Mar 14, 2023 - Politics

Affordability, local control concerns doom housing bill in AZ Senate

Illustration of a rack holding several keys.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Legislation that would limit cities' ability to restrict housing died a bipartisan death in the Senate Monday, despite changes the sponsor hoped would alleviate critics' concerns.

Driving the news: Nearly half of the Republican caucus and all but one Democrat opposed Senate Bill 1117, which failed 9-20.

  • The bill's sponsor, Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, and other supporters touted it as a way to increase the housing supply, create cheaper options and reduce homelessness.
  • Opponents cited the need for local control and a lack of affordable housing requirements as concerns.

The intrigue: Kaiser amended his bill to remove one of its most controversial provisions, which would have eliminated many density and height restrictions for apartments in areas zoned for multifamily and commercial use.

  • The League of Arizona Cities and Towns still opposed the amended version.

Details: The revised bill would have required cities to allow lot sizes as small as 4,000 square feet and at least six units per acre to encourage the development of starter homes. Other changes include:

  • Prohibiting cities from banning "accessory dwelling units" like backyard casitas on single-family lots;
  • Requiring cities to allow people to rent rooms in their homes in some areas;
  • Mandating that cities approve rezoning applications within 180 days.

What they're saying: "We have a massive structural problem in Arizona creating this crisis. And it boils down to the fact that we're just not building enough to meet demand," Kaiser told his colleagues.

  • Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said: "I am no stranger to preempting cities and towns. But I do draw the line at kneecapping. … Local control is basically what our constituents want."

What we're watching: Several senators who opposed the legislation said they hoped to continue conversations and find a compromise.

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