Barbara Koelzer, Regional Government Affairs Director
Council Gives Final Approval to Ballot Measures: On September 3 the Boulder City Council on Tuesday gave final approval to send several real estate-related measures to the November ballot. One question will ask permission to extend a sales tax to support open space and the other would allow the City to take out $10 million in debt to start a down payment assistance program for middle-income earners looking to buy a home in Boulder.
The open space tax is seeking voter approval for a 20-year extension of a 0.15 percent sales tax to go toward the City’s open space program, with the money collected in the first year reserved to purchase a conservation easement at the 25-acre Long’s Gardens property to prevent its owner from selling the land.
The $10 million in debt would allow the City to take out a line of credit to help middle-income earners fill in gaps between the types of commercial loans they could qualify for and the cost of a mid-tier property in Boulder’s expensive housing market. The loans would have to be paid back in 10 years or at the time of sale, whichever comes first.
Council Continues Moratorium in Opportunity Zone: After hours of discussion, debate and public the Boulder City Council decided not to end a moratorium on development within the City’s Opportunity Zone. The Council asked staff to continue working on two related ordinances. The Opportunity Zone program was created in conjunction with the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. It allows investors to get tax incentives if they develop projects in economically distressed neighborhoods.
The City Council implemented the moratorium in February because of concerns that investors in Boulder’s Opportunity Zone, a 2.5-mile tact from 29th to 55th Streets and from Arapahoe Avenue to the Diagonal Highway, would increase gentrification. Affordable housing advocates warned that changes to the City’s land use regulations were needed to offset any new commercial development in the Opportunity Zone so that Boulder’s “jobs-housing imbalance” wasn’t increased. Mayor Suzanne Jones said the City wants to see more public benefit before allowing development in the Opportunity Zone.
LAR Announces City Council Candidate Endorsements: The Longmont Association of REALTORS® Board of Directors has confirmed the recommendations from the Government Affairs Committee to support the following candidates in the 2019 City Council election.
Brian Bagley – Brian served eight years on City Council before being elected mayor in 2017. He is pragmatic and said that while he doesn’t support the City’s inclusionary housing requirements, he knew that supporters had the votes to pass it and he worked to make it more palatable to developers. Likewise, he doesn’t support the wildlife and environmental policies of the current City Council, but he did the best he could to make the regulations less onerous for development. Brian said one of his top priorities for a second term is economic development.
Tim Waters – Tim is running unopposed. He often aligns with Mayor Bagley on key votes that are important to LAR (for example, the Mountain Brook development on Rodgers Road). He supports inclusionary housing because he thinks it will help create more housing for young families. However, he did help ensure that developers’ feedback was considered before the ordinance went through the public hearing process. Tim also said he is “committed to the notion that development needs to occur.”
Regan Sample – Regan is a REALTOR® and it would be very beneficial to LAR if he were to be elected because he understands and supports our industry. He opposes inclusionary housing. He supports the concept of affordability, but he does not believe inclusionary housing will accomplish that. Regan argued the City needs to “drive the City’s economic engine.” He believes good partnerships can create a welcome environment for businesses and a consistent City message and plan can help businesses thrive. In turn, that will encourage people to live in Longmont.
Jeff Moore – Jeff served one term on City Council until he was ousted by Marcia Martin 2017. He is not a fan of inclusionary housing because he believes it will increase home prices and doubts it will make Longmont more affordable. Jeff said he thinks some current members of Council want to reduce the amount of property that is available for development by creating overly strict development regulations. He also believes Longmont’s development process is too complicated and costly. According to Jeff, the Longmont Area Economic Partnership is doing a good job in terms of its economic development activities and the City can help by providing infrastructure to support economic development efforts.
LAR Supports 3B: LAR’s Board of Directors voted to support City of Longmont ballot question 3B which will ask voters to approve a .18 percent sales tax – 18 cents on $100 to fund a new recreation center, including an aquatic center with a 25 yard by 50 meter pool for swimming lessons, lap swimming, water aerobics and competitive swim meets and a separate leisure pool plus a NHL sized ice rink for skating and league hockey.
The plan includes space for a second sheet of ice in the future. In addition, the proposed rec center will include an exercise area with equipment and studio space for classes. Space can be rented for parties and gatherings as well as meeting rooms. The project will cost $45.5M.
The location for this new facility is to be determined. The city has several locations in mind. More information is available here: http://longmontpoolandice.com
Why is this a REALTOR issue? Adding these amenities in Longmont will improve the quality of life for current residents and encourage new businesses and workers to move here.
NAR’S Talking Points on the Administration’s GSE Proposal: The Trump Administration has released a blueprint for getting the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, out of conservatorship and for modernizing the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The plan involves potential administrative, regulatory, and legislative changes-and it’s the start of a process we expect to take several years. The administration’s plan won’t have any effect on housing markets in the short term.
NAR has been in direct meetings with the administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the GSEs, and we will continue to play an active role in the process. NAR applauds the movement forward on getting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of conservatorship and will be looking for areas of collaboration with the administration and with Congress. Potential areas of concern will be in capital requirements for the GSEs (increases will raise borrowing costs); guidelines for second and vacation homes; and underwriting requirements with the expiration of the so-called QM patch in January 2021.
Reforms to FHA and the secondary mortgage market have the potential to affect both the availability and the cost of mortgage credit for clients. Since 2008, as a consequence of the mortgage market meltdown, secondary-mortgage market giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (“the GSEs”) -have been under the conservatorship of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). During the Great Recession, conventional lending guidelines grew extremely tight, and FHA became a much more critical source of housing finance.
In the years that followed Treasury’s takeover of the GSEs, FHA’s share of the market has decreased, and Fannie and Freddie have returned to profitability, though their “profits” go straight into the U.S. Treasury. There have been many proposals over the years on the future of the GSEs. NAR released its own plan in February, and the plan has garnered the support of many industry groups. NAR will continue to promote its plan, which brings together the best of the public and private model in good times and bad.
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