A proposed ballot initiative wants to limit new home construction to 1 percent a year
of current stock along the Front Range.
What we think:
Consequences of limiting construction harms jobs, home prices and economic development.
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A proposed ballot initiative would create higher home prices, cost jobs and harm economic development throughout the state.
Initiative 66 is a “no growth” initiative that would limit new home and multifamily construction in the 10 most-populated counties in the state. El Paso County currently ranks second for population and is expected to be the most-populated county by 2050.
Essentially, the ballot initiative limits new housing to 1 percent of current stock in 2019 and 2020 not only in El Paso County, but also in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld counties. The U.S. Census says the county has 272,568 housing units, so the measure limits new housing to 2,725 new housing units. That’s far below the 5,625 housing permits pulled in 2017, according to figures from Pikes Peak Regional Building. And below the number economists estimate we need to keep up with population growth.
After two years, the housing caps would remain in place, unless 5 percent of the voters in a jurisdiction sign on to a ballot initiative to repeal it in their cities, towns and counties. Then it would require a vote of the people.
Colorado Springs needs more housing options, not fewer.
Capping development of single- and multifamily homes would put upward pressure on prices and rents — and would create an unnecessary burden on families, construction businesses and economic development.
Colorado Springs would face an additional burden as well. About 80 percent of the city’s military population from Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base and Cheyenne Mountain Air Station live in local housing. Military families would see already limited budgets stretched tighter.
And while the state is seeing an average in-migration of 1.7 percent a year, in Colorado Springs, the growth is about 3 percent. A recent report estimates that the Front Range has a deficit of about 32,000 homes, and that deficit won’t be addressed if Initiative 66 passes.
Studies from the Common Sense Policy Roundtable — a nonprofit, free enterprise think tank focused on Colorado policy issues — estimate the loss to Colorado’s economy could be between $5.2 billion and $7.8 billion in the first two years — and that’s just lost construction activity.
Hundreds of construction jobs will go away. Construction companies and homebuilders might close their doors and, as new businesses seek affordable places to move, they’ll mark Colorado off their short lists because home prices — already seeing double-digit growth — will go even higher.
Far from being overbuilt, the Colorado Springs market needs more housing at every level — there’s an increased demand as the population grows. People won’t stop moving to Colorado. Instead, they’ll resort to the kind of makeshift options seen in California’s most expensive cities. They’ll rent a home and have a dozen roommates; they’ll live in cars and go to their jobs; they’ll move into tents along Fountain Creek.
Or they’ll pay rents and mortgages, but have less disposable income. New cars, new appliances, a night out at the restaurant will be out of reach, particularly given that local wages are lower than the state average — and those businesses will suffer as well. Service-related businesses will cut jobs to make ends meet and unemployment will rise.
Proponents are waiting on final approval from the secretary of state and then can start gathering signatures.
Don’t sign the petition, and contact your legislator. Act now to stop Initiative 66.