Regional Government Affairs Update June 21, 2021 💐

If you are helping a client buy or sell a home in unincorporated Larimer County, you’d better be aware of the new transfer of title septic program going into effect on July 1. Read more about this as well as other important updates, below.

Best Regards, 
Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County Boulder
Voters to Decide on CU South? Advocates for an initiative known as “Let Boulder Voters Decide on Annexation of CU South” have gathered enough signatures to make the November 2 ballot, assuming enough of those signatures are valid. The measure would require voter approval for the annexation of the CU South parcel into Boulder city limits. 

The University of Colorado and the City of Boulder have been working on the project for years. The 308-acre parcel would be annexed, and a portion of the property would be used for the South Boulder Creek flood mitigation project. CU would use the property primarily for staff and student housing.

According to the Daily Camera, Marki LeCompte, co-chair of Save South Boulder, is confident that the measure will move forward. “Given the numbers that we have in excess of the 3,336 required (signatures), we’re sure we’ll have sufficient numbers to meet the minimum and then some,” she said.

The City Council will officially approve ballot measures in August.

Longmont
Mountain Brook Metro District Agreement Approved: Without comment, the Longmont City Council approved a resolution approving an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the City and the Mountain Brook Metropolitan District on June 8. The IGA includes provisions related to the construction, ownership, and operation of public improvements to be completed by the District. These include roads, water lines, sewer and stormwater facilities. A portion of which will be oversized to serve future development in the area.

The IGA also specifies requirements for notifications regarding District meetings. It also includes a provision to improve transparency per the just-based State Senate Bill 262 that will require the creation of a public website that includes information regarding meetings and other information.

As required by State law, an election was held on May 5, 2020 to seat the District’s Board of Directors and allow the issuance of debt. Shortly thereafter the district court issued an order and degree authorizing the District. Meadow Brook is a 64-acre project located adjacent to Rogers Road one-quarter mile west of Hover Street. It will include approximately 256 for-sale single-family homes, several hundred condominium or apartment units, and the Veterans Community Project’s Longmont Village Longmont (26 housing units for homeless veterans). 

Louisville
Council Approves Inclusionary Zoning: The Louisville City Council unanimously approved Ordinance 1809 on June 15 after a public hearing. The ordinance requires developers to dedicate 12 percent of the units in a housing project –for-rent and for-sale—as affordable units. 

Louisville’s current permanently affordable housing stock represents 3.1 percent (273 units) of the City’s total stock. To meet the 12 percent goal, Louisville will need 769 more units however, based on available undeveloped property in the City, staff estimates the ordinance could create approximately 46 units.

Like other inclusionary zoning ordinances, Ordinance 1809 defines affordability based on Average Median Income (AMI). A minimum of half the affordable housing must be affordable to households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the AMI, with the remainder affordable to households with incomes between 60 and 80 percent. 

Developers can meet the ordinance requirements by building units on or offsite, or by paying a fee-in-lieu FIL. The fees are based on 2020 sales in Louisville. The for-sale price is $9.24 per square foot (SF). For example, a developer would pay $818,664 for a 40-unit development with a median size of 2,215 SF. The FIL for rental projects is $4.72 per SF. Louisville adopted the FILs based on Longmont’s inclusionary zoning fee-il-lieu formula. 

Surprisingly, only a handful of people called in to comment on the ordinance. Ann Marie Jensen of the East County Housing Opportunity Coalition had previously encouraged members to push for a higher percentage but didn’t mention that during her comments. Drew Hamrick from Colorado Apartment Association warned the County the ordinance would increase rent prices for non-deed restricted units. 

Mayor Ashley Stolzmann called the ordinance “a keystone piece of legislation.” She lamented the City’s lost opportunities given the amount of currently remaining developable land but said “This is what other communities around us are doing.” Councilman Jeff Lipton wondered how much it will cost the City to manage the program. He pushed his colleagues to add density bonuses as an incentive to developers. Councilman Caleb Dickinson said, “home appreciation is a huge part of homeownership. With deed restriction, you don’t get that and we need to be conscious of that.” He reiterated his support for affordable housing and the ordinance but added, “I don’t think this ordinance will get us there.”

Mayor Stolzmann advocated for a 20 percent restriction and Councilman Dickinson tried to amend the ordinance to increase it to 15 percent but lacked the votes to move it forward. It is possible the Council could increase the required percentage later.

The Council will discuss adding additional affordable housing strategies in August. At that time “carrots” like density bonuses and “sticks” such as a commercial linkage fee, will be considered.

Note: The City has been working on the issue since the Louisville Council endorsed the Boulder County Regional Housing Partnership’s Housing Strategy in 2018, which supports the 12 percent goal. Some Boulder County cities have adopted higher goals; for example, Boulder’s goal is 25 percent while Superior requires 15 percent. Longmont’s goal is 12 percent.

Larimer County
Septic Transfer of Title Requirement: Larimer County is implementing a septic transfer of title program as of July 1, 2021. It will affect properties that go under contract as of that date.

Properties with on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) will require an inspection by a certified third-party inspector to identify any conditions requiring repair. The inspection will also verify the design of the system is consistent with its “current use,” meaning it is appropriately sized for the home’s number of bedrooms. Inspection reports will be submitted to the County’s Department of Health and the Environment prior to closing.

Chris Manley, Environmental Health Officer for the Department’s Environmental Health Services Division, said transfer of title inspections are not currently required by Colorado law but will likely be mandatory in the future. Manley and Environmental Health Director Shaun May said their intent is not to delay closings. 

Once the inspection has been done the responsible party (either the owner or buyer) will have 180 days to complete any necessary repairs. The “Acceptance Document” issued by the Department if the inspection meets the regulations in effect when the OWTS was permitted will be valid for 12 months.

The program does not apply to properties that meet the following criteria:

  • The OWTS system received final approval less than three years from the date of the request for an Acceptance Document.
  • The change in ownership is not an arm’s length transaction where a buyer and seller are acting in their own self-interest (transfers between family members, estate transactions, foreclosures, etc.).
  • The change in ownership is creating or ending a joint ownership as long as one person is an original owner and/or the spouse, parent, or child of an original owner.
  • The transfer is to a trust or limited liability company in which the original owner is a member. 
  • The transfer is a result of a foreclosure or forfeiture. However, the subsequent transfer from the foreclosing entity does require inspection and an Acceptance Document.

The County had sought feedback from Realtors® concerning the program in 2019. Its implementation was delayed by the COVID pandemic. More information is available here: https://www.larimer.org/health/clean-air-water-and-soil/septic-systems-owts/transfer-title

Fort Collins
Activists File Another Lawsuit: Save the Poudre and No Pipe Dream Corp. filed another lawsuit against the City of Fort Collins to challenge the process that the city will use to permit aspects of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). The suit seeks a ruling to stop the city from using the Site Plan Advisory Review (SPAR) process, which the plaintiffs in the case contend is not legally applicable to the NISP project.

SPAR is typically used by public entities such as school districts or public colleges or other districts that seek to develop structures or land within a city. The process gives the city a say in the development but permits the public entity to have final control over the development.

The City of Fort Collins determined that the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the developer of NISP, qualifies to use SPAR. Northern Water submitted its SPAR application May 5, and the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will conduct a hearing on  June 30.

Weld County
Greeley

Council Supports Enhanced Sales Tax Incentive Program Proposal: The Greeley City Council gave staff approval to move forward with the creation of an ordinance to implement an enhanced sales tax incentive program. The City’s Director of Economic Development and Housing, Ben Snow, told the Council the similar programs have been effective in other Colorado jurisdictions. He said Greeley’s program will generate significant sales tax revenue and help the City remain competitive with other Northern Colorado towns.

The program is intended to support the development of an “industrial metro district entrepreneurial ecosystem,” stimulate the development of infrastructure and reduce retail sales tax leakage. This tool will be applied only to parts of Greeley that lack essential retail services, such as the downtown and west side of town. 

Councilor Tommy Butler voiced concern about incentivizing “big box” stores. Councilor Ed Clark wondered why the City needed to change the way it courts new businesses now. City Manager Roy Otto said the program provides another tool and that it wouldn’t be granted to “just anyone.” The funding will be tied to the businesses’ sales tax performance. After discussion, the Council unanimously agreed to direct staff to move forward with the program.

Broadband Incentive Program: Economic and House Director Ben Snow told the City Council that broadband speed and reliability are a concern in Greeley. He called broadband a “vital piece of infrastructure.” Snow added that the broadband incentive program will promote high-quality (high speed) broadband to all residents at a fair and equitable price. The City will use its existing $1 million broadband fund to incentivize broadband fiber deployment, with a special emphasis on areas east of 35th Avenue. The funding offered will depend on the percentage of a broadband company’s investment. 

Council Kristin Zsada asked why incentives are necessary, “Won’t they do it anyway?” she asked. City Manager Roy Otto explained that Greeley is trying to encourage multiple broadband providers to invest in Greeley. Ben Snow said the program “Incents a competitive marketplace.” After a short conversation, the Council approved the use of the existing broadband dollars to fund the incentive program.

COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Legislative Update:
 CAR and Habitat for Humanity worked to push forward four legislative solutions aimed at helping improve homeownership opportunities for all Coloradans as part of the celebration for CAR’s 100thanniversary. All four bills will soon become reality upon the Governor’s final approval.

House Bill 1028 (Annual Public Report Affordable Housing) will require the Division of Housing to annually report and make available to the public information on how our housing dollars are being spent around the state. The report will include information on where housing projects take place throughout our state, how many housing units are created and preserved and what type of projects is Colorado undertaking: homeownership, rental, supportive and rapid re-housing.

House Bill 1134 (Report Tenant Rent Payment Information to Credit Agencies) establishes a statewide pilot program enabling residents residing in housing provider properties selected by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) to opt to have their rent payments reported to consumer credit bureaus as a dynamic new way build their credit.

House Bill 1200 (Revise Student Financial Literacy Standards) will strengthen financial literacy standards by ensuring Colorado’s students graduate with required curriculum costs associated with preparing for homeownership; obtaining a higher education degree or credential; how to choose, manage, and repay student loans; how to apply for federal, state and institutional financial aid; how to save for retirement, and how to manage personal credit card debt.

House Bill 1271 (Department Of Local Affairs Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies) federal stimulus dollars would cover the costs of providing three programs in the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to promote new solutions for statewide affordable housing development:
1.) The Affordable Housing Guided Toolkit and Local Officials Guide helps local governments develop an overall affordable housing strategy and engage stakeholders in the community. 
2.) The Planning Grant Program awards funding to local governments to help adopt land use strategies, enabling local governments to be competitive in applying for a housing development incentives grant.
3.) The Housing Development Incentives Grant enables local governments to apply for state grants to adopt strategies from a menu of best practices to spur housing creation or reduce regulatory barriers.

STATE
Transportation Bill? The Governor and bill sponsors gathered a lot of press concerning the transportation bill recently signed into law. SB-260 “Sustainability of the Transportation System” is a 190-page, $5.4 billion plan that is supposedly the solution to Colorado’s woeful lack of transportation funding. But is it? That depends on one’s definition of transportation.

Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Shoshana Lew told the House Finance Committee that funding from SB 260 will allow CDOT to take care of about two-thirds of the projects on its statewide $5 billion 10-year plan. But previous funding from efforts like a 2017 bill that authorized the sale of $1.88 billion worth of bond-like certificates of participation for transportation work, had already reduced that list by one-third.

In fact, SB-260 only provides $30.7 million for highway, road and bridge funding in 2022. State highways only receive roughly 26 percent of the $5.3 billion total. The amount dedicated to state highways will vary over an 11-period span but will never add more than $245 million in a year’s time (2032). The rest of the funding goes to local government, transit, paying off debt for previous road projects, incentives for purchasing electric vehicles, and, adding charging stations and air pollution mitigation projects. 

70 percent of the bill’s revenue comes from new fees that will impact consumers. The new fees include things such as a new fee on gas and diesel purchase, a charge for delivery services such as Amazon and Grubhub and, rental car fees.

NATION
Housing as Infrastructure: President Biden is actively working with congressional leaders to achieve consensus on his proposed infrastructure plan. The most recent infrastructure bill, the FAST Act, expired in 2020. The National Association of REALTORS® is advocating for the concept that housing should be considered infrastructure, a proposal that meshes with the President’s concept. Traditionally, infrastructure referred to transportation but the President wants to expand that definition, adding funding for schools, access to services, clean energy, social equity and more.

Read NAR’s report, “Housing is Critical Infrastructures: Social and Economic Benefits of Building More Housing,” here: https://www.nar.realtor/political-advocacy/housing-is-critical-infrastructure

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