To the Editor:
I had heard about the mayor's inappropriate questioning of Dan Fosha of the Sierra Club during the hearing on Amendment 24 (Public Eye, Oct. 5). Her questions implied that Dan was too young and not in the right profession to be taken seriously.
The mayor's questions join a rich legacy of both subtle and overt exclusion of those without wealth and power from our country's democratic institutions. Our country began by institutionalizing the exclusions of Colonial America -- few rights for slaves, American Indians, women, or those who did not own land. In our country's short history, men and women of vision have fought tirelessly to remove the laws of discrimination. But the bulwark of racism, sexism, and classism continues to bestow privilege to the rich, the white, and the male in the year 2000.
Politicians rushing to take credit and show solidarity for the media-hyped prosperity trample over the millions who live a paycheck, or closer, away from homelessness.
Our law officers perpetuate racial profiling and our prisons overflow with racial minorities and the poor, thanks in part to the war on drugs.
Violence perpetrated against women is swept under the rug, and wage disparities deny real self-sufficiency for a woman and her child who have been tossed off welfare rolls.
Behind gated communities, the rising tide of hate crimes against gays, immigrants, Blacks and Hispanics seems safely distant.
Then, when those of us not of the right class, race, age, sex, or sexual orientation have the nerve to show up for public meetings we are viewed with suspicion. Our elected or appointed public servants make sure that we have signed-in and jumped through the procedural hoops. They ask us where we are employed, how old we are, do we own a house, are we on welfare, when we moved here ... are we aware that our time limit to speak is up! And we watch leaders waive the forms and pump the hands of the "desirable" citizens as they step up to the microphone to speak.
As members of this community, we must demand that our halls of government promote equal access, equal treatment, and equal consideration -- casting off their legacy of exclusion. Being human should be credentials enough to earn respectful treatment at the next public hearing.
The sky won't fall
To the Editor:
As a former Colorado Springs resident and a City Planning Department intern, reading Malcolm Howard's overview of the developers' arguments against Amendment 24 ("Urban Sprawl," Oct. 5) causes me to shake my head in amusement that the developers' objections are unchanged after 30 years.
Amendment 24 is a rather modest proposal to direct and channel growth, not to stop it.
Independent readers are enlightened enough to recognize the false warnings of the developers and vote in favor of Amendment 24. As a visitor to Colorado Springs in Y2K, I can reassure everyone that Colorado Springs sprawled exponentially in my lifetime and the city, its current and future residents, will benefit by passage of Amendment 24.
It's not political
To the Editor:
I resent the accusation in Cara DeGette's October 5 Public Eye column that "even" I wouldn't support Amendment 24 because it would be "political suicide." If Cara had thought to ask me, I would tell her I wasn't thinking about my future in politics when I opposed 24.
I do support sound planning for growth management despite strong opposition by many in the development community. In fact, I supported the vast majority of growth management bills that came before the state Legislature last session. I also support the strong growth management proposals in our city's new Comprehensive Plan. It's Amendment 24 that worries me.
At first glance, Amendment 24 reads well. Voters will have a say in how their communities grow. New development will pay its own way. Cities and counties will be required to work together to plan for growth. It discourages leapfrog development and encourages infill. I have no problem with many of the intentions of Amendment 24. It's the unintended consequences that have made me oppose it.
The main problem with Amendment 24 is that new growth can only occur outside of cities by voter approval of growth maps every November. In El Paso County, for example, that map may contain a dozen different land uses at hundreds of locations. County voters will have a huge menu of choices to "disapprove" of at the ballot box. It would only take a few groups of voters who don't like a particular land use or fear more traffic on their side of the county to collectively send the whole map to defeat. These new growth maps are doomed from the start. If Amendment 24 passes, the result could produce a circle around most Front Range cities, with accelerated growth inside and little growth outside.
As a public official, I am concerned about the circle. Will Colorado Springs absorb a disproportionate share of the Front Range's new growth because we have more room to grow than other Colorado cities? Do we have the traffic infrastructure to support an accelerated growth boom in Colorado Springs? Will the price of housing skyrocket and affect the city's already dwindling supply of affordable housing? Will accelerated development pressures jeopardize the integrity of established neighborhoods or new open-space acquisitions inside the circle?
The important message in Amendment 24 is that many Coloradoans (sic) are fed up. They feel that growth and sprawl have gotten out of control and elected officials have done little about it. I couldn't agree more. I just don't think that Amendment 24 is the right solution.
-- Councilman Richard Skorman
What about landowners like me?
To the Editor:
Malcolm Howard brought up some interesting points about growth and urban sprawl. However, he neglected to talk about the impact on the individual landowners of Colorado. In the mountains west of Colorado Springs there are numerous subdivisions which have already been divided into lots of two or more acres.
Typically these lots do not have central water systems or sewage treatment facilities and are less than 50 percent developed. Section 2, Paragraph 2a of Amendment 24 would seem to put a halt on future home building in these subdivisions even though the areas have been (as Amendment 24 puts it) committed. The so-called "Committed Area" must meet the requirements of Section 2, Paragraph 2a. Did you read the amendment prior to writing the article? As an owner of a parcel located off of Teller 1 in a less than 50 percent developed subdivision, I have serious concerns over Amendment 24. Is it justified that individual landowners such as myself have a voter approved home? I think not.
Amendment 24 gets a NO vote from me.
-->Earl W. Bottorff
Over the Internet
The "dumb growth" lobby
To the Editor:
In the early 1970s Dick Lamm tried to form a State Land Board with power over local land use. Some called it "one board to bribe."
Well, we've tried having counties and cities oversee land use and found that having hundreds of boards to bribe hasn't worked either. So why not try bribing the voters?
Imagine developers offering parks, affordable housing, recreation and senior centers, school buildings, bike paths, etc.
Citizens, rather than developer-controlled politicians, would be in charge: "If your project benefits our community, we'll vote to include it in our growth area."
No wonder the realtor/developer "dumb growth" lobby is spending millions to oppose it.
Today we subsidize growth through increased taxes, reduced services, or decreased quality of life. Why shouldn't these costs be laid out for us to vote on? Didn't we do that with TABOR?
TABOR forced governments to clearly justify tax increases. Citizens responded by voting new taxes for good projects. I'm confident they'll do the same with land use decisions.
If you think government has done a good job on planning and growth, vote against 24. But if you feel it's time to put the brakes on expensive sprawl, support the Responsible Growth Initiative, Amendment 24.
--Mark B. Emmer
Support D-11 mill levy
To the Editor:
Whether you have school-age children or not, it is critical that all residents of District 11 support the District 11 mil levy override. Whether we have children in school or not, we all benefit greatly from a sound local education system.
The value of our property depends upon it. The value of our local businesses depends upon it. The value of our community depends upon it. If we let the value of our school system decline, our property values decline.
A declining school system means a less educated work force, lower productivity, poorer service and economic decline. A declining school system results in an increase in socio- economic problems such as unemployment, under-employment, drug use and crime.
District 11 faces operating cutbacks and further increases in class sizes without our help. The district has no signficant path to financial stability without a mill levy override. Objective, independent audits of the district's finances have confirmed this.
This vote is about us all working as a community to ensure a quality educational system that benefits everyone. Please vote for your community by supporting the District 11 mil levy override.
Power to the citizens
To the Editor:
If there is anything I've learned in the short time I've lived in Colorado Springs, it's the "cozy" relationship between elected officials and developers. Simply put, they all have their hands in each others self-serving pockets.
Amendment 24 will enable ordinary citizens, and not the power elite, to have a legal say in the matters concerning urban sprawl and lack of associated infrastructure services that accompany irresponsible development.
Preserve our neighborhood too
To the Editor:
We applaud our City Council members for voting to designate the North End neighborhood as a Historic Preservation District! If all such deserving areas were preserved in this fashion, there would be little need for the growth initiative that will be on our November ballot.
Who are we? We are the 221 homeowners in beautiful Brookwood. This is a subdivision, which was born in 1965 at the intersection of Academy and Woodmen when Woodmen was an unimproved dirt roadway. We are a very unique community, probably as special as that of the old North End. Our homes are built on spacious half-acre tracts, are custom built so that each home is one of a kind, are beautifully landscaped with mature trees and flower gardens, and, according to the real estate industry, is one of the most beautiful areas in all of the Springs.
Today, as I read the daily editorial in our Gazette, there seems to be an inference that we should abandon our homes as was done in the Falcon Estates to make way for the inevitable freeway or thruway. It is unreasonable to single out Woodmen Road for such a venture when seven long established neighborhoods would be destroyed, plus scores of businesses.
We agreed long ago that Woodmen should be a six-lane arterial, and we will live with that. However, we expect that other east-west roads will also agree to improve their roads to share the traffic load. Barring that, it is time for us to be declared a Historical Preservation District!
--Lester S. Schultz
Why I'm voting for Nader
To the Editor:
I find the idea that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush, or a vote for Buchanan a vote for Gore, incredibly bizarre, detached from reality (though it is usually mislabeled realism), and profoundly disillusioned. While voters will state plainly that they would like to vote for someone else, they fall back on the old lesser-of-two-evils nonsense. While they denounce the two-party system, in the same breath they will support it with the twisted logic of the lesser evil which, at bottom, buys into that system and its joint ideologies.
If you vote for someone that you do not support, whose goals you do not share, and whose principles do not represent you, then you are wasting your vote. There is no value in being on the winning team. If you make minimum wage or are discriminated against because of race, gender, or disability, your harassment will not end nor wages rise after casting your vote for the winner. This is not gambling; this is democracy. There are no prizes for picking the lucky number. This is not a test; there are no points for picking the right answer. This is supposed to be a democracy. (Yeah, I know, you don't have to say it.)
I am going to vote for Ralph Nader because he is the only candidate that represents me. I believe that in voting for him I further my principles and interest, if not in this election then in future elections. If Buchanan, or Harry Browne or Howard Phillips or Dave McReynolds or John Hagelin best fit you, then you would be a fool not to vote for them. There is nothing realistic or intelligent about casting a vote of confidence in a political arrangement you have no confidence in, in legitimizing a political reality that you believe is contrary to your own life and lifestyle, and in supporting established parties that only solicit your support during elections with empty rhetoric and bizarre threats about the horrors of not being on the winning team and failing the test.
Yes to higher property values
To the Editor:
Congrats to Mark Cunningham (Your Turn, Oct. 12) for his articulate column. He perfectly summarizes the arguments of the Amendment 24 opponents, arguments that are reasonable for about eight seconds. A few comments regarding one angle of his presentation:
Amendment 24 will drive up the value of my home. That's a bad thing?
Sprawling residential construction will keep the value of my home down. That's a good thing? Unabated home construction will eventually produce a surplus, which will decrease the value of my home. That's good?
Over the last five years, the cost of housing in the Pike's Peak region has skyrocketed; my home has increased in value more than 50 percent. We haven't heard a peep of protest from the realty community during this time. Their sudden concern with affordable housing is a transparent self-serving ruse.
Amendment 24 may reduce the number of realtors in our city and state, another reason to vote yes.