Apr 27, 2023 - Politics

Colorado Democratic lawmakers gut governor's affordable housing bill

Gov. Jared Polis and supporters introduced a land use bill with great fanfare March 22 at the state Capitol. Photo: RJ Sangosti/Denver Post via Getty Images

Democrats neutered their own bill to address affordable housing, a significant blow to Gov. Jared Polis.

What's new: The legislation no longer includes controversial mandates on land use that would have allowed higher-density housing, such as apartments and accessory dwelling units, in single-family neighborhoods.

  • The rewrite β€” approved Wednesday and sent to the Senate β€” now provides $15 million to study local housing needs and offers a menu of policies for communities to consider.
  • The language also makes clear that a statewide solution is not possible and gives mountain resort communities their own affordable housing options.

The backstory: The original legislation β€” touted by Polis and sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno β€” would have preempted local control on zoning decisions by transferring the authority to the state.

  • Polis and housing advocates argued local growth limits and zoning rules made housing more costly and a statewide solution was needed to increase affordability. But it drew a fierce backlash from local governments and homeowners.
  • Polis and Moreno (D-Commerce City) each declined to comment specifically on the changes to the bill.

Of note: Democratic lawmakers also split Tuesday on the issue of rent control.

  • Democratic state Sen. Dylan Roberts joined with Republicans to reject his own party's legislation to remove a state prohibition on rent control and allowed local governments to develop their own programs.

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