Open house for the Glenwood Springs Strategic Housing Plan draws community input
The city of Glenwood Springs had a good turnout for its Strategic Housing Plan update open house on Monday.
City staff presented the work done to date on the Strategic Housing Plan and allowed the community to leave comments. The presentation can be found on the city website and the survey for comment will remain online until Feb. 28.
“This is part of the update of our strategic housing plan,” senior planner Watkins Fulk-Gray said. “So that plan is going to be an important document for the community. We’re hoping to be done with it by summer.”
The city did receive help in creating the strategy with a consulting company called Economic and Planning Systems, which was paid for through a Department of Local Affairs Grant.
Key parts of the plan include:
Vacant Land and Partnerships
One of the most accessible ways to create more affordable housing is utilizing vacant city-owned land, and developing partnerships, the plan states.
One example is the partnership between the city and Habitat for Humanity to build housing on two separate parcels; one by the Glenwood Springs Airport and another at Eighth Street and Midland Avenue.
“We’re hoping that the habitat project is going to be successful and that we can learn lessons from that and do more of these projects potentially, in the right circumstance,” Fulk-Gray said.
Glenwood Springs is the land owner while Habitat for Humanity is the developer, creating a public private partnership, or a P3, as explained in the plan.
“A P3 works best when both parties can achieve the needed returns to justify the investment,” according to the presentation. “For the private side, this takes the form of financial returns. For the public side, it represents advancing community goals, for example affordable housing inventory.”
With city owned land, they would have the ability to either sell or lease the land to developers. In the case of leasing, the city would have more sustaining long-term affordable housing and in the case of sale, the city would create revenue.
Some disadvantages would include the city having less control over the housing in the case of a sale, or developers being less interested in leasing property.
Possible criteria for city-owned land include the need to create affordability and housing diversity or a variety of housing sizes or room count.
Other criteria could include community benefits like adding community spaces or ground floor retail businesses.
Potential financial criteria include making sure it is financially feasible with a return on investment, having it be only a minimal commitment on additional resources and having it possibly generate revenue.
“This is about preserving what there is now, which is important because when the markets start going crazy and prices rise, you can see redevelopment a lot of times,” Fulk-Gray said. “So this aims to prevent redevelopment or at least lock in affordability.”
Some of the concepts listed included mobile home park preservation, rental rehabilitation, which offers financial support to owners of older rental housing stock, and acquiring and converting local hotels and motels into housing.
Another idea listed was community land trusts, which separate land ownership from home ownership by selling the home to the buyer, but leasing the land beneath it. The landowner could be a nonprofit or other organization that might specialize in providing affordable housing.
Mobile home preservation is another action that would aim to preserve the seven mobile home parks in Glenwood Springs. Some options include residents being able to purchase the mobile home parks.
“One idea for how to maintain affordability of mobile homes that is gaining some interest is having mobile home parks be owned by the residents themselves,” Fulk-Gray said. “If you can make a process where the residents themselves will be part of a coop that owns the land.”
Other action ideas for preserving mobile homes would be connecting residents with resources, creating possible land use overlay zoning and maintenance and infrastructure support.
One action to help sustain affordable apartment complexes is creating an apartment acquisition fund where there would be low-interest loans or grants for land trusts, nonprofits or tenants to acquire a rental building that is for sale, the plan states. The program would target smaller, market-rate apartment buildings that house low-income renters.
Actions taken for home owners would include grants and loans for home repair of low- and middle-income homeowners, and property tax abatements or property tax relief to lower-income homeowners.
“A density bonus can take several different forms depending on local zoning context, community character or other development constraints,” the plan states.
It would allow new developers to build a greater number of units that would otherwise not be allowed through underlying zoning.
The goal of a density bonus would incentivize developers to build more housing units, making the best use of the limited space in Glenwood Springs.
“Typically, a density bonus is set as a percentage of the units permitted by zoning on a given parcel,” according to the presentation.
- Allowing more units on a lot than was previously zoned
- Reducing the required minimum lot size of a project
- Increasing the allowable floor area of a project
- Reducing requirements related to setbacks
- Reducing the requirements related to parking
- Increasing the allowable height of a project
Some of the criteria would include setting aside a percentage of units for affordability or allowing duplexes to fourplexes within established residential areas.
Redevelopment potential, like allowing a density bonus in commercial corridors as part of redevelopment plans, is also mentioned.
Other potential criteria could include allowing for additional height, allowing for variations to some zoning standards, or inclusionary or affordable zoning considerations.
Dedicated funding sources provide a strong platform to expand affordable housing development and programs, the plan states. Public investment ensures that policies and programs have a positive impact on housing affordability, stability, community vitality, and economic health, it says.
The 2.5% lodging tax that voters passed in November 2022 is one of the first examples of dedicated funding that is expected to generate $1.3 million to $1.5 million per year. The funds will be placed directly into a Workforce Housing Fund for various housing programs that include the already listed solutions.
Other potential funding sources listed are:
- Linkage fee — a fee levied on a new development
- Short-term rental fee — a regulatory fee that typically applies to property owners with an STR license; estimated to generate $100,000 – $150,000 annually.
- Property tax — a property tax levy of 2.00 mills would generate approximately $800,000 – $900,000 annually.
- Sales tax — a quarter-cent sales tax increase would generate $1.3M – $1.6M in revenue annually.
- Occupational privilege tax — a “head tax,” is levied on employers for each employee and could generate $600,000 – $800,000 in revenue annually.
- Vacancy tax — levied on vacant homes. A vacancy tax could generate approximately $600,000 – $800,000 annually.
- Attractions tax — levied on any charge imposed to gain admission to any place, event, performance or scheduled activity open to the public, possibly generating a significant amount of revenue.
- State funding — $700M in state funds can be applied for from various recent legislation.
- No additional funding is added as an option, meaning not dedicating any additional municipal funding to housing.
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