Longmont: Council Finalizes List of Proposed Affordable Housing Policies

On June 30 the Longmont City Council considered a list of possible affordable housing tools and selected the policies it wants staff to pursue. One thing the Council agreed on was that it wants to implement policies that can result in more units within a few years, rather than later. The Council decided not to put a sales or property tax on the November ballot because housing advocates told them it wouldn’t pass, but the Council didn’t rule out a tax in the future if its other ideas don’t work.

After a long discussion the Council voted 6-1 to investigate a municipal construction defects ordinance, a general fund set-aside dedicated to affordable housing, a variety of builder incentives (fee waivers, density/height bonuses, comprehensive plan concepts that would encourage diverse housing choices and possibly a targeted inclusionary zoning ordinance that would provide special incentives in particular neighborhoods. Polly Christensen was the sole no vote, possibly because she supports mandates, saying “everyone needs to give a little bit.” After more consideration, the Council voted unanimously to add affordable housing easements to the list, to protect existing affordable stock.

Ed Regel testified on behalf of the Longmont Association of REALTORS, encouraging the Council to support incentives and a construction defects ordinance. He reminded the Council that inclusionary zoning did not work well in the Longmont market. City consultants noted that inclusionary zoning works best in very expensive cities with a great deal of demand, such as San Francisco or Denver. The Council’s decision to primarily rely on incentives is a positive step for the real estate industry. Now staff will examine selected tools and return to Council in a few weeks with more information.

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