Perhaps the greatest upset of the November 7 election in Colorado was the approval by Denver voters of the citizen referred Initiative 300, better known as “Green Roof Initiative,” by a clear 54% to 46% margin. Denver resident Brandon Rietheimer and a group of environmental activists prevailed against the odds. They started this summer gaining signatures and submitted over 4,700 this past August to make the ballot.
The initiative mandates new buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must dedicate some of their roof space to trees, plants, solar panels or a mix. Existing buildings are not included unless they either expand to above 25,000 square feet or they need a new roof.
The initiative was opposed by all the forces and money that control the Mayor’s Office and the rest of the city. Rietheimer and his hardy band were outspent according to the financial disclosure records by an incredible 12 to 1 margin with the proponents raising only $20,000. Conversely the “no” side had over a quarter million dollars in their pockets to bend the voting public to their side.
The “no” contributors were a Who’s Who of those who wish to destroy Denver for their own purpose led by developer Pat Hamill’s Colorado Concern organization which has dozens of Denver fat cats whose only real “concern” is lining their own pockets at the expense of the public.
Will green roofs work? Will the Denver Botanic Gardens build an elaborate garden and display on top of its parking garage to the delight of thousands of visitors every year? It goes without saying that the same will reduce noise and pollution in the city which is never a bad idea.
The Mayor’s greedy friends argued that it would increase the cost of developments in the city and, of course, it will. Similarly, any open space requirements or parking requirements also raise the cost of the potential developments until they are waived by the city’s corrupt Community Planning and Development Department. The mayor’s friends believe that the only real purpose of parks and open space is to be monetized for commercial enterprises which, of course, they did to Ruby Hill Park and Overland Park Golf Course.
They also love to see parks used for massive drainage holes to save land for development on the I-70 project. Wouldn’t want the Mayor’s friends’ land to be used for such a purpose.
If you hate the idea of greenery on top of roofs don’t despair — it’s not going to actually happen. Mayor Hancock after passage of the Initiative stated, “We have always made a good-faith effort to implement the initiatives — once the people have spoken, that’s our job.”
He is, of course, lying.
Initiative 300 provides that it can be amended after six months with two-thirds vote of the City Council. Pat Hamill and his friends own more than two-thirds of the City Council and it will be slowly amended until the Initiative becomes virtually meaningless.
Moreover, any implementation would have to go through the Department of Community Planning and Development. Its Executive Director is the corpulent Brad Buchanan. He proved with his interpretation of no parking required for micro units that he will perversely interpret virtually any provision of law for benefit of high density developers. Rietheimer and his band of rebels will find that Buchanan will determine Ordinance 300 to mean exactly the opposite of what they intended. Buchanan is Denver’s very own Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland where any word in Ordinance 300 means “just what I [Brad Buchanan] choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Mr. Rietheimer unfortunately is going to get to learn how things really work in today’s City and County of Denver.
But citizens for the first time ever during the Hancock Administration have shown that they can defeat all the King’s horses and all the King’s men even when outspent 12 to 1. For the first time, Pat Hamill’s regime has suffered a loss. Let us pray that this is just the beginning and not a one-time aberration.
— Editorial Board