Stephen Sparn: Unintended consequences of ballot issue 300

I am writing to be sure that my neighbors are aware of a very dangerous citizen initiative in this November’s election called ballot issue 300 and urge them to vote “No.” This innocuous-sounding “Neighborhood” initiative changes our city’s charter and could pit our neighbors against each other for decades. Initiative 300 would first divide our community into more than 60 enclaves giving a mere 10 percent of any enclave the right to force a costly election if they don’t like a development. Correct — a small minority of 10 percent could force a costly election if they don’t agree with a project.

As a University Hill resident for 27 years, I think back on the potential impacts such an initiative might have had on my neighborhood. I remember approximately 20 years ago that a dilapidated former girls academy at Ninth and Aurora was proposing to create a seniors living community. Almost immediately a group of adjacent neighbors formed and actively fought this project for several years. Through the process, our Planning Board and City Council listened to both the neighborhood and the applicant and, at the end of the day, the Academy Senior Living Community was created. The process worked.

Had initiative 300 been in place, this great project would have likely been derailed by a small minority. I believe the academy has proven to be a wonderful neighbor and an important asset to our community, but probably would not have survived had this initiative been in place. Citizens initiatives often sound good on the face, but many times have significant unintended consequences. Think how the Tabor Amendment has hamstrung our state, counties, cities and schools since it was adopted into the state Constitution. ballot initiative 300 is bad for our neighborhoods and community. Please vote no on 300.

Article originally published in Daily Camera on September 16, 2015