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|Support for Anti-Sprawl Initiative Drops
Colorado's initiative process allows voters to change the governing charter of the state at every general election. The last constitutional change of major impact was the 1992 TABOR Amendment, which radically altered state and local public finance procedures. This year Amendment 24, the initiative to stop sprawl, could have an equally significant effect on local government land use policies, the shape of city boundaries, county development patterns and the value of real estate.
Amendment 24 garnered a substantial 62 percent support among likely voters as of the end of September, but that reflects a drop of 13 percentage points from March of this year.
The Amendment wins a lower level of support among non-metro residents and Republicans than among metro residents and Democrats. The strong opposition of local government leaders, including many Democrats, along with opposition from the popular Republican governor is having a negative effect on the initiative.
Supporters do have campaign funds for television advertising but they will be outspent at least 4-to-1 thanks to a $4 million war-chest assembled by corporate and real estate interests.
All growth control measures that have been on local ballots in Colorado have been subject to severe criticism. Still, several have passed. However, Colorado's staunch support for the concept of local control is a powerful obstacle for statewide changes targeting local governing districts.
The amendment's weakness lies not in any particular feature, but in the lack of credible spokespersons who deal with growth and development issues on a regular basis. John Fielder is effective, but fails to offer an expert viewpoint or be joined by others who do. Many city and county officials and legislators are, like the public, concerned about growth and would like more tools to strengthen local and regional ability to manage growth. But few of them have endorsed the initiative. This dearth of local support has left the initiative vulnerable to opponents charges.