Jun 13, 2023 - Politics

Housing bill compromise fell apart as lawmakers prepared to vote

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A hard-fought compromise over a pair of bills aimed at alleviating Arizona’s housing crisis fell apart Monday.

Of note: The Senate also voted down a third bill that wasn't part of the original deal negotiated by lawmakers and representatives for the cities.

State of play: Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, and the League of Arizona Cities and Towns have spent much of the Legislature's extended break hammering out an agreement that would make it easier to build apartments and other types of housing by overriding municipal control.

  • On Friday, Kaiser and representatives of the league told Axios Phoenix they'd reached a compromise and they believed there were enough votes in both chambers to send them to Gov. Katie Hobbs.
  • Nick Ponder, a lobbyist who represents the league, told us he'd spoken with the governor's staff and, "All indications are that they're supportive."

Yes, but: The House pulled the bills from its Monday agenda. Kaiser told Axios Phoenix they lost a couple votes over the weekend and didn't have the support they needed.

Why it matters: The Valley faces a massive housing shortage, and the resulting increase in rent prices has made apartments largely unaffordable.

Details: The two bills were part of a trio of proposals that lawmakers have been pushing for since an earlier attempt fell short in the Senate.

  • SB1161 would give height and density bonuses for multifamily developments near light rail or streetcar stops if at least 20% of the units were dedicated to low-income housing.
  • SB163 would require cities of more than 50,000 residents to permit zoning for single-room rentals for seniors and for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on lots with single-family homes.
  • Cities would also have to permit two of the following three options: manufactured homes, 5,000 square foot or less lots, or duplexes and triplexes.

Meanwhile, the Senate rejected HB2536, which was originally part of the package of housing legislation that Kaiser and allied lawmakers from both parties were supporting.

  • The original version of the bill would've restricted cities' ability to impose aesthetic and off-street parking requirements, force them to allow ADUs and single-room rentals, set a time limit for approving zoning applications, and would prohibit cities from adopting more restrictive zoning requirements.
  • Senators amended the bill to restore cities' authority over parking requirements and eliminate the time limit on zoning applications, while allowing developers to begin grading and earthmoving before receiving municipal approval for their projects.
  • Cities would've also been required to publish assessments every five years that include projected population growth and housing needs.

Between the lines: Ponder said the cities still opposed HB2536.

What's next: Lawmakers don't plan to vote on any more bills after today, meaning housing legislation is effectively dead for the year.

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