home .
[poll archive] [home]
Anti-Sprawl Initiative Shows Early Support

Denver - The anti-sprawl initiative sponsored by a coalition of environmental groups is supported by 71 percent of voters, according to an early July metro Denver poll (43% "definite support" and 28% "somewhat support").

If the election were held today this initiative would likely receive about 60 percent approval based on its level of "definite support" and the likelihood that slightly more than half of those who claim "somewhat support" would vote "yes."

In a March statewide survey, the initiative garnered 75 percent support. Of that, its "definite support" level was 8 percent higher than in July (51% "definite support" and 24% "somewhat support"). Depending on the wording of their ballot language, initiatives often begin with a high level of support. The anti-sprawl initiative may be losing some ground due to early opposition from many local governments, newspapers and the business community.

The survey was conducted June 30 to July 7, 2000, with 502 registered voters in the six-county Denver metro area. The survey was conducted by Ciruli Associates for publication on the Web page www.ciruli.com.

The initiative, which is a constitutional amendment, requires cities and counties of a certain size to develop "growth area maps," submit plans for public vote and provide certain information about growth plan impacts.

Growing Too Fast

Colorado voters have been concerned about growth since mid-decade. When asked if the state is growing too fast, about right or not fast enough, large majorities say "too fast."

While nearly everyone has some concern about growth, there are differences in the intensity of concern. Denver suburbs such as Douglas County are among the most concerned; Pueblo is among the least (35%), although concern in Pueblo has increased over the last five years (up from 9%).

Reasons For Support

  • The growth control initiative begins with a very high level of public support. A number of political trends explain its strong position.

  • Air pollution, gridlock, sprawl and water shortages are top concerns for Colorado voters and they are all associated with rapid growth.

  • Large numbers of communities are enforcing growth limit policies either by voter-approved limits or city council and planning department slow downs of zoning and permitting processes.

  • Communities, including fiscally conservative areas like Colorado Springs and Douglas County, have shown a willingness to tax themselves for open space.

  • Currently, Republican suburbs are as concerned about sprawl and gridlock as are more Democratic central cities.

Question: Require cities and counties to establish growth boundaries that would be approved by local voters.

Opposition Arguments

Although the initiative begins with substantial support it will face a gauntlet of fierce opposition. City and county leadership is nearly united in opposition, as is most of the state's business community, especially those involved in real estate. Early indications suggest most of the state's editorial pages will also oppose. The primary arguments of the opposition are:

  • Constitutional amendment - By using a constitutional amendment instead of a statute, the initiative is subject to the charge of being too permanent and inflexible in the face of changing economic and land use conditions.

  • Applies to all cities/counties of certain size - The requirement applies to all cities and counties above a certain size. Opponents will argue "What's good for one city or county may not be good for all of them," and that one-size-fits-all, regardless of local circumstances, will override local control.

  • Requires repeated elections - Land use decisions will become politicized with potentially extensive and expensive campaigns for and against proposed growth plans and changes in plans.

  • Will harm the economy - Opponents will charge that job growth will be stopped and the cost of living will increase.

  • Reduces affordable housing - Slowing or stopping of housing growth in the face of constant or increasing demand inevitably increases housing prices and reduces affordable housing.

Both sides in this contest will be organized, but opponents have made clear they will spend several million dollars to convince voters the initiative is a mistake.

  • Telephone survey conducted by Ciruli Associates with random sample of 502 six-county metro area registered voters.

  • Interviews conducted June 20 to July 7, 2000

  • Statistical range of accuracy plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

  • Conducted for publication in www.ciruli.com, the official web site of pollster Floyd Ciruli.


[top] [poll archive] [home] [send this page to a friend]