Is Fort Collins Backing Off Inclusionary Zoning?

Fort Collins Board of REALTORS (FCBR) is relieved that the City has changed an agenda item scheduled for the May 27 study session from “Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance” (IZO) to “affordable housing policy study.” FCBR is under no allusion that a Citywide inclusionary zoning ordinance is no longer a possibility. Affordable housing requirements in the Foothills Mall redevelopment and its inclusion in the City’s social sustainability goals require diligence. But it is working to educate the City Council as to the possible ramifications of IZO for the real estate market and price of homes as part of its Protect Our Housing Futures Campaign.

City Struggles with TOD Parking: The Fort Collins transit oriented development zone (TOD) includes the core commercial areas down Mason and College Avenues. When the zone was created the City Council removed the minimum parking requirements for new developments in this zone because they didn’t seem appropriate given the City’s desire to encourage more infill and redevelopment projects.

However, a public outcry from some citizens in adjacent neighborhoods led the Council to approve a stop-gap ordinance with minimum parking requirements in October, 2013. The temporary ordinance includes 70 percent of existing standard and expires in September, 2014.

Planners admit complaints associated with the Summit project were a catalyst for the ordinance. Concerns identified include student housing projects, perceived lack of development-provided parking, spill-over parking and the need for structured parking.

The City hired consultants to study the data. City staff will recommend and implement permanent comprehensive parking requirements based on parking demand information and best practices. They are looking for data-driven and best practice standards. A final presentation to City Council is scheduled for May 27th at which time the Council will provide feedback and direction. The hope is to adopt the standards by August 2014.

Why should this be of interest to REALTORS? In a nutshell, the answer is because parking standards in the TOD could lead to higher prices for homebuyers in the area. FCBR advocates for affordable homeownership and is concerned that too many requirements will drive the cost for housing higher.

From a public policy perspective this is an interesting issue because it relates to how governments react to citizen complaints. If a small group complains about traffic and vehicle impacts in their neighborhood, does this translate to consensus among Fort Collins residents? What about the opinions of the silent majority?

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