On Tuesday and the weeks leading up to it, Denver residents voted on a variety of ballot measures. Almost every one affected or would have affected taxes and affordability, and unfortunately, almost every one passed.
Referred Question 2I (Passed 67-33): The library property tax hike, the only measure I saw any signs for, passed by a 2-1 margin, despite the fact that the library budget has more than kept pace with inflation plus population.
Referred Question 2J (Passed 70-30): A de-TABORing measure which will allow the city to keep all the sales tax revenue raised under 2020’s Measure 2A, devoting it to climate and greenhouse gas programs. Only slightly less ridiculous than the 1980s mania for cities declaring themselves “nuclear free zones,” the measure imposes city-wide restrictions for a planet-wide problem, assuming you think there is a problem.
Referred Question 2K (Passed 71-29): Question 2K does the same thing as 2J, but for 2020’s Measure 2B, allowing the city to keep all the revenue raised under that measure, and spend it on homeless programming. Never mind that the region is spending half a billion dollars already on this problem. It imposes no requirement to see what programming is actually working, and just feeds the beast with more money.
Referred Question 2L (Passed 80-20): This measure compresses the timeline for getting on the municipal ballot for mayor or city council, making it harder to get oxygen in the wake of national elections, and making it easier for the progressive clique to perpetuate itself. So good luck voting ourselves out of this mess we’re voting ourselves into.
Initiated Ordinance 305 (Failed 41-59): The lone bright spot, this measure would have taxed landlords $75 per property to fund legal assistance for tenants involved in eviction proceedings. This measure was one step too far for Denverites, at least this time. Denver just imposed a fee for inspections, and apparently voters thought it was unfair to ask landlords to pay for both sides of an eviction.
Initiated Ordinance 306 (Passed 69-31): Now under Denver law, apartments complexes, businesses, and food waste producers (including grocery stores, food trucks, hospitals, restaurants, and special events) will need to provide recycling and composting facilities, as well and bilingual signage for them. Amusingly, this passed the same week that Greenpeace finally admitted that plastic recycling doesn’t actually recycle very much plastic. Too late, and the effect will be to limit food trucks and to consolidate special event businesses into the hands of larger promoters.
Initiated Ordinance 307 (Passed 54-46): This is probably the most damaging of all, so bad that even the Denver Post opposed it. It will create a sidewalk enterprise and a fee for homeowners based on sidewalk frontage to fund it, and the money will go to new sidewalks and sidewalk repair. Congratulations, one of the least affordable housing markets in the country just got less affordable.
What does this mean for the future of Denver? Each one of these measures contributes, in its own small, or not-so-small way to making Denver less affordable, especially for families, who will make their way to the suburbs.
Over the long term, these votes are symptomatic of a voter base seemingly determined to mimic the trajectories of such progressive places as Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco, with the crime and homelessness such policies bring in their wake.
Joshua Sharf is a Denver resident and a regular contributor to Complete Colorado.
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