Planning Commission gets an update on Summit’s proposal for Lyons Valley Park

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Published in the April 18, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Planning Commission gets an update on Summit’s proposal for Lyons Valley Park

by Amy Reinholds

On April 8, Town Planner Paul Glasgow gave an update to the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) about the affordable housing that Summit Housing Group proposes building in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision. He said Summit will probably complete the purchase of the land in June and submit a development plan to the town within a few months for the multifamily buildings on Tract A of Lyons Valley Park Filing 8.

Summit is under contract with Keith Bell to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision, intending to build 11 single family homes on already platted lots and 29 homes in mulitfamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres) – all rental homes affordable for people who earn 60 percent of the area median or less.

On Feb. 12, the State Housing Board approved Summit Housing Group’s application for $4 million of federal disaster recovery funds to build those 40 total affordable rental homes in Lyons. Glasgow reported to the PCDC commissioners that Summit has received the official award letter. The application was approved for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, at a maximum of $100,000 per rental home, $4 million total for 40 residences.

The next funding step is a decision from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) for the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding. Glasgow told the commissioners that CHFA had some questions related to the tax-credit funding request but that Summit did not expect problems. Summit applied for the more flexible, less-competitive, “4 percent” federal LIHTC program. The LIHTC program gives investors a reduction in their federal tax liability based on the amount they invest in financing to develop affordable rental housing. The investors’ equity contribution subsidizes the development, allowing housing units to rent at below-market rates. For details about LIHTC, see chfainfo.com/arh/lihtc/overview.

Glasgow said that Summit will probably complete the purchase of the land from Bell in June and start the town process for development. The development process for the 11 single-family homes is like all others already platted in the subdivision and elsewhere in Lyons, requiring a permitting and development process with the Town of Lyons.

The development plan for the 29 apartments in multifamily buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A is expected to be submitted within a few months, Glasgow told the PCDC commissioners.

“The development review for the multifamily buildings has to come to you,” he said. The development plan will go through the site development review process with PCDC, and that process will include public input before both the PCDC and the trustees and official “public hearing” meetings.

The six PCDC commissioners at the meeting April 8 talked about possibly meeting more than twice a month to keep up with all the required public hearings for both Summit and other work on their schedule for the rest of this year.

Glasgow and the PCDC commissioners discussed briefly how Summit is trying to voluntarily comply with HOA guidelines for the buildings, to make them match the styles of the single-family homes already in the Lyon Valley Park subdivision.

Glasgow also said that Summit is “avoiding development on the hill as much as possible.” Not only does that kind of construction cost more, but homeowners in Lyons Valley Park have given input to Summit in various meetings that they do not want blasting on that hilly, rocky area. According to what Summit representatives have stated at past meetings with the neighborhood, only about 2.9 of those 4 acres of Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 are buildable, which means the remaining space on that Tract A would remain undeveloped.

Summit, based in Missoula, Mt., specializes in developing and managing low-income tax credit and mixed-use developments in six states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. LIHTC funding requires the rentals be affordable to households that earn 60 percent of the area median income or less. The property management site for Summit buildings, www.leasehighland.com, shows what the applications are like for other rentals built by Summit, including homes in Longmont. The area median income changes every year, but you can download the 2018 Colorado County Income and Rent Tables at leaflyons.org/resources.html. Examples of rent estimates that Summit representatives have given at past meetings for two-bedroom apartments are $906 a month for a 40 percent AMI household, and $1,200 a month for a 60 percent AMI household, varying depending on family size.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process. The only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112, 114, and 116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots. The first duplex was completed in April 2019.


This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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Lyons celebrates the first Habitat for Humanity duplex home dedication

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Published in the April 11, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Lyons celebrates the first Habitat for Humanity duplex home dedication

by Amy Reinholds

Habitat for Humanity held a dedication of the first duplex at 112 Park Street in Lyons on April 7. For Habitat for Humanity staff, an Americorps team that helped build, and other volunteers and donors, it was a celebration of the 99th and 100th home built by Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley. For the community of Lyons, five and a half years after the flood disaster, it was a celebration of the first new affordable housing constructed after years of determination. For two families who purchased the homes, it was a celebration of a new start after years of uncertain housing situations, and gratitude for an affordable mortgage and a new future for their children.

For everyone who attended Sunday’s event, it was a joyful time to pause and appreciate the milestone of the completed building, to recognize the work of the past 4 years. Looking back at the wide range of emotions experienced about affordable housing in that time, Sunday was a time to breathe a sigh of relief and appreciate everyone’s hard work.

 

This accomplishment required a combination of community members, non-profits, town staff, elected officials, and future homeowners who persevered.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 flood-destroyed homes since the September 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rental homes and some Habitat for Humanity affordable for-sale homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. But Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley did not give up on the Town of Lyons, continuing the discussion with possible available land in Lyons, and eventually purchasing the land at 2nd and Park from Craig Ferguson and his Planet Bluegrass partners in the fall of 2016.

We wouldn’t have arrived at this day without a wide range of people who helped with individual steps in the journey that helped make these homes a reality. The Lyons Housing Recovery Task Force, started by former Lyons Trustee Dan Greenberg, formed after the flood with the hope that affordable housing in Lyons was possible during their earnest work in 2014 and 2015. And then after the failed vote for the Bohn Park proposal in March 2015, a new Lyons Special Housing Committee volunteer Tom Delker suggested that Ferguson subdivide land he was planning to buy from Valley Bank that spring and sell some of it to Habitat for Humanity. Ferguson and his LLC partners invested in the Valley Bank land originally and then completed the PUD and subdivision process before selling the residential lots to Habitat for Humanity. The Lyons Board of Trustees led by Mayor John O’Brien voted in June 2015 to wave utility connection fees that the town has control over for the six future Habitat for Humanity homes. The total of about $173,500 in savings helped Habitat for Humanity meet its permitting and fees budget for the Park Street homes, keeping mortgages down to about $150,000 for homeowners.

When the Board of Trustees approved final rezoning and subdivision for the Habitat homes in July 2016, I noticed not only how tired everyone seemed, but I also was struck by all the thank-yous shared at that meeting. Mayor Connie Sullivan thanked Dave Emerson, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of the St Vrain Valley, and the applicants/property owners Ferguson and his business partner Jerry Moore, for staying at the table with the Town of Lyons for the long rezoning and subdivision process, which started in the fall of 2015. Ferguson thanked his Planet Bluegrass business partners for their support. In addition to his financial investments as a business partner, Moore invested a lot of time in negotiations and documentation preparations. Lyons Housing Recovery Coordinator Cody Humphrey invested a lot of time on this work during his short appointment with the Town of Lyons. And Rosi Dennett, the town planner who picked up where two other town planners had worked previously on that application, also deserves thanks for all her work during that challenging time.

You can read all my coverage of Habitat for Humanity in Lyons in the archives of my blog.

Thanks to all the volunteers both from Lyons and communities across the region who came to Lyons to build on weekends or weekdays starting in January 2018. Later this spring and summer the other two duplexes are expected to be finished. To volunteer, no specific experience is needed, and training is on the job for each the 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. volunteer shift. On the website at www.stvrainhabitat.org/construction, after clicking FLOOD REBUILD-LYONS, volunteers can review all volunteer days with openings and sign up for one or more of the specific days they are available. To donate online, go to www.coloradogives.org/rebuildlyons.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers atlyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

 

Trustees affirm current short-term rental policy

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Published in the April 4, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.

COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Trustees affirm current short-term rental policy

by Amy Reinholds

According to a discussion this week, the Lyons elected trustees still value long-term rentals for tenants over short-term vacation rentals for tourists in our town residential zones. Lyons Town Planner Paul Glasgow followed up with the Lyons Board of Trustees at a workshop discussion April 1 about possible changes to the Town of Lyons Short-term Rental Ordinance, which was put in place at the beginning of 2018.

Statements from the trustees continued to support increasing availability of long-term rentals in town residential zones. The trustees said no to proposed changes to the short-term vacation rental policy that would allow more advantages for property owners who want to run lodging businesses in residential zones.

For example, Glasgow presented an idea that the Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) discussed about a way for homeowners in Agricultural zone to have one separate building (an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU) that is used for short-term vacation rentals if the homeowner pays all required utility connection fees, and water shares. But trustees said that separate ADU buildings should continue to be used for long-term rentals, even on Agricultural zoned land, which typically has larger lots and neighbors farther away than in other residential zones in the Town of Lyons.

“The use should not be a short-term rental,” Mayor Connie Sullivan said about separate buildings from the main house on Agricultural zoned land.

“The purpose of the ADU ordinance was providing incentives for more long-term rentals,” Trustee Mark Browning said.

Sullivan said she agreed.

If the property owners in an Agricultural zone want to pursue more than one short-term vacation rental in the Agricultural zone, they would be able to go through either a conditional use review process for a campground or a rezoning process to a Planned Unit Development, Glasgow said.

“I would rather see them do that than for us to create a loophole for Agricultural zones to do short-term rentals in ADUs,” Sullivan said, referring to the existing opportunity for property owners who want to pursue a campground for lodging.

None of the seven trustees at the workshop wanted to move forward on allowing short-term rentals in separate buildings.

They also agreed with previous PCDC recommendations to keep the Lyons Short-term Rental Ordinance the same for detached accessory buildings without kitchens (not full ADUs) in the other residential zones. The Short-term Rental Ordinance does not allow short-term vacation rentals in this kind of structure, and the trustees want the ADU town code to instead encourage long-term rentals in detached buildings. They also agreed with the PCDC on retaining the current restrictions on short-term rentals for attached dwelling units. A full kitchen makes an attached apartment an ADU, which can be rented only to long-term tenants. However, if a stove is removed so that it is not a full kitchen, that suite of rooms attached to the main house is allowed to be rented out short-term to tourists, if the homeowner gets a Short-term Rental License.

The Short-term Rental Ordinance put in place last year made it much easier for Town of Lyons residential homeowners, who don’t want to go through a Bed and Breakfast conditional review, to rent out rooms to vacationers in the homes where they live. Now all a residential homeowner must do is complete a Town of Lyons Short-term Rental Application at www.townoflyons.com/ShortTermRentals, with a new application fee, and pay an annual license fee for a Town of Lyons Short-term Rental License (a type of business license). The costs are a $100 license fee plus a $75 new application fee for the first calendar year ($175 total), and a $100 license fee plus a $50 renewal application fee for following years ($150 total each year). Waivers of the $100 license fee are granted for short-term rentals of rooms that meet accessibility requirements.

The Lyons Short-term Rental Ordinance prohibits short-term rentals in campers or RVs, in other non-compliant structures like sheds, in carriage houses or ADUs that are covered by the www.townoflyons.com/566/Accessory-Dwelling-Units ordinance, and in homes that the property owners do not use as their principal residence. The homeowners who are renting out rooms to tourists must obtain a Colorado sales tax license and collect, report, and pay sales tax, or they can contract with a company like AirBnb to collect, report, and pay sales tax on their behalf. They also must pay a $2 per night Town of Lyons occupancy fee.

The trustees told Glasgow and Town Administrator that they were open to allowing some use of short-term vacation rentals in commercial zones, a lighter use than a hotel or motel.

“We may decide not to adjust the Short Term Rental ordinance itself but instead create a ‘hotel-light’ zone” for the commercial properties, Glasgow said.

It would allow an alternative classification for commercial short-term rentals in small buildings in downtown Lyons, such as 314, 324, and 318 Main Street, which have been licensed in the past with business licenses but don’t work with the Short-Term Rental code that was created for residential zones. These commercial vacation rentals are similar in nature to hotels because there is no principal homeowner who lives on site (in contrast to the residential short-term vacation rentals), but they are not hotels or motels because each building’s suites of rooms is only rented to one lodging party at a time.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the September 2013 flood, and I’ve now been writing this column in the Lyons Recorder for 4 years, since April 2, 2015. I was prompted by the need to share information about affordable housing in weekly columns when a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. Although it was before “fake news” was a buzzword, misinformation about affordable housing, what was possible in Lyons, and land-use processes and procedures spread like a wildfire in local social media.

Although that proposed development was stopped at the end of March 2015 before it even started the official Town of Lyons planning process, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons. In February 2019, the State Housing Board voted to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park – all rentals for people who earn 60 percent of the area median income or less. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process. The only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112-116 Park Street, where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes). Starting this spring, homeowners will close on the purchase of those homes and move in.

After four years of writing this column, I’ve learned a lot about affordable housing, planning and land-use processes, and stories about approaches that have worked in other communities. But most of all, I’ve learned that affordable housing takes a long time, and it requires community members, non-profits, town staff, and elected officials who don’t give up. This year, we are finally starting to see some real progress, celebrating the completion of the Habitat for Humanity homes, and an expected development plan for rental homes from Summit Housing Group.


This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at
lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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Goals to stop the net loss of affordable housing

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Published in the March 28, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Goals to stop the net loss of affordable housing

by Amy Reinholds

Our Lyons community, and all of Boulder County, can use a variety of tools in the affordable housing toolbox. Not all tools apply to our small town, and they are not one-size-fits-all. We might determine that some tools could be dangerous if used incorrectly, or they might give us the opposite effect that we want. In my opinion, our community should be a like a good carpenter and learn what tools are available, and how to best use them, so we can be equipped with the best possible options for repair or building to meet our goals.

I recently learned about the PLAN-Boulder County’s Affordable Housing Strategy, which identifies some ideas I hadn’t spent much time considering before. PLAN-Boulder County is a citizen group that has been promoting sustainable land use and environmental protection in the Boulder area since 1959. The group published an Affordable Housing Strategy at the end of 2017. Some of it is focused specifically on the City of Boulder, but a great deal of it applies to the broader Boulder County.

Two of the recommendations that stand out to me are “Most new housing should be permanently affordable” and Preserve existing affordable housing” (in particular, “The net loss of currently affordable units must be stopped.”).

Leonard May, a PLAN-Boulder County board member who worked on the strategy, pointed to a loss rate of 1000 units per year in the City of Boulder that had been affordable to middle and low-income renters but were lost through gentrification and redevelopment. He attributed that number to data from Boulder Housing Partners (the City of Boulder Housing Authority).

For example, the redevelopment of the Eastpointe apartment complex, at Arapahoe Avenue and Eisenhower Drive in east Boulder, increased density but still “decreased affordability for middle and low-income renters,” May said, because rents went up for the new luxury apartments.

“What is built is at the high end of the market right now,” May said. “Of the new housing in Boulder, there are requirements on developers that 20 percent is permanently affordable to middle and low income [called inclusionary housing], but 80 percent is market rate.”

While we are big supporters of inclusionary housing, not connecting that program to affordable housing losses resulting from gentrification and redevelopment, is short-sighted, and wasteful,” May said. “And at the end if the day, we have less affordable housing.”

You can read the entire plan here: planboulder.org/development/plan-peoples-league-for-action-now-boulder-county-affordable-housing-strategy. May said PLAN-Boulder County “will be updating the strategy on a continuum, to address issues as they arise and to include new ideas as we learn about them or develop them.”

“Affordable housing is not a simple supply and demand issue as many try to distill it down to,” May said. “The problems today are a result of a 40-year federal government retreat from the housing business, quantitative-easing policies that arose from the 2008 financial crisis, Boulder’s and Boulder County’s real estate market being focused toward the high-end, a 50-year decline in wages relative to cost of living and a host of other elements, all interacting with each other.”

May said that PLAN-Boulder County gave input to the Boulder County Regional Housing Strategy and supports that strategy. He said that Boulder County is expected to put a 2020 ballot issue on the county ballot to increase sales tax for a county-wide affordable housing fund to raise revenue for preserving affordability and purchasing land, “exactly what PLAN Boulder County has on our housing strategy.”

PLAN-Boulder County also supports working with elected representatives in the state legislature who are considering introducing a bill to change Colorado’s current prohibition on rent control, stating this change in state law would “create opportunities for preserving affordability of housing over time.” If it makes it through both houses and becomes law, local municipalities would be allowed to create their own policies that limit rent increases.

Boulder missed an opportunity for more permanently affordable rentals when it approved its accessory dwelling unit (ADU) ordinance that now allows carriage houses on single-family zones, May said. May said he had hoped that although homeowners who built ADUs on their properties would be allowed to begin renting at market rate, the ADU ordinance would constrain the rate of increase in rent after that. For example, he said the allowed maximum increase in rent each year could be based on a formula such as half of the gap between increase of local rental market and the rate of inflation. (If the local market increased 10 percent, and inflation was 2 percent, a landlord would be allowed to increase the rent by no more than 4 percent.)

He noted that some towns like Wellfleet, MA, have created grants or no-interest loan programs for longtime homeowners with moderate to low incomes who need assistance building or remodeling ADUs, but in exchange they accept the permanent affordability requirements (limits in rent increases).

May said that allowing ADUs without permanent affordability primarily benefits property owners at the expense of renters, which means benefiting people higher on the economic ladder at the expense of those lower on the ladder.

I think that the Town of Lyons also missed that opportunity for permanent affordability in our ADU ordinance, but maybe it could be added sometime in the future as a condition for approving ADUs for homeowners who request this conditional use.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued, but nothing got very far in the process. The only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112-116 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes).

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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Keeping Habitat for Humanity homes affordable in the future

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Published in the March 21, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder.


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Keeping Habitat for Humanity homes affordable in the future

by Amy Reinholds

The Lyons Board of Trustees voted on March 18 to approve a restrictive covenant between the Town of Lyons and Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley for the six new homes at 112-116 Park Street. The covenant keeps those homes affordable, even if the first set of homeowners, who begin to close on the purchases of their homes this spring, sell their homes in the future.

The Development Agreement for the property in fall 2016 approved the redevelopment of lots 2-7 to residential use with the restriction that the sole permitted use of those lots was designated as permanently affordable single family attached (duplex) residential units. And that agreement approved an Affordable Housing Covenant as one of the instruments to ensure affordable ownership.

According to materials included in on the town website for the March 18 Trustees meeting, buyers of the Habitat for Humanity homes must sign a document that accepts the Limitations on Resale Price and Buyer Income, which includes the following restrictions:

  • A new buyer’s projected income cannot more than 60% of the area median income, adjusted to reflect the family size of the buyer’s household. There are exceptions for when the home is inherited by a spouse or children, is transferred to a spouse who becomes a co-owner, or is transferred to one spouse during a property settlement as part of a divorce.
  • There is a Resale Price Limit (the maximum amount the property is allowed to be sold for) when one of the owners sells a home, as described in a particular formula described in Paragraph 5 of the covenant. Basically, for each year that the seller has owned the home, an increase ranging from 1 percent to 3.5 percent can be allowed.
  • Eligible Capital Improvements are limited in amount and type and are only those specifically identified as such by the Town of Lyons. If the Town of Lyons identifies as eligible and Capital Improvements those must be pre-approved by the Town of Lyons to receive credit.
  • The ability to refinance a first mortgage is limited to 93% of the Resale Price Limit. Buyers must contact the town prior to arranging refinancing with a lender.
  • The home must be owner-occupied.

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The resolution was approved unanimously, 6-0, as part of the consent agenda items at the March 18 meeting. Trustee Wendy Miller, who will be buying one of the homes, recused herself from the vote.

Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is finishing construction on the three duplexes this spring (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots it purchased in late 2016 (south of the former Valley Bank building, which remains on a separate commercial lot). Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit that acts as a builder and a lender of no-interest loans for homeowners. Mortgages are about $150,000 (depending on some custom options). Monthly mortgage payments including taxes and insurance will range from about $650 to $850 for all the homeowners in Lyons, depending on income and household size.

Applicants to purchase all six of the homes were selected by April 2018, and several friends and family members helped donate volunteer hours over the past year to count toward each household’s “sweat equity” over the past year. All Habitat for Humanity homeowners complete about 250 volunteer hours of per adult in each household, which includes attending financial and home-ownership classes, as well as working on construction of their own and their neighbors’ homes, or working at the Habitat ReStore in Longmont.

The preference policy gave first preference for applicants displaced as a result of the flood disaster of 2013, who maintained their primary residence in the Lyons area (80540 zip code) at the time of the flood. For income level requirements in Lyons, preference is for applicants at 60% of area median income or below. The permanently affordable restriction means that homeowners who sell their homes in the future must sell to qualified buyers who are in that same income range.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 flood-destroyed homes since the September 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rental homes and some Habitat for Humanity affordable for-sale homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. But Habitat for Humanity did not give up on the Town of Lyons. In November 2016, three years after the flood, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley purchased six residential lots from Craig Ferguson of Planet Bluegrass and his LLC. The Lyons Board of Trustees voted in 2015 to waive water and sewer connection fees that they have control over for Habitat for Humanity. The total of about $173,500 in savings helped Habitat for Humanity meet its permitting and fees budget for the Park Street homes, keeping mortgages down to about $150,000 for homeowners.

Next month, Habitat for Humanity plans a dedication of the first duplex in Lyons, which will also be a celebration of the 100th home built by Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley.


This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

Several housing decisions to come before the Lyons Planning Commission this year

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Published in the March 14, 2019,  edition of the Lyons Recorder


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?)

Several housing decisions to come before the Planning Commission this year

by Amy Reinholds

The Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) expects as many as a dozen public hearings the rest of 2019, including the development plan for 29 rental homes in multifamily affordable housing that Summit Housing Group proposes on Tract A of Lyons Valley Park Filing 8.

The PCDC and Town Planner Paul Glasgow reviewed priorities for the year at a March 11 workshop meeting, and they incorporated direction from the Lyons Board of Trustees meeting a week earlier.

Summit is under contract with Keith Bell to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision, intending to build 11 single family homes on already platted lots and 29 homes in duplex and triplex buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres) – all rental homes affordable for people who earn 60 percent of the area median or less. The development plan for the 29 multifamily units on Lyons Valley Park Tract A is expected to be submitted within a month. It will go through the site development process with PCDC, and that process will include public input before both the PCDC and the trustees.

In the fall, a commercial Planned Unit Development (PUD) process is expected to begin for a portion of the eastern corridor land that Paul Tamburello is under contract to purchase from the Town of Lyons. About two years ago, the Town of Lyons purchased the former Longmont water treatment plant land east of U.S. 36 from the City of Longmont to use a portion of it as a permanent home for the town’s flood-destroyed public works building and to sell remaining available parcels to buyers who want to pursue uses described in the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan. The town put out the request for proposals for prospective buyers with development plans in the fall of 2017. At that time, the Greens partnership (consisting of Tamburello, Donna Merten, and Thistle Community Housing) proposed purchasing all the land that Lyons is selling, on both the north and south sides of the highway (4.3 acres at 4651 Ute Hwy and 3.28 acres at 4652 Ute Hwy) for a mixed-use development that includes an innovative food agriculture business, a commercial kitchen, and affordable rental homes.

Tamburello told the trustees last week that he is still in discussion with Thistle. Affordable rental homes could still be a possibility on some of the land he plans to purchase, but Tamburello is expected to bring forward a PUD application for commercial development first. He reported that the Green Goo company is interested in a new headquarters at the location.

Other items on the PCDC’s list that could affect affordable housing include some revisions to the Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance, which is intended to encourage more lower-cost (but still market-rate) long-term rentals in town.

Under current town code, all ADUs, including carriage houses, basement and garage apartments, and tiny homes on wheels, must be used for long-term rentals (defined as lease periods of 31 days or longer), which is meant to increase the number of rentals available for long-term tenants and employees of local businesses. See the town code at www.townoflyons.com/566/Accessory-Dwelling-Units. Trustee Jocelyn Farrell has proposed those minimum lease periods for ADUs be three months or longer, maybe even six months or longer.

The PCDC is also expected to take up preliminary work for a town-wide Lyons Comprehensive Plan in 2020, an update from the 2010 Comprehensive Plan, which you can read at www.townoflyons.com/DocumentCenter/View/155/2010-Comprehensive-Plan-PDF. A Comprehensive Plan is intended to capture broad community input about goals for land use, growth, housing, transportation, economic development, natural resources, and other issues, gathered over a year of community workshops, surveys, and public meetings.

For all the public hearings that the commission holds, public input is included, and then the PCDC commissioners vote on a recommendation to the Lyons Board of Trustees. Then the trustees also hold public hearings where the members of the public can comment, and they make a final decision.

All PCDC meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is April 8 at 7 p.m. in the Lyons Depot Conference room. Check the calendar at www.townoflyons.com/calendar.aspx for any changes or updates in meeting dates and times.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued. The only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots.


This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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Trustees approve agreement to sell 7.58 acres of Eastern Corridor land

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Published in the March 7, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Trustees approve agreement to sell 7.58 acres of Eastern Corridor land

by Amy Reinholds

On March 4, the Lyons Board of Trustees unanimously approved a final reading on a purchase and sale agreement with Paul Taburello for the town-owned land near U.S. 36 and Colorado 66. The agreement is to sell a total of about 7.58 acres for $851,000. The earnest money required is $40,000, and the buyer is required to submit a Planned Unit Development (PUD) application with the Town of Lyons within one year from the closing date or pay a penalty of $100,000.

About two years ago, the Town of Lyons purchased the former Longmont water treatment plant land east of U.S. 36 from the City of Longmont to use a portion of it as a permanent home for the town’s flood-destroyed public works building and to sell remaining available parcels to buyers who want to pursue uses described in the Lyons Primary Planning Area Master Plan. The land was annexed into town, and the part that is for sale is currently zoned as agricultural land. The town put out the request for proposals for prospective buyers with development plans in the fall of 2017. At that time, the Greens partnership (consisting of Tamburello, Donna Merten, and Thistle Community Housing) proposed purchasing all the land that Lyons is selling, on both the north and south sides of the highway (4.3 acres at 4651 Ute Hwy and 3.28 acres at 4652 Ute Hwy) for a mixed-use development that includes an innovative food agriculture business, a commercial kitchen, and affordable rental homes.

Tamburello, who was the founder of GrowHaus, a nonprofit indoor farm and educational center in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, told the Trustees on March 4 that partnering with Donna Merten and the University of Colorado for food agriculture is still a possibility. Tamburello also said that a possible use of some of the land on the parcel south of Ute Hwy that was discussed earlier was lodging in tiny homes on wheels (which he described as RVs) because building public structures in flood plain areas might be difficult.

Since the original plans that the Greens partnership submitted in late 2017 and early 2018, “We provided affordable housing in another location, so the desire around that changed,” Town Planner Paul Glasgow told the trustees, referring to Summit Housing Group’s plan for building affordable housing in Lyons Valley Park. The State Housing Board recently approved Summit’s application for the full $4 million in federal funds set aside to build new affordable housing in Lyons after the 2013 flood. That specific funding wouldn’t be available for Thistle Community Housing to use for affordable housing on the Eastern Corridor land the town in selling.

However, Tamburello said that “We’re still in conversation with Thistle and other affordable housing developers.”

The first actually proposal that could come forward for the land might be a new location and headquarters for the Green Goo by Sierra Sage company, which make natural first-aid and body-care products. Owner Jodi Scott lives in the Lyons community and currently has retail space on Main Street. Tamburello said that development would be proposed for the north side of Hwy 66, which is near the Town of Lyons public works building site, currently under construction.

“Green Goo is looking to relocate, and it would be great to keep her headquarters in Lyons,” Tamburello said. “If the owners of Green Goo want to do something, and we buy the property, we’ll begin conceptual planning for the north side right away.”

According to the documents available with the March 4 agenda, “The purchase price $851,000 will fully refund Town for the cost of acquiring the water treatment property from the City of Longmont including the purchase price and other closing costs. It also reflects the average commercial real estate increase for commercial real estate in the Denver Metro Area.”

According to the same “cover sheet” document for Ordinance 1052, Glasgow, and the town attorney, the Board of Trustees and the Greens group have worked together for the past eight months to create a mutually agreed upon contract. The Greens group is also requesting that the Town sell its portion of the old railroad right of way between the southern parcel and the Colorado Department of Transportation right of way to encourage redevelopment of a larger area and increase the developability of the southern parcel.

A memorandum of agreement was created for the 0.77 acre parcel of the railroad right of way, because several issues prevent the parcel from being included in the rest of the sales agreement. Because the Town of Lyons plans to invest funds from the Economic Development Administration to develop utilities in the old railroad right of way, the town will need written approval that selling the land after the utilities are installed is acceptable. That land has not yet been subdivided. The town is selling for services in lieu of monetary amount, and Tamburello would give an easement for a possible future connector pedestrian and bike trail that could link downtown Lyons with Longmont. There is also a minor discrepancy in the legal description that staff will be working on.

Tamburello, of Generator Development, based in Denver, presented slides to the trustees and stated that “Any investment in real estate is first an investment in a community.” He said mistakes he has seen in Denver development is not considering what is best for neighborhood communities.

“Denver has destroyed communities when trying to maximize profits.”

He said that some of the next steps in the process for Lyons are due diligence on the land purchase and meeting the neighboring property owners to understand their setting and “historical land mines.” Tamburello also said he will clarify the regulatory process and define the mission and supporting values.

The community can follow the progress of the sale and closing on the purchase by listening to updates at upcoming Board of Trustees meetings. If the closing is completed, the PUD process will include public hearings before the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) and the Board of Trustees. Tamburello said he would look into whether there could be one PUD for the land on the north side of Hwy 66 where the Green Goo headquarters might be located, and a second PUD for the land south of Hwy 66, which might take longer to plan and develop.

That afternoon, before the regular meeting on March 4, the Board of Trustees held a workshop with PCDC chair Gregg Oetting about expected work for the commission in the coming year. Work that will come before the PCDC this year related to affordable housing in the Town of Lyons include the development plan for 29 rental homes in multifamily housing that Summit proposes on Tract A of Lyons Valley Park Filing 8 and an updated PUD for the Habitat for Humanity homes at 2nd and Park because the footprint of the porches for some of the duplexes went outside the original PUD footprint.

The PCDC is also expected to take up preliminary work for a new, town-wide “Lyons Comprehensive Plan” in 2020. 

There was a disconnect between Trustee Jocelyn Farrell’s request to the PCDC to look at bumping up the minimum time period for renting ADUs to 90 days or longer – a proposed change to the existing Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance, which is intended to encourage more long-term rentals in town. She has said that three to six months as a required minimum rental period (for example a three-month lease or a six-month lease) would encourage more of a community vibe in our residential neighborhoods than if month-to-month rentals were allowed. However, based on their comments at the workshop, both Oetting and Glasgow seemed to think Trustee Farrell was asking to raise the minimum rental period for short-term vacation rentals, which is 30 days or less. Short-term vacation rentals are allowed in the Town of Lyons for homeowners who get short-term rental licenses to rent out rooms in the homes where they live, but short-term vacation rentals are not allowed in ADUs, including carriage houses or tiny homes on wheels.

Under current town code, all ADUs (including tiny homes on wheels) must be used for long-term rentals (defined as lease periods of 31 days or longer). Trustee Farrell is proposing those minimum lease periods for ADUs be three months or longer, maybe even 6 months or longer.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In March 2015, a proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes) was rejected in a town vote, 614 to 498. However, $4 million of federal Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery funds were still set aside for affordable housing in Lyons, and the State Housing Board voted in February to approve Summit Housing Group’s application for those funds for building 11 single family homes and 29 homes in multifamily buildings on land the company plans to buy in Lyons Valley Park. Until Summit’s proposal, few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals were pursued. The only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase is at 112 Park Street where Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley is building three duplexes (a total of six, for-sale homes) on six residential lots.


This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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Update on bills in the Colorado Legislature

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Published in the February 28, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?

Update on bills in the Colorado Legislature

by Amy Reinholds

Here are a few updates about bills in our state legislative session this year that could give Colorado renters some support for issues around application fees, evictions, and habitability. Upcoming bills might be introduced this session that deal with funding affordable housing in the state, but for now there are at least three that deal with tenant and landlord relationships.

Bills are constantly changing as they go through hearings before committees in the state house and senate. For the most up-to-date information, see the links to leg.colorado.gov for each bill.

Rental application fees for prospective tenants: House Bill 19-1106

HB19-1106, sponsored by Representative Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D-Denver), and Senator Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), addresses possible high costs when tenants are searching for places to rent and paying application fees.

The bill passed the House on Feb. 21, and was introduced in the Senate on Feb. 25 and assigned to the Local Government committee.

The bill states that landlords can charge prospective tenants rental application fees only if they use the entire amount of the fee to cover their costs in processing the rental application. Landlords must provide a disclosure of their anticipated expenses or a receipt that itemizes the expenses that the application fee covers. According to the bill, a landlord also may not charge a prospective tenant a rental application fee that is in a different amount than a rental application fee charged to another prospective tenant who applies to rent the same dwelling unit (or any other dwelling unit offered by the landlord, if the landlord offers more than one unit for rent).

It also states that the landlord cannot search rental history or credit history beyond the seven prior years of the date of the application. And, if a landlord uses a criminal history check, an arrest record cannot be considered from more than five years before the application date, except for arrests related to methamphetamine or felony offenses that required registering as sex offenders. Landlords who deny a rental application must provide the applicant a notice of denial that states the reason, making a good-faith effort at least 20 days after making the decision.

Language was introduced in the House that says a person who intends to file an action “shall make a good-faith effort to notify the landlord of such intention not less than seven days before filing the action,” and a landlord “who corrects or cures a violation not more than seven days after receiving notice is immune from liability for the violation.”

The Colorado House Democrats website has pointed out that more than a dozen states have enacted policies that set terms for the collection and retention of rental application fees.

You can read more about the bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1106.

More time for a tenant to cure a lease violation that is not a substantial violation: House Bill 19-1118

HB19-1118, sponsored by Representative Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), Representative Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) and Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver), requires a landlord or property manager to provide a tenant 14-days notice (instead of the 3-day notice in current state law), to cure a violation for unpaid rent or for the first violation of any other condition or covenant of a lease agreement, other than a substantial violation, before the landlord can terminate the lease and initiate eviction proceedings.

Current law requires a landlord to provide a tenant 3 days to cure a violation for unpaid rent or any other condition or covenant of a lease agreement, other than a substantial violation, before the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings based on that unpaid rent or other violation. Current law also requires 3 days notice prior to a tenancy being terminated for a subsequent violation of a condition or covenant of a lease agreement.

The hearing for the bill was just switched to the Transportation and Local Government committee, scheduled for Feb. 27, according to staff for Representative Galindo.

You can read more about the bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1118.

The Colorado Association of Realtors had a concern with the original text of the bill, as it reported in its Capitol Connection online newsletter on Jan. 25. However, Elizabeth Peetz, VP of Government Affairs for the Colorado Association of Realtors, said this week that the Association now has a neutral stance on the bill, based on some of the potentially offered amendments. “All the stakeholders are still working on the legislation, and there may or may not be some changes in the committee,” she said.

Tenants health and safety act: House Bill 19-1170

HB19-1170, sponsored by Representative Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), Representative Mike Weissman (D-Aurora), Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver), and Senator Jeff Bridges (D-Greenwood Village), aims to increase tenant protections relating to the residential warranty of habitability.

Current law allows landlords “a reasonable time” after receiving a written notice to fix the problems that make a residential premise uninhabitable, materially dangerous, or hazardous. This bill proposes allowing either electronic or written notice, and gives the landlords 24 hours to fix the conditions that are “materially dangerous or hazardous to the tenant’s life, health, or safety” or 72 hours to fix conditions “where the premises is uninhabitable or otherwise unfit for human habitation.” The landlord breaches the warranty if these fixes are not made.

The bill also adds additional conditions that make a residential premises “uninhabitable,” and includes language about landlords retaliating against tenants who make complaints about habitability.

It passed the House Second Reading with amendments on Feb. 25.

You can read more about this bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1170.

 

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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State Housing Board approves Summit application

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Published in the February 21, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?)

State Housing Board approves Summit application

by Amy Reinholds

The State Housing Board unanimously approved Summit Housing Group’s application for $4 million of federal disaster recovery funds to build 40 affordable rental homes in Lyons, Town Administrator Victoria Simonsen reported at the Lyons Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 19.

Summit is under contract with Keith Bell to purchase land in the Lyons Valley Park subdivision, intending to build 11 single family homes on already platted lots and 29 homes in duplex and triplex buildings on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres) – all rental homes affordable for people who earn 60 percent of the area median or less.

Now that the application was approved for Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds, at a maximum of $100,000 per rental home, $4 million total for 40 residences, the next funding step is a decision expected within a month from the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) for the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) funding. After Summit completes the purchase of the land from Bell, it can go through the town process for development.

“That is excellent news for affordable housing,” Simonsen said about the approval for CDBG-DR funds.

Mayor Connie Sullivan thanked Simonsen and Mayor Pro Tem Barney Dreistadt for going to Denver to give a presentation to the State Housing Board on Feb. 12. Members of the public also submitted written comments or commented in person at the meeting.

Summit, based in Missoula, Mt., specializes in developing and managing low-income tax credit and mixed-use developments in six states, including Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado. LIHTC funding requires the rentals be affordable to households that earn 60 percent of the area median income or less. Past discussions from Summit representatives have described income levels in the 40 percent of the area median income, about $36,000 for a single person (or more for a larger household size) and up to a five-person household with a $70,000 annual income for 60 percent of the area median income. The area median income changes every year. You can download the 2018 Colorado County Income and Rent Tables at http://leaflyons.org/resources.html. Examples of rent estimates that Summit representatives have given at past meetings for two-bedroom apartments are $906 a month for a 40 percent AMI household, and $1,200 a month for a 60 percent AMI household, varying depending on family size. The property management site for Summit buildings, www.leasehighland.com, shows what the applications are like for other rentals built by Summit, including homes in Longmont.

Simonsen told the trustees that she expects the application for the development plan for the 29 multifamily units on Lyons Valley Park Tract A of Filing 8 (about 4 acres) to be submitted in March. It will go through the site development process with Lyons Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC), and that process will include public input before both the PCDC and the trustees.

Responding to questions about the proposed timeline, Simonsen said she doesn’t have all the details yet, but that Summit expect to be under construction in June. Public improvements will start while the Tract A development plan work is still in process.

“For the 11 single family homes, the grading plan and drainage plans are already done. Mr. Bell already did that when they were platted,” Simonsen said.

The Town of Lyons joined the Boulder County Consortium of Cities and participated in the Boulder County Housing Partnership’s Regional Housing Strategy at the end of 2017. Simonsen mentioned that some members from that consortium said they would be interested in coming to Lyons to provide information and references about affordable housing, including publishing articles in local papers and holding roundtable discussions.

The trustees also got a brief update about the six Habitat for Humanity homes being built at 112 Park Street. So far, these three duplex buildings are the only post-flood, permanently affordable housing actually in the construction phase in Lyons. Six families, who have partnered with Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley, will be purchasing the homes later this year. Simonsen said that Habitat for Humanity expects a certificate of occupancy in early March. Because there were a few adjustments in the front porch locations since the Planned Unit Development (PUD) was approved, Simonsen said the town would have to reopen that PUD again and approve it. But she said that PUD approval won’t hold up the certificate of occupancy for the two duplexes that are close to being ready. For more information about Habitat for Humanity, see www.stvrainhabitat.org.

Lyons lost about 76 to 94 destroyed homes in the 2013 flood. In the past five years, several locations were proposed for new affordable housing, as both the local real estate market and rental prices increased. Residents who were here in March 2015 remember the proposal for using part of Bohn Park to build subsidized, affordable Boulder County Housing Authority rentals and some Habitat for Humanity for-sale affordable homes (a total of 50-70 homes), which was rejected in a town-wide vote, 614 to 498. Thankfully, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley did not give up on Lyons, although the nonprofit was only able to acquire enough land in Lyons to build six for-sale homes. After the March 2015 vote, a few concepts for subsidized affordable rentals in Lyons were pursued for the $4 million of CDBG-DR funds for affordable housing, and now – almost five and a half years after the flood – those funds were approved for the proposal that Summit submitted for Lyons Valley Park.


This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

 

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Bills in state legislature could affect tenants and landlords

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Published in the February 14, 2019, edition of the Lyons Recorder


COMMENTARY: What’s the future of affordable housing in Lyons?)

Bills in state legislature could affect tenants and landlords

by Amy Reinholds

Two bills in the Colorado state legislature this term aim to change some details of how landlords and tenants relate. Could these bills help renters have more stability in their living situations?

HB19-1118, sponsored by Representative Dominique Jackson (D-Aurora), Representative Rochelle Galindo (D-Greeley) and Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver), requires a landlord or property manager to provide a tenant 14-days notice (instead of the 3-day notice in current state law), to cure a violation for unpaid rent or for the first violation of any other condition or covenant of a lease agreement, other than a substantial violation, before the landlord can terminate the lease and initiate eviction proceedings.

Current law requires a landlord to provide a tenant 3 days to cure a violation for unpaid rent or any other condition or covenant of a lease agreement, other than a substantial violation, before the landlord can initiate eviction proceedings based on that unpaid rent or other violation. Current law also requires 3 days notice prior to a tenancy being terminated for a subsequent violation of a condition or covenant of a lease agreement.

The bill was introduced into the state legislature on Jan. 6. You can read more about the bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1118.

Resolving issues before they become a problem and result in an eviction is a recommended path that organizations such as Neighbor to Neighbor and Princeton University Professor Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, have recommended. You can read more at “Evicted” author Matthew Desmond advises expanding housing vouchers.

The Colorado Association of Realtors seems to disagree that HB19-118 is a way to prevent evictions, according to association’s Capitol Connection online newsletter on Jan. 25: “By increasing the timeframe to remedy a violation to 14 days, landlords would lose the flexibility to work with their tenant under grace periods to find a solution together before moving down the path of eviction… Because there are many individuals, agencies and steps involved in an eviction proceeding, a landlord would have to start the process earlier than they would have originally under current statutory requirements.”

Another bill, HB19-1106, sponsored by Representative Brianna Titone (D-Arvada), Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D-Denver), and Senator Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), addresses possible high costs when tenants are searching for places to rent and paying application fees.

The bill states that landlords can charge prospective tenants rental application fees only if they use the entire amount of the fee to cover their costs in processing the rental application. Landlords must provide a disclosure of their anticipated expenses or a receipt that itemizes the expenses that the application fee covers. According to the bill, a landlord also may not charge a prospective tenant a rental application fee that is in a different amount than a rental application fee charged to another prospective tenant who applies to rent the same dwelling unit (or any other dwelling unit offered by the landlord, if the landlord offers more than one unit for rent). It also states that the landlord cannot search rental history or credit history beyond the 7 prior years of the date of the application.

According to the Colorado House Democrats website, “More than a dozen states have enacted policies that set reasonable terms for the collection and retention of rental application fees. For hardworking individuals or families struggling to find housing, the high cost of non-refundable application fees can easily exhaust their limited financial resources, sometimes making it impossible for them to pay a security deposit or the first month’s rent.”

The House Business Affairs and Labor Committee approved the bill on Feb. 5 with a vote of 7-4, and the bill now heads to the House floor, scheduled for Feb. 11. You can read more about the bill and follow its status at leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1106.

 

This column is a commentary (opinion column) in the Lyons Recorder. For a history, you can read previous columns from both Lyons-area newspapers at lyonscoloradonews.wordpress.com. If you have any questions, comments, or complaints about this column, please contact me directly at areinholds @hotmail.com.

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