JEFFERSON COUNTY, COLO–The big election night story in Jefferson County (Jeffco) is the resounding rejection of Issue 1A, a sweeping attempt by county government to undo the fiscal restraints in Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). But elsewhere in the state’s fourth most populous county, voters were also busy saying no to various municipal level ballot measures.
In Mountain View, a small home rule municipality bordered by Denver and Wheat Ridge, voters rejected by ten percentage points a tax on short-term rentals, such as those arranged through gig economy platforms like Airbnb. The measure also sought to exempt the new tax money from revenue restrictions imposed by TABOR.
This, along with the 55-45 Jeffco voter rejection of a state-wide effort–Proposition CC–to permanently undo TABOR’s fiscal protections (Prop CC lost by roughly the same percentage state-wide), coupled with the thrashing of Jeffco 1A shows a strong preference by voters in and around Jefferson County to keep existing fiscal restraints on governments in place.
While Mountain View voters rejected the Airbnb tax, they did sign off on two other measures, one allowing the city council to increase the mayor’s compensation, and another limiting the mayor to three terms in office.
In Wheat Ridge, voters said no to planned density by overwhelmingly rejecting Question 2E, which asked approval of an ordinance rezoning a parcel of land consisting of four homes (4000-4066 Upham street) and currently zoned R-3 (meaning three residential units allowed per lot) to a “Planned Residential Development” consisting of 38 town homes in nine different buildings, and governed as a special taxing district.
The change was previously approved by the city, but a group of citizens opposing the effort launched a citizens’ initiative campaign against the rezoning. As the Wheat Ridge Transcript reported, “The group garnered more than 2,000 signatures, more than the 1,642 validated signatures needed to challenge the rezoning at the ballot box.”
The election shows a city government apparently largely disconnected from the sentiment of its citizens, as Wheat Ridge voters laid waste to the rezoning question by a margin of 62-38 percent.
In an opinion piece in Complete Colorado, land use economist Randal O’Toole examines new research that shows density doesn’t necessarily equate to affordable housing and that “rezoning neighborhoods for denser housing may actually make housing less affordable.”
And in Lakewood, voters rejected an effort to put city government in charge of contracting and providing for trash hauling and recycling, thus maintaining the status quo of homeowners being in charge of contracting with the hauler of their own choosing and preference. As with the Mountain View tax, Lakewood government also sought to exempt from TABOR revenue limits the undetermined city trash hauling fees authorized by the measure.
The question took a serious voter shellacking by a 57-43 margin.