The Denver Limited Local Growth Ballot Initiative

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Real Estate

What is the Limited Local Growth Ballot Initiative?


The Limited Local Growth Ballot Initiative has been making news lately and many people might be wondering what it is and what it means for the Denver area. So, let’s talk about it.


This Initiative involves three key points that you should be aware of:


·         It’s an Initiative aimed at limiting growth in the Metro area to 1% and the yardstick for growth is the number of building permits that are issued.

·         The Initiative also imposes time limits for when voters can reconsider or alter the terms in any manner.

·         Proponents hope this initiative will improve growth-related headaches like traffic congestion and high home prices.  


How will this Initiative impact you?


Yes, we have traffic that seems to be getting exponentially worse and high home prices that show no sign of slowing down. However, this Initiative, while well-intentioned, will unfortunately end up doing much more harm than good.


Problem #1


Growth is based on the number of building permits pulled. However, building permits are not limited to new construction. Have you ever replaced a furnace or water heater in your house? Have you ever put a new roof on your home after a hail storm? Have you ever finished a basement and your contractor pulled permits in order to complete the project? All of these projects require permits, and none of them pertain to constructing a new home; yet, under this proposed Initiative, all of these permits will count in the 1%. Can you imagine not being able to replace a water heater because the number of permits issued has already maxed out?


Essentially, counting building permits in order to measure growth skews the numbers in a dramatic fashion and won’t give an accurate count of what’s new vs. what’s improvement on existing homes. Furthermore, this Initiative may lead many people – house flippers in particular – to shy away from pulling permits for renovations and flips for fear of not being issued the permits due to the “growth” limits having been already exceeded. This may lead to shoddy work and major issues that slip through the cracks because the check-and-balance system enforced by permitting isn’t in place.


Problem #2


The second problem has to do with the construction industry and the economy. Limiting growth based on building permits will immediately and directly impact those who work in construction as they watch their project pipeline reduce significantly or, in some cases, dry up completely. Think about all the professions involved in building and renovating homes - architecture, roofing, plumbing, masonry, woodworking to name a few – and all the people employed in these industries; if growth is limited, and incorrectly at that, those employed in the construction industry may no longer be able to contribute to the economy and the unemployment rate may rise as a result. Now we have an even bigger issue on our hands.


Problem #3


We’ve all watched the Denver metro home prices rise exponentially over the last few years. However, the remedy for high home prices is increasing inventory, not limiting growth. Limiting growth based on the number of permits issued will reduce the number of homes being built and/or re-sold; hence, the supply of inventory will be less - which intensifies the already high demand – and home prices may be driven higher than they already are, which is exactly the opposite of what this Initiative intends.


My answer?


To answer the question proposed in the title of this article – helpful or harmful –  the answer is harmful. This Initiative, again while well-intended – will produce more detrimental results with potentially devastating, multi-faceted consequences.


So, when you stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things on your way home from work (after being stuck in traffic…), and the petitioner thrusts the petition in your face and says that this Initiative is the answer to your traffic woes, know that there’s more to it and think twice before adding your name.





Renee Cohen is a Colorado Realtor with a passion for helping her clients find their dream homes in the challenging Denver market. She loves educating her clients about the market, advocating on their behalf, and helping them make informed decisions. Reputable. Reliable. Remarkable. Real Estate. Contact Renee to assist you with your real estate needs!