996 and thereafter shall result in no more than 1% annual increase in the number of all dwelling units."

Who gets to be the lucky 1%? Is it the first 1%? The richest 1%? And how can anyone know what our growth needs will be from "1996 and thereafter"? That's a long time. Nobody's crystal ball is that good. The proposal is poorly thought out.

Consider also the effect this will have on the unincorporated areas surrounding our town. the severe restrictions of a 1% limitation would discourage annexation into Golden and open the door for Lakewood and Arvada to define our boarders. So the growth you fear happens anyway, and we have lost control.

The stated intention of this proposal is not to limit commercial or industrial growth, but that's exactly what will happen. Would companies considering coming to Golden, perhaps bringing good jobs (more than minimum wage) come here if there was not adequate housing for their employees?

It would also significantly raise housing costs. How would this effect the elderly or those of lower income who would like to live here? Would your children be able to afford to live in the town in which they grew up?

Developers and builders don't create growth, they simply supply a product created by demand. Growth is caused by the fact that we choose to have children, those smiling faces that are our future. Would you limit that? Would you deprive them of the American dream of owning a home in Golden?

The passage of a 1% growth limitation will almost certainly cause the city of Golden to be sued by powerful groups representing the building industry. These people are not going to let this type of limitation go unchallenged. This could cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills, bills that you and I have to pay.

Maintaining our small-town atmosphere is not going to be accomplished by passing a law. It is up to us to do that, by working together to create a balanced community. I think we'll do just fine.

Webb Aldrich (Golden), "Growth Initiative is 'Just Plain Wrong,'" The Golden Transcript, Guest Column 31 October 1995.

Now that much debate has been conducted on the 1% growth limitation, it becomes easy to vote "no" on ballot initiative No. 1. Clearly, this is no solution to the problems Golden is facing, such as the threat to our hillsides and the increased traffic. Having become informed, may Golden Residents have told me they initially favored the measure but have since changed their minds.

This is not the first place growth limits have been tried. Our neighbor to the north, Boulder, has limited growth to 2% with exemptions for some types of housing, and the results have been disastrous. They have not solved the problem with these limits, only forced growth to their borders and increased traffic and forced housing to be completely unaffordable. The average price of a home in Boulder is $238,000.

Why should Golden, having witnessed the failure of growth limits in Boulder, repeat this mistake? In fact, make it worse by passing a measure that is even more severe?

It is the severity of this measure that you must consider. It is a train wreck. It is ill-conceived. It is irresponsible. It is dysfunctional. "Limit building permits to 1% in 1996 and thereafter." No time limits. No grandfathering clauses for lots already approved to prevent lawsuits. No nothing. NO WAY.

This initiative, if approved, will never hurt people who have not already moved to Golden. They will just move elsewhere. This will hurt the people who already live here. This hurts us.

I have challenged the authors of this initiative repeatedly to address the issues of increased housing costs, increased taxes, certain lawsuits, a rush on building permits and all the other unintended consequences that must occur. Their response is, "Houses and taxes are already high." So what's their point? That things are already so bad it's OK to make them worse?

The truth of the matter is they don't have a good answer. They don't want to be confused by the facts. They claim this "will lend predictability to the planning process." Hogwash. The concept is just a warm, fuzzy feeling embraced by people with no business sense or experience. I wish I could impose some regulation on my business that would make it "predictable," that would be wonderful. But, alas, the market is cyclical, up and down, good times and bad. Always has been, always will be.

I know this appeals to many of you on an emotional level, that you feel something must be done to curb this growth. Would it surprise you that I feel that way too? Something must be done. But not this thing, not this 1% limit on permits. This is just plain wrong.

We need a hillside protection plan. We need the 470 link. Maybe moratoriums on new projects for a while. I would be willing to donate my time to work on a better plan.

Vote on Nov. 7. Vote informed. Vote with your brain, not your emotion. Send the authors of this initiative back to the drawing board to come up with a better plan. Urge them to include more diversity in their group, like local businesses and community leaders. Let's make sure we get responsible measures on the ballot. Do the right thing on election day. Vote no on initiative No. 1.

Webb Aldrich (Golden), "Letter to the Editor," The Golden Transcript, 2 November, 1995

In response to Mr. Parker's letter on the "sleazy" phone call he received, I can only guess that Mr. Parker has a very thin skin. There is nothing wrong with conducting a telephone survey in a heated political campaign.

There were no misleading or untrue statements used in this survey. It is no different from our flyers, newspaper ads, letters, or yard signs. We are merely presenting a position on the issue.

Mr. Parker's assertion that people who were surveyed are "victims" who have been "misled" suggests that you do not have the intelligence to make up your own mind on the issue.

Let's be clear. We think passage of the 1% growth limit is a disaster for Golden. We have presented clear and logical arguments why we think so. Are we trying to convince you that this is the wrong solution? You bet we are.

John Brunel (Golden) "Letter to the Editor," The Golden Transcript, 2 November 1995

Contributions to political issues and campaigns are filed with the city clerk and are public record. You can check on the contributions being made on both sides of the 1% growth issue.

While most of the donations made to Balanced Growth for Golden, the group led by Webb Aldrich, a Golden resident, were made by local citizens and businesses, I was appalled to find that the group which favors the 1% limit, the Committee to preserve Golden, was totally funded by Daniel M. Hayes of Arvada.

Why is this man, who doesn't live in our town, spending so much money in an effort to limit growth in Golden? You must question the motives involved here. Is the self-interest of one person, who lives in Coal Creek Canyon, in the best interest of over 14,000, who live in Golden?

While it is true that Aldrich's group has received some funding from local Realtors (sic) and builders, I would much rather they donate to the "No on 1%" campaign than to their corporate lawyers to sue the city of Golden, which seems likely should this inappropriate limit be passed. Vote no on 1% growth limitation #1. And to those people who do not live or work here, who spend who spend their money to influence events in Golden for their own selfish reasons, I say, Butt out."

Rick Lunnon (Arvada), "Letter to the Editor," The Golden Transcript, 26 October, 1995

While we are all frustrated with the complexity of growth issues, Ballot No. 1 is errantly misdirected.

Controlling population growth by limiting the housing supply makes no more sense than limiting the production of food or the manufacture of cars. Under Ballot Issue No. 1, Golden would be forced to refuse housing to two out of three people. To whom would you deny a home? A top national priority is provision of adequate housing for our population. Sufficient housing, complete with proximity to employment opportunities, is the major component on any "quality of life" survey and critical to reducing vehicular miles traveled with corresponding reduction in pollution and increased safety.

Statewide surveys indicate that traffic is perhaps the major community concern with population growth. Restricting home ownership, raising taxes, impacting operating expenses, and creating more government bureaucracy and waste are not the answer. Timely completion of current infrastructure and transportation improvements is the answer.

Don't restrict the completion of Golden's plans. Vote no on No. 1.

Bill Robie (Golden Equities, Inc.), "Letter to the Editor," The Golden Transcript, 10 October 1995

The statement is made on a flyer put out by the Committee to Preserve Golden, Dan Hayes, treasurer, promoting the 1% growth ordinance that "mistruths and emotional nonsense can sway votes." This is certainly true and no one seems to be doing a better job of it than Mr. Hayes.

The following are some prime examples from the "Green Outside Golden" letter by Mr. Hayes printed in the Transcript Sept. 28.

1. "If Golden grows anymore, a very costly new water treatment plant will be needed as this one is running at full capacity." Not correct. The present plant capacity is rated at 12.5 million gallons per day and this past summer had a peak day use of around 9 million gallons per day. The surplus translates into a capacity to serve about 5,000 additional people.

2. "Purchasing a $500,000 fire truck means the higher cost of city services has already begun." Again false. The new truck authorized for purchase by City Council is a scheduled replacement for a truck that is 20 years old. It is being acquired specifically for large commercial and office buildings such as those at Coors and Jefferson County and would normally never be used in residential situations.

3. Golden Equities is 'just another name for the Adolph Coors Company's real estate division" and are "inexperienced home builders." Golden Equities, Inc. is a small, full service real estate company formed under ACX Technologies, a publicly traded corporation separate from Adolph Coors Co. We don't build houses. Mr. Hayes is right when he states that Golden Equities is the developer of Canyon Point.

Let's have a fair discussion of the issue and try to stick with the facts.

Clay Wade (Lakewood), "Letter to the Editor," The Golden Transcript, 26 October 1995

Supporters of the 1% building permit ask: "How does growth benefit the average Golden citizen?" That question has clear and important answers.

Possible the supporters either were not here or do not remember who Golden was dying economically in the 1980s. Many downtown stores were vacant, the streets, utilities and parks were deteriorating and no new businesses were moving into town. When the city would try to attract new business or industry, the answer was always the same: "Sorry, but Golden lacks enough people to support our business." Today, the downtown rebirth is evident, and new companies are coming to town. A strong business tax base means more tax dollars to improve the community. This renewed economic vitality would not have taken place without an increase of new homeowners to support those businesses.

New homes contribute financially and aesthetically to the town in very direct ways. When most of Golden was developed before the 1970s there were no requirements to dedicate park or school land or to make drainage improvements. As a result, historic Golden lacked these basic features which are taken for granted today. Since the 1970s new residential developments have added significant park, trail and open space land to the city system for the use and enjoyment of everyone, and drainage improvements to reduce flooding through town.

Heritage Dells park, parkland in the Canyon Point community, and major open space areas in Mesa Meadows and Eagle Ridge have been contributed to the city as part of these development plans. Similarly, public use trails along the drainage ways of Tucker Gulch, Cressmans Gulch and Kenny Run were required as parts of these developments. As part of a recent subdivision for the Golden Ridge condominiums, the city will collect a park fee of $95,000 and a school fee of $180,000. the park fee will be used to complete a portion of the 10-foot-wide bicycle trail along Kenny Run, and the school fee will be held by the city until a suitable project is agreed upon with the school district. Clearly, modern residential developments make a much greater community contribution, both financial and aesthetic, than older developments.

Even more directly, new new residences in Golden have improved the existing city utility system. The limited economy of historic Golden did not provide for the routine replacement of utility lines. Water and sewer tap fees for a new home today cost $7,500; this is more than many older Golden homes cost to build originally. The recent tap fee collections from new homes have been used have been used to replace failing water and sewer mains in the older portions of the community. These new residents paid their "initiation fee" to Golden by replacing the 100-year-old utility lines of their new neighbors! This influx of new money ten allows the city to use its tax resources elsewhere to upgrade streets and parks and to provide improved police and recreation services.

In large part because of recent residential developments, Golden today is in sound fiscal condition. A reasonable mix of homes and businesses has created a balanced community which is improving financially and aesthetically. Limiting residential construction just as the market is slowing naturally will pull the plug on the Golden miracle of rebirth, and send the town into another cycle of economic decline. Don't kill the goose that is building the Golden nest egg: support the continued improvement of your community. On Nov. 7, vote no on ballot question 1 which would limit residential building permits to 1% per year.

Advertisement: The Golden Transcript, 2 November 1995

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