Glenwood Springs may scrap for-sale affordable housing requirement |

Glenwood Springs may scrap for-sale affordable housing requirement

Site preparation is underway for the new Cardiff Mesa development in south Glenwood Springs. The project is the first to consider taking advantage of the city's new fee waivers for voluntary rental caps.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

A provision in the Glenwood Springs development code requiring residential developers to build 15 percent of a project as deed-restricted affordable housing is up for consideration.

The so-called inclusionary housing requirement was first adopted in 2001 as one way to maintain a stock of below-market housing during a time of rapid growth and rising housing costs. It has been suspended for the past six years as the city sought to provide incentives for new construction in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

Now, it is before City Council tonight for a possible vote to fully repeal the mandate, allowing developers to instead voluntarily provide deed-restricted rental housing in exchange for fee waivers.

As a lead-up to that possible decision, council has scheduled a 4 p.m. work session to more fully discuss the ramifications in the context of the pending development code overhaul.

“The work session is in part to seek direction from council about how to proceed with affordable housing related to inclusionary housing,” said Jenn Ooton, assistant city manager, economic and community development director.

“We will be asking for direction about whether to include inclusionary housing requirements in the development code rewrite,” she said.

City Council enacted a temporary waiver to the inclusionary “community housing” requirement in September 2011, as the city looked to spark the local economy by spurring new development. The waiver has since been extended twice.

Even during the time it was in effect, the provision only resulted in 10 deed-restricted units scattered around Glenwood, three of which were lost in foreclosure during the recession. Among the restrictions are income qualifiers for buyers based on the area median income, an annual appreciation cap on resales, and a provision that the units must be occupied by the owners.

Recently, the city increased emphasis on obtaining rental units, both free market and with voluntary rent caps, in exchange for certain impact fee waivers for developers.

That optional provision would remain on the books under the ordinance being considered by council.

For now, developer Pete Waller’s Cardiff Mesa project on Airport Road is the only one to take advantage of the voluntary affordable rental housing program. Several of those units are being purchased by the Roaring Fork School District as part of its new teacher housing program.

The rental restriction places a limit on the amount of rent that can be charged based on a qualified tenant’s income, which is no more than 120 percent of the area median income. Renters must also be employed within the Glenwood Springs ZIP code.

City Attorney Karl Hanlon noted that, with several potential housing developments in the works, council wanted to make sure the new development code and related housing provisions are finalized as soon as possible.

It’s possible the city could keep for-sale deed restricted housing in the code as a voluntary provision, also in exchange for fee waivers, Hanlon said.

“That’s a conversation we can have at the work session, and whether we want to totally give upon the idea of keeping for-sale units in the mix,” he said.

The code rewrite is tentatively scheduled for public hearings and adoption soon after the first of the year.

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