Gov. Jared Polis has signed three more Colorado housing reform bills into law. Here’s what they will do.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks with lawmakers and advocates after signing a priority land-use bill at the Evans Light Rail Station in Denver on May 13, 2024. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed two marquee land-use reform bills into law Monday, clearing the way for the building of more accessory-dwelling units and denser development in cities and suburbs across the Front Range.

“The success of this bill will be measured in years,” Rep. Steven Woodrow, a Denver Democrat who sponsored the density measure, said at the signing ceremony outside a light rail station in Denver. “1.7 million more people are projected to move to Colorado by 2050.

“And this bill says: ‘Yes, we will have a space for you. Yes, you coming here will not make it less affordable for everyone else. Yes, Colorado is open.’ ”

In all, six land-use reform bills passed the legislature before it adjourned last week. Polis in recent days signed three of them into law — measures dealing with minimum parking requirements, density goals near transit and accessory-dwelling units. (A fourth, a ban on local occupancy limits that aren’t safety related, was signed earlier this spring.)

The bills underwent various changes on their (at times fraught) paths through the legislature, and the most sweeping provisions apply only to certain parts of Colorado — largely cities along the Front Range.

Here’s a look at what each will do, where they apply and how they’re expected to affect the state.

Wait, first — what’s the goal here?

The point of these reforms is to loosen local land-use and zoning rules and allow for more development, ultimately increasing the state’s supply of housing and, hopefully, making it more affordable.

That may mean allowing homeowners to build carriage houses by-right (for rental purposes or so that a relative can move in). Or it might mean developers of affordable projects can build more units because they don’t need to factor in parking requirements. It also will mean denser development near transit-rich areas because, supporters argue, that maximizes space, increases supply, bolsters use of public transit and reduces resource-sucking sprawl.

Think of it this way: Land-use reformers long have groused that local resistance makes it harder to bolster density or allow for different types of housing, particularly in neighborhoods where residents are accustomed to single-family homes. (Fort Collins is a prime example.) But these new reforms generally should leapfrog the ability of local residents (or city officials themselves) to block development at the municipal level, and they will clear the way for more types of housing.

Parking minimums

Municipalities across Colorado have varying sets of requirements around how many parking spots are required for various types of developments — apartment buildings, bars, restaurants, movie theaters. House Bill 1304, sponsored by Democratic Reps. Stephanie Vigil and Woodrow and Sens. Nick Hinrichsen and Kevin Priola, generally eliminates those requirements for residential developments near transit stops in Front Range cities.

Initially, the bill was more sweeping and would’ve entirely nixed the requirements in those cities. But it was amended in the Senate, paring it back to just areas within certain distances of stations and stops along major transit routes.

The new law also gives local governments the ability to …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics


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