February 7, 2019
Incentives for Affordable Housing
The Longmont City Council discussed revising incentives for affordable housing projects on January 29. It quickly became clear there was confusion regarding differences between development code incentives, financial incentives and how to align the new inclusionary housing ordinance with the development code.
The inclusionary housing ordinance requires developers to offer 12 percent of their units to individuals below the average median income (AMI). This applies to for sale units and rentals.
Planner Erin Fosdick explained the current Land Use Code (LUC) offers incentives for affordable housing projects, including greater density and height and reductions in lot size, width and parking space requirements, as well as expedited application review. She said the expedited review is the most popular incentive because it offers developers predictability.
After much discussion, Councilmember Joan Peck proposed a motion to require a 12 percent threshold (of a development’s units) for eligibility for any affordable housing incentives. The motion passed. Mayor Bagley made a motion to allow both on-site and off-site affordable housing units to be eligible for incentives. This motion passed 4-3 with Polly Christensen, Aren Rodriguez and Joan Peck opposed. The opposition stemmed from the belief that on-site units are “better” than off-site units. Under the provisions of the inclusionary housing ordinance, affordable units can be built on or off-site, but Council approval is needed for off-site units.
The Council will continue this discussion later this month. It is encouraging to see that the Council is willing to offer incentives to developers simply for complying with the basic 12 percent requirement of the ordinance.
Note: Mayor Bagley asked staff for an update on the impact of the inclusionary housing ordinance. Interestingly, City Manager Harold Dominguez said the ordinance hasn’t affected development applications. However, Planner Don Burchett said fewer new applications have been received since the ordinance passed. There was no clarification on the disparity between these two perspectives.