Regional Government Affairs Update December 8, 2020 🎁


Boulder County
Commissioners Approve Changes to Short-Term Rental Regulations: On December 3 the Board of County Commissioners approved revisions to Boulder County’s short-term rental (STR) requirements. The County made the changes because of concerns expressed concerning how STRs — especially vacation rentals — reduce housing stock, decrease housing affordability and impact the rural character of the unincorporated County.
Here is a summary of the changes:

  • Clarify the distinction in the Land Use Code among Bed and Breakfast, Short-Term Dwelling Rental, and Vacation Rental uses.
  • Bed and Breakfast: A principal lodging use where a facility is rented to one or more guest parties at a time, the owner or manager resides on-site during rental periods, and at least one meal per day is served to guests.
  • Vacation Rental: A principal lodging use where a single-family dwelling is not owner-occupied and is rented to one guest party at a time more than 60 nights per year.
  • Short-Term Dwelling Rental: An accessory residential use where a single-family dwelling is owner-occupied or is rented to one guest party at a time 60 nights or fewer per year.
  • Introduce a Short-Term Dwelling Rental and Vacation Rental licensing program through the adoption of a Licensing Ordinance that coordinates with the proposed Land Use Code text amendments.

 The Commissioners did make a few slight changes to the regulations proposed by staff. 1) The requirement that vacation rental properties located on at least one acre of land was removed; 2) The timeline for review of the approved regulations was changed from one to three years following adoption to one to two years; 3) The requirement that a short-term rental post its license outside the home was eliminated and 4) Wildfire Partners, a Boulder-based fire mitigation company, will determine what is safest for outdoor fires such as fire pits and then will clarify any rules or limitations based on that feedback.
The revised regulations go into effect in early January 2021.
Larimer County

Fort Collins
Council to Fill District 4 Vacancy: The City Council approved a resolution formalizing the appointment process to fill the vacancy created by Kristin Stephens’ election to the Board of County Commissioners. Applications are available now and the Council will interview candidates on January 6. The appointment will only last until April 6, at which time voters will select someone to complete Stephens’ term, which ends in 2023.
Candidates for City Council: It’s early, considering the municipal election is April 6, 2021 but five candidates have already picked up applications to run in the Fort Collins City Council election. Jeni Arndt and Gerry Horak have picked up nomination petitions to run for the mayor’s seat to replace term-limited Wade Troxell. Arndt was re-elected to the legislature in November (House District 53). Horak previously served on the City Council. 
Tricia Canonico has filed to run for the District 3 seat, presumably against incumbent Ken Summers. School psychologist Melanie Potyondy will run for the District 4 seat being vacated by Kristin Stephens. Finally, Kelly Ohlson who previously served on Council will run for another term representing District 5.  Note: The list of candidates will not be final until after February 16, 2021, the deadline to file nomination petitions. 

Council Gives Input on Metro District Evaluation Policy: City Council was supportive of the general concepts presented by staff in late November to move forward with “a more refined” residential metro district evaluation system. The Council agreed that the focus should be based on metro districts that are not merely mediocre, but “clearly demonstrate excellence.”

Generally, Council asked staff to ‘tighten things up’ from both the perspective of providing more clarity about District governance and transparency that respond to expressed consumer concerns, and to be more intentional on how the system relates to funding housing. The Council wants to see extraordinary benefits when it comes to affordable housing.

It was agreed that there will likely be the need to be an extension to the metro district moratorium so that staff can bring a more refined evaluation system back to Council for its consideration. In the meantime, staff will conduct additional stakeholder workshop(s), facilitated by members of the Institute for the Built Environment, to refine metrics used in the residential Metro District Service Plans evaluations system. 

Future workshop participants will include stakeholders and subject matter experts in the fields of energy, water conservation and housing.

Then, the proposed evaluation strategies will be presented to City boards and community organizations for feedback before the policy is brought back to City Council for official consideration.

Council Repeals Special Improvement District: In August the City Council approved the creation of a new special district in Loveland to issue bonds to pay for $4.5 million water pump station on the northwest side of the City.    

However, the formation of the district is no longer necessary because one of the property owners volunteered to issue a letter of credit to cover the costs of the pump station. The other property owners will help repay the cost. According to a staff memo, the pump station will serve over 3,000 dwelling units in the area with construction tentatively scheduled to begin in 2021 or 2022. 

Note: Two metropolitan districts are located in the area, including Lee Farms (224 acres) and Cascade Ridge (246 acres). Metro districts are commonly formed to pay for high-cost items like water infrastructure in areas where local governments do not provide basic infrastructure.

2021 Legislative Preview: Recently Liz Peetz, CAR’s Vice-President for Public Policy, provided a preview of the 2021 session for members of several local associations. She said it could be a difficult session for real estate because one party has a majority in both the House and the Senate, making it easy for them to pass bills without much compromise.

Liz said some of the topics will be familiar, such as HOA transparency and rent control, having been the subject of bills in previous sessions. Other topics we are likely to see include funding wildfire mitigation, inclusionary housing, greenhouse gas reduction/electrification, special and metro district transparency and long-term proposals to revise the Gallagher Amendment (property taxes). 

CAR, working with a coalition that includes Habitat for Humanity, intends to introduce four bills focused on equitable access and racial justice issues to celebrate CAR’s 100th anniversary. The bills will focus on financial literacy for high school students, using rent to build credit, utilizing revenues from Proposition EE to provide grants for local governments to incentivize affordable housing and a reporting requirement for the Department of Local Affairs to list how federal homeownership grants were spent.

State Explains Red COVID Dial Rules: The State just provided a more detailed explanation of the requirements for real estate providers during the new Red COVID phase. CAR was especially pleased that the Division of Real Estate defined what a real estate transaction is.  

CAR Attorney Scott Peterson posted a new Legal Bites video that succinctly reviews the requirements. That video is available here:

Read the Division of Real Estate’s FAQs, including the definition of a transaction:…

To the best of our knowledge, Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties will adhere to the State requirements without creating any additional local restrictions. As always, your local association is your primary source for information on real estate-related COVID regulations. 

Housing Issues on Agenda for Legislative Special Session: Governor Polis called a special session to focus on COVID relief after Thanksgiving. Housing was one of the priorities for stimulus spending.

One of the 10 bills passed, Senate Bill 20B-002 “Housing and Direct COVID Emergency Assistance” provides tenant and landlord relief. The bill transfers a total of $60 million to cash funds supporting housing assistance programs, including $1 million in legal eviction aid.  In addition, it creates the Emergency Direct Assistance Grant Program in the Division of Housing in the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). The program will provide grants to individuals who experience financial need due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who may not be eligible for other types of assistance. 

HB20B-1006, “Insurance Premium Tax Payments and Credits” allows affordable housing investors to use affordable housing tax credits against premium tax payments to off-set Colorado state income tax or insurance premium liability. Prior to this legislation, state law only allowed the credits to be applied on an annual basis which prevented companies from obtaining a refund from overpayments. These changes provide additional incentive to invest in the development and preservation of affordable rental housing across the state.

New Oil and Gas Drilling Rules: the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC) recently published new drilling rules that go into effect on January 15, 2021. The most important thing for Realtors® to know is that new wells will require a 2,000-foot setback from homes and schools. Some local governments are already moving to implement the same setback requirement.

Will the new setbacks limit producers’ ability to drill? And if so, how will that affect oil and gas revenues, which are so important to Colorado? We will soon find out. 

Front Range Rail Project Pushes Ahead: The Front Range Passenger Rail Project (FRPR), initially funded by the legislature, is moving forward even though the project is estimated to cost between $1.5 and $2.5 billion to roll out a “modest” first phase. On December 4, Director Randy Brauberger told FRPR’s commission the first phase would include two to six round trips a day between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs on trains traveling an average of 45 miles per hour on existing freight rail tracks.

Ultimately the FRPR vision includes line from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Trinidad. Speeds would top out at 90 to 110 miles per hour on newly laid track. Trains would run every 30 minutes at peak times, and it all could cost between $7.8 billion to $14.2 billion. 

How could Colorado pay for this project? According to Colorado Public Radio, Amtrak is interested in investing in the rail line. Another option is a new tax district that would cover the Front Range. That would require legislative action and a vote of the district’s members. 

It is also possible RTD could be interested in collaborating in order to complete a long-promised extension of the B Line through Boulder and Longmont. But considering that cost estimates for a full build-out of the B Line are $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion, which have pushed the expected completion date to 2050, and RTD’s current financial woes, its ability to partner on the project are limited at best.

Learn more about FRPR here:

New COVID Relief Legislation Coming: NAR lobbyists say Congress is making progress with a proposed $908 billion COVID relief bill. While all the details aren’t available yet, NAR says the package will include $160 billion for state and local governments, $180 billion for additional unemployment insurance, $288 billion to extend the PPP program and $25 billion in rental assistance.  

NAR to Feds  – Delay Actions on GSEs: Recently NAR sent a letter to the Treasury and Federal Housing Finance Agency asking them to refrain from any rushed actions to end the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two entities currently finance the majority of single-family mortgages and are critical not just to supporting housing during the pandemic, but also for the future of homeownership. A rushed exit from conservatorship could jeopardize reforms that have been made to-date and reforms that remain undone.

2021 FHA Loan Limits: On Wednesday, December 2, 2020, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) announced increases to the FHA Single Family loan limits for 2021. In high-cost areas of the country, FHA’s loan limit ceiling will increase to $822,375 from $765,600. FHA will also increase its floor to $356,362 from $331,760. The maximum loan limits for FHA forward mortgages will rise in 3,108 counties. In 125 counties, FHA’s loan limits will remain unchanged. These limits go into effect on Jan 1, 2021.

FHA Single-Family Loan Limits in Northern Colorado –
Boulder MSA $644,00
Fort Collins-Loveland MSA $454,250 
Greeley MSA $404,800H

Search for HUD FHA Mortgage Loan Limits here by MSA:

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