Aug 8, 2022 - News

Denver ballot measures on sidewalks, education and more are locked

Illustration of a ballot being dropped into the Denver skyline.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The signatures are in. Denver voters will weigh four citizen-led initiatives in this November's midterm, the city's elections division tells us.

Why it matters: The ballot questions mostly seek to increase taxes and fees to cover the cost of the proposals.

  • In recent elections, Denver residents voted openly for tax hikes, but this year's ballot, which comes at a time of economic constraint, may test voters' mood.

Details: From mitigating the effects of climate change to protecting low-income residents, the local measures vary widely.

1. My Spark Denver, which made the ballot Friday, would use a 4.5% sales tax on marijuana products and a portion of the existing tax on cannabis to fund out-of-school enrichment and learning opportunities for local kids.

  • The initiative is led by John Bailey, chair of the Colorado Black Round Table.

2. Denver Deserves Sidewalks β€” backed by Denver Streets Partnership, an advocacy group for people-friendly roadways β€” would charge property owners a fee for the construction and maintenance of sidewalks citywide.

  • An average single-family home could expect to pay about $107 a year, or roughly $9 per month. A 20% discount would apply in historically underserved areas, including East Colfax, Elyria-Swansea and Montbello.

3. No Eviction Without Representation would raise taxes roughly $12 million (which would increase in future years based on the Colorado consumer price index) to provide free legal representation for people facing evictions.

  • The proposal β€” pushed by a group of renters' advocates called NEWR Denver β€” would also charge a $75 yearly fee per rental unit for larger landlords.

4. Waste No More would require all Denver businesses, including restaurants, hospitals and hotels, to offer compost and recycling services.

  • The initiative, organized by local activist and mayoral candidate Ean Tafoya, would also mandate construction companies to dispose of materials more sustainably.

What's next: Denver officials are advancing proposals that would change the requirements around citizen-led initiatives in years to come, and potentially make it harder for measures to make the ballot.

  • One proposal moving forward, which the City Council will soon vote on, would require 2% of total required signatures (about 9,000 today) to come from each of the 11 districts.
  • If council members give the green light, the measure will be referred to voters for the final decision on the ballot Nov. 8, because it requires a change to the city's charter.

What to watch: The Colorado ballot is expected to feature at least seven statewide measures with more possible.

  • Monday is the deadline to submit signatures to qualify.
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