Letter: New process would water down democracy
September 25, 2013
Editor's note: The following letter was originally written to members of the Aspen City Council.
Ordinance 36 as written would remove the final checkpoint currently held by voters for land-use reviews gone wrong at final government approval. Disguised as "streamlining to benefit developers," these changes, endorsed by developers, the city development department and elected officials, effectively steal the referendum process from the voters of Aspen by setting the referendum deadline 30 days after conceptual review rather than 30 days after final review.
It's obvious why developers, the city development department and elected officials are eager to grab this long-held checkpoint of direct democracy after final approval from the voters of Aspen. The problem with requiring the voters of Aspen to initiate a referendum on land-use reviews at conceptual, is that conceptual is when we are relying on representative democracy to do most of our decision making and it is only at final that the voters of Aspen begin to see what has gone right 90-plus percent of the time or discover the few times when development is not aligned with our community.
At conceptual, voters don't have sufficient data beyond the dimensions and uses to understand the implications of what is being proposed.
Don't approve an ordinance that would effectively steal the referendum process from the voters of Aspen by setting the referendum deadline 30 day after conceptual review rather than Aspen's long-standing 30 days after final review.
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