|Tents line Pearl Street and 16th Avenue in Denver, |
Dec. 1, 2020 | Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
In 2019, Denver voters crushed by 83 percent an effort by homeless advocates to legalize public camping. In 2020, city voters approved a 0.25 percent tax increase for the homeless, but the problem hardly receded, rather it grew more visible, requiring more dramatic actions, such as a ban on camping in the Civic Center. However, homeless camps appear to simply move to other sidewalks, vacant lots and parks. In reaction, Initiative 303 has been placed on the ballot. It would enforce a camping ban on private property, with property owners holding the city legally liable if they don’t take action. In response, many city leaders and civic groups are opposing it. The sponsor is the head of the out-of-power Republican Party in Denver. But if it passes, it will be a sign of a full-scale revolt over homelessness in Denver.
The homeless isn’t the only challenge bedeviling Denver’s political establishment. A host of other city initiatives are being resisted by proposals on the November ballot that could open the 2023 city council and mayor’s races to a wild moment in the city’s political history.
Nov. 2, 2021 Municipal Elections
- 2E – National Western arena - $190 million. Although most of the bond package may pass since Denver voters have a history of approval, but the arena is struggling. And even a million-dollar campaign may not pass it, causing another blow to the mayor and political establishment.
- 2F – Ban group living quarters in residential areas. If voters reject the city’s effort to densify and spread group treatment facilities to various neighborhoods, it will be a powerful rebuke of City Council and the planners and advocates they follow.
- 303 Ban camping on private property and limit it on city land. As discussed above, if this passes, especially by a significant margin, expect the next wave of Denver city candidates to re-orient themselves around the issue as groups and politicians adopting the “progressive” label have to play defense.
These three issues will indicate if Denver continues its progressive direction or shifts to the right on some issues.