Upzoning Gutted From Colorado’s Statewide Housing Reform Effort

It took about a month for a pro­posed law in Col­orado to evolve from a man­date for upzoning—in the style of Ore­gon, Cal­i­for­nia, and, most recent­ly, Montana—to the cre­ation of a state board to assist local gov­ern­ments with long-term plan­ning and afford­able hous­ing devel­op­ment.

Plan­e­ti­zen report­ed in March about Sen­ate 213, pro­posed in the Col­orado State Leg­is­la­ture and advanc­ing with sup­port of Gov­er­nor Jared Polis. The so-called “More Homes Now” bill have imple­ment­ed state pre­emp­tion of local con­trol over , forc­ing local gov­ern­ments to zon­ing codes to allow more dense res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment than cur­rent­ly by sin­gle-fam­i­ly zon­ing.

The pro­pos­al encoun­tered wide­spread, vocal polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion from local , how­ev­er, and the bil­l’s scope has since been great­ly reduced. Accord­ing to an arti­cle by Jesse Paul and Elliott Wen­zler, “Instead of forc­ing Col­orado’s largest cities to allow duplex­es, triples and four­plex­es on at least 30% of their land cur­rent­ly zoned for sin­gle-fam­i­ly hous­ing, a 39-page amend­ment to the mea­sure would form a state board tasked with help­ing com­mu­ni­ties assess afford­able hous­ing needs and devel­op long-term .”

“The changes rep­re­sent a major defeat for Polis, who dur­ing his State of the State address in Jan­u­ary tout­ed the land-use mea­sure as the cen­ter­piece of his afford­able hous­ing plans this year,” add Paul and Wen­zler.

Local polit­i­cal lead­ers rep­re­sent­ing the state’s moun­tain and rur­al com­mu­ni­ties were quick to applaud the changes, accord­ing to a sep­a­rate arti­cle by Tann. Col­orado’s moun­tain towns offer promi­nent exam­ples of  the effects new res­i­dents flow­ing into rur­al areas since the out­set of the pan­dem­ic, rais­ing hous­ing costs and mak­ing it hard­er for ser­vice work­ers to live in towns depen­dent on tourism and recre­ation.

More arti­cles on the retreat of SB 213’s can be read in arti­cles pub­lished ear­li­er in April by Andrew Ken­ney and Nathaniel Minor, a pay­walled arti­cle by Seth Kla­mann, and an arti­cle by Mar­i­anne Good­land, which orig­i­nal­ly broke the news of the expect­ed changes to SB 213.

Accord­ing to Good­land’s sum­ma­ry of the arti­cle, the changes to the bill effec­tive­ly “puts Depart­ment of Local Affairs back into its as a resource and part­ner to local gov­ern­ments, instead of mak­ing it a reg­u­la­to­ry agency.”

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