Urban renewal is the latest in a long string of issues in which the City of Littleton finds itself fighting to effect progressive change against those who would prefer to maintain the status quo.
History, however, has provided the opportunity to see when the various opposition groups were right and when they were wrong.
In the early 1990s, they were right to oppose an increased sales tax. In the 2000s, they were right to oppose the huge expansion and construction costs of a new police station.
They were wrong when they opposed the funding and construction of South Platte Park in the '70s. Wrong when they opposed construction and funding of the Littleton Historical Museum in the '80s. Wrong when, in the '90s, they opposed widening Main Street sidewalks and historical designations in Old Downtown.
The Independent has sometimes sided with these groups when we thought they were right.
But this time, we believe the members of Your Littleton, Your Vote are wrong about urban renewal, and we urge you to vote no on Initiative 300. We believe in property rights and believe a yes vote on 2A is appropriate.
Initiative 300 requires a vote of the people for the use of bonds as a tool for tax increment financing. That would essentially stop the use of bonds in its tracks, which would slow down economic development in the city.
It comes down to two factors: One, Your Littleton, Your Vote members don't trust the elected city council to make good decisions. Two, they don't like the way the statewide, urban-renewal law is written.
Your Littleton, Your Vote should be thanked for helping bring urban renewal to the forefront of conversations throughout Littleton and, especially, between the city and other segments of local government. As a result, we believe the city will do a better job of listening and responding to affected parties before council casts its votes.
But, we do believe in letting elected officials make the tough decisions. This is called a representative government. The four Urban Renewal Redevelopment plans on the LIFT-Littleton website total 212 pages of reading. In today's era of 140-character Twitter feeds, we doubt the majority of voters will take the time to fully educate themselves on the plans. Therefore, it will come down to what we saw during the last major elections - which side can sell its sound bites the best.
We don't think this is any way to present Littleton to investors. It is expensive to redevelop a property. It takes vision, courage, money and stamina. Most investors come from outside our 13.9 square miles. Just sending Initiative 300 to a vote of the people hurts Littleton's image of being pro-business and a good place in which to invest. We don't see it as realistic that developers would invest time and money into a project, then sit back and let residents decide its potential fate by a vote. We don't see this election - which could cost upward of $30,000 - that Your Littleton, Your Vote forced on the city as being fiscally sound. And we certainly don't want to see it repeated.
Littleton has a history of thoughtful representatives on city council. And the urban-renewal process will take time. If that process does not go well, then residents can always elect new faces to council. But as a city, we need to send a resounding message to businesses, big and small, that Littleton is open for business. Come invest your money here, not elsewhere.
To do that, the citizens of Littleton should overwhelmingly vote no on Initiative 300 and yes on 2A.