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Longmont City Council Delays Final Affordable Housing Ordinance Decision Until December

November 28, 2018

Construction earlier this month at Fall River Apartments in Longmont. The complex, which will provide 60 affordable units for people 55 and older, is slated to open in 2019.

A decision on a proposed affordable-housing mandate for builders and developers won’t come until December. Longmont City Council, after resuming consideration of the measure on Tuesday, decided shortly before midnight to postpone further discussions and action until Dec. 11.

At that December meeting, council members are expected to consider the latest revisions to the “inclusionary housing” ordinance that would generally require that 12 percent of the available square footage in a new residential developments be dedicated to units affordable to low- and moderate-income buyers and renters.

Tuesday, council members discussed changes they requested be made to the ordinance before giving it initial 6-1 approval in an early morning vote on Nov. 14, as well as several additional revisions they want before staff brings it back for possible final action on Dec. 11.

The current version of the measure, the one getting council attention on Tuesday, drew criticism from one speaker and applause from another during a public hearing.

Natasha Hubbard, chairwoman-elect of the Longmont Association of Realtors board, said “we share the city council’s desire to ensure our city’s most vulnerable residents have places to live.”

The Association of Realtors, however, has concerns about the ordinance placing “an undue burden on developers” by increasing their costs and reducing an-already narrow profit margin, she said.

“It is our feeling that if affordable housing is a Longmont value, everyone in the community should share the cost, not just developers and builders,” Hubbard said.

The ordinance would essentially require that 12 percent of the livable square footage in a new residential development be dedicated to units that home buyers making 80 percent of the area median income and renters making 60 percent of the area median income can afford.

Developers would have options for meeting the 12 percent requirement beyond building affordable units on the same site as market-rate homes.

One option would be for developers to pay square-footage fees that would go into a city affordable housing fund. A second would be to build the required affordable housing in another location. A third would be to donate ready-to-develop land to the city with a property value that matches what would otherwise be required in fees — land on which affordable units could then be constructed.

A combination of those three options also would be possible.

The Association of Realtors is urging the ordinance be revised to set “clear and objective standards” for complying with its mandates, Hubbard said.

However, Jake Marsing, a Wildrose Place resident who earlier this month criticized the version of the measure under consideration at the Nov. 13 meeting, told council members Tuesday that the changes make it a better ordinance.

“Will this solve Longmont’s housing crisis and affordability crisis? No, it will not. It will not totally solve the problem,” Marsing said. “We will still have people struggling with” finding and paying for housing they can afford.

Marsing said he thought the inclusionary housing approach is “one of the few tools that municipal governments have to actually make an impact on this issue,”

He said the decisions being made by the council as it crafts Longmont’s ordinance “are the right ones”

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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