Bill called blow to housing efforts |

Bill called blow to housing efforts

The Colorado Municipal League is predicting a “nasty” battle over a Colorado Senate bill that would prohibit deed-restricted housing, which has kept prices at below market rates in parts of Garfield County.

“This is a direct shot at our ability to adopt inclusionary zoning ordinances, or adopt other policies addressing affordable housing in our cities, towns and counties,” said Colorado Municipal League lobbyist Sam Mamet.

Inclusionary housing is a term towns and counties often use for deed-restricted housing, which in this case generally caps the annual appreciation on some housing at resale.

Senate Bill 154, sponsored by Mark Hillman, R-Burlington, would prohibit counties and municipalities from enacting ordinances or resolutions that would ” … require an owner to sell the property below its fair market value.”

Hillman said he has two main reasons for sponsoring the bill. It burdens developers who might initially be required to sell new houses at below-market rates. And to make up for that, developers charge for more free market housing, so the buyers of these homes in effect subsidize deed-restricted housing.

The town of Basalt responded quickly to Hillman’s bill, after the Colorado Municipal League alerted its members last Tuesday.

“Senate Bill 03-154 would have a devastating effect on the Community Housing Program and inclusionary zoning regulations for the Town of Basalt,” said Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens in a letter to state senators.

“There is only one reason for a property to sell for below market value, and that is for the few properties in our Community Housing Program that have appreciation caps to guarantee permanent affordability. In this way, future owners of the same property will have the opportunity to purchase a home in the same area of their work, where the average free market home costs in excess of $390,000 – clearly unaffordable to the majority of our workforce.”

When asked to comment on Basalt’s high housing costs, Hillman said, “Then the people of Basalt should be asked to pass a tax to subsidize affordable housing.”

Aspen and Pitkin County have required deed-restricted housing in some case for several years, and also build affordable housing through a real estate transfer tax.

Carbondale got involved in deed-restricted housing when River Valley Ranch developers voluntarily placed restrictions on the project’s 55-unit Thompson Corner neighborhood. Later, Carbondale trustees passed an ordinance that requires deed-restricted housing in subdivisions of five units or more.

Senate Bill 154 does not apply to any state agency, county or municipality seeking “to manage and control any property in which it has an interest through a housing authority or similar agency,” according to the legislation.

Mamet said Senate Bill 154 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate State Affairs Committee at 1:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 3.

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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