In yesterday’s elections, voters in 43 Colorado communities – 26 cities and towns and 17 counties – went to the polls to vote on referenda that would seek to restore the ability of local communities and counties to pursue strategies to improve broadband access free from state restrictions. In a fantastic victory for local choice, all 43 referenda were passed, with over 70 percent of voters supporting the proposals. In several communities, the margins were even higher – 90 percent of Durango voters and 93 percent of Telluride voters supported local choice for broadband! As an organization dedicated to supporting local choice, Next Century Cities is excited and encouraged by this gesture of overwhelming support from Coloradans.
These 43 communities are the latest to opt out of Colorado’s restrictive SB 152. Passed 10 years ago, SB 152 limited the ability of cities, towns, and counties to determine their telecommunications choices and ensure access to broadband Internet for millions of Coloradans. As Walt Lyons, a small businessman in Fort Collins, wrote in a letter to the Coloradoan supporting the city’s referendum to repeal SB 152:
“A no-vote means nothing happens — and the status quo will be hugely detrimental to our future economic development. Outdoor Magazine now ranks Chattanooga (not Fort Collins) as ‘the Best Town Ever.’ One reason? An affordable city-sponsored, gigabit fiber network triggered a venture capital boom of high-tech startups.”
The results of yesterday’s referenda offer the chance for better Internet connectivity in the Colorado, providing more opportunities to local businesses, schools, and residents.