By Nikolaus Remus, AIA, Government Affairs Manager at AIA Colorado
* See full version in the November 21 edition of Colorado Real Estate Journal.
The 2018 elections in Colorado were shaping up to have a sizable impact on design and construction professionals throughout the state. Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at which ballot initiatives passed, which didn’t, and how the democratic gains and majorities will shape the next two years.
Why AIA Colorado Opposed Amendment 74
AIA Colorado, as well as allied professional organizations ACEC Colorado and AGC Colorado, were among the many groups opposed to Amendment 74. This amendment would have added “reduced in fair market value” to the list of government actions that would require compensation to property owners. Conceived as a way to protect mineral rights of landowners, the broad language proposed would have actually made it nearly impossible for governments to enact any land use regulation without fear of legal action. Zoning codes, building codes, city planning, and historic districts are some of the tools used by governments to promote responsible growth, and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public—and Amendment 74 would have significantly limited that. Colorado would have been the only state in the nation to have to consider property values as well. Oregon learned this lesson the hard way when a similar measure was passed in 2004, but significantly scaled back just three years later.
Why AIA Colorado Supported Proposition 110
Colorado residents voted a resounding “no” to transportation Propositions 109 and 110, with nearly 60% of voters opposing both. Neither was a perfect solution to solving our transportation funding struggles, but Proposition 110 in particular was a sophisticated attempt to invest in communities and state highways. This was a missed opportunity to support local development with the transportation infrastructure we so desperately need as Colorado continues to grow and thrive. From AIA Colorado’s perspective, the buildings we design mean nothing if the public does not have reliable roads and transportation to get there.
What Democratic Control Might Mean for Architects & The Public
Democrats had a hugely successful election day this year, winning every statewide office on the ballot and regaining the Senate after four years of republican control. With Jared Polis elected as Governor and the House remaining in democratic control, the upcoming legislative session is going to look very different than it has in recent years. More than likely, the legislature will tackle the same issues that were not successful as ballot initiatives: education funding, transportation funding and oil/gas regulations. Given that voters were against initiatives that would have raised taxes, the legislature will face the same challenges as in previous years for funding priorities. Despite fatigue around further construction defect reform, conversation around the issue may again bubble up. We’re seeing more multi-family for-sale projects being developed, but stakeholders still disagree on how well the recent changes are working for owners versus developers.
Bottom Line: What Does this All Mean for Colorado
It’s difficult to predict this soon after the election what the General Assembly tone will be in 2019. There are several democratic priorities that won’t directly impact the design and construction professions, but AIA Colorado will continue to monitor legislative proposals. We will also be ramping up our member advocacy initiatives to better equip architects to share their perspective and get involved in the democratic process, even in non-election years. As we know, Colorado is poised to continue growing, and we hope that responsibly supporting that growth in the state legislature won’t disappear in the middle of a partisan divide.