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Denver Ballot Measure 2O - Ballot Information Booklet - Arguments for and Against

Updated: Apr 2, 2023

We can't find the actual text for the Ballot Information Booklet on the city's websites, so we scanned in the mailed booklet and have converted the Ballot Measures text to be easily read here online, along with arguments for and against measure 2O. Even though Denver residents already clearly voted against lifting the easement in 2021, the developers are trying again to fool us into gifting them our precious open space so they can cut down mature trees, pave over and build 5-8+ story buildings on much of the land. There is no guarantee there will be affordable housing nor grocery stores, but by lifting the easement it does guarantee construction and development of much of the land. Contrary to the arguments for voting yes to lift the easement, this open space DOES NOT need to remain a golf course under the easement, it only cannot be developed into buildings.


We recommend to vote NO on 2O to protect this open space protected under the city-owned easement. The easement was put in place to protect some of the last open space in our city for the community.



Here is the Ballot Information Booklet text so you can read both sides of the argument to lift the protective easement:


Referred Question 20

The ballot title below was drafted by the professional legal staff for the Denver City Council for ballot purposes only. The ballot title will not appear in the Denver Revised Municipal Code. The text of the measure that will appear in the Denver Revised Municipal Code below was referred to the voters by the Denver City Council.


A “yes/for” vote on any ballot issue is a vote in favor of changing current law or existing circumstances, and a “no/against” vote on any ballot issue is a vote against changing current law or existing circumstances.


Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver authorize the release of the City-owned conservation easement on privately owned property known as the Park Hill Golf Course, which requires the land to be used primarily for golf-related purposes, and allow for commercial and residential development, including affordable housing, and public regional park, trail and open space?


Fiscal information on Referred Question 20

The Department of Finance has determined that the ability of the City and County of Denver to release the conservation easement does not, in itself, have any fiscal impact; however, the release of the conservation easement would allow the City to complete the development agreement available at the City Council website for Council Bill 23-1634 and for the City to receive the compensation described in that development agreement over time. Compensation to the City in the development agreement includes various potential improvements, including payments to the City over $20 million and immediate City ownership of an 80-acre portion of the 155 acres of property currently subject to the easement. The final total value of the property and ongoing maintenance costs cannot be calculated until the property apportionment is finally determined.


Summary of the major arguments AGAINST Referred Question 20:


The Office of the Clerk and Recorder received the following comments against Referred Question 20. The comments have been summarized to meet the legal word limit.


Denver neighborhoods could really use this open space! Vote NO on 2O to protect this, some of the last of the open space in Denver. Instead of 5-8 story buildings, this could become Denver's THIRD largest park!

Vote NO on Referred Question 20! There was nothing ambiguous about the November 2021 vote on ballot initiatives 301 and 302. Throughout the city and in precincts neighboring the Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC) land, voters spoke - loudly and clearly by a 2-to-1 margin - in support of preserving the PHGC land’s conservation easement and protecting open space.


The real estate developer couldn’t fool voters the first time, and they won’t be fooled this second time either. This Referred Question 20 ballot language presents a false choice between (1) mixed use development and (2) a golf course.


Here’s the simple legal truth: After the voters reject this ballot measure, if the developer chooses not to operate a golf course on the protected PHGC land, it and the City can easily amend the conservation easement to provide for open space and recreational “permitted uses” other than a golf course. The City administration stated in a March 2021 FAQ that one possible outcome is “simply amending (the conservation easement) to remove the golf course use.”


Affordable housing is a main concern for Denver voters, and now we have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to have both a fabulous new full-size 155-acre regional park and new affordable housing without adding 12-story buildings along Colorado Boulevard as the developer’s plans reflect. New affordable housing near the PHGC land will be built on the 7-acre Urban Land Conservancy property to the north, in addition to the extensive properties around and west of the A-Line station where significant dense, transit-oriented development will happen.


Development should occur around the protected PHGC land—not on it. People living and working in nearby neighborhoods and all Denver residents will reap the invaluable health and environmental benefits of preserving the PHGC land as a regional park.


This election presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to preserve an invaluable parcel of Denver open space that the City should purchase for a park using funds generated by the Measure 2A Parks and Open Space 0.25% sales tax that voters approved in 2018. The purchase price would be no more than the land’s estimated $5 million fair market value with the conservation easement in place.


The City’s own recently commissioned “Environmental, Parks, Open Space & Recreation Technical Assessment” study concluded that the neighborhoods around the PHGC land need at least 183.5 acres of new park land to meet the national average for park acreage per 1,000 residents.


Since Denver citizens own the PHGC land conservation easement, we also own the development rights on the land that today have an estimated fair market value of at least $60 million. Breaking the conservation easement would be terrible public policy and would result in a multi-million-dollar gift from Denver taxpayers to the developer in violation of the Colorado Constitution’s prohibition against public entities making gifts to private parties.


Vote NO on Referred Question 20!


Text of Measure Note: This measure does not propose any changes to Denver’s Charter or the Denver Revised Municipal Code.


Voter information: DenverVotes.org/Voterinfo

Voter registration & updates: GoVoteColorado.gov

 

Summary of the major arguments in favor of Referred Question 20


The Office of the Clerk and Recorder received the following comments in favor of Referred Question 20. The comments have been summarized to meet the legal word limit.

By voting YES on Park Hill, Denver can approve a mixed-use, mixed-income community in Northeast voter information: DenverVotes.orgiVoterinfo


Denver with new housing, retail storefronts, restaurants, and a much-needed grocery store.

Right now, Denver estimates a deficit of approximately 50,000 affordable housing units. This unprecedented housing shortage impacts teachers, nurses, first responders, seniors, and low-income families, and it also contributes to housing insecurity and homelessness.


The housing plan for Park Hill includes hundreds of units of income-restricted, for-sale affordable housing to catalyze home-buying opportunities for our teachers, nurses and middle-class earners who are shut out of Denver’s housing market. With leading housing nonprofit organizations involved in the affordable housing component, Denver can make significant strides in reducing the affordable housing deficit.


A YES vote will add—not take away—more than 100 acres of parks and open space for the public, creating the 4th largest public park in Denver and the City’s 11th regional park. Instead of a water-intensive golf course, the site will be green and sustainable, with a commitment to energy efficiency, water conservation, new pollinator protections, and a range of public improements and amenities paid for by the landowner.


Denver faces acute short- and long-term crises with our affordable housing shortage and climate change. Converting this golf course into new parks and housing adjacent to rail transit and future planned bus rapid transit is a unique opportunity to address both simultaneously and likely represents one of Denver’s last opportunities to do so at this scale. Repurposing a defunct golf course into an actual community asset where people can afford to live should be everyone’s priority. This is the future of Denver, and it needs to finally get started. The project will rely on some of the largest and most trusted nonprofit organizations in Denver to deliver on its commitment to new affordable housing. 14 voter registration & updates: GoVoteColorado.gov


Because the land is privately owned and closed to the public, it is not and has never been accessible open space, but that can change on April 4. By voting YES, Denver can set aside nearly two-thirds of the site for brand-new public parks and open space. Through the donation of more than 100 acres of privately owned land to the City of Denver, Park Hill can become home to Denver’s 4th largest public park, and the landowner will invest more than $24 million to build the park and park-supporting infrastructure for the enjoyment of the whole city.


With a YES vote, Denver can end decades of underinvestment in Northeast Denver through an enforceable contract between the community and the landowner. Park Hill can finally have a grocery store in what is now a food desert, as well as millions of dollars in developer-funded public improvements, the 303 ArtWay Heritage Trail, jobs and workforce training, priority consideration of women- and minority-owned businesses for procurement of goods and services at the development, and financial assistance to offset rising property taxes.

 

The above arguments in favor of voting for 2O are written by the developers and contain false information and empty promises.

Do not fall for the bait to lift the easement to allow them to cut down trees and pave over much of this precious open space. There is already a ton of development of housing being built throughout Denver, and this open space must be protected for all of those who are living in small apartments in the skyrises that are already built and being developed. The city of Denver needs more park space and trees for everyone to enjoy – so preserving the open space easement is critical for our city's future. Denver has less park space than most other large cities in our country, and it's time (again) that we put our foot down and protect this open space easement. Denver does have funds to purchase this land back for use as park space, so it really could become Denver's 3rd largest park if we leave the easement in place so that Westside cannot develop it.


Don't let the developers fool us into giving away this precious open space. Please vote to keep the easement in place again, and Vote NO on 2O.




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