Under the Dome: Governor Unveils Affordable Housing and Land Use Proposal

Priola, Marchman Pushed to Vote Against Transportation Sneak Attack

The long awaited and much anticipated affordable housing bill, Senate Bill 23-213 was unveiled by Governor Jared Polis last week.  The NCLA will consider the over 100-page proposal during its board meeting this week.  The proposal outllines a series of statewide policy provisions including an overlay of statewide minimum standards for local governments to follow in their land use decision making related to housing, parking and higher densities in identified regions of the state.   Further, the state, the plan articulates, “shall set Strategic Growth Objectives to incentivize growth in transit-oriented areas, infill areas, and strategic and efficient growth at the edges of urban areas.”

In presenting the measure the Governor and advocates noted the proposal’s benefits to driving housing options that are “more affordable and use less energy, water and land.”  The plan contemplates the state standards around future growth in the state to serve as a “’north star’ to guide state, regional, and local entities as they make funding and planning decisions with the objective to make “progress towards state goals around cost savings for residents and governments, reduced water consumption, lower greenhouse gas and air pollution emissions, and reduced loss of open space and agricultural lands.”

Fort Collins, Loveand and Greeley, by their community size, would be subjected to policy standards applicable to “Tier One” municipalities including:

  • A required housing needs assessement and plan.
    • Housing Needs Plans are the mechanism for municipalities to report implementation efforts for ADUs, Middle Housing, and Transit Oriented Communities/Key Corridors.
  • Accessory Dwelling Units and “Middle Housing”
    • Give property owners the option to build ADUs and Middle Housing (duplexes, townhomes, triplexes, quadplexes, multiplexes up to 6 units) within existing residential areas.
    • Projects that meet the standards must be administratively approved by the municipality.
    • Municipalities may not require new off-street parking for these housing types
  • Transit Oriented Communities and Key Corridors
    • TOC and Key Corridors are areas where multi-family housing can be located near jobs and transit within existing urbanized area
    • Zoning must meet a minimum gross density of 40 units per acre and minimum district size.
    • Municipalities must approve multi-family housing in these areas administratively as a permitted use.
  • Affordability Barriers
    • Minimum unit square footage:  
      • Municipalities may not require minimum square footage for residential units,
    • Family status occupancy restrictions:
      • Municipalities (and counties) may not establish or enforce residential occupancy limits based on familial relationships
    • Streamlining manufactured housing:
      • Municipalities may not treat the development of manufactured/modular housing differently than the development of site built units.
    • Transportation:
      • Ensure transportation planning is consistent with state Strategic Growth Objectives through updates to the following:

Municipal leaders across Colorado, through the Coloado Municipal League, are expressing strong opposition to the measure claiming it usurps historic and constitutional local control in the name of state interests.  Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, whose city just completed its own land-use reform, was recently quoted to say, “…apparently, we’re too stupid to understand the need for affordable housing and only the state understands what we need to do.”

NCLA Leads Coalition To Push NoCo Senators to Vote No on Surprise Transportation Funding Policy

After learning that State Senate Transportation Committee Chair Faith Winter slipped an amendment into a House bill to change representation on the State Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) by making a complete change to how Colorado’s Transportation Planning Regions (TPRs) are defined and drawn, as described by last week’s UTD, the NCLA jumped into action to reverse the policy. 

Senator Barb Kirkmeyer (R-Weld) has taken point within the Senate to rebuke the amendment.  Senator Joann Ginal (D-Larimer) also opposes the amendment.  The NCLA is leading a NoCo coalition with Weld County, the City of Greeley and other NoCo leaders to push Senator Kevin Priola (D-Weld/Adams) and Senator Janice Marchman (D-Larimer/Boulder) to vote against the conference committee amendment. 

In a letter sent to the Senators, the NoCo Coalition shared:

“The Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance*, Weld County, the City of Greeley, the City of Loveland MPO Representative, and the Chairs of the North Front Range MPO and Upper Front Range TPR are ardently opposed to the amendment to HB 23-1101 coming out of the Senate Transportation Committee and are equally firmly opposed to HB 23-1101’s First Conference Committee Report amendment.  We strongly urge your “No” vote on the motion to adopt the Conference Committee Report in the Senate.”

Arguing that there hasn’t been a call by the appropriate bodies for a change to the TPR boundaries and furthermore, processes exist internal to the Transportation Commission and the STAC for changes if there is a demand.

Northern Colorado, through our North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization (NFRMPO) and the Upper Front Range Transportation Planning Region (UFR TPR), retains two critical seats on the State Transportation Advisory Committee (STAC) of its 17 members.  Based upon the criteria outlined in the report, the letter argues, it is very likely there will be a collapse of our two TPRs into one, thereby diminishing northern Colorado’s voice on the STAC with the consequential result being a diminished voice in the funding process and fewer dollars flowing to the region. 

“We are ex-urban, front range communities,” the NCLA Coalition stated, “with major interstates (I-25, I-76) and highways (e.g. US 34, US 85, US 287) with significant lane miles intersecting our region with substantial, and critically important, freight, farm-to-market and passenger movement.  Consequently, our interests align with maintaining the long proven and established TPR Boundaries and STAC structure, priorities, and representation.”

The Senate will take up the question of the adoption of the amendment in the conference committee report this week.  

NCLA Tracking Report

On a bi-weekly basis, the NCLA Board reviews and considers its position on pending legislation.  See the NCLA 2023 Legislative Tracking Report for the list of bills, thus far introduced, in which the NCLA is engaged.


© 2023 Fort Collins, Greeley & Loveland Chambers of Commerce • Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp. • Upstate Colorado Economic Development