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Opinion: Lakewood voters don’t deserve praise; they deserve condemnation

Gary Wockner, in his op-ed in The Colorado Sun, applauded the decision by 18,771 Lakewood voters to limit the city’s production of housing as a means of reducing the “wrecking ball of growth.”

The 12% of Lakewood residents who voted yes — as well as the voters of Boulder and Golden in the 1980s & 90s — do not deserve praise.

Anthony V. Berkley

They deserve condemnation for shortsighted and selfish policies that will exacerbate the effects of climate change facing the Front Range. 

Growth is not a faucet to be turned on or off at a whim, it is the free movement of people. A strong job market in a desirable place to live like Colorado results in an increase in people moving to the state and into its major job centers.

Much of the growth in the Denver metro has actually come from rural Coloradans moving for job opportunities. This is a fundamental story in human history, people in rural areas leaving for growing cities in search of a better life. 

A ballot measure cannot stop the concentration of people to urban centers. When people moving to Denver cannot afford to live in neighboring cities, like Lakewood, then they will move to more distant, cheaper places.

This measure doesn’t stop or even slow growth, instead it selfishly moves it somewhere else, telling everyone that Lakewood doesn’t want you in their backyard. 

Mr. Wockner talks of his environmental concerns from increased growth, and there are serious concerns regarding the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by humans.

His citations of consumption and sourcing habits fail to recognize that population growth occurs regardless of Lakewood’s measure.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Instead of acting in an environmentally conscious manner, Lakewood has taken another step toward making the Front Range metro an expensive version of Phoenix or Houston. When Colorado says no to growth, as Mr. Wockner encourages, then Texas and Arizona will welcome the further sprawl. 

The EPA states that in 2017 transportation was the single largest emitter of GHG, representing 29% of all GHG’s produced.

Colorado is choking on pollutants from gridlock because we drive our cars every day to work, the grocery store, the mountains and anywhere else.

This ballot measure only increases commuting by car because it limits the number of people who can live in dense, walkable areas served by more efficient and environmentally friendly public transit.

Restricting density in the fifth-largest city in Colorado forces more people to live farther away from city centers where the only transportation option is cranking up a fossil-fuel-powered combustion engine. 

An environmental activist, Mr. Wockner is applauding and encouraging policies that actively work to degrade and destroy our environment.

By limiting growth in one city you support more land in another being converted to unending subdivisions, strip malls and square miles of parking lots. One estimate surmises that 70% of all land in a city is devoted to the car. 

Soon the miles between Denver and Colorado Springs will be endless Castle Rock subdivisions instead of the rolling green hills remnant of ancient mountains.

Restricting growth within our cities is not the answer. We must encourage policies that allow denser, greener development and reduce the need for individual automobile travel. 

Anthony V. Berkley is a nonprofit fundraiser and advocate for urbanist policies and better city design. 


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