Rapid Growth and a Small Town Recall Effort

A group of organizers in the small town of Elizabeth, Colorado (population 1,700) wants to recall its entire City Council as an act of defiance in the face of rapid change and growth.

2 minute read

October 8, 2019, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


sevenMaps7 / Shutterstock

"Forty miles from downtown Denver, where horse properties are plentiful and urban aggravations few, Elizabeth is starting to feel the city’s hot breath on its municipal neck," writes John Aguilar.

The Elbert County town of 1,700 "butts up against the eastern edge of fast-growing Douglas County" and doesn't want the development pressure changing the region, according to Aguilar. "So much so that they have launched an unprecedented effort to boot from office the town’s entire elected government."

Slow-growth advocates in Elizabeth don't have to look far to find an example of what might happen to the city if development interests are given free reign. The nearby city of Parker, just up State Highway 83, had 6,000 residents 30 years ago. Now Parker's population has reached 55,000. The recall effort is organizing under the slogan "We Are Not Parker."

As noted by Parker, the city's proposed comprehensive plan allows for substantial growth in the city's population. "The town’s comprehensive plan, which has been undergoing a contentious public review over the last few months, anticipates a buildout population in Elizabeth of 20,000 — a more than tenfold increase from today — over the next two decades."

According to Aguilar, the town is beset by population growth all over the Denver metropolitan area. Another 1 million residents are expected in the metropolitan area by 2050. In Douglas County, the population is expected to climb from 345,000 today to more than 442,000 by 2038.

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