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Top 10 Local News Stories of 2018: No. 5 — Longmont Passes Affordable Housing Mandate

December 27, 2018
Joshua Lopez stacks lumber at the under-construction Fall River Apartments on Dec. 11.

Top 10 local news stories of 2018

Through Dec.31, the Times-Call will count down the top stories of the year, as selected by the newspaper’s editors.

10. Longmont high school teams post successful post-seasons

9. Longmont allows recreational marijuana shops

8. Police officers cleared in shooting death of Gillie Thurby III

7. Longmont adopts 100 percent energy-renewable goal

6. Mile-Hi Skydiving under scrutiny after skydiver death, noise controversy

5. Longmont passes affordable housing mandate

After nearly a year of debates and discussions of whether and how to go about reinstating an affordable housing mandate, Longmont’s City Council voted on Dec.11 to impose such a requirement on builders and developers.

That “inclusionary housing” ordinance, approved on a 6-1 council vote, generally requires that 12 percent of the available square footage in a new residential development be dedicated to units affordable to low- and moderate-income buyers and renters.

While the ordinance essentially mandates that 12 percent of the livable square footage in a new residential development should 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 requirement beyond building affordable units on the same site as the development’s otherwise-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 otherwise would be required in fees — land on which affordable units could then be constructed.

A combination of those three options would also be possible.

Under the ordinance, Longmont has imposed a new and revised version of an inclusionary housing program that it launched in 2001 but was repealed by the City Council in 2011. That previous program had required that all new residential development getting preliminary plats or site plans approved would have to have 10 percent of their residences affordable.

That earlier program was replaced by an incentive-based program with provisions such as a density boost offered to developers agreeing to build a certain number of affordable units.

Several current council members criticized the results of the incentives approach and began calling in late 2017 for the city to consider once again including such an affordable-housing requirement in new developments as part of an overall set of policies intended to increase the availability of such of owner-occupied or rental homes.

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

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