“Colorado’s job growth has a downside. Along the urban corridor where the Rocky Mountains meet the plains, home prices are climbing, luxury apartments are multiplying, and commuters are getting stuck in traffic. Parking spaces on some main streets and popular trailheads are jampacked.
Now some locals, frustrated with the pace of development, are trying to slow it down.
“Every place that you go, it’s overwhelmed by people, just like California,” said Daniel Hayes, a rental home manager based in Golden, Colorado, who has proposed a statewide ballot initiative to restrict new housing construction in most urban areas, which the Colorado Supreme Court has yet to approve for circulation. “Is that what we want?”
Anti-growth feeling is bubbling up in some Western communities — particularly in cities adding people and housing faster than the national average — even as city leaders and affordable housing advocates call for more homebuilding and downtown density to combat traffic and rising home prices.
In Boise, Idaho, a mayoral candidate this year called for building a wall around the state to keep newcomers out (particularly wealthy Californians). Although that candidate didn’t advance to the runoff, managing growth remains a key question in local politics, said Charles Hunt, an assistant professor of political science at Boise State University.
“Regardless of where you stand on it,” he said, “the question of growth has been the fundamental policy question in the Treasure Valley over the last five years.”
In Salt Lake County, Utah, residents last year convinced their mayor to veto a huge apartment and townhome project. Utah added residents faster than any other state during the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and Salt Lake County’s population jumped by 12%.
And in tiny Elizabeth, Colorado, anti-growth activists are trying to recall all the town’s elected officials for approving development projects they fear will turn Elizabeth — population 1,416 — into the next Denver exurb boomtown. Over the past decade, more than 10,000 people moved to a nearby town, Parker, boosting its population by close to 23%.
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Zalubowski, David. Pew 25 November 2019.