Polis, advocates pitch a path forward – Density, diversity and nixing parking and growth rules highlight proposal
The first-in-decades effort to reform land use here almost certainly will ignite howls from local officials. But Gov. Jared Polis seemed to give the push’s broad strokes an early endorsement Tuesday during his annual State of the State address. One housing official said the governor’s presence in the debate will take heat off of legislators and give the broader effort a prominent boost. The shift to state centralization of zoning is needed, supporters and Polis say, because of the scale of the housing problem and its placement at the intersection of several other commanding issues. “It’s clear that the actions of one jurisdiction impact others,” Polis said.
Average rents drop by a record amount
Average apartment rents in metro Denver fell more in the fourth quarter than they did during the worst of the dot-com bust, the Great Recession and even the early months of the pandemic, with more declines likely as new units pour out into the market this year, according to an update Tuesday from the Apartment Association of Metro Denver. The average apartment rent dropped from $1,870 in the third quarter to $1,838 in the fourth quarter, a decline of $32 or 1.7%, the largest quarterly drop in records going back four decades. It marks only the third time since 1981 that average rents have dropped more than $20 in a quarter.
Accessory Dwelling Units
Denver City Council Member Paul Kashmann reports that city planners are working with community members to look at how the Denver Zoning Code regulates Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s). This project will not rezone any properties. It will look at how ADUs are designed, how they fit in with different types of neighborhoods and block patterns, and how updates to the zoning code may reduce barriers to creating ADUs. Accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, are self-contained, smaller living spaces that are an extension of an existing property. They are often called mother-in-law suites, granny flats, casitas, backyard cottages, garage apartments or basement apartments. An ADU has its own kitchen, bath and sleeping area, but is not considered a separate property that could be sold on its own. Planners encourage comments on draft recommendations at:
Biden Administration Takes Steps Toward National Renters Bill of Rights
In what it calls a “blueprint for a renters bill of rights,” the administration is seeking to ensure that tenants can organize, without harassment from landlords, to put more conditions on how evictions can proceed and to create leases that are clearer and fairer. In making the case, the White House states that housing has become less affordable since the onset of the pandemic, with “some landlords taking advantage of market conditions to pursue egregious rent increases.” Apartment landlord groups responded by expressing concern about the initiative, saying the federal government should focus on increasing housing availability rather than adding regulations.
Affordable housing debate kicks off at Colorado Capitol with contrasting bills (Paywall)
While one of Colorado’s legislative chambers on Tuesday got its first long look at a bill that would allow local governments to implement rent control, a committee in the other chamber overwhelmingly backed a bill to build more workforce housing through public-private partnerships — a dichotomy around the affordable housing debate that may last all session. Leaders of the Democratic-majority House and Senate said they did not believe that their members would have to choose the regulatory or partnership paths exclusively, arguing that the diversity in approaches to the housing crisis will create an all-encompassing conversation. But some, including Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, also acknowledged that they did not know that the rent control bill will be able to survive the legislative process this year.
This legislation would remove state-level ban on rent control
Boesenecker sponsored a bill last session that would’ve enacted rent stabilization policies for mobile-home parks, a first foray into price controls. But that provision was stripped out of the bill after Polis signaled that he would veto the bill if it included rent stabilization. Polis remains a primary obstacle to this latest push, supporters and opponents say. In a statement to The Post in December, his office reiterated his skepticism to rent control, warning of its unintended consequence of actually increasing rent. The Colorado Apartment Association’s opposition is also well known: Senior Vice President Drew Hamrick told The Post on Tuesday that “price controls are an old and bad idea.” He and other critics have warned that limiting rent increases will cause new development to crater.
Challenges Abound When Transforming Office to Residential
On the diligence front, an owner will also need to consider whether a change in use is feasible based on the design of the building and compliance with certain laws, including local ordinances and federal laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act. Additionally, some existing offices may not make for desirable living spaces. For example, they may lack adequate natural light or open floorplans. Addressing these issues could require a much more extensive and costly remodeling effort to attract residents than the simple interior modifications that office owners may envision. The owner may also face challenges related to environmental conditions, such as asbestos remediation.
70 mobile home parks in Colorado can’t raise rent due to new laws designed to protect residents
The state during the past year made progress on investigating resident complaints after extensive backlogs plagued the division during its first year of operation, the report showed, while new legislation has given regulators more avenues to compel park owners and managers into following the law. Meanwhile, an increasing number of Colorado’s 731 parks are becoming resident-owned cooperatives after persistent allegations last year that park owners were skirting the state’s nascent regulations designed to give mobile home owners a fighting chance to own their own parks.
Density as a Scapegoat
Cox has a point in this respect: some of the nation’s densest cities (most notably New York, Boston and San Francisco) are among the most expensive. But if correlation and causation were the same thing, we would find that as cities grew less dense, housing became cheaper. But as Cox himself has argued, most American regions (and many other large cities around the world) have grown less dense over time. If sprawl means more affordability, where are the big savings?
REAL ESTATE AND MOBILITY
Impact of Driverless Vehicles on Real Estate: Ethical and Legal Issues
Many articles1, journals2, books3, and other sources have discussed the continued and expansive nature of vehicles that are driven by computers as opposed to human beings.4 We have written and presented many programs on driverless vehicles (“DV”).5 Many of the materials mentioned as to DV have focused on the technological aspects of such vehicles. Some of our articles6, too, have directed the reader’s attention to the stages of technological development for DV. This article is not directed to such discoveries on DV. Rather, the DV field must be examined in a multitude of areas. One of those fields that has not been examined in much detail covers the issue of ethical concerns with DV and their impact on real estate.
Foot Traffic Ahead 2023
Foot Traffic Ahead finds higher demand driving premiums for commercial and multifamily rents and for-sale home prices in walkable urban places, compared to car-dependent alternatives. Based on the share of office, retail, and rental multi-family occupied square footage in walkable urban places relative to the metro region as a whole, the top regions are 1) New York City, 2) Boston, Boston, 3) Washington, DC, 4) Seattle, 5) Portland, 6) San Francisco, 7) Chicago, 8) Los Angeles.
Repurposed Shipping Containers Offer Unique Advantages for the Right Projects
When containers can be lined up side by side and doorways or other openings can be easily aligned to connect adjacent boxes, “it’s fairly straightforward,” Scott said. However, “if you’re wanting to make an open office or large suite or something with a lot of lateral communication between the modules, it’s more difficult to cut those size holes when you’re looking at a taller structure. It might take some extra steps to reinforce the box, and depending upon how much you have to do, that’s where it might tip it into, ‘Oh, I might as well just build this from scratch rather than trying to retrofit a box.’ ”
California Relaxes Parking Mandates to Free Up Land for Multifamily Development—but Will Neighbors and Lenders Approve?
Despite all this optimism, however, parking may still be forced upon developers by lenders and neighborhood groups. Ethos Real Estate Managing Partner Jennifer McElyea develops (and acquires for redevelopment) multifamily properties in California. While 100 percent in favor in lifting parking mandates, and eager to create vital, pedestrian-oriented places that help reduce sprawl, McElyea knows from experience that the shift won’t be easy. “There is a huge pushback from community groups on projects without parking,” she says. “And lenders are resistant to funding them.”
Where the rich don’t drive — is density the new luxury?
So what does this tell us? It tells us that if you design a city to broadly require a car, then you are likely to sort people based on those that can afford a lot of car and those that cannot. On the other hand, if you design a city around transit, then you are likely to instead create a place where both the rich and poor get around in similar ways.
CDOT is used to building roads, but now it’s getting into housing — to help with mountain worker shortages
“If this is successful — and I think it will be — hopefully it is a model for other state agencies to follow,” Lorme said. Lately, CDOT is having more success hiring maintenance workers. Sean Lichota, who manages CDOT’s maintenance training academy in Aurora, said he’s watched dozens of new recruits earn their commercial licenses and join maintenance crews, even though “some of them never had any experience around a truck.”
Tesla Has a Bigger Problem Than Elon Musk. So does the entire auto industry.
Major demographic shifts toward urban living signal a clear need to change the utilization of our increasingly dense urban areas, where vast amounts of real estate are presently wasted for parking, both on the street and off. There’s also the continuing decrease in overall personal driving preferences; the rising acceptance of basic transportation as a shared service much like buses, trains, and planes; and the massive growth in inner-city biking, and even walking. These commuting alternatives are combining to create greater and greater pressures on the auto industry. Of course, the latest legislative triumph of lobbyists over logic — the new federal tax incentives for EVs in the Inflation Reduction Act — totally ignores electric bikes, scooters, and other transportation modalities.
What the Rise of Micromobility Means for the Future of Cities
While respondents report using cars and rideshares/taxis as much as they did before the pandemic, we found pronounced shifts in other forms of transportation. People are using public transit less than they did before the global shutdowns and now spend more time walking or using some form of micromobility. Regionally, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Europe showed the highest increases in micromobility, while North America (the most car-dependent region) showed the least.
Electrifying Public Transit: Evolving Toward an Electric Bus Fleet
Electric buses are increasingly available from a wide variety of manufacturers, and the business case for using them is compelling. They offer lower fuel costs, reduced maintenance requirements and are expected to remain in service longer than their internal combustion counterparts. Because they travel on set routes, the optimization of the charging infrastructure, the vehicle batteries and the power supply is relatively easy compared to less predictable forms of transport. However, purchasing battery-powered buses is just one step in a much more complex transition.
Putting Some Real Money Behind Transportation
More than a trillion dollars in spending sounds like a lot of money for infrastructure, but in fact the nation already spends a great deal on infrastructure, and only $550 billion is for new funding. Most of the legislation recognizes existing funding for a total of $1.2 trillion. The increase in funding for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act over the next five years is:
$70 billion for highways and bridges — a 43% increase
$18.2 billion for transit, a 42% increase
$13.2 billion for passenger rail, a quadrupling of federal support.
The nation’s transportation network is funded by a range of public and private investment for highways, railroads and airlines, so federal funds must be seamlessly integrated into other programs. – According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, this new federal program could be a big boost to the nascent public-private partnerships (P3s) spending, which are currently only 1% to 2% of infrastructure spending in the U.S., compared to 5% to 20% in other developed countries.
Where does shared autonomous mobility go next?
Key autonomous-driving technologies are still relatively new, and the industry will continue to change as it moves forward. Based on our survey, three-quarters of industry leaders believe partnerships will be key to success. Integrated development efforts, involving an ecosystem of suppliers and autonomous-driving stack developers, would assist with the development of several critical technologies and allow them to be produced at scale for widespread deployment. As an example, prediction and decision-making software capabilities, which almost 70 percent of survey respondents viewed as important to autonomous operations, remain in the initial stages of development.
When Buses Are Free But Trains Aren’t
Smaller, less transit-intensive cities have been trying free fares for a while, but those agencies never got much of their revenue from fares anyway. In the biggest urban transit agencies, fares are a big source of funding, and that’s money that could have been spent on other things, like better service. As more public transit agencies consider the pros and cons of offering free or reduced-fare rides, this controversy is likely to continue, with eloquent arguments on both sides. But the Washington and Boston free-fare programs are different in another way: Those cities also have rail transit systems — but the free fares are only on buses. If that trend spreads, we should expect some bad consequences.
Denver Moves Everyone 2050
Denver City Council Member Paul Kashmann reports that Denver Moves Everyone 2050 is a citywide plan that will prioritize transportation improvements to improve travel and achieve Denverites’ vision and goals for a better transportation system. Since Denver Moves Everyone 2050 started last summer, the city has heard from 10,200+ residents online and in person. Through these collective voices, we heard Denverites want a high-quality transportation system that is safe, equitable, sustainable and comfortable. Now the plan has entered its fourth phase, where we are seeking public input on how we plan to spend our transportation dollars to help achieve Denver’s shared vision and goals in the short term. Visit http://www.denvermoveseveryone.com to view the draft plan of transportation improvements for the short term. Your feedback will inform how Denver prioritizes improvements to make travelling in your neighborhood and around the city better!
Denver Moves Cherry Creek
Denver City Council Member Amanda Sawyer reports that Denver Moves: Cherry Creek is a year-long planning effort to develop a cohesive strategy for infrastructure development that achieves the City’s mobility goals in the Cherry Creek neighborhood and surrounding area. The project will explore improvements to make it safer and more convenient to walk, bicycle, take transit, deliver goods, and drive in and around the area, and will also examine green infrastructure, parking, curbside uses, and other considerations. When complete, Denver Moves: Cherry Creek will guide how Denver programs, funds, plans, designs, builds, and maintains the future multimodal transportation network of the area. There is another public meeting on Wednesday, February 8th at 5:30 PM online: