DENVER - A ballot initiative that could go before voters this year would put strict limits on how much new housing can be built in some of the state's most populous counties, including Denver.
Initiative #66 is currently undergoing review at the Colorado Supreme Court. Its organizers would like to see it on the ballot in November, assuming they gather enough signatures.
If approved, Initiative #66 would limit residential growth to 1 percent annually over the next two years in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer and Weld counties. That means that for all of 2019 and 2020, any local government within those counties would be required to limit the number of residential building permits so that the number of new units for the year does not exceed 1 percent of current housing stock.
The counties wouldn't be able to amend or remove the limits until 2021.
For some of the counties named in the proposal, growth is already below 1 percent and the limit likely wouldn't even be met. But Adams, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, El Paso, Larimer and Weld counties all had residential growth rates over 1 percent in 2015, according to a fiscal analysis by the Legislative Council Staff.
That analysis also found the measure could not only reduce the amount of government revenue from building permits in those counties but it could also lead to higher home prices.
The proposal has many people in the real estate industry worried. The Denver Post reports that Oakwood Homes Chief Operating Officer Scott Thorson told industry professionals gathered at the Colorado Association of Realtors' Economic Summit on Wednesday that limiting growth could have big implications for the state's economy.
"This will bring our economy to a halt," Thorson said. "You don't bring affordability to a market by reducing supply."
Housing is already short in some areas, especially Denver, where the number of new rentals and for-sale homes has failed to keep pace with demand. That tight supply has led to steadily increasing home prices and rents and if a 1 percent growth limit were enacted, this problem may only get worse, according to the LCS analysis.