Luxury apartments loom across the street from a neighborhood full of older single-family homes and ample yard space in Lakewood, Colo., on Wednesday, July 6, 2023.

A Colorado city put a cap on new housing - and proved why it doesn't work

The experiences of Lakewood, Colorado, a city where a grassroots movement instituted a growth cap to protect its family-oriented character and lush green spaces, suggest that growth caps don’t work to make cost of living more affordable – but other mechanisms can.

Photographed for The Guardian

Cathy Kentner, a music teacher who has lived in Lakewood since 1998, stands for a portrait at Slater Elementary School, where she teaches music, on Wednesday, July 6, 2023. She and other residents of the Denver suburb fought to pass the Strategic Growth Initiative, which slowed housing stock growth there starting in 2020.

A for sale sign is reflected in a single-family home window in Lakewood.

Luxury apartments loom over the home.

An affordable housing development is seen as people fish at Kendrick Lake Park in Lakewood on Wednesday, July 6, 2023.

Stephanie Deveaux, a long-time Lakewood resident, stands for a portrait on a rainy evening at Kendrick Lake Park, her favorite in the city, on Wednesday, July 6, 2023. Deveaux loves Lakewood’s parks and doesn’t want to see its green spaces developed.

Ripped up grass sits in a parking lot next to a luxury apartment complex construction site.

Asphalt lays in the grass near the same construction site.

An apartment complex borders previous farmland unincorporated Jefferson County, just outside of Lakewood, on Wednesday, July 6, 2023.

A development application sign lays in a grassy field on Wednesday, July 6, 2023.


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