Barbara Koelzer, Regional Government Affairs Director
Revisions to Mobile Home Sales Regulations: Boulder’s City Council passed an ordinance on Feb. 16 designed to solve concerns related to challenges faced by homeowners when selling mobile or manufactured homes. Owners of these homes reported park managers or owners interfered, discouraged or delayed sales or purchases. The ordinance requires park managers to provide information on park rules and leases within three days and expands the timeline to provide notice of buyer approval or denial of entrance into the community to 10 business days, among other new requirements.
The Council was pleased with the ordinance, which passed unanimously. “This project helps preserve affordable market-rate housing in Boulder,” said Adam Swetlik. Mayor Sam Weaver boasted that Boulder was a leader in the area of manufactured housing, saying, “We are helping lead the State forward, so this is a great step.”
City STEAMS Forward: In 2018 the City Council adopted a work plan that included a new vision for the St. Vrain River corridor from the Sugar Mill to the Fairgrounds. Staff was directed to proceed with a new planning initiative to create an “epicenter of science, technology, education, arts and mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.)” to become a vibrant economic, residential, cultural, and entertainment district.
On February 16 the City Council received an update on this project from Tony Chacon, the City’s Redevelopment Manager and Glen Van NimWegen, the new Director of Planning. COVID caused some delays but staff is ready to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for STEAM in May. Chacon said because of its past history and uses the area is likely subject to some form of environmental degradation, which will qualify it as a “brownfields redevelopment area.” While this means its redevelopment will be expensive, it also means the City qualifies for brownfields grants from State and Federal agencies.
During limited comments following the presentation Councilmember Joan Peck said she is excited about STEAM, while Mayor Pro Tem Aren Rodriguez and Councilmember Polly Christensen voiced reservations. Rodriguez said he felt the City would be better served to focus on the Highway 287 (Main Street) redevelopment program rather than the Sugar Mill site. Christensen said she agreed with Rodriguez and advised the staff to start with the commercial sub-plans for the project versus the residential component to create “an automatic rental pool.”
Note: In conjunction with this project the City hired the services of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), which will present its findings on the Sugar Mill site to the City Council later this spring. The ULI offers experience to community leaders to influence “compact development, transportation, urban design and workforce housing.”
COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Legislative Update: The 2021 legislative session resumed on February 16 and CAR lobbyists and staff were busy reviewing hundreds of bills. CAR’s Legislative Policy Committee (LPC) met and discussed the 30 real estate related bills introduced so far on Feb. 19.
The LPC directed CAR’s lobbying team to do its best to amend bills of most concern, for example House Bill 1117 “Local Government Authority to Promote Affordable Housing Units.” This bill appears to be an attempt to weaken Colorado’s statutory prohibition on rent control, by emphasizing the legislature’s authority to permit local rent control ordinances as long as such ordinances provide a choice of options to the developer when requiring the construction of affordable housing units.
Note: More information on the bills of most interest to real estate will be provided later in the session. As mentioned, many bills CAR is watching are in an “amend” position. The hope is that these bills will see substantive revisions if CAR’s lobbying team and other political allies are successful.
NAR Report Outlines Policies to Address Housing Affordability Problems: Nationwide housing inventory is lower than it’s been since the National Association of Realtors® began tracking this data in 1982. To continue its work to address a problem that has long plagued American communities and has been worsened by COVID-19, NAR just released new research arguing that the nation’s affordability crisis will require policymakers to adopt a number of localized solutions. The paper, State and Local Policy Strategies to Advance Housing Affordability, recommends lawmakers pursue solutions through three key avenues: financial policy measures; policies aimed at increasing the supply of housing and zoning; and permitting policy reform.
In a presentation, the report’s authors said Colorado one of the worst-hit states re affordability. They said the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood metropolitan area is one of the least affordable markets among large-sized metro areas. Other large-size markets that are similarly unaffordable include San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara (CA), Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade(CA) and Portland (OR). Among small metro markets, the only Colorado city to make the least affordable list was Boulder.
The authors admit there are no “silver bullets” to magically solve housing affordability. They describe a variety of policies such as down payment assistance, accessory dwelling units, density bonuses and inclusionary zoning, saying “governments and policymakers should look for a combination of policies that best fits the needs of their communities and local housing markets>” Read the report here:
NAR’s Advocacy Agenda for the 117th Congress: What are NAR’s advocacy objectives for the next two years? The Association has four goals: Improve Access to Homeownership, Enable a Quick Economic Recovery After COVId-19, Ensure Fair Housing for All and Build Strong, Resilient Communities and Businesses.
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