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Regional Government Affairs Update March 1, 2022 🌱

The North Weld County Water District’s water tap moratorium and the Town of Severance’s subsequent building permit moratorium have been hot topics in the Northern Colorado real estate community lately. Severance is an epicenter of new home construction in our area. The moratoria brought this vital growth to a stop. For the latest on this issue, and a whole lot more, keep reading.

Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County
RTD’s Peak Rail Service Concept:
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) announced a consulting firm has been selected to study the feasibility of extending peak-hour service rail service from Union Station in Denver to Boulder and Longmont. According to the Daily Camera, Longmont Mayor Joan Peck said hiring a consultant is “the right step for RTD to take.”

The study is expected to take about two years to complete. It will provide updated engineering and cost estimates to determine service recommendations for communities, including Broomfield, Louisville, Boulder, and Longmont.

Additional goals include positioning the project for federal funding, planning peak service to allow for future build-out of the Northwest Rail Line, and aligning the RTD with the agency’s goals of partnering with agencies such as the Front Range Passenger Rail Service and the Colorado Department of Transportation. The peak-hour service plan would offer three morning trips from Longmont to Denver and three evening trips from Denver to Longmont.

What Peck did not emphasize is that the full northwest rail service approved as part of the FasTracks initiative in 2004 is still decades away. RTD’s projected completion date for the full build-out is 2050. The Northwest Rail Line has the highest price tag of the unfinished FasTracks projects, and is estimated to cost about $1.5 billion.

Note: Listen to CPR’s Ghost Train podcast for a good analysis and history of the FasTracks project and rail in Colorado. https://www.cpr.org/podcast/ghost-train/

Boulder
Council Schedules CU South Referendum:
With just a two-minute discussion, the Boulder City Council decided to add the CU South Annexation repeal referendum to the November 8 general election. The decision was made informally and will require the passage of a formal resolution later this year.

The Save South Boulder advocacy group collected enough signatures in November to require a public vote on the annexation approved by Council in September. The Council opted not to make a quick decision on scheduling the question following the defeat of Save South Boulder’s previous referendum Ballot Question 302. That question would’ve required voters to approve the details of the CU South annexation agreement. It failed by a sizeable margin with 57.68 percent of the voters opposed.

While the Council could have opted for a one-question special election, that would cost between $75 and $150,000, according to staff. In the meantime, the founders of Save South Boulder/Save CU South have filed a statement of organization to create a new campaign committee called “Repeal CU South Annexation.”

Longmont
Water Cash-in-Lieu Price Increasing:
The City Council directed the staff to move forward with an ordinance to increase in Longmont’s water cash-in-lieu (CIL) rate. Developments that do not provide water rights are required to pay cash-in-lieu.

Currently, the City uses a complicated methodology that has been in place since 2014. The new methodology, if formally approved in a future meeting, will be based on the cost of an acre-foot of Windy Gap water, $48,500.

In discussing the ever-increasing cost of water, City Manager Harold Dominguez mentioned the possibility of using the CIL to incentivize or de-incentivize housing, especially for affordable and attainable homes. For example, the City could offer a special lower CIL rate for these projects. Assistant City Manager Dale Rademacher added that the City could discourage larger homes with a larger CIL price. This would be implemented through additional regulations. The CIL is generally paid when the plat is approved.

Note: It is difficult to compare Longmont’s cash-in-lieu price with other local cities because they are not based on the same amount of water. For example, Longmont’s current CIL is $18,528 based on .76 of an acre-foot of a Colorado-Big Thompson unit yield. Loveland’s CIL is $40,150 based on a .9 acre-foot of a Colorado-Big Thompson unit yield and Greeley’s is $36,500 based on .75 acre-foot of a Colorado-Big Thompson unit yield.

Louisville
Emergency Zoning Ordinance Approved:
The Louisville City Council approved an emergency ordinance requiring only one hearing to address zoning regulations affecting structures damaged or destroyed by the Marshall Fire. The ordinance creates a process to quickly clarify discrepancies for rebuilding Marshall fire homes and issue permits. It includes a sunset provision and is relevant only for properties affected by the Marshall Fire.

The ordinance specifies an expedited rebuild process for 15 affected neighborhoods and/or subdivisions. Planning Director Rob Zuccaro emphasized the ordinance is not to rewrite zoning standards. It is simply intended to allow rebuilt homes to reflect the original character of the neighborhood. The types of issues it will affect include issues such as side yard setbacks, and yard and bulk requirements. Fire victims were supportive of the ordinance, which was unanimously approved.

Larimer County
Berthoud
No on Turion Metro Districts:
Berthoud’s Board of Trustees voted 4 to 3 against approving the service plan for the Turion Metro Districts with Trustees Dower, Soricelli, Hardy, and Mayor Karspeck opposed. Two weeks before that decision, Mead’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the service plan for the Districts. Both governments needed to approve the plan because the property is located within the boundaries of both Mead and Berthoud.

For some of the trustees, the size of the project was just too big. As Trustee May Soricelli said, “The scale is alarming… Are we ready for the scale and how it will affect the Town of Berthoud?” Turion is envisioned as a 2,000-acre master-planned community with 5,700 homes and 5.3 million square feet of commercial space.

For others, like Mayor Karspeck, any metro district is suspect. Karspeck said he is “not a fan of this development. … I’ve been quoted in the Denver Post about my opposition to them (metro districts).” Surprisingly, Trustee Jeff Hindman voted in favor of the project, saying approval would give Berthoud a measure of control.

The fate of the project is unknown following the vote in Berthoud. Turion is bounded by Interstate 25 to the west, Weld County Road 11 to the east, Weld County Road 38 to the south, and Weld County Road 44 to the north. The maximum aggregate mill levy for Turion will be 70.664 in Mead and would be 73.664 in the Berthoud portion, according to the service plan. Infrastructure paid for by the metro districts includes streets, water, sewer, and recreational amenities such as a rec center. Homes were projected to cost between $250 to $850,000.

Fort Collins
REALTORS® Oppose Rental Licensing:
The Fort Collins Board of Realtors® (FCBR) released a position statement opposing Fort Collins Housing Strategic Plan’s rental licensing component. The City is gathering public input on the topic: https://www.research.net/r/FCRentalSurvey.

Staff proposes a five-year time to implement rental licensing. It would start with a pilot program in year one. If the City Council is pleased with the results of the pilot, the program will move forward. By year five roughly 25 percent of the City’s rental units would be inspected.

The FCBR statement reads as follows:

“The Fort Collins Board of REALTORS® (FCBR) would like to commend the City of Fort Collins for considering revising its current housing occupancy requirements with regards to occupancy limits and household functionality.

“Increasing occupancy limits and amending familial definitions will allow property owners to utilize their homes based upon size and the capacity of the neighborhood. The impact on larger homes would result in more efficient utilization, create more housing opportunities, as well as ease the current rising cost of housing in the city.

“FCBR strongly opposes the City’s current push towards Rental Licensing. Without a comprehensive list of tenant complaints, combined with an analysis of the impact of current regulations on the issues identified, it appears that Rental Licensing is a solution in search of a problem. Not to mention the licensing fees involved with this program would be passed on to renters thus raising the cost of living for those who can least afford it.

“It is FCBR’s recommendation that the City of Fort Collins considers the following alternatives to improving the housing shortage in our community:

  • Ease restrictions for new Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).
  • Allow developers to build according to zoning requirements, without adding unnecessary design standards that increase the cost of housing.
  • Offer incentives to developers for higher density in return for building permanently affordable and attainable housing units.
  • Create partnerships with developers, builders, and lenders to assist with the smart development or re-development of appropriate land in the City and GMA.”

More information about the rental licensing proposal is available here: https://www.fcgov.com/housing/rental-housing-strategies.

Weld County
Severance
Moratorium Lifted Outside Town Delivery Area:
BizWest reported that the Severance Town Council voted to lift a moratorium on building permits in areas outside the Town’s water service area last week. Severance owns water, but uses the North Weld County Water District (NWCWD) for water treatment and delivery.

Severance residents receive water either from the Town directly or through North Weld. North Weld imposed a tap moratorium September 29 but partially lifted it on February 14, allowing 50 tap permits initially and 10 per month thereafter, through the end of 2022.

The decision means that the Town will allow building permits within its boundaries in areas served directly by North Weld water, including the subdivisions of Belmont Farms, Bridal Hill/Saddler Ridge, Casa Loma, Golden Eagle Acres, Hidden Valley Farm, and Soaring Eagle Ranch.
However, the building-permit moratorium continues within the Town’s water service area. The moratorium will continue through May or until NWCWD grants the “plant investments” needed to deliver the proper volume of water to Severance.

NWCWD imposed its tap moratorium in September, blaming the 1041 regulatory process in Fort Collins and Larimer County related to the District’s NEWT III pipeline, to be built from North Timberline Road in north Fort Collins east into unincorporated Larimer County. BizWest says the District has acknowledged capacity issues for water treatment and delivery, caused by rapid population growth and expansion of dairies within the region.

REGION
What is Happening with I-25 Expansion?
It’s been a while since we reported on the North I-25 project. As drivers can see, the work is ongoing from Fort Collins to Berthoud.

While it may seem that the transportation funding issue was fixed with the passage of SB21-260 last year, that is far from the case. For one thing, that bill spread funding between highways and transit. In addition, Governor Polis has called for a delay in the implementation of the gas tax increase that is part of SB-260’s funding formula following an increase in gas prices and the inflation that has plagued the U.S. and Colorado.

While Governor Polis and CDOT have been loud in their praise for the completion of I-25 south of Denver, they have been silent concerning the funding shortfall for I-25 North. We are still missing $600 million for section five from Mead (C0 66) to Berthoud (C0 56). It could be years to finish the project with the State’s current emphasis on greenhouse gas emissions and transit. The only solution that observers can foresee at this point is a public-private partnership (P3) to pay for the last section of the expansion.

Regional Government Affairs Update February 1, 2022 🌝

Elections Never End! You’ll notice some basic candidate information in this update. Why? Statutory towns across Northern Colorado will hold municipal elections on April 5, with ballots being mailed on March 14.

What is a statutory municipality? It is a town that has elected officials known as a board of trustees. The mayor of these towns is elected by popular vote. Statutory towns do not collect their own sales tax.

2022 will also feature county commissioner elections. Candidates can petition on the ballot or undergo the assembly selection for party candidates. The date for the Colorado Primary is June 28; our general election is scheduled for November 8.

It’s time to start your homework so you’re prepared for the 2022 elections.

Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County
Four County Commissioner Candidates So Far:
When Matt Jones announced his intent to retire at the end of his current term as Commissioner for District 3, it didn’t take long for candidates to emerge who want to take his place. According to the Daily Camera, four candidates have declared so far, but there’s plenty of time for others to join the fray.

Ashley Stolzmann, currently Mayor of Louisville, said being a Commissioner would help her serve constituents impacted by the Marshall Fire. “The county is the key player in the whole recovery.”

Candidate number two is Elaina Shively of Lafayette. She is the Director of Diversion and Restorative Justice for the Boulder County DA’s office. “As a county commissioner, I could leverage the work I’ve done in being a leader for systems change,” she said.

Andrew O’Connor is the third candidate to announce. He’s run before, albeit unsuccessfully, in previous local elections and at the state level. He is retired but previously worked as a public defender. If elected, O’Connor hopes to work on infrastructure, especially roads and traffic control, within Boulder County.

Lisa Widdekind announced her candidacy on Feb. 7. She served as public health emergency management coordinator for 16 years. “As a former employee who worked with all our departments to be prepared for events like the pandemic, I understand how our local government works and can hit the ground running in the role of commissioner. It’s a lot different than coming in from other career paths,” Widdekind said. She ran for the same seat in 2018.

Erie
Eight Candidates for April Election:
Current Trustee Justin Brooks and Kelly Zuniga will vie for the mayor’s seat after incumbent Mayor Jennifer Carroll announced she will not run again. Six candidates will compete for three trustee seats: incumbent Christiaan van Woudenberg, Emily Baer, Jeff Haverkate, Dan Hoback, Ryan Kenward, and Andrew Sawusch.

Longmont
Electric Home Demonstration Project:
The City Council was briefed on a building demonstration project being done by Longmont Power and Communications in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley. The project includes 10 new all-electric homes.

The houses will have water heater controllers and home energy monitoring devices to gather data on water heater consumption, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment. The purpose of the project is to monitor and test for peak electric demand reduction, renewable energy generation alignment, and other benefits of the grid.

Given the push for all-electric homes to combat global warming, this type of project is important. Many local governments (including Longmont) and the State of Colorado, support the goal of eventually eliminating natural gas heating, but is all-electric heating efficient and cost-effective? Data from projects like this one can help answer this question.

Louisville
Post-Fire Building Code Requirements Become Politicized:
On February 1 the Louisville City Council held its first discussion on building code requirements for the Marshall Fire victims. The staff presented information on the provisions of the International Wildland Urban Interface Code, otherwise known as WUI.

Louisville doesn’t have any of the WUI provisions in its code now, but in the aftermath of the fire, it is possible the staff may recommend considering some sections. Planner Lisa Ritchie said the staff isn’t ready to recommend the adoption of the WUI codes yet, however. “We’re still learning,” she said.

The discussion concerning the energy efficiency code (IECC) generated more passion. In the fall of 2021, Louisville adopted the 2021 version of the IECC, which requires new residential construction to be built to certain energy-efficient standards, including a requirement to build new homes using only electricity (versus natural gas) or at least be wired as electric-ready. In addition, the code includes wiring for electric vehicle charging stations, and solar panels (or the ability to support solar panels), and a net-zero carbon emission standard.

Some victims of the Marshall Fire asked the Council not to require rebuilt homes to comply with that code because of the additional cost. “Everyone is profoundly under-insured. I’ve heard there are some people who aren’t under-insured but I’ve yet to meet one of these unicorns,” said one affected homeowner.

Requiring rebuilt homes to meet the 2021 IECC code would add from $8,360 to $33,795 to the cost. Victims said their home insurance allowance for code updates would not cover that cost. Audrey DuBarros, the director of Commuting Solutions, said being a fire victim changed her perspective dramatically. Suspend the 2021 IECC, she begged. “Streamline the process and come to our rescue.”

Will Toor, the Director of the Colorado Energy Office, urged the council to stick to the 2021 IECC requirements. He argued the City’s consultants were incorrect in their analysis of the costs. He said the State would help and donate money for “sustainable rebuilding.” Elise Jones, the Director of the South West Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) testified as well, pressing the City to stay the course as one of the State’s leaders in energy efficiency.

After more than 90 minutes of testimony, Mayor Stolzmann ended the hearing. She said the issue would be discussed again once the staff can research the financial resources needed to cover the costs of incorporating the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code into the rebuilt homes.

Council Waives Demo Permit Fees for Fire Victims: The City Council unanimously approved a resolution to waive demolition permit fees for fire victims. After a short discussion, the original proposal was revised and the time limit for the waiver was extended until September 30. Victims have to apply for the permit by that date. The actual work must begin within 180 days.

Larimer County
Sheriff Running for Commissioner:
Justin Smith, Larimer County’s Sheriff for 12 years, has announced he will challenge incumbent commission John Kefalas for the District One seat this November. Smith told the Coloradoan his 30 years of service to the County have helped him to understand its varied challenges.

Mask Requirement Ends Feb. 12: Larimer County’s Department of Health & Environment will eliminate the COVID-19 mask requirements effective Feb. 12. The County joins most other Front Range counties in ending mask requirements; Broomfield, Denver, Adams, and Araphoe counties have already creased requiring masks indoors. Boulder County is the only county in Northern Colorado that still requires masks in public indoor spaces.

Berthoud
Trustee Candidates:
Six people have announced their candidacy in the Berthoud trustee election, scheduled for April 5. The candidates are Tim Hardy, who is running for a second term, Karl Ayers, Ryan Berry, Alex Johnson, Sean Murphy, and Ellyn Rush.

Three four-year seats are available. Two current trustees will not run again. Jeff Hindman is term-limited, and Mayor Pro Tem Maureen Dower has chosen not to run for a second term.

Trustees Increase Water Cash-in-Lieu Fee: The Board of Trustees approved an ordinance to increase Berthoud’s cash in lieu water dedication fee, an alternative method to satisfy water requirements for new development. Funds collected as cash-in-lieu fees are used by the Town to further develop its water supplies and to develop the infrastructure necessary to treat and deliver those supplies.

The current cash-in-lieu fee is $16,500 per single family equivalent (“SFE”) was adopted by the Board in June 2019. The revised fee is $25,000 per SFE. The rationale for the increase was based on the unit cost of recent water acquisitions by the Town and the estimated costs of new water infrastructure projects.

Fort Collins
Diagnosis – LUC Needs Work:
A diagnostic report prepared by consultants indicates the City’s Land Use Code (LUC) needs changes. As it currently exists, the LUC limits housing capacity and creates uncertainty. It doesn’t prioritize capacity, diversity, or affordability along transit corridors and it doesn’t support compatible infill development. To top it off, the consultants said it is difficult to use.

The majority of the Council present (Susan Gutowsky was absent) supported the consultants’ recommendations and the direction the report recommends. The consultants suggest many updates, including changes to efficiently guide infill and a more equitable process to make it easier for local developers. The current LUC is too “focused on use regulation and process without enough priority and focus on predictable form.”

Kelly Ohlson, who was active in the creation of the existing LUC became irate and lectured his Council colleagues, the staff and City consultants for nearly 25 minutes. He said, “These are the biggest planning changes I’ve seen – ever. I don’t share the enthusiasm for where we are heading.” He added that “Affordable Housing is the great American excuse for bad policy.” He explained he wasn’t elected to represent people who will live in Fort Collins 15 years from now.

Staff said there will be continued public engagement and additional study sessions for the City Council. The hope is to bring back draft LUC revisions in April 2022.

Read the diagnostic report here: https://www.fcgov.com/housing/files/luc-diagnostic_final.pdf?1642016494.

Weld County
Mead
Trustees Approve Turion Plan:
Mead’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement and service plan for the Turion Metropolitan Districts, beginning the development process for 2,000-acre master-planned community with 5,700 homes and 5.3 million square feet of commercial space.

Turion still awaits approval from the Town of Berthoud, because part of the property lies within the Town’s boundaries. Berthoud’s Board of Trustees was scheduled to continue its discussion of the issue at its Feb. 8 meeting but the results of that meeting aren’t yet available.

Turion is bounded by Interstate 25 to the west, Weld County Road 11 to the east, Weld County Road 38 to the south, and Weld County Road 44 to the north. The maximum aggregate mill levy for Turion will be 70.664 in Mead and 73.664 in the Berthoud portion, according to the service plan. Infrastructure paid for by the metro districts includes streets, water, sewer, and recreational amenities such as a rec center. Homes will cost between $250 to $850,000.

NATION
FHFA re Condo Requirements:
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) responded to NAR’s letter regarding the new condo documentation and reserve requirements. The new requirements are in response to the Surfside disaster last year in Florida, in which a condo collapsed and nearly 100 people were killed. The property was due for renovations and had been under-reserved.

NAR previously requested a delay in implementation and better marketing/information for homeowners association (HOAs) on the requirements. In its response to NAR’s request, the FHFA indicated that it will not delay the implementation, but offered to facilitate a discussion with the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) for better marketing of their requirements and info sessions for HOAs.

NAR has heard from members in various states that lenders are asking HOAs to fill out addendums and provide the safety and reserve documentation but the HOAs do not know how to fill out the forms or find the studies. Furthermore, professional management companies will not provide the information.

Architectural and engineering reviews for properties will be expensive and take time, while the actual reserves needed for any improvements will add a financial burden. The safety and financial security reforms are clearly needed, but this hasty implementation could negatively impact the ability to finance condos purchases with a disproportionate impact on under-served communities.

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Statistics are meant to be shared and InfoSparks shines here, too.

ShareReport

Once your report is created, click the “Share” button to get the word out.

Then you’ll see these choices. We recommend you always choose the “Live” option so your statistics are refreshed every day from our system. Then, choose how you would like to share your graph:

Illustration of Share Options for InfoSparks
  • Create a PDF file to print or email to your clients.
  • Post the graph link on your social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, wherever you have made your presence known.
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Once you’ve selected how you want to share simply click the “Share” button. Download your PDF, copy your social media link and paste it into your favorite site, or send the embed link to your web developer to post it on your website. No matter which option you choose, shine bright with InfoSparks.

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Metro District Field Expansion

New, Required Metro District Fields Added to Listing Entry

In an effort to provide more transparency and value to the Metro District section of IRES MLS listings, four new fields (one of which is required) will appear when “In Metro District?” has “Yes” selected on listing entry beginning the evening of 01/26/2022.

New Fields

Found on Step One for listing entry, the question “In Metro District?” has been required since May 2019. With the change coming this evening, when “Yes” is selected the following four new fields will appear.

Illustration of new Metro District conditional fields: Name, Website, Fee, Fee Frequency. Click to expand image.

“In Metro District?” = “Yes”
(existing required field for listing entry)

  • Name (will be required for listing entry)
  • Website
  • Fee?
  • Fee Frequency? (options to select will be Monthly/Quarterly/Annually)

There will also be an option to enter a second Metro District. The same conditional field requirement and display will apply to “2nd Metro District” fields.

How The Change Impacts Existing Listings

This change will impact existing listings where Metro District is set to “Yes.” When updating information on listings that have previously indicated “Yes” the new “Name” field will be required to save changes.

Additional Resources

The State of Colorado offers the following websites for Metro Districts:

These websites are also referenced inside Help on IRESis.com.


Don’t miss out on the Governmental Affairs study published last year: What is a Metro District? Commissioned by the Fort Collins Board of REALTORS®, Greeley Area REALTOR® Association, Longmont Association of REALTORS® [prior to the merger with Boulder] and Loveland-Berthoud Association of REALTORS®, This first-of-its-kind study explores this question. Listen to the podcast, too!

Regional Government Affairs Update January 25, 2022 ❄

In the aftermath of the horrific Marshall fire, the BOLO REALTORS® put together a fabulous panel discussion on how to assist the fire victims. The panelists also spoke about how real estate agents can help clients prepare for future disasters. To learn more, follow this link: https://youtu.be/yLKm8YPj0WQ.

Have you been wondering what else is going on in Longmont, Berthoud, Fort Collins or Loveland? Here’s a teaser: metro districts and rental licensing are topics for future updates.

Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County

Jones Will Not Seek Re-Election: On January 13 Boulder County Commissioner Matt Jones announced he will not seek a second term in 2022. Jones said he will spend this year helping the victims of the Marshall Fire. This means there will be one open seat in November. Claire Levy and Marta Loachamin were elected in November 2020 and have two more years in their terms.

Boulder
Exemptions to Rental Licensing for Disasters:
The City of Boulder will allow exemptions to its rental licensing requirements to provide housing for victims of the Marshall and Middle Fork fires or recent wind storms. The order exempts new rental properties used to house those impacted by the various disasters from having to obtain a rental license. Owners will need to submit an affidavit of exemption showing the property is being used to house people who have been displaced by the fires or wind as well as a current rental housing inspector’s certification of rental inspection report.

The exemption applies to those who submit an affidavit and inspection report to the City Manager on or before Feb. 28. The rental license exemption issued under the order will continue until March 15, 2025.

The City’s occupancy limits, which generally prevent more than three unrelated people from living together, are not currently being enforced. Boulder is considering other creative ways to house people, including allowing short-term rentals to be rented on a longer-term basis, according to the City Manager.

Council Retreat Yields Priorities: Boulder City Council held its retreat and has come to a consensus on priorities for 2022. Three initiatives obtained unanimous City Council support, including a planning process for the core arterial network (to add protected bike lanes and other bike, pedestrian, and safety improvements), occupancy reform (conducting a comparative analysis, developing a model approach, and soliciting community input with an eye toward an eventual ordinance change), and a day shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

Housing affordability is a top priority for the Council and during the retreat, four priorities were finalized. Those priorities include revising the City’s existing code regarding inclusionary housing to create more middle-income units, and ADU code changes. In addition, the Council prioritized an ordinance to calculate density by floor area ratio (FAR) instead of dwelling units per acre and to launch the middle-income down payment assistance program.

Broomfield
More Reverse Setbacks:
Broomfield will continue its crusade to reduce the impact of the gas and oil industry by legislating the use of reverse setbacks. Last July the Council approved an ordinance to establish a 2,000-foot reverse setback for residential development from oil and gas facilities in pre-production. Then in October, the Council approved an ordinance to establish a 250-foot reverse setback for residential development from plugged and abandoned oil and gas wells.

At a study session on January 18, the City Council gave staff direction to create another reverse setback ordinance for producing and “shut in” oil and gas wells. (Shut-in wells may have been removed from active service in anticipation of workover, temporary abandonment, or plugging and abandonment operations. Generally, shut in wells can be restored by opening valves or by providing an energy source.)

The Council spent much of its time discussing the setback for residential areas changes to the notices provided for new residential lots within 1,320 feet of active wells. The Council agreed on reconsidering and expanding the notification process for new residential lots within 1,320 feet. This will require a larger notice area of 2,000 feet, as well as a disclosure form from the seller and consent from the buyer.

The staff will begin working on a new ordinance to bring forward to the council at a future date.

Larimer County
Commissioners Adopt Revised 1041 Regulations:
A process that began in March 2021 came to an end on January 24 when the Board of County Commissioners approved revisions to the County’s 1041 regulations. 1041 regulations are guided by state statutory authority. Local jurisdictions may designate certain “Areas of State Interest” (i.e., mineral resource areas; natural hazard areas; historic, natural, or archaeological resources of statewide importance; and areas around key facilities) as activities to be regulated to protect the public.

Larimer County added highways and interchanges to its list of activities and made some modifications to existing activities such as water and electric transmission lines, water reservoirs, and solar energy power plants. The addition of highways and interchanges is necessary, according to the regulations, because they can affect existing neighborhoods, disrupt wildlife and impact scenic and cultural resources.

The public hearing on January 24 was basically a formality with the Commissioners offering minor suggestions and tweaks. Public comment was only offered by a few individuals. A representative of the ELCO Water District said last-minute changes included in an addendum didn’t give the district any review time. Gary Wockner, head of Save the Poudre, praised the County for its work.

The revisions go into effect February 15, the same date the County’s 1041 moratorium ends. It’s difficult not to feel skeptical about the regulations which appear to be aimed at the NISP/Glade Reservoir project but will also impact new development across Northern Colorado.

Make Your Voice Heard on Climate Smart: Larimer County’s climate initiative is entering a new engagement phase with the goal of “understanding how the community wants to address climate change.” Ultimately, the strategies selected can affect you, your family, and/or your business and clients. The real estate perspective needs to be heard!

The workshops will be online (via Zoom), take place over four days (February 8-9 and 15-16) at three different time slots each day (4:30, 5:30, and 6:30 pm). Register Here.

Berthoud
Six Candidates for Board of Trustees:
Six candidates returned petitions to run for the April 5 municipal election in Berthoud. Three seats are available. The candidates include incumbent Tim Hardy and Karl Ayers, Ryan Berry, Alex Johnson, Sean Murphy, and Ellyn Rush. Trustee Maureen Dowker chose not to run for another term and Jeff Hindman is term-limited. Ballots for the April election be mailed beginning March 14.

Fort Collins
Council Postpones Decision on Occupancy Exemptions for Disasters:
After a short discussion, the City Council voted to postpone indefinitely a resolution that would have exempted homeowners from Fort Collins U+2 occupancy regulations to house victims of the Marshall Fire.

After criticism from a few members of the public who argued the exemption was a ploy to weaken U+2, the Council agreed that a permit-based program would be better. This would allow the City to know who was being housed and still avoid U+2 violations. Councilor Susan Gutowsky argued a safety inspection was necessary to “keep people safe.”

The Council will consider this approach at its February 15 meeting. Staff will also work on a long-term permit program as part of the Land Use Code update that could be helpful for future disasters.

Weld County
Hatch Running for Commissioner:
Elijah Hatch, who currently serves on the Weld County Council, announced he is running to replace term-limited Steve Moreno on the Board of County Commissioners.

Hatch has also served on the County’s Planning Commission. He says he is the owner of several businesses spanning many industries. Learn more about Hatch here:
https://elijahforweld.com/.

Greeley
Non-Potable Water Ordinance Approved:
On January 18 the Greeley City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that will make the use of non-potable water mandatory for new development in specific circumstances. In return, the City will charge the developer lower plant investment fees (PIF) for potable water.

The ordinance will apply to developments with two acres of irrigated common area or house-to-house non-potable water if the lot size is 13,000 SF or greater. A similar policy is already in effect in Windsor, Evans, Brighton and the ELCO, and North Weld Water Districts.

Council Authorizes Eminent Domain for Terry Ranch: The City Council approved an ordinance authorizing Greeley to use eminent domain if needed for the Terry Ranch project. The project will require 31 miles of pipeline from Terry Ranch to the City’s existing water transmission line.

Sean Chambers, Greeley’s Water and Sewer Director, stressed the intent to use eminent domain only as a last resort. The Project will require the acquisition of tracts of fee simple land, permanent easements, and temporary construction easements from properties along the pipeline alignment. Complicating the project is the fact that 71 property owners will be impacted.

The majority of the Terry Ranch design process is anticipated to be complete by next year. The full project may not be complete until 2040.

Severance
Ripple Effects of Larimer 1041 Moratorium:
According to BizWest, a moratorium on new water-tap sales imposed by the North Weld County Water District (NWCWD) negatively impacted the issuance of new building permits in the fast-growing Town of Severance. Development and home-building projects have been left without completion dates and the Town’s budget has been reduced by $2 million as a result.

NWCWD last fall issued a moratorium on new taps, blaming uncertainty over potential project delays for a new pipeline stretching through parts of Fort Collins and Larimer County because of moratoria put in place by Fort Collins and Larimer County to enable those governments to draft new 1041 regulations (for more, see “Commissioners Adopt Revised 1041 Regulations” above). In turn, without water tap certainty, Severance enacted a moratorium on building permits. The water district’s moratorium also resulted in an “effective moratorium” on building permits in Eaton. Other nearby communities also have been affected.

The effect of Fort Collins’ 1041 ordinance was eradicated after NWCWD representatives requested an exemption for its project and the Fort Collins City Council agreed to do so. Unfortunately, the extension of Larimer County’s 1041-related moratorium to Feb. 15 led NWWD to extend its moratorium until May 31.

The water district has announced it is working on solutions to “the distribution and capacity issues that are affecting NWCWD’s ability to serve new customers…” It hopes to have a temporary fix in place over the coming months that will allow the moratorium to be lifted. In the meantime, NWCWD hopes to begin issuing limited tap sales in February, which will ease the moratorium but not end it.

REGION
Four Town Broadband Project:
The Towns of Berthoud, Johnstown, Mead, and Milliken are working to create a regional broadband provider to serve all four towns. Because the Towns are close to one another geographically, the Towns’ leaders decided to “aggregate” demand across the nearly 20,000 homes and businesses on the Front Range of Colorado.

In October 2021, officials from all four towns were presented with the findings of the public survey with over 1,700 responses. This survey noted that area residents were limited in choices of broadband providers, that area residents experienced (on average) slower download/upload speeds than the national average, and that residents and businesses alike considered broadband an essential utility.

The towns selected Allo, based in Lincoln Nebraska, after interviewing various providers, including Loveland Pulse. Each municipality is in the process of signing a memo of understanding.

At the same time, Allo will complete a final design at its own expense. Assuming the timeline is met and a formal agreement is signed, construction could begin as early as Summer 2022. Full construction should be complete within 18-24 months.

Matt LeCerf, Johnstown’s City Manager, says he does not think the towns will own the fiber. Berthoud staff agreed, saying in a recent memo, “This option will not impact the Towns financially and is expected to expedite availability to the public.”

COLORADO ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Legislative update:
CAR’s Legislative Policy Committee held its first meeting of the 2022 Session on January 21. One of CAR’s lobbyists told the group the legislature’s focus will be on spending federal dollars and excessive state revenue. Colorado’s revenues are in good shape; it appears there will be a TABOR refund in fiscal year 2022-2023. Short-term rentals are getting lots of attention, but few bills have been introduced or scheduled yet.

STATE
Water fight on Tap?
Governor Polis says he will “protect and aggressively assert” Colorado’s water rights after Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a plan to spend $500 million on a canal and reservoir project that includes claiming access to land in Colorado under a 99-year-old compact between the states, according to the Colorado Sun.

The South Platte River Compact, approved in 1923, is a water-sharing agreement that entitles Nebraska to 120 cubic feet per second from the river during the irrigation season between April 1 and Oct. 15, and 500 cubic feet per second during the non-irrigation season. Under the compact, Nebraska can build, maintain and operate canals within Colorado’s borders that divert water from the South Platte River for use by Nebraska. It also gives Nebraska the power to buy land from Colorado landowners or gain access by invoking eminent domain. Nebraska’s move is likely to trigger lawsuits.

Ricketts and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson announced the water plan after Colorado released a report that identified 282 new water projects within the South Platte River Basin. Ricketts and Peterson warned that those projects could reduce its water flows from the river by as much as 90 percent and threaten Nebraska’s water supplies. Polis countered by saying Ricketts’ comments “seem to reflect a misunderstanding of Colorado’s locally driven water planning process,” and that the projects identified “should not be taken as formally approved projects.”

The project would include a canal in rural Perkins County in southwest Nebraska and storage facilities. Some of the infrastructure would sit on the Colorado side of the border, and might require Nebraska to invoke eminent domain against private landowners.

NATION
Longer Listing Period for HUD Homes:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is increasing the listing period for sales of HUD real estate owned (REO) homes from 15 days to 30 days. This extension is being done in accordance with the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to increase the supply of affordable housing available to first-time and low and moderate-income homebuyers. This longer listing period will begin with properties starting on March 1, 2022.

Details for all HUD REO properties, also known as HUD Homes, can be viewed at the HUD Home Store website.

NAR Supports Thompson: Earlier this month the Senate Banking Committee held a confirmation hearing for Sandra Thompson as the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). NAR submitted a letter of support for Ms. Thompson’s confirmation. Ms. Thompson has served as Acting Director of the FHFA since June of 2021 and in her short time has already made a number of important policy steps related to affordability, access to credit, and modifications to the capital framework at Fannie and Freddie.

In the letter, NAR detailed the current state of FHFA and the importance of the regulator as we continue to recover from the Covid pandemic, Ms. Thompson’s actions as Acting Director, and Ms. Thompson’s deep background and qualifications that make her the ideal candidate to lead FHFA.

NAR looks forward to continuing its work with FHFA and Ms. Thompson as the full-time Director at FHFA. For now, her confirmation timeline is a little hazy but NAR is confident that she will eventually receive a Senate vote and be confirmed.

Buyer Agency/Transaction Broker Compensation Added to ColoProperty.com®

NAR MLS Policy Statement 8.8, Display of Listing Broker’s Offer of Compensation Implemented

In compliance with the NAR MLS Policy 8.8, ColoProperty.com® now displays Buyer Agency and Transaction Broker compensation on listing details.

Illustration of compensation fields displayed on ColoProperty.com®

It is important to note that the compensation information displayed on listing details is only applicable to other participants and subscribers of the source MLS.

The policy, which went into effect January 1, 2022,  states

“MLSs must include the listing broker’s offer of compensation for each active listing displayed on its consumer-facing website(s) and in MLS data feeds provided to participants and subscribers and must permit MLS participants or subscribers to share such information though IDX and VOW displays or through any other form or format provided to clients and consumers. The information about the offer of compensation must be accompanied by a disclaimer stating that the offer is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed.”

(New) MLS Policy Statement 8.8, Display of Listing Broker’s Offer of Compensation [Mandatory]

Additional information on the policy can be found

NAR Summary of 2022 MLS Changes

Reprinting from https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/policies/summary-of-2022-mls-changes


Summary highlights changes in NAR MLS policy adopted in 2021, including changes to the Model MLS Rules and Regulations, and changes to the MLS Policy Statements, both found in the 2022 Handbook on Multiple Listing Policy. Shaded portions of the Handbook highlight all areas that have changed. All changes become effective January 1, 2022, unless indicated otherwise.



For comprehensive background information and additional detail, the Multiple Listing Issues and Policy Committee agenda and minutes can be found here.

Throughout the Summary, underscoring indicates additions and strikeouts indicates deletions. At the end of each policy change, the compliance classification category is noted by the letters:

M Mandatory*
R Recommended
O Optional
I Informational

*Adoption is necessary to ensure compliance with mandatory policies and ensure coverage under the NAR’s insurance policy for associations and MLSs. Local adoption is required by March 1, 2022.

Changes to Model MLS Rules and Regulations

(New) Section 1.16, Property Addresses

At the time of filing a listing, participants and subscribers must include a property address available to other participants and subscribers, and if an address doesn’t exist a parcel identification number can be used. Where an address or parcel identification number are unavailable, the information filed with the MLS must include a legal description of the property sufficient to describe its location. M

(New) Section 4.5, Services Advertised as “Free”

MLS participants and subscribers must not represent that their brokerage services to a client or customer are free or available at no cost to their clients, unless the participant or subscriber will receive no financial compensation from any source for those services. M

(New) Section 5.4, Display of Listing Broker’s Offer of Compensation

Participants and subscribers who share the listing broker’s offer of compensation for an active listing must display the following disclaimer or something similar.

The listing broker’s offer of compensation is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed. M

Section 18.2.4

Participants may select the listings they choose to display through IDX based only on objective criteria including, but not limited to, factors such as geography or location (“uptown,” “downtown,” etc.), list price, or type of property (e.g., condominiums, cooperatives, single-family detached, multi-family), cooperative compensation offered by listing brokers, or type of listing (e.g., exclusive right-to-sell or exclusive agency), or the level of service being provided by the listing firm. Selection of listings displayed through IDX must be independently made by each participant. M

Section 18.2.12

All listing displayed pursuant to IDX shall identify the listing firm, and the email or phone number provided by the listing participant in a reasonably prominent location and in a readily visible color and typeface not smaller than the median used in the display of listing data. M

Section 18.3.1

Listings displayed pursuant to IDX shall contain only those fields of data designated by the MLS. Display of all other fields (as determined by the MLS) is prohibited. Confidential fields intended only for other MLS participants and users (e.g., cooperative compensation offers cooperative compensation offers, showing instructions, and property security information, etc.) may not be displayed. O

Section 18.3.12

Display of expired, and withdrawn, and sold listings ** is prohibited. (Amended 11/15) O

**Note: If “sold” information is publicly accessible, display of “sold” listings may not be prohibited. (Adopted 11/14)

Section 19.12

A participant’s VOW may exclude listings from display based only on objective criteria, including, but not limited to, factors such as geography, list price, or type of property. cooperative compensation offered by listing broker and whether the listing broker is a REALTOR®. M

Section 19.15

A participant’s VOW may not make available for search by or display to Registrants any of the following information: …

f. Sales price if sold information is not publicly accessible in the jurisdiction of the MLS Sold information O

Note: If sold information is publicly accessible in the jurisdiction of the MLS, Subsection 19.15 f must be omitted. (Revised 11/15) M

Section 19.18

A participant shall cause any listing that is displayed on his or her VOW to identify the name of the listing firm, and the listing broker or agent, and the email or phone number provided by the listing participant in a readily visible color, in a reasonably prominent location, and in typeface not smaller than the median typeface used in the display of the listing data. O

Changes to Multiple Listing Policy Statements

MLS Policy Statement 7.3, Statistical Reports

MLSs may, as a matter of local determination, make statistical reports, sold information, and other informational reports derived from the MLS available to REALTORS® who do not participate in the MLS but who are engaged in real estate brokerage, management, appraising, land development, or building. Additional expenses incurred in providing such information to REALTORS® who do not participate in the MLS may be included in the price charged for such information. Any information provided may not be transmitted, retransmitted, or provided in any manner to any individual, office, or firm, except as otherwise authorized in the MLS rules and regulations.

MLSs may, as a matter of local determination, provide statistical reports, sold information, and other informational reports derived from the MLS to government agencies. MLSs may, as a matter of local discretion, require that such agencies (or representatives of such agencies) hold an appropriate form of membership in the MLS or in the association of REALTORS® as a condition of such access.

It is strongly recommended that any irrelevant information such as the names of current or former owners, or information concerning the sales commission or the compensation offered or paid to cooperating brokers be deleted. (Revised 11/04) M

MLS Policy Statement 7.85, Internet Data Exchange (IDX) Policy

… To comply with this requirement MLSs must, if requested by a participant, promptly provide basic downloading of all active listings, sold* listing data starting from January 1, 2012, non-confidential pending sale listing data, and other listings authorized under applicable MLS rules. MLSs may not exclude any listings from the information which can be downloaded or displayed under IDX except those listings for which a seller has affirmatively directed that their listing or their property address not appear on the Internet or other electronic forms of display or distribution.

*Note: If “sold” information is not publicly accessible, sold listings can be removed from the MLSs’ IDX feeds/downloads display of sales price may be prohibited. “Publicly accessible” sold information as used in IDX policy and rules, means data that is available electronically or in hard copy to the public from city, county, state and other government records. MLSs must provide for its participants’ IDX displays publicly accessible sold information maintained by the MLS starting January 1, 2012. (Amended 5/17) M …

Polices Applicable to Participants’ IDX Websites and Displays…

4. Participants may select the IDX listings they choose to display based only on objective criteria including, but not limited to, factors such as geography or location (“uptown”, “downtown”, etc.), list price, or type of property (e.g., condominiums, cooperatives, single family detached, multi-family), cooperative compensation offered by listing brokersor type of listing (e.g., exclusive right-to-sell or exclusive agency), or the level of service provided by the listing firm. Selection of IDX listings to be displayed must be independently made by each participant. M

12. An MLS participant’s IDX display must identify the listing firm, and the email or phone number provided by the listing participant in a reasonably prominent location and in a readily visible color and typeface not smaller than the median used in the display of listing data. M...

Policies Applicable to Multiple Listing Services

MLSs must designate compensation fields as non-confidential and make them available for display via participants’ and subscribers’ IDX and VOW displays.

The following guidelines are recommended but not required to conform to National Association policy. MLSs may:

1. prohibit display of expired, or withdrawn , or sold listings* (Amended 11/15)

*Note: If “sold” information is not publicly accessible, display of “sold” listings may not be prohibited. sales price of completed transactions may be prohibited. O

2. prohibit display of confidential information fields intended for cooperating brokers rather than consumers including compensation offered to other MLS participants, showing instructions, and property security information, etc…

MLS Policy Statement 7.91, Virtual Office Websites (VOW) Policy

II. Policies Applicable to Participants’ VOWs…

5. A participant’s VOW must comply with the following additional requirements…

h. A VOW may exclude listings from display based only on objective criteria, including, but not limited to, factors such as geography, list price, or type of property, cooperative compensation offered by listing broker or whether the listing broker is a REALTOR®O …

III. Policies Applicable to Multiple Listing Services …

2. An MLS shall, if requested by a participant, provide basic downloading of all MLS non- confidential listing data, including, without limitation, address fields, listing types, photographs, and links to virtual tours. Confidential data includes only that which participants are prohibited from providing to customers orally and by all other delivery mechanisms. They include fields containing the information described in Section IV.1. of this policy, provided that sold data (i.e., listing information relating to properties that have sold) shall be deemed confidential and withheld from a download only if the actual sales prices of completed transactions are not accessible from public records, sales prices may be deemed confidential and withheld from display. …

IV. Requirements that MLSs May Impose on the Operation of VOWs and Participants

1. An MLS may impose any, all, or none of the following requirements on VOWs, but may impose them only to the extent that equivalent requirements are imposed on participants’ use of MLS listing data in providing brokerage services via all other delivery mechanisms.

a. A participant’s VOW may not make available for search by or display to Registrants the following data, intended exclusively for other MLS participants and their affiliated licensees:

  1. expired, withdrawn, or pending listings
  2. sales price on sold data if the actual sales price of completed transactions is not accessible from public records. sold data, unless the actual sales price of completed transactions is accessible from public records.
  3. the compensation offered to other MLS participants …

d. Any listing displayed on a VOW shall identify the name of the listing firm, and the email or phone number provided by the listing participant in a reasonably prominent location and in typeface not smaller than the median typeface used in the display of listing data. O

(New) MLS Policy Statement 8.4, Services Advertised as “Free”

MLS participants and subscribers must not represent that their brokerage services to a client or customer are free or available at no cost to their clients, unless the participant or subscriber will receive no financial compensation from any source for those services. M

(New) MLS Policy Statement 8.5, Non-filtering of Listings

MLS participants and subscribers must not, and MLSs must not enable the ability to, filter out or restrict MLS listings that are searchable by and displayed to consumers based on the level of compensation offered to the cooperating broker or the name of a brokerage or agent. M

(New) MLS Policy Statement 8.6, One Data Source

MLSs must offer a participant a single data feed in accordance with a participant’s licensed authorized uses.

At the request of a participant, MLS must provide the single data feed for that participant’s licensed uses to that participant’s designee. The designee may use the single data feed only to facilitate that participant’s licensed uses on behalf of that participant. M

(New) MLS Policy Statement 8.7, Brokerage Back Office Feed

That participants are entitled to use, and MLSs must provide to participants, the BBO Data, for BBO Use subject to the Terms below:

“BBO Data” means all real property listing and roster information in the MLS database, including all listings of all participants, but excludes (i) MLS only fields (those fields only visible to MLS staff and the listing participant), and (ii) fields and content to which MLS does not have a sufficient license for use in the Brokerage Back Office Feed.

“BBO Use” means use of BBO Data by participant and subscribers affiliated with the participant for the following purposes:

  • Brokerage management systems that only expose BBO Data to participant and subscribers affiliated with participant.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) and transaction management tools that only expose the BBO Data to participant, subscribers affiliated with participant, and their bona fide clients as established under state law.
  • Agent and brokerage productivity and ranking tools and reports that only exposes BBO Data to participant and subscribers affiliated with participant.
  • Marketplace statistical analysis and reports in conformance with NAR MLS Policy Statement 7.80, which allows for certain public distribution.

BBO Use may only be made by participant and subscriber affiliated with participant, except that at the request of a participant, MLS must provide BBO Data to that participant’s designee. The designee may use the BBO Data only to facilitate the BBO Use on behalf of that participant and its affiliated subscribers.

There is no option for participants to opt-out their listings from the Brokerage Back Office Feed Use as defined.

“Terms” mean the following:

  • MLSs may impose reasonable licensing provisions and fees related to participant’s license to use Brokerage Back Office Feed Data. MLSs may require the participant’s designee to sign the same or a separate and different license agreement from what is signed by the participant. Such provisions in a license agreement may include those typical to the MLS’s data licensing practices, such as security requirements, rights to equitable relief, and dispute resolution terms. (The foregoing examples are not a limitation on the types of provisions an MLS may have in a license agreement.)
  • Use of roster information may be limited by the MLS participation agreement and license agreements.
  • Brokerage Back Office Feed Use is subject to other NAR MLS policies and local rules.
  • MLSs in their reasonable discretion may expand the definition of Brokerage Back Office Feed Use in conformance with other NAR MLS policies, such as Policy Statement 7.85, which provides that “Use of listings and listing information by MLSs for purposes other than the defined purposes of MLS requires participants’ consent.” M

(New) MLS Policy Statement 8.8, Display of Listing Broker’s Offer of Compensation

MLSs must include the listing broker’s offer of compensation for each active listing displayed on its consumer-facing website(s) and in MLS data feeds provided to participants and subscribers and must permit MLS participants or subscribers to share such information though IDX and VOW displays or through any other form or format provided to clients and consumers. The information about the offer of compensation must be accompanied by a disclaimer stating that the offer is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed. M

(New) MLS Policy Statement 8.9, Property Addresses

Residential listings filed with the MLS must include a property address where one exists at the time the listing is filed. If a property address is unavailable, then the parcel identification number must be submitted at the time the listing is filed. If no address or parcel identification number is available at the time the listing is filed, the listing must, at a minimum, contain a legal description of the property sufficient to describe the location of the property. This information shall be available to participants and subscribers at the time of filing. M

Regional Government Affairs Update January 12, 2022 ⛄

After the holidays local governments are getting off to a slow start in terms of real estate-related legislation and policy. But that is a short-term “problem” that won’t last long. Today the General Assembly kicked off its 2022 session. This alone will provide me with lots to talk about as legislators get into gear.

Although short, this issue includes topics that should be of interest to any real estate professional — rebuilding after a disaster, occupancy and one of my personal favorites, involuntary historic designations. To learn more, keep reading.

Barbara Koelzer
Regional Government Director


LOCAL
Boulder County
Impact of the Marshall Fire: 2021 ended in tragedy with the Marshall Fire, in which 1,084 homes were lost in Louisville (550), Superior (378), and unincorporated Boulder County (156). Multiple organizations, including BOLO REALTORS® have pitched in to support the displaced families.

From a government affairs perspective, as shocking and difficult as this disaster has been to witness, the biggest issues are yet to come. How can families find places to live in an area that is already suffering from low inventory and supply constraints? Can governments reduce red tape to let residents begin the rebuilding process quickly? Will homeowners’ insurance cover the costs to replace their homes? (See https://tinyurl.com/2p8ua4ua)

Already the Town of Superior has announced all rebuilt homes will have to comply with current building and zoning codes, not what was in effect when the homes were originally constructed. In addition, staff is “evaluating adoptions [sic] of portions of the 2021 International Wildland Urban Interface Code.” How will these regulations affect the cost to rebuild?

There are many questions at this point, with few answers. It is unlikely the rebuilding process will commence soon but it is important to be watchful moving forward to advocate on behalf of the homeowners who lost so much.

Larimer County
Fort Collins

Involuntary Historic Designation Denied: At the end of December the City Council voted 4-2 against an involuntary historic designation of a home on Mountain Avenue. It is not uncommon for local governments in Northern Colorado to have an involuntary designation clause in their historic preservation regulations. However, it is a power that is rarely utilized because it conflicts with property owners’ rights. An involuntary designation allows the designation of a property as historic over the objections of the property owner.

Several citizens pushed for the City to designate the home as historic because of the late-nineteenth century style of the home and the property’s association with Jessie Moore, an early Fort Collins educator. The Historic Preservation Commission agreed, passing a resolution finding the property eligible for designation.

Unfortunately, the property had also been affected by a modern problem, methamphetamine contamination. The new owners wanted to demolish the home, arguing the meth presented health risks for their family. If the historic designation had been approved, the house could not have been torn down. The City Council was therefore required to make the final decision on the fate of the property.

After a public hearing, voicing concerns related to the home’s structural issues, an unsafe electrical system and the meth contamination, as well as fears the involuntary designation could steer residents away from purchasing potentially historic homes, Mayor Arndt and Council members Pignataro, Francis and Peel voted against the involuntary designation. Councilors Ohlson and Gutowsky voted in favor of the designation.

Council Wants Temporary Suspension of U+2: The City Council asked staff to “evaluate barriers” to Fort Collins citizens’ desire to house Marshal fire victims. On January 12 staff provided a list of options that would suspend the City’s occupancy restrictions (U+2) to allow the temporary housing of displaced Boulder County residents.

Mayor Jeni Arndt was absent. Mayor Pro Tem Emily Francis and Councilors Tricia Canonico, Julie Pignataro, and Shirley Peel voiced support for a temporary suspension of the City’s U+2 regulations although staff said Boulder County has said the temporary needs are covered. Susan Gutowsky and Kelly Ohlson will likely oppose the concept when it comes to an official vote.

Gutowsky referenced constituent concerns. She argued against changing Fort Collins’ occupancy limits at all, although she said she didn’t want to appear callous. Ohlson said there is “next to zero need” and expressed apprehension this could be the “camel’s nose under the tent” when it comes to permanently relaxing the U+2 regulations.

Francis countered Fort Collins should “show our support for those communities and (that) we are here to help if they need it.” The Council will consider a resolution to temporarily suspend enforcement of U+2 on January 18. If the resolution passes, homeowners would not need a formal permit to host fire victims above legal single-family occupancy limits. Staff would continue with complaint-based enforcement.

For more information on U+2 see https://www.fcgov.com/neighborhoodservices/occupancy.

STATE
Legislative Goals for 2022 Session:
The 2022 legislative session begins on January 12. The State’s economic health is good, thanks to better-than-expected revenues and $4 billion in federal stimulus money (American Rescue Plan Act or ARPA). Some of the goals expressed by legislative leaders relate to real estate.

Affordable housing is one legislative priority. The legislature has already allocated 10 percent of the ARPA for grants and low-interest loans to build or preserve affordable units. For example, legislators plan to draft incentives for developers and local governments to prioritize dense, multi-family housing to promote affordability. As Vice-chair State Senator Julie Gonzales of the legislative task force on affordable housing said, “For a number of reasons, everything from just the pure cost of land to tap fees to the inefficiency one house at a time gets you, building taller and denser makes more sense in terms of the math of trying to finance these projects and actually make them happen.” (Denver Post, Dec. 20, 2021).

The Chairs of the House and Senate Transportation Committees, Faith Winter (Senate) and Matt Gray (House) will introduce several bills according to the Colorado Sun, including a $28 million proposal to offer free public transportation during ozone alerts (this idea is supported by Governor Jared Polis).

A “clean commute” bill, which would create incentives for the business community to encourage their employees not to come to work in single-occupancy vehicles, increase carpooling, use transit and even work more from home. Changing the behavior of state employees will likely be central to the proposal. The details are still in flux.
The Sun also notes Governor Polis wants to spend $28 million to put off the implementation of the 2-cent-per-gallon gas fee from Senate Bill 260 for six months, until after the 2022 election, which could become “an interesting political fight.”
This is just a sampling of the legislative topics we can expect in 2022. As of January 12 at 2:34 pm, 40 bills had already been introduced.

NATION
Changes Recommended for Fannie Mae Condo Rules:
NAR wrote to the Federal Housing Financing Agency’s (FHFA) Acting Director Sandra Thompson regarding recent changes made by Fannie Mae to its underwriting requirements for condominium projects.

NAR agrees with changes intended to ensure the safety of condominium projects. However, the lack of publicity and speed of implementation of these changes could undermine many purchases and refinances and may have a disproportionate effect on under-served communities.

NAR’s second concern is that this change follows on a change from last December where vague language around financing of short-term rentals inadvertently expanded the definition of this proscribed class to include many second home properties, often condos.

NAR Meets with Task Force on Appraisals: NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee and leadership from NAR’s Fair Housing Policy Committee participated in a listening session with the Biden Administration’s Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE). The PAVE Task Force was created in June of 2021 to address discrimination in the appraisal and homebuying process and includes leadership and staff from 15 federal agencies.

NAR members heard from representatives of the Task Force and provided feedback on issues related to the appraisal reconsideration of value process, diversity in the appraisal industry, to include appraiser education and outreach, as well as appraisal policy, guidance, and regulations. The PAVE Task Force is expected to issue a report of its findings in February 2022. NAR staff stressed the value in continued engagement with REALTORS® and industry professionals, especially appraisers, as the Task Force moves forward in assessing and developing recommendations related to the current property valuation framework.


IRES Matters | Episode 14

Lighter Side: Lauren Part II

Throughout the years Northern Colorado’s Real Estate community has been familiar with Lauren Hansen as a forward thinking leader with the ability to pilot ever-changing waters gracefully. While innovation & a deep commitment to customer service have been central to her personal brand as CEO, there is a third pillar that is less well-known. Humor. In this episode we look back at some of the strange, funny, and surprising stories from over the course of her career. Grab a cup of coffee and laugh with us!