Regional Government Affairs Update May 3, 2021 🌷

The legislative session will probably end at the end of the month, but legislators are not slowing down. They’re preparing to introduce a 190-page transportation bill that will impact every Coloradoan. To learn more about this bill and how it will affect you, keep reading!

Best Regards, 
Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


Boulder County
Boulder
Council Feedback on CU South Annexation: The City Council provided its thoughts on the general concepts related to the so-called CU South Annexation project recently. The staff said a vote on the annexation is anticipated later this year. The related flood mitigation project will happen quickly to protect properties in the area. CU has volunteered 80 acres for the project. 36 acres will be needed for the mitigation, leaving 44 acres for open space. 

Overall, the Council opined that great progress had been made on the annexation agreement. Some of the concerns brought up included what would happen if the property was sold to a third party. Would the City’s requirements and guidelines be enforced? Yes, said the City attorney. Boulder can legislate restrictions using zoning, he said. 

There were also many questions and comments concerning restrictions to the types of buildings and activities that will be allowed on the parcel. For example, the draft agreement prohibits “large research buildings, large-scale sports facilities, first-year student housing” or fraternity/sorority houses. This precipitated a long discussion about sports facilities and whether capping any such use at 3,000 spectators was adequate. Concerns were also raised about noise and parking related to athletic events. 

Staff explained that the priority for the parcel will be housing for university staff and students. Building heights will be limited to that of single-family homes currently in the area. It was noted that many neighbors have said they don’t want the property developed at all, but the restrictions and prohibitions described during the Council’s discussion are designed to minimize the impact on neighbors.

One of the last Councilmembers to speak was Aaron Brockett. After other councilors voiced their concerns about growth and impacts, Brockett simply said there is “a desperate need for housing… (the annexation plan should) tilt in that direction.”

Larimer County
Fort Collins

Cunniff Pushes Plan to Delay NISP: At the tail end of the April 20 City Council meeting, Councilman Ross Cunniff pushed a suggestion that could have far-ranging ramifications for the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP). Fort Collins has opposed the project, which if approved by the Army Corps of Engineers, will include a new reservoir (Glade) north of the city.

Cunniff’s idea is that the City should draft new 1041 regulations for city-owned land related to NISP. He explained other jurisdictions had used a similar tactic as justification to “pause” projects while the regulations are drafted, and he had already determined such a strategy is perfectly legal. 

Cunniff argued the evaluation of this possibility should happen “in short order” by the new City Council. A majority of the Council supported his proposal (except Mayor Troxell and Ken Summers) and the City Attorney agreed to add this project to her department’s work list. 

Note: The environmental community often uses lawsuits as a strategy to stall projects and Cunniff’s idea is similar. He and his allies can’t stop NISP but they can make it take longer to build and cost Northern and the communities that need NISP to provide water millions of dollars.

Council Approves Revised Metro District Policy: On April 20 the City Council voted to adopt the revised Metropolitan District Model Service Plan by resolution. The revisions were a year in the making; the City had put a moratorium on considering new metro districts while the plan was being reviewed.

All new metro districts must meet the requirements listed in the City’s model service plan. The moratorium allowed staff to hone in on the public benefits any proposed development would need to include in order to be considered.

New components added to the service plan include a required pre-application conceptual review with the City Council and a point-based evaluation system. The evaluation system clearly defines the Council’s priorities which are energy and water efficiency, affordable housing and neighborhood livability. Applications will receive 10 points for energy and water conservation/efficiency attributes with the maximum given for net-zero homes, but only 5 points for affordable housing (10 percent of residential units don’t exceed 120 percent of the AMI) and neighborhood livability (trails, open space, etc.).

During the question-and-answer period, it became clear early on consumer disclosure is a key concern even though Planner Ryan Mounce said the City’s regulations have included an extensive required disclosure since 2019. Multiple Council members asked the staff to ensure additional disclosures ensure buyers understand the “unique situation” of buying in a metro district. In addition, Councilmember Emily Gorgol suggested Realtors® need “more education” to make sure they present the disclosure clearly to clients. 

The City’s policy requires the following requirements:

  • Publication of metro district annual reports and fiscal statements on the City’s website. 
  • The District must host a minimum of three meetings annually. 
  • The disclosure form must be given to purchasers before they enter into a sale agreement. It must include the following information – the maximum number of mills that can be levied; the maximum property tax that can be collected based on the estimated average assessed value of a property; a chart comparing property taxes in the district to taxes outside the district, and the contact information for the District’s board of directors.

Some Councilors don’t seem to understand basic economics and the effect of additional requirements on the price of new homes. For example, Susan Gutowsky asked staff to explain why developers would only be required to deed-restrict 10 percent of their projects for affordable housing. Staff had to explain that the affordable housing requirements affect the cost of free-market units. Mandating a higher percent of units to affordable housing would further increase the cost of the other units. 

At the end of the discussion, outgoing Mayor Wade Troxell reminded his colleagues that developers don’t “just take,” saying they are one of the reasons Fort Collins is such a nice place to live. He warned that the “market can’t be over-prescribed by seven people on a Tuesday night. I hope there aren’t pitfalls in this (new model service plan).”

Gorgol Elected Mayor Pro Tem The new members of Fort Collins’ City Council were sworn in on April 27 and the retiring members (Wade Troxell, Ken Summers and Ross Cunniff) were thanked for their service. New Mayor Jeni Arndt thanked the outgoing Councilmembers and now former Mayor Troxell in particular. She stressed inclusion and civility moving forward.  
Jeni thanked the Council and Troxell in particular. Inclusion and civility important. 

Councilmember Emily Gorgol had lobbied her colleagues for the right to serve as Mayor Pro Tem and was elected unanimously without discussion.  New Councilors sworn in include Shirley Peel, Tricia Canonico and Kelly Ohlson.

Loveland
City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Regulations Revised: The City Council unanimously adopted changes to its Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) provisions of the Unified Development Code on April 20 without discussion. The changes are designed to encourage the construction of more ADUs in Loveland. 

The key revisions include: 1. Reduction in the minimum lot size required for an ADU from 10,000 square feet to 7,000 square feet; 2. Clarification of design standards; 3. Establishment of limitations for the building footprint size based on the lot size and a maximum floor area of 900 square feet; and4. Allowance for conversion or expansion of an existing structure to an ADU.

Note: For property owners with adequate space, ADUs are a great way to house an aging family member or make additional income by ADU rental.

City Pursing Funding for River Financial Plan: The City of Loveland currently has no money to pay for river maintenance, mitigation, or river channel stability, but the City Council is interested in discussing proposals to fund a Big Thompson River Financial Plan. The goal of the plan is evaluation funding alternatives for strategies to protect life and property in the event of another flood. Many property owners in and around low-lying areas of the City near the Big Thompson don’t have “million-dollar resources” said Chris Carlson of the Public Works Department. 

Staff said Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins have plans for their rivers following the 2013 flood. The plans are managed and funded through municipal stormwater utilities; the three governments increased their stormwater fees to pay for the plans. Loveland adopted the Thompson River Corridor Master Plan in 2019. The Plan laid out a vision for critical steps to improve resiliency and mitigate flood hazards but has no funding attached to it.

The work session discussion on April 27 was just the initial conversation on this topic, said Public Works Director Mark Jackson. Councilmember Dave Clark described the river corridor as “the jewel of Loveland. If we can start now mitigating it …it is huge.” He said he isn’t opposed to a fee, as long as residents understand it. Mayor Marsh noted that “money less expensive to borrow right now,” and she voiced support to move ahead. Staff will return with recommendations and options regarding how to pay for the plan. 

REGION
Northern Settles Lawsuit with Environmental Groups: The Northern Water Municipal Subdistrict has reached an agreement with a group of environmental organizations to settle federal litigation designed to stop the Windy Gap Firming Project and construction of the Chimney Hollow Reservoir west of Berthoud. The settlement ended nearly two decades of years of fighting and litigation over the project.

In a statement, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District said it will pay $15 million over multiple years to the Grand Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to Colorado River watershed protection in Grand County. In exchange, Save the Colorado, Save the Poudre, WildEarth Guardians, Living Rivers, Waterkeeper Alliance and the Colorado Sierra Club will drop their lawsuit.

The Windy Gap project moves water from the Western Slope as part of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and has been in operation since 1985. Chimney Hollow will be located west of Carter Lake and would store up to approximately 90,000 acre-feet of water to be divided between 12 water suppliers ranging as far south as Broomfield to as far northeast as Greeley.

The settlement clears the way for Northern Water to begin construction on the $600 million reservoir this summer.

COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Century of Opportunity Bills Move Forward: In honor of the 100th anniversary, CAR sponsored a package of bills designed to incentivize affordable housing known collectively as the Century of Opportunity Legislation Moving Forward:

Century of Opportunity Legislation Moving Forward
HB21-1271: Department Of Local Affairs Innovative Affordable Housing Strategies

  • Supports and incentivizes local governments to remove barriers and adopt best practices for affordable housing development. Bill Status: The bill passed the House Transportation and Local Government Committee Wednesday and is now headed to the Appropriations Committee.

HB21-1200: Revise Student Financial Literacy Standards

  • This bill will strengthen personal financial literacy curriculum standards to ensure Colorado’s students are prepared for a bright future. The new curriculum standards include information regarding costs associated with preparing for homeownership, obtaining a 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. Bill Status: The bill passed the House and is introduced in the Senate where it will be scheduled for its first committee hearing soon.

HB21-1134: Report Tenant Rent Payment Information To Credit Agencies

  • Creates a statewide pilot program enabling residents residing in properties selected by the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) to opt to have rent payments reported to consumer credit bureaus. Reporting rental payments allows renters to build credit in much the same way as homeowners build credit through the reporting of mortgage payments. Bill Status: The bill passed the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee and awaits a hearing in the Appropriations Committee.

HB21-1028: Annual Public Report Affordable Housing      

  • Under this bill, the Division of Housing would report on the total amount of money the division or the state housing board received from any federal, state, other public or private source during the prior fiscal year and how they are spending these dollars and report on what type of housing they are supporting (rapid re-housing or supportive, rental, or homeownership) and how many units are being produced or preserved with these dollars. Bill Status: The bill passed third reading in the House and will next go to the Senate for further discussion.

More information is available here: https://coloradocenturyofopportunity.com

STATE
Transportation Bill Draft Finally Drops: Sponsors finally released a draft of the transportation bill that has been discussed in general terms for more than a month. The bill will be introduced on Tuesday, May 4. It will raise a total of approximately $3.8 billion for transportation, which as define includes measures to reduce greenhouse gases and promote the use of electric vehicles. 

The bill includes an array of new fees, including a road use fee on gasoline that will grow from cents a gallon to 8 cents a gallon, as well as other fees on all kinds of “road users,” including delivery vehicles and ride-share providers like Uber. The bill creates 3 new enterprises to manage the revenues. Unfortunately, the general fund contributions are simply stimulus funds from the federal government and not a long-term commitment to transportation funding. Some expert observers saying the bill is “taking from roads to funding electric vehicles and greenhouse gas reduction.”

The 190-page bill is expected to pass because of its powerful supporters, including Governor Polis and leadership in both the House and the Senate — Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg (Boulder), House Speaker Alec Garnett (Denver). The bill was drafted by Senate Transportation Committee chair Faith Winter (Westminster) and House Transportation chair Rep. Matt Gray (Broomfield).

Survey – Government Intervention for Affordable Housing: According to an article in the Colorado Sun, David Flaherty of Magellan Strategies commissioned an affordable housing poll because he was curious as to how the topic ranked now among voters. According to the survey of 508 registered voters, most State voters think Colorado has an affordable housing problem and want the government to intervene to solve it.

The poll indicates voters approve of specific policy solutions like rent control and inclusionary housing to increase affordable housing. 69 percent of the respondents support inclusionary housing. 68 percent support rent control. Flaherty said that although many people polled were unfamiliar with regulatory tools beyond rent control, many backed alternatives that were offered in subsequent questions.
Many people polled described affordable housing as a basic necessity that should be accessible to everyone. 

Seventy-four percent said finding affordable housing in their community was a “big” or “somewhat of a” problem. Another 19 percent said it’s not too much of a problem or said it’s not a problem at all. “The cost of housing has gone through the roof, and I think the survey is picking up a lot of that sentiment,” Flaherty, a veteran Republican pollster said, “That’s a good 10 points higher than what we would normally see.” Flaherty added, “Government intervention in this area is definitely welcome, where before there was apprehension.” Note: How would “government intervention” affect the free market? Would rent control help renters but hurt landlords?

NATION
Treasury Issues Homeowner Assistance Fund Guidance: The recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act included $9.9 billion in relief for homeowners to be administered through a new Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). These funds, which will soon be made available to eligible homeowners through their states, may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments, and other specified purposes under the law and guidance.

The HAF was created to prevent mortgage delinquencies and defaults, foreclosures, loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacement of homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. The law and guidance prioritize funds for homeowners who have experienced the greatest hardships, limits eligibility based on need, and can only be used for certain qualified expenses.

The statute requires the Department of Treasury to provide a minimum of $50 million for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These allocations will be based on homeowner need determined by reference to (1) the average number of unemployed individuals; and (2) the number of homeowners with late mortgage payments or foreclosures. 

See NAR’s Summary for more information on the HAF and Treasury guidance.



Now On Demand: IRES MLS 2021 Virtual Town Hall

Missed our live event? Want to revisit speaker sessions? Interested in the Q&A? Here it is!

If you weren’t able to attend our 2nd town hall event Apr 27th, not to worry. We’ve recorded it just for you. In addition to the questions that were answered live during the event, we’ve worked with our fabulous speakers to gather answers for those we didn’t have time to answer live. They are included below.

Chapters:

  • 0:00​ Welcome!
  • 1:29​ Lauren Hansen, IRES Update
  • 16:25​ Katie Johnson, NAR Legal Update
  • 48:16​ Patty Silverstein, Colorado Regional Economic Update

Q & A

Katie Johnson Session

NOTE: Katie answered several questions live during her session. You can hear these in the video above. These were the outstanding questions we didn’t have time to answer live.

  • Question: Please explain the exceptions to the Clear cooperation regarding keeping listings in house – since the rule requires MLS listing to be posted within 24 hours of marketing.
    • Answer: There are no exceptions to the Clear Cooperation Policy. Any listing that is “publicly marketed” must be filed with the service and provided to other MLS Participants for cooperation within (1) one business day. Some sellers decide to use an “office exclusive”. In an office exclusive listing, direct promotion of the listing is permitted only between the brokers and licensees affiliated with the listing brokerage, and is not considered public marketing.
  • Question: Are large brokerages responding the super LOW inventory by finding buyers inside the brokerage before the property is publicly advertised?
    • Answer: As always, real estate is local, marketing strategies vary locally, and REALTORS® must always act in the best interest of their clients. Some sellers decide to use an “office exclusive”. In an office exclusive listing, direct promotion of the listing is permitted only between the brokers and licensees affiliated with the listing brokerage, and is not considered public marketing.

Patty Silverstein Session

  • Question: When do you forecast price stabilization in the residential detached market
    • Answer: Given the strong demand and still limited supply, home prices are expected to continue to appreciate in 2021. However, as occurred in 2020, the rate of increase in prices in Colorado is expected to be below the national rate of increase.
  • Question: Do you anticipate supply chain and manufacturing capacity increases for construction building materials (plywood, drywall, pvc pipe, appliances, etc)?  If so, when?
    • Answer: As the vaccine becomes widely available across the globe in 2021, factories will resume operations and supply chain disruptions will begin to dissipate. However, it does take time for operations to ramp up and stabilize. Expect continued disruptions in 2021 with more stable product availability in 2022.
  • Question: What are the leading indicators of out-migration due to cost-of-living increases?
    • Answer: As there are no exit surveys when you move out of a state, you generally have to rely on anecdotal information. From a statistical standpoint, examining current trends in apartment vacancies and home sales may provide some level of insight. The IRS compiles a series of state-to-state migration flows, so you can identify what states prior Colorado residents moved to and where new Colorado residents came from. However, the latest detailed data is from 2018 and summary data for 2019.
  • Question: Does Colorado remain a popular remote work destination even with the housing price increases?
    • Answer: Yes, but it is all relative. Individuals from more expensive housing markets, such as those found on the east and west coasts, do not view Colorado housing prices as an issue. However, remote work is allowing an increase in popularity of “second-tier” cities where workers can find more affordable housing options and less population density. Colorado is now competing with parts of the country that may not have been regarded as true competitors previously (think Idaho).
  • Question: What happened in 1990 that 20,000 people left Colorado?
    • Answer: While the nation experienced a recession from July 1990 to March 1991 (8 months), Colorado’s downturn started a couple of years before that due to oil & gas price volatility and an overbuilt commercial real estate market. Therefore, people were leaving Colorado in search of better job opportunities elsewhere in the country.
  • Question: What’s the volume of all the fraudulent unemployment claims?
    • Answer: The latest values that I have seen were released April 16 by the CO Division of Labor & Employment and indicate that they “are dealing with 1.1 million fraudulent claims.” This has resulted in at least $19.4 million in state and federal unemployment benefits paid to scammers.

Lauren Hansen Session

  • Question: Where do I find the info on the land lease for solar/wind?
  • Question: Do we have any more information on Sentrilock’s showing service? Will it be as robust as ShowingTime and will it be in partnership with IRES?

Regional Government Affairs Update April 19, 2021 🌷

Land use decisions, elections and metro districts. This update addresses those topics — and more. 

Best Regards, 
  Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County
Longmont

Council Struggles With Sugar Mill Plan: On March 30 the City Council officially accepted a report from a panel of volunteer experts from the Urban Land Institute concerning recommendations on how to revitalize and reuse the historic Sugar Mill and surrounding properties. The panel concluded the Sugar Mill offers unique opportunities, with “many assets that could be leveraged for successful redevelopment and revitalization,” calling the site “unique and iconic.” At the same time, the panel listed issues that would need to be resolved, including environmental hazards but said federal and state grants could probably fund the testing needed to evaluate environmental conditions on the 125-acre parcel.

Mayor Pro Tem Aren Rodriguez suggested the Council should discuss the idea of “brownfield development” of sites like the Sugar Mill at its upcoming retreat. He argued the topic merited further discussion, saying Council did not have “true consensus for the vision on this item.” Mayor Bagley said he didn’t see a reason to spend more time discussing the Sugar Mill since the property owner hasn’t shown any inclination to sell it for a reasonable cost. Councilmember Tim Waters agreed, saying the retreat agenda had already been finalized to focus on the Housing Authority and housing in general, topics which he described as “urgent.” Ultimately, the Council voted 5-2 to support Rodriguez’s suggestion. 

Note: The City Council may not agree on how much time and money the City should spend on the Sugar Mill, but Planning Director Erin Fosdick reminded them a request for proposals has already been published to hire a consultant to do a subarea land use plan for the Sugar Mill as part of the City’s STEAM project.

Larimer County
Fort Collins

Election Results: A majority — 67 percent –of the voters in the Fort Collins municipal election approved a ballot question that directs the City to acquire the Hughes Stadium property for open space. The question is, now what? 

Colorado State University says it respects the will of the voters but insists it has the authority to develop the property. City Manager Darin Atteberry said the City Council will consider rezoning the property as soon as May 4, after its newly elected members are sworn in. It remains to be seen if the impasse can be resolved out of court. 

In the City Council election, Jeni Arndt won a decisive victory in the mayor’s race, easily beating Gerry Horak and Molly Skold. In District 3, Tricia Canonico defeated Gavin Kaszynski. Kelly Ohlson will return for another term representing District 5 after beating Jeff Hansen. 

However, the District 1 and District 4 races were much closer.  In District 1, Susan Gutowsky beat Nick Armstrong by 34 votes. In the District 4 race which featured five candidates, Shirley Peel edged Melanie Potyondy by 43 votes.

Note: FCBR had supported Molly Skold for mayor, Nick Armstrong (District 1), Gavin Kaszynski (District 3) and Melanie Potyondy (District 4). Nonetheless, FCBR is committed to establishing good working relationships with all the new Council members.

Vacancy Committee to Appoint Arndt Successor: Jeni Arndt’s election as mayor creates a vacancy in Colorado House District 53. By law, a replacement will be appointed to fill the seat for the remainder of the two-year term.

Registered Democrats who live in District 53 and are interested in being appointed to the seat will file letters of intent. The Vacancy Committee will vote to appoint the new representative on April 23. 

According to Colorado Politics, three candidates have announced their intentions to succeed Arndt: attorney Dan Sapienza; Andrew Boesenecker, Director of Annual Giving and stewardship for Colorado State University’s Semester at Sea program; and Ethnie Groves Treick, a Fort Collins businesswoman and community volunteer who has served on the board of the BlueFlower Fund, which helps elect Democratic women.

Loveland
Overcash Recall Effort: Troy Krenning announced the creation of a committee to recall City Council member Don Overcash on April 9. Krenning’s recall committee includes the Chair of the Larimer County Democrats, Gil Barela, who is always happy to unseat a Republican. Interestingly, Krenning is a Republican but he has allied himself with (Democrat) Mayor Jacki Marsh and been a vocal critic of the Council for several years. Krenning claims Mr. Overcash, who just happens to be the only announced candidate for mayor in the November election, is guilty of being “the main instigator of problems on Council.”

To mount a successful recall effort, Krenning’s committee will have to get the language for a special election approved by the City Clerk and then gather roughly 1,254 signatures from registered voters in Ward IV. The signatures would require verification, after which the City Council would finalize the date for the special election.

https://www.reporterherald.com/2021/04/09/loveland-group-announces-drive-to-recall-councilor-don-overcash/

Note: LBAR supported Don Overcash in his previous elections. Recalls are divisive, costly and more often than not, unsuccessful political ploys.

Council Asks Experts to Discuss Metro Districts: On April 13 the City Council met with a panel of experts to discuss recommendations on how the City could improve its metropolitan district model service plan. The panel included attorneys, financial advisors, a CPA and David Powell, a Realtor® representing the Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS®. 

Powell was asked to explain how potential homebuyers currently learn about metro districts as well as recommend additional disclosures to ensure people know a home is listed in a metro district prior to closing. He explained that IRES now requires a property listing to indicate if it is located in a metro district and noted the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate requires buyers to acknowledge that a property could be located in a special district. 

Powell suggested requiring a separate disclosure document for buyers at the time the contract is signed. Later, City Manager Steve Adams and Councilmember John Fogle supported this concept, saying a sales contract addendum would add an additional disclosure for buyers. 

Most of the six-hour study session focused on more technical details related to the formation of metro districts and how municipalities can regulate them. The experts said Loveland already puts a cap on the number of mills a metro district can assess homeowners as well as a cap on the amount of debt it can issue. These two requirements are of utmost importance in ensuring the district doesn’t overburden its residents with debt in the form of additional property taxes.

At the end of the long meeting, Mayor Marsh reiterated her opposition to metro districts, saying “there is little or no oversight. They increase the cost of housing.” Answering a question posed by Councilmember Dave Clark, she said she wants the City to pursue other forms of financing for developments such as short-term bonds. There was no clear consensus among the Council as to how it should move forward with additional metro district regulations, so it will be up to staff to recommend the next steps. 

Weld County
Greeley

Terry Ranch Opponents Fail: The City of Greeley will move forward with the acquisition of the Terry Ranch aquifer for water storage and raw water. Save Greeley’s Water, failed in its attempt to collect 2,192 signatures to require the City Council to reconsider an ordinance change that was required to legalize the project, or turn it over to a Citywide referendum. 

“This is one the most monumental decisions we’ve made in Greeley,” Mayor John Gates said in a city news release. “Terry Ranch will go down as a historic purchase and decision as Colorado communities are confronted with how they service growth that is expected to come their way. With the Terry Ranch water, Greeley leaders, like our early pioneers, have leapt into the future to ensure our community will prosper and grow for generations.”

Save Greeley’s Water has also filed for petitions seeking to hold referenda on changes to Greeley’s home rule charter. One would require the attainment of all groundwater or recycled wastewater to be passed by a citywide vote. The other petition seeks to require the sale or disposal of any water rights to go to a citywide vote. Each petition requires 6,153 valid signatures submitted by April 29 to be added to the agenda for a special election.

Note: GARA opposed the initiative proposed by Save Greeley’s Water. 

Council Reviews Changes to Development Code: The Greeley City Council continued its review of proposed changes to the City’s Develop Code on April 13, focusing this session on the general provisions and procedures by which applicants could receive approval for projects. Staff said the hope is to receive final approval for the revised Development Code on November 1, 2021. 

The Council had little to say about the presentation. Mayor Gates said he didn’t think any of the changes, including those discussed that night, were controversial except occupancy standards. He finished by suggesting as much outreach as possible to publicize the dates for hearings related to the occupancy standards.

STATE
Front Range Rail Bill Introduced: On April 9 a bill was introduced to create a new transportation tax district along I-25 from the Wyoming border to New Mexico with a goal of funding and operating a Front Range passenger trail system. If approved by the legislature, SB-238 would create a district governed by a 14-person board that would have the authority to ask voters to raise sales taxes by a maximum of 8 cents on a $10 purchase.

“Right now is the right time,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Pueblo Democrat and prime sponsor of the bill. Boulder, Broomfield and Westminster legislators are also sponsoring the bill, including Rep. Matt Gray (Broomfield), Sonia Jaquez Lewis (Boulder County), and Senators Steve Fenberg (Boulder) and Faith Winter (Westminster).

The introduction of the bill also comes after Amtrak identified a Front Range rail system as a funding priority should it get the $80 billion proposed under President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.  RTD won’t have a vote in how the district is run, SB- 238 sweetens the pot by directing the new board to collaborate with the other tax-collecting transit agency and “ensure interconnectivity with any passenger rail system” operated by RTD. RTD has been under pressure from the Governor and local lawmakers in Boulder County to fund the completion of the B-line from Longmont to Westminster.

If Front Range Rail reaches fruition, it won’t be cheap, even if the federal government helps pay for it. The project is estimated to cost roughly $14 billion. Finalizing federal and state contributions will require more intensive talks. And of course, voters in the tax district along I-25 would have to approve additional sales tax as “skin in the game.” 

The bill has been assigned to the Senate’s Transportation and Energy Committee, but no hearings have been scheduled to-date.

NATION
CDC Extends Eviction Moratorium: To no one’s surprise, on March 31 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced it is extending its nationwide eviction moratorium through June 30, 2021. The order was put into place Sept. 4, 2020, but has been challenged in court across numerous states and localities in the months since. In addition to the court challenges, the National Association of REALTORS® has fought successfully for federal rental assistance—and will continue to advocate to ensure the moratorium doesn’t lead to a spiraling crisis for housing providers and tenants.

“NAR helped secured $25 billion in 2020 and another $21.55 billion earlier this month in federal rental assistance funding, which can be paid directly to property owners,” says Shannon McGahn, chief advocacy officer of NAR. “This was critical to averting a multifamily real estate crisis, as many of our nation’s housing providers are mom-and-pop operations. Our focus now turns to ensuring there is not just enough funding but also a smooth implementation of rental assistance while the various challenges to eviction bans work their way through the courts.”

Under the terms of the CDC order, residents must declare that they have pursued all appropriate government assistance; met certain income and employment requirements; and are using best efforts to make timely partial payments, among other qualifications. Today’s announcement expands the order to include people “who are confirmed to have, who have been exposed to, or who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and take reasonable precautions to spread the disease.”

Covered persons must now provide their housing provider with a copy of a signed declaration form stating that they meet the requirements to be a “covered person.”

As with previous CDC orders, property owners may still evict tenants due to criminal activity, damaging property, or for violating other contractual obligations.

NAR Opposes DOL Independent Contractor Action: NAR submitted a comment opposing the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed withdraw of the final rule on independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This regulation, introduced by the previous Administration, never took effect and had no direct impact on real estate professionals’ classification under the Internal Revenue Code for federal tax purposes. However, the final rule provided helpful clarity and certainty for how an employer may classify a worker. It is anticipated DOL will rescind the rule based on this proposal, but has not yet released any replacement suggestions.

Many individuals are attracted to the real estate sales industry because of the ability to classify as an independent contractor, where one enjoys maximized workplace flexibility and autonomy within a dynamic and flourishing field. In light of the ongoing challenges posed to businesses across the country because of the pandemic, NAR encouraged the Department not to withdraw the final rule and also not erode any of the existing classification clarifications already in place at the federal and state levels for real estate professionals in any replacement proposals.

NAR will continue to resist any efforts by federal regulators or legislators that threatens real estate professionals’ ability to classify as an independent contractor, including by incorporating the ABC test. Preserving existing worker classification authority at the federal and state levels to allow real estate professionals to continue to provide excellent service to consumers is key to supporting the American Dream of homeownership and maintaining stability in the housing market.

IRES Matters | Episode 9

Upcoming Virtual Town Hall: The Path Forward

Join Annie and Delana as they discuss the upcoming Virtual Town Hall: The Path Forward happening April 27th. Speakers will include: 

  • Lauren Hansen, CEO of IRES with a regional update and brief retrospective
  • Katie Johnson, General Counsel and Chief Member Experience Officer with NAR, for a Legal Update
  • Patty Silverstein, president and chief economist of Development Research Partners, with an overview and forecast of the economic state of the region as it pertains to Real Estate.

Tune in for a sneak peak of the Virtual Town Hall: The Path Forward, and learn everything you need to know to get registered today!

https://ires-net.com/virtual-town-hall-2021/

Search by Sell Score Now Available in Realist Public Records

IRES MLS subscribers are among the first to have the ability to search by Sell Score in Realist Public Records.

The Realist Sell Score is now a searchable attribute available under My Search > Customize Search. The Sell Score is based on the Propensity to List model, now featuring a numerical value (0-1000) that predicts the relative likelihood a property will be listed for sale in the next six months. The user is now able to select the Sell Score attribute (under Customize Search) and add it to their My Search template. Once selected, the user is able to search for properties based on the desired sell score value(s) and ranges, and then proceed with downloading property detail reports, exporting, or creating mailing labels.

Sell Score Ratings and Values:

  • Very High: 831-1000
  • High: 625-830
  • Moderate: 502-624
  • Low: 354-501
  • Very Low: 0-353

To use the Sell Score Search Attribute:

  • In My Search navigate to Customize Search > Sales Information > Sell Score
  • Select Sell Score and add it into search template and click Save or Apply
  • Now navigate to the My Search panel and locate the Sell Score attribute
  • Sell Score attribute can be searched using 1 of 3 search operators:
    • Is= to search for properties with a specific sell score (e.g. Is=750)
    • Is Between=to search for properties with between two values (e.g. Is Between=750 to 800)
    • Is Greater Than= to search for properties greater than a specific value (e.g. Is Greater Than=750)
    • Pro Tip: Remember Search By Sell Score is limited to a single county at a time!

Benefits

The Realist Score is a valuable data point that allows agents to search for properties that are more likely to become listings. Built using CoreLogic’s Propensity to List model, properties with a “high” score can signify having higher chances of being listed, due to market conditions, sales data, valuation, and other proprietary CoreLogic data. This information can be beneficial for agents and real estate professionals looking to build or refine their prospecting & farming lists.

Regional Government Affairs Update March 26, 2021 🌺

Monday March 22nd was a painful day for Coloradoans as we learned of another mass shooting in our state. Those of us from Boulder were especially upset. I grew up on Gillespie Drive, just across the street from King Soopers. It was just a field back then where we played as kids. Now it will be memorialized as the place where innocent people were killed.

Rather than sinking into negativity, which is easy enough on a normal day when your career involves watching politicians playing games, I prefer to focus on how life is getting better. Spring is here and flowers will bloom. Soon we will be able to get together with family, friends, and colleagues without fear. The tide is turning!


Best Regards, 
  Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County
County Creates Pilot Car-Share Program: Boulder County’s “Mobility for All” Program has created a pilot car share program in Louisville at the Kestrel community (northwest of Highway 42 and South Boulder Road). Boulder County created the program in conjunction with Colorado Care Share. www.carshare.orghttps://www.bouldercounty.org/transportation/multimodal/mobilityforall/

The County says the region has a “growing demand for accessible and connected transit serving neighborhoods of affordable homes.” The new carsharing service is designed to complement existing transit at the Kestrel community in Louisville, which includes 71 permanently-affordable homes for adults 55-and-over and 129 multi-family homes. 

Kestrel Residents also have access to RTD FlexRide, 228 & DASH Routes with a free RTD EcoPass; Boulder County offers a new on-demand, Ride Free Lafayette service that can take residents to Lafayette; Via Mobility Services and RTD Access-a-Ride provide paratransit services for older adults and individuals with disabilities; pedestrians and bikes can travel by trail to Waneka and Harpers Lakes; so this provides a natural complement.”

“This is a first in Louisville and a great opportunity to make it easier than ever to save money on transportation expenses,” said Angel Bond, Mobility for All Program Manager. We are really excited to add carsharing to the suite of transportation options that help Kestrel residents meet all of their transportation needs without having to own their own car.”

The pilot car share program, which is currently funded through 2021 by Boulder County, is expected to continue into next year, with the hope that funding can be secured to provide a shared electric vehicle (EV) with a charging station that may be available for both the Colorado CarShare EV and local residents. The initiative will include free carshare credits and deeply discounted membership and rates to Kestrel residents. This initiative is complemented by a similar carshare program in downtown Longmont that is also supported by Boulder County.

Larimer County
Commissioners Implement “Emergency” Drilling Moratorium: In a surprise move, the all-Democratic Larimer Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved an emergency 30-day moratorium on oil and gas drilling through April 15. The decision did not require a public hearing because it was an “emergency measure.” The rationale for the moratorium is to give the County reasonable time to revise the County’s oil and gas legislation to mesh with the State’s new regulations (Senate Bill-181).

Oil and gas industry representatives were unaware the moratorium was under consideration. They fear the County will implement a 2,000-foot setback and may consider reverse-backs that would further restrict drilling sites. 

Drilling is not a huge source of revenue in Larimer County however, there is oil and gas in the southwestern part of the county. One company had submitted nine drilling permit applications. Matt Lafferty, a planner with Larimer County who drafted the County’s existing drilling rules, said he is unsure how many parcels could be impacted by the moratorium and new setbacks but said he thought it would be “quite a few.”

Why should Realtors® care? Mineral rights are property rights in the same way as surface or water rights. Moratoria and extended setbacks will cause harm to the owners of the mineral and surface rights. 

The commissioners will hold a public hearing at 3:30 p.m. April 13 to take comments on whether to extend the moratorium further.

Estes Park
Town Drafting Comp Plan for Estes Valley: Estes Park received a grant from the Department of Local Affairs to help pay for the cost of developing a long-range aka comprehensive plan. Larimer County is fully supportive of the project, saying it will be “beneficial in allowing the community, Town, and County to identify unique community needs, frame shared goals, and identify means of implementing long-range plans. 

We understand that the plan will enable the Town to identify solutions for issues such as affordable housing, economic resiliency, quality design, and environmental quality and conservation as well as defining where Town expansion should or should not occur into the largely-rural unincorporated area. Additionally, the policies may help move Town and County toward a new planning Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).” The County completed its own Comp Plan (minus the Estes Valley) in 2019.

The Comp Plan will take approximately 18 months to complete. Owners of property in Estes Park should stay informed as the process moves forward and get involved if possible.
https://estespark.colorado.gov/comprehensiveplan

Fort Collins
Election Looms: On April 6 the municipal election will determine four seats on the City Council – Mayor and Districts 1,3, 4 and 5. Since the City Council includes seven members total, this election has the potential to result in four new members. The new Council could set a different public policy course moving forward, depending on the will of the voters. 

The Fort Collins Board of Realtors® interviewed the candidates and endorsed the following candidates, based on their answers to real estate-related issues: Molly Skold (Mayor), Nick Armstrong (District 1), Gavin Kaszynski (District 3), Melanie Potyondy (District 4) and Jeff Hansen (District 5).

In addition, FCBR opposes the citizens’ initiative on Hughes Stadium. That ballot question asks voters to demand that Fort Collins acquire the Hughes property and zone the land for open space. Unfortunately, the City has no way to force Colorado State University to sell the property. If the measure passes, it would prohibit CSU from developing the land, regardless of the University’s wishes. 

FCBR opposes the initiative. Its position is that the City needs more housing, and the project CSU envisions would add hundreds of new homes, include designated affordable housing units. In addition, the project would add much-needed community benefits on the west side of town and would expand the City’s multi-modal transportation options.

Read more about CSU’s plans for the Hughes parcel here: https://hughes.colostate.edu/

Weld County
Greeley

Changes to Occupancy Standards Postponed:  In response to concerns raised by residents about relaxing Greeley’s occupancy limits, on March 18 staff announced the City would not take the new proposal to the Planning Commission on March 23 as scheduled. Instead, Planner Caleb Jackson said staff will be “taking another look and will likely make some tailored adjustments to help ease some concern.”

The staff had intended to hold a public hearing with the Planning Commission to unveil a code update that would allow more occupants to a home than is legal now. (Currently, two unrelated people may share a home, regardless of the number of bedrooms.) In the proposal unveiled on March 15, the legal occupancy limit would vary from two unrelated people allowed to share an efficiency or one-bedroom home to as many as five unrelated people allowed to share a four-bedroom home, with the number of occupants increasing by the number of bedrooms in the home. 

The new occupancy standards would apply in the R-E (Residential Estate), R-L (Residential Low Density), R-M (Residential Medium Density), and R-MH (Residential Mobile Home) zoning districts. Other zoning districts already allow an unlimited number of unrelated adults, which is not proposed to change. 

Staff did not announce a timeline for the release of the tailored adjustments. 

COLORADO ASSOCIATION REALTORS®
Legislative Update: Observers say Governor Polis has committed to giving the General Assembly $2 B of the State’s $5 Billion federal COVID recovery dollars to spend. Can you say, “feeding frenzy?”

SB-173 “Rights in Residential Lease Agreements” CAR Position: Oppose This bill heavily favors tenants over landlords.

HB-1117 “Local Government Authority Promote Affordable Housing Units” Position: Amend

It appears the bill sponsors may be willing to compromise a little. But this bill, which essentially allows rent control for affordable housing remains a great source of angst for the Legislative Policy Committee.

HB-1205 “Electric Vehicle Road Usage Equalization Fee” Position: Support
“The bill requires a road usage equalization fee (equalization fee) to be imposed at the time of annual registration on each plug-in electric motor vehicle that is required to be registered in the state. The fee is set in an amount that is estimated to achieve parity between the aggregate amount of motor vehicle registration fees and motor fuel excise taxes paid per vehicle by owners of plug-in electric motor vehicles and vehicles fueled by gasoline, diesel, or other special fuels and is annually adjusted for inflation.”

HB-1195 “Regulation Of Radon Professionals” CAR Position – Support. This bill would create minimum qualifications and licensing for radon mitigation professionals.

SB-148 “Creation of Financial Empowerment Office” CAR Position: Monitor
“The bill creates the Financial Empowerment office (office) and the director of the office (director) in the department of law to grow the financial resilience and well-being of Coloradans through specified community-derived goals and strategies. The director is appointed by the attorney general and may hire staff as necessary to perform the duties and functions of the office.”

The bill is intended to provide new tools to improve the ability of Colorado residents to manage their finances, create strategies to remove barriers to building ownership and wealth for all, “especially in low-income communities and communities of color.”

STATE
Mortgage Assistance on Hold: As of March 25, Colorado’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program will be on hold according to an article in the Colorado Sun.  The rent-assistance programs will continue to distribute federal funding available only to renters. That program, the Emergency Rental Assistance Program began taking applications on Tuesday. It replaces the state’s Emergency Housing Assistance Program, or EHAP, for tenants and the program for landlords, called Property Owners Preservation, or POP.

When the mortgage assistance will return remains unknown, but more money is expected from the American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress earlier this month. The new federal relief plan provides help nationwide, with about $19.05 billion for rent assistance, $5 billion for homelessness assistance, $5 billion for emergency housing vouchers and $9.96 billion for mortgage payments. 

The Department of Local Affairs does not know how much Colorado will receive in housing assistance from the new relief plan.

Legislative Transportation Leaders Unveil Bill Outline: After weeks of anticipation, Senator Faith Winter (Westminster) and Representative Matt Gray (Broomfield) published an outline of their $3.9 billion plan to fund transportation. The proposal hasn’t been drafted into a bill form yet, but they intend to introduce it soon. Governor Jared Polis voiced support for the proposal, in part because it supports his administration’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with funding for electric vehicles (EV) and EV infrastructure.

The proposal would create a new “road usage fee” to supplement the current gas tax that gasoline users would pay at the pump. That fee would start at 2 cents per gallon in 2023 and increase to 8 cents in 2029. Diesel would be taxed at 6 cents per gallon; the fee increases to 8 cents a gallon by 2027.

Electrical vehicles would see an increase from the $50 a year fee to $90 a year by 2032. Other fees would be imposed on car transportation services like Uber, online retail providers like Amazon, rental cars, taxis and even autonomous vehicles. 

The sponsors say it would save Coloradoans $6.3 Billion a year in wear and tear, fuel and accelerated depreciation. It would raise $3.924 to “modernize and future-proof our transportation system and stabilize funding over the next 11 years.” 

Senator Steven Fenberg, who is a co-sponsor said, “For years, Colorado has struggled to figure out a sustainable way to modernize and fund transportation. I believe this is the year we finally meet those challenges with a real solution that not only reduces congestion, but that does so with the seriousness that our air quality and climate crisis deserve…. We think it’s aggressively reasonable…and reasonably aggressive.”

The Denver Business Journal warns the “plan likely will meet significant Republican opposition due to its reliance on fee hikes that would start as soon as July 2022, both because of their fiscal impacts on Coloradans and because of what many consider their unconstitutionality in regard to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the recently approved fee-limiting Proposition 117. It also may distress business groups that sought more than the $111.8 million annual contribution it proposes from the state government and possibly anger some environmentalists who have said state leaders should not raise EV fees as they encourage the use of zero-emissions vehicles.”

NATION
Realtor® Labor Status Threatened? The U.S. House of Representatives passed what is known as the PRO Act, a bill that aims to empower unions in the 27 “right to work” states and impose California’s Dynamex ABC test regarding independent contractor status on the country as a whole.  

If the PRO Act can attract 10 US Senators (and thus survive an expected filibuster), Realtors® who fail to self-incorporate will automatically become employees of their brokerage firm. However, NAR staffers say “the PRO Act should continue to face an uphill battle in the Senate under the current political structure. Republicans are united in opposition, and even some Democrats are opposed. As of the latest count, there are fewer than 50 members in support. …. 

Further, in the House-passed version of the PRO Act, an amendment was included that protected state definitions of “employer” and “employee” under existing state wage, hour, workers’ comp, and unemployment laws, where real estate professionals are typically classified as independent contractors. Lastly, the modification under the bill to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) does not impact the Internal Revenue Code protection (26 U.S.C. §3508) for real estate professionals, and therefore there is no direct effect on the ability of real estate agents to be classified as statutory non-employees for federal tax purposes.”

NAR remains engaged on this issue and continues to educate policymakers on the broader detrimental impact of this bill.

REALTORS® of Central Colorado Join IRES, REcolorado Data Agreement

REALTORS® of Central Colorado (ROCC) has joined REcolorado in the data exchange and integration agreement with IRES! The agreement between IRES, REcolorado, and ROCC is stronger than ever giving brokers access to the most comprehensive listing data in the state.   

Starting today, both ROCC members and IRES subscribers have access to the exchanged data in our respective MLS systems. This gives both ROCC members and IRES users the ability to view listing data from the other MLS in their own system. 

Area coverage for the ROCC region includes the following Colorado counties:

FlōPlan Has Arrived

The FlōPlan® System is now available at IRES MLS!

You now have access to FlōPlan®, the easy, fast and affordable floor plan app. 

Complete floor plans are only $12 each!

You read that right! Through your IRES MLS subscription, you get access to this amazing platform for 1/3 the cost of retail! There are no monthly subscriptions. This is a pay-per-use tool. It’s there when you need it. It’s as simple as that!


We look forward to helping you get started. The first step is setting up your account. Set up is fast and easy – all you need are your existing MLS credentials! Just download the mobile app to get started!


What is The FlōPlan System?

The FlōPlan System is an easy-to-use floor plan app + software system by FBS (a leading provider of industry technology), that gives you the ability to create a floor plan for every one of your listings quickly, easily and affordably and link them to your listings. 

Why floor plans and the FlōPlan System?

We licensed the FlōPlan System for a few very important reasons. The most important? Floor plans are an essential piece of listing content, improving the listing – for everyone. By licensing the FlōPlan System, we have the power to improve our market and the customer experience together.

Import Floor Plans from FlōPlan to IRES MLS Inventory

FlōPlans are imported from the floplan.io app by linking it to your Coming Soon, Active, or Pending listings. Within minutes, your new floor plan is automatically attached to your IRES MLS listing. (Important note: scans can take up to 1 business day to render in the app after a successful upload.)

Find a listing app

Appearance in IRES MLS

Floor plans are important and we know you have more than one option for uploading a floor plan to a listing. Whether you choose to purchase a floorplan from another source and upload it as a document, or use the FlōPlan app, your listing will now be flagged that a floor plan is available on the listing. Look for this indicator the same place where you see that documents and virtual tours are also on the listing.

Floor plan link in report window
Documents tab in IRES

The Magic (The Scans)

Once purchased, the scan is available in several options. From either the website floplan.io (Take note, there is no .com, it’s .io!) or through the FlōPlan app on your phone, you can download the scan as an image, a .pdf (the file used in IRES MLS) or a .svg for the more advanced user.

Plans also come with dimensions and without. Keep in mind, the file imported into your IRES MLS listing will be without dimensions. You can choose to manually import your FlōPlan with dimensions via the Documents upload tool.

Floor plan 1
Sample without Dimensions

Floor plan 2
Sample With Dimensions

Again, to get started, download the FlōPlan mobile app, sign in with your MLS credentials and start scanning those listings! Time to change the game and improve the customer experience in our market with floor plans…ON EVERY LISTING! Let’s rally!

Learn More About FloPlan:

Regional Government Affairs Update March 12, 2021 🌷


Elected and appointed officials bemoan the lack of attainable housing but seem to be blind to the decisions they make that add to the problem. For example, the City of Loveland just approved new raw water fees that will increase the cost to build a new single-family home by about $300 in 2021, with the amount increasing over the next few years. At the next meeting, the City Council also approved an increase to the fire department’s capital expansion fee that will add to the cost of a single-family home by $90.

These little fee increases add up over time. And of course, the cost is passed along to new home buyers. Decision-makers would justify them by saying, “It’s only $300.” But they have to look at the big picture and watch the bottom line. Over time an increase here and a few more dollars there, add up.


Best Regards, 
Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County
Commissioners Approve Permit Process for Fire Victims: Boulder County just approved updates to its Land Use Code to create a more flexible process for property owners looking to rebuild after the Calwood Fire. The October 2020 fire, the largest in Boulder County’s history, burned 10,113 acres and destroyed 20 homes, mostly in the Mountain Ridge subdivision and three in Foothills Ranch. 
 
The Land Use Code amendments approved by the Board of County Commissioners establish interim permitting procedures that provide flexibility for those who may want to make changes to the homes they had previously, and extend the timeframe for rebuilding from one year to two. Any changes to a home would be subject to a County building permit review, and the timeframe could be extended to three years with director approval.

The amendments also address the hazards that exist after a wildfire, the preexisting geological hazards in the area and other safety concerns. Based on community feedback, the County decided to revise the amendment to include land restoration efforts in addition to full rebuilds.

More information for affected property owners is available here: bit.ly/2ZURo38.
 
Larimer County
Fort Collins

Council Previews East Mulberry Plan: The East Mulberry Plan encompasses Mulberry Street from Lemay to just east of I-25, going north to Vine and south following Summit View to Prospect. Staff described the East Mulberry area as “unique within Northern Colorado.” It is one of the largest industrial areas in the region and boasts over 500 businesses. Some of those businesses are known regionally, nationally and even internationally for their products and services. The area also has several neighborhoods with housing that is, on average, more affordable than much of the broader Fort Collins area. 
 
On March 9 staff gave the City Council an overview of the process to update the East Mulberry Plan, which was adopted in 2002. Staff shared a public engagement plan which will include “heavy” community involvement with stakeholders; the hope is to produce a draft plan by December 2021. 

East Mulberry is a three-square-mile area of unincorporated County land completely surrounded by land within the city limits, otherwise known as an enclave. Although not statutorily required to annex the enclave, the City has an agreement with Larimer County that such an enclave annexation will be pursued. Given the size of the East Mulberry enclave, such an annexation could be phased over several years. 

Staff explained that the East Mulberry Plan will focus more broadly on the area as “a unique destination, which can embrace its existing character while envisioning long-term opportunities.” City Manager Darin Atteberry described the plan as “genuinely community building.” 

Councilmember Susan Gutowsky wondered how receptive residents are to being annexed. Planner Sylvia Tatman-Burruss explained the staff has done focus groups with these citizens, who she described as “apprehensive but interested in learning more” about the benefits. Ross Cunniff said he is “not in a big hurry” to annex it but agreed it’s good to start engagement. Others were appreciative and look forward to working on this project for the next few years. Mayor Troxell said it will be “a very special part of the community…. It’s like the RHINO district in Denver.”

Loveland
Increased Cash-in-Lieu Water Fees Approved: The City Council approved new cash-in-lieu water fees on March 2. Staff requested the increases because of the rising cost of water and expenses the City has incurred as part of its participation in the Windy Gap (Chimney Hollow) water storage project. Developers pay cash-in-lieu if they don’t have existing water rights to satisfy the so-called raw water requirements for their projects. 

Last fall staff had recommended $66,230 an acre-foot (AF) as a cash-in-lieu water fee. However, after hearing concern from city boards and commissions and the Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS®, the cash-in-lieu (CIL) will now be set a $40,150 AF. In addition, the fee will be phased in over four years. 

Staff also expressed concern that setting the CIL Fee at $66,230/AF could lead to developers aggressively seeking ways to meet raw water dedication requirements other than paying CIL, and could result in much lower CIL revenue. The 2021 CIL for a single-family home will be $1,337. Before the increase that was just approved, it was $1,087.

Loveland joins Metro DPA Downpayment Program: The City Council approved a resolution allowing Loveland to participate in the Metro Down Payment Assistance Program. Metro DPA provides downpayment assistance to residents making up to $150,000 a year. Participation does not require the City to contribute any taxpayer money. 
 
The program is designed to offer assistance to qualified borrowers in the form of a variety of 30-year fixed-rate first mortgage options and down payment assistance. For example, aid can be provided in the form of assistance set as a percentage (up to 6 percent depending on loan type) of the overall note and the aid can be applied toward downpayment or closing costs. The full amount of aid is provided as a silent second mortgage (0 percent interest) and forgivable monthly over 36 months. 
 
Current qualifications for applicants include qualifying credit score levels (640 or 680 depending on loan type), income limits ($150,000), purchase price limits ($548,250), and property/home type restrictions determined according to loan type. More information about the program is available at www.metroDPA.org
 
Note: Participation for Loveland is free. The City and County of Denver pays operational costs. Other local participating jurisdictions include Longmont, Fort Collins and Evans, among others.
 
City Holds Metro District Open House: As part of its goal of greater citizen engagement, the City of Loveland held an online public open house on March 1. The intent of the meeting was to educate residents about metro district governance and allow participants to ask questions. The City Council was on hand to answer questions and listen to the conversation. 

Over 120 people participated in the meeting. Unfortunately, some metro district residents said their Realtors® had not fully explained the consequences of buying a home in a metro district. One participant said they were a local Realtor® and didn’t understand how metro districts operate. This person asked city officials to give Realtors® more information.

These stories are a cause of concern, but it is important to remember that the participants in the open house represent a fraction of Loveland residents who live in metro districts. On the positive side, members of the City Council praised the Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS®’s role in drafting a metro district homebuyer disclosure form several years and spoke of personal interactions with Realtors® who were professional and knowledgeable about metro districts.

Real estate professionals have a responsibility to educate themselves concerning metro districts. Currently, there are 18 metro districts in Loveland as well as many others all over Northern Colorado. The City now has online resources which you can access here: https://www.letstalkloveland.org/metro-districts and https://www.lovgov.org/services/finance/metro-districts.

The City Council will hold a study session on April 13 featuring a panel of metro district experts, including LBAR member David Powell. After that, it is possible the Council could direct staff to draft additional changes to its metro district policy and require additional disclosure requirements. 

Weld County
Greeley

Council Approves Terry Ranch Water Deal: The City Council unanimously approved the proposal to purchase the water rights for Terry Ranch on March 2. Terry Ranch will provide a cost-effective water storage alternative to Milton-Seaman Reservoir, which Greeley Water and Sewer Director Sean Chambers said is unlikely to ever receive approval for expansion because of environmental issues. In addition, the water in the aquafer will augment Greeley’s water in case of drought. The innovative project required two approvals, one is a resolution for the transaction and an ordinance to amend Greeley’s raw water policies. 
 
During Council’s discussion, Brett Payton admonished one of the project’s opponents. “I’m a real estate attorney. Referring to Terry Ranch as a ‘Superfund Site’ is slander…” Tommy Butler said if he had the slightest concern about the project’s safety he would have voted no. Mayor Gates said the City did its “Due diligence and then some. Thousands of water samples and a comprehensive set of tests. Terry Ranch is the most cost-effective option.”
 
While many members of the public spoke in support of the project, including the City’s Water guru, Harold Evans, a small group of opponents who call themselves Save Greeley’s Water (SGW) still oppose it. Led by several disgruntled former Water Department employees, SGW claims the naturally occurring uranium in the aquafer below Terry Ranch is hazardous, in spite of the information provided by City staff and third-party experts to the contrary.
 
SGW is now attempting to derail the project by filing a protest to the ordinance, which still requires a second Council vote. The group has three weeks to gather 2,200 signatures to force the City to require voter approval for the ordinance. 
The Greeley Area REALTOR® Association, the Greeley Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Colorado House Builders Association, former mayor Tom Norton and a number of other knowledgeable citizens support the project.  

You can help! Do not sign the petition that could halt Terry Ranch and require a costly special election. 
 
More information is available here: https://greeleygov.com/services/ws/trp/greeley’s-water-future
 
Keep Greeley Moving: The Keep Greeley Moving Sales Tax (KGM) Expires on December 31, 2022. The Council had discussed putting its reauthorization on the ballot last November but chose not to because of COVID and its desire to avoid putting too many tax renewals on the ballot during a difficult year for residents.  KGM revenues are allocated to three types of projects: road maintenance, road expansion, and sidewalk repair/replacement. 
 
Staff described the 2022 election as a “cluttered” election because of numerous stand and local issues. The recommendation is to consider putting it on the November 2021 ballot instead. While the City’s annual wish list would require $20 million to fund, staff would be comfortable with a reauthorization of the KGM rate of .65 percent. Public Works Director Joel Hemesath noted that almost half of Greeley’s sidewalks need repairs and ramps to comply with the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA).
 
The City’s Budget Advisory Committee suggested the Council should consider increasing the tax up to .95 percent to generate enough money to cover the $20 million Public Works wish list – if resident polling supports that increase. The City Council didn’t have a lot of questions and agreed with the proposal to poll residents this spring and come back to Council to discuss the results in June. 
 
Council Reviews Infill Strategies: The City Council discussed infill strategies as part of the broader push to implement the City’s Strategic Housing Plan. The idea is to create the criteria to allow infill projects to fit into neighborhoods. Staff described strategies they’d like to use to evaluate a project including –

  • Frontage – the relationship of the building and site to the streetscape
  • Size and Setback – the relationship of the building to adjacent property
  • Design Interest – windows, doors, ornamentation and design details
  • Open Space – the relationship of non-building elements to adjacent property
  • Architecture – the quality of the design and compatibility of a particular style.

The Council didn’t offer many comments, saying they liked the staff’s recommendations. Interestingly, they did not discuss the “elephant in the room,” which is how infill can create more density. That is often very contentious, with advocates claiming more density will negatively affect the character of the neighborhood. The infill strategies will come back to Council as part of the larger package of code revisions in the Fall. 

STATE
Colorado Stimulus Plan: On March 11 Governor Jared Polis and the legislature’s Democratic majority unveiled their $700 Million “custom recovery strategy” for Colorado, which they say will focus specifically on the “hardest-hit sectors of our economy and community.” While many aspects of the plan do not specifically relate to real estate, there are some components that could affect our industry one way or the other.

Infrastructure is a plan priority with $170 Million allocated for “tourism corridors and scenic byways … Denver Metro Wes I-70 bridges, and improvements to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels.” Notice this list does not specifically mention North I-25. Instructure also includes “Innovative Housing and Community Revitalization” to the tune of $60 to $80 Million. This will “transform downtown spaces” and make more affordable housing options in urban areas, according to the plan. Broadband access is also included in this category ($50-$75 Million). 

Under a primary goal of “Supporting Colorado Families,” the plan also intends to spend up to $10 Million on an affordable housing incentive program to fund local governments and encourage them to use a menu of options to build,, including reducing building permit fees, creating a vacant property registration program for the development of the affordable housing, or authorization of cluster zoning. 

The plan will be funded through the use of unexpected tax revenue. The legislation to implement the plan hasn’t been introduced yet. Legislative leaders were waiting for the passage of the federal COVID relief bill before finalizing the funding for the state plan.

Eviction Filings on the Rise: Eviction filings have increased since the beginning of the year when Governor Polis chose not to renew a state eviction moratorium. Housing advocates have criticized the governor’s decision and complained that the State’s housing assistance program is overwhelmed, according to an article in the Denver Gazette

Since Colorado’s moratorium expired on Dec. 31, the Governor has relied on the federal eviction moratorium, but advocates say the federal order is inadequate. It prevents landlords from evicting tenants who are behind on rent because of the pandemic, but allows them to proceed right up to the point where those tenants are physically removed. The federal order also allows landlords to seek evictions for tenants whose lease has expired, a tactic that advocates say can be used to get rid of people behind on their rent.

Once Polis’ order expired, evictions across the State increased especially in Denver and El Paso Counties. However, it is important to note that eviction filings are still far below pre-pandemic levels. Even so, advocates warn that Colorado risks driving more people into evictions at a time when the state is beginning to look toward the end of the pandemic. According to a mid-February survey conducted by the Census Bureau, more than one in four adult Coloradans said they’re behind on their rent or mortgage payments.

The Governor has defended his decision not to renew his eviction moratorium by pointing to the federal moratorium, which is now facing a legal challenge. (see below). The Governor also pointed out that our state has received or allocated over $340 million to housing and direct assistance for residents.

NATION
Congress Passes More COVID Relief: NAR’s Federal Advocacy team has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to ensure the interests of REALTORS®, their families, consumers, and the entire real estate industry are protected in any federal action in response to COVID-19.

Congress has passed a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package known as the “American Rescue Plan of 2021” and the bill was signed by the President. Included in the package are several provisions that impact the real estate industry. This is the sixth major coronavirus relief bill signed into law since the beginning of the pandemic.

Highlights of the American Rescue Plan:

  • $1,400 stimulus checks per person, phased out completely for individuals earning $80,000 per year and couples earning $160,000 per year (Those earning under the income limits will also receive $1,400 in stimulus money for each dependent, regardless of age, claimed on their latest filed tax return.)
  • An extension through Sept. 6, 2021, to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program with the continuation of the current $300 per week in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
  • Exclusion of up to $10,200 in unemployment compensation from taxation for those with AGI of $150,000 or less, beginning in the tax year 2020.
  • $21.55 billion in new money for rental assistance, on top of the $25 billion allocated in December.
  • A one-year increase in the child tax credit, paid in monthly installments, including $3,000 a year for each child ages 6 to 17, and $3,600 a year for each child under age 6 for couples who make $150,000 or less and single parents who make $112,500 or less
  • Expanded Paid Sick and Family Leave through Sept. 30
  • $10 billion for a Housing Assistance Fund that will allow state housing finance agencies to help homeowners with COVID-19 hardships
  • $100 million for housing counseling services
  • $15 billion for a new small business grant program
  • $350 billion instate and local aid
  • $130 billion for schools

https://www.nar.realtor/political-advocacy/american-rescue-plan-summary

Legal Challenges to Federal Eviction Moratorium: On February 26 a federal district court in the Eastern District of Texas declared the CDC’s eviction moratorium violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.  Several property managers filed this case in the Eastern District of Texas, and therefore the decision only applies in this district and is not binding in others. 

In this case, the plaintiffs argued the CDC’s eviction moratorium enacted in September of last year and extended in January of this year, violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause where the agency’s action was beyond the scope of its Article I powers. The CDC has argued a nationwide eviction ban is within its federal authority to regulate commerce among the states. Terkel et al. v. CDC (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas)

Interestingly, two-state Realtor® associations have also filed a case challenging the federal moratorium. In this case, the plaintiffs argued the CDC order is unlawful on procedural grounds, namely how the order: (1) violated the Administrative Procedures Act and Regulatory Flexibility Act; (2) how the CDC exceeded its statutory authority when issuing the Order; (3) how the Order constituted an unconstitutional taking under the Fifth Amendment; and, (4) how the Order violated due process rights. The government has argued existing authority under the Public Health Services Act to issue the order as a public health measure. The Commerce Clause argument raised by the plaintiffs in Texas was not raised in this case and therefore does not directly impact the claims in this case. However, given the overlap in some of the reasoning (i.e. public health defense), it could be persuasive.  

This case is still pending before the D.C. District Court, which is aware of the Terkel decision. A decision in this case could come as early as next month. (Alabama Association of REALTORS®, Georgia Association of REALTORS® et al. v. CDC (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia)

The CDC eviction moratorium is currently in effect until March 31st, and President Biden has previously indicated a preference for an extension through September, although no announcements have been made to date. 

 NAR Supports The Equality Act: The National Association of REALTORS® applauded the House on Thursday after lawmakers reintroduced and passed the Equality Act, a 2019 bill that would extend fair housing and other civil rights protections to LGBTQ Americans. The House first passed the measure nearly two years ago, but it stalled in the Senate. This time, the Equality Act is expected to move forward in the Senate, though support for its successful passage remains unclear. President Joe Biden has vowed to sign the law if it makes it to his desk.

The Equality Act, also known as H.R. 5, would amend the Fair Housing Act of 1968 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, giving the LGBTQ community added protections in home sales, rentals, financing, insurance, and other housing-related transactions. It would also ban LGBTQ discrimination in the application of credit, employment, public education, public accommodations, federal funding, and the jury system.

“NAR applauds the House of Representatives for taking action to extend fair housing protections to LGBTQ Americans,” NAR President Charlie Oppler said in a statement. “As stewards of the right to own, use, and transfer private property, REALTORS®’ livelihoods depend on an open housing market, and discrimination of any kind limits our shared goals, undermines our values, and inhibits our ability to conduct business.”

NAR is among more than 600 organizations and 300 major companies that have voiced support for the Equality Act, including numerous real estate and mortgage firms. The association also has been a leader in anti-discrimination policy: NAR amended its Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2011 and gender identity in 2013.