Park Hill Golf Course Area Plan
Throughout 2021, area residents weighed in through surveys, at public workshops and events, in small groups and conversations with Community Navigators, on comment forms, and through a Community Steering Committee that met monthly. Of the approximately 1,300 residents who completed a survey and live within one-mile of the property, 70% favored some development of the site; 22% preferred for the site to be green space only; 8% favored development-oriented uses only, without green space; and only 7% of respondents wanted to see the entire property remain a golf course. In the November 2021 election, voters decided how conservation easements can be partially or fully released in Denver. There is a conservation easement on the golf course. Here’s what that vote means for this project:
• Before Ballot Initiative 301: Any release of the easement had to be approved by City Council.
• After Ballot Initiative 301: Any release of easement must be approved by City Council and a majority of Denver voters in a municipal election.
• What that means: The City of Denver can continue to build on its work from 2021 and refine the eight shared priorities into a clear plan so voters can make an informed decision about the golf course in a future election. Updated drafts will be available for a second round of review as part of a community review of the draft area plan later this summer. Feedback submitted will be shared after the online open house closes on July 7.
Denver Passes Pivotal Measure to Expand Housing Affordability
Under the new ordinance, all new residential developments of 10 or more units must designate 8% to 12% of the units as affordable for a period of 99 years, regardless of whether the units are for rent or for sale. The exact percentage will vary based on the level of affordability offered, but in all scenarios, these homes would need to be affordable for households making less than the area median income (AMI). In 2022, the AMI for a two-person household in Denver (e.g., two adults or one adult, one child) is approximately $94,000. In higher-cost areas of the city, such as downtown and Cherry Creek, developers would need to designate 10% to 15% of new units as affordable. The ordinance also includes zoning and financial incentives to help offset the cost of building affordable units and to increase the overall supply of housing in Denver.
A public hearing on the proposed rules and regulations for the Expanding Housing Affordability ordinance will be held on Thursday, July 21 at 4:00 p.m. in Room 4.I.5 of the Wellington Webb Building (201 W. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO 80202). Rules and regulations lay out the administrative processes and requirements to administer and implement an ordinance. Public comment on the draft rules and regulations can be provided at the hearing, be submitted through the comment form, or be provided directly on the rules and regulations document on the project webpage. Written comments must be received by Wednesday, July 20, 2022. The Executive Directors of Denver’s Departments of Community Planning and Development and Housing Stability both need to approve the rules and regulations before they go into effect.
SRO Housing, Nearly Zoned Out of Existence, Could Re-Emerge
Single-room occupancy units have largely disappeared from American cities. But a Philadelphia councilmember has introduced legislation to legalize one of the most affordable forms of housing for low-income people. Many of the Founding Fathers resided in congregate living setups for their stays in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, between one-third and one-fourth of urban households took in boarders. In the 1950s, single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) comprised 10 percent of New York’s housing stock. But in the postwar years, American norms began to shift and policymakers turned on single-room residences. In 1955, New York City banned the new construction of SROs in the city. Zoning codes everywhere were tweaked to discourage anything but single-family residences. By one estimate, 1 million SRO units were lost between the 1970s and the 1990s.
Housing affordability collapses at fastest clip on record
A separate report from housing market research firm Black Knight published yesterday shows that the monthly principal and interest payment on an average-priced home, by a buyer who puts 20% down, has gone up by roughly $600 —44% — since the start of the year. Surging house prices: One popular gauge of home prices known as the Case-Shiller index showed home prices posting their biggest ever year-on-year gain in March when they rose 20.6%. Surging mortgage rates: Over the last year, the rate for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has jumped from 3% to more than 5%.
Something Old, Something New: Biden’s Housing Plan
President Joe Biden released a far-reaching Housing Supply Action Plan in May that announces or proposes dozens of measures meant to sharply boost housing production. They include incentives for local zoning reform, new financing products from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, budget hikes for federal programs like HOME and LIHTC, efforts to promote manufactured housing and accessory dwelling units (ADUs), supply chain improvements, and increased recruitment of construction workers. Many of the proposals are unlikely to come to fruition in the near future, including tens of billions of dollars of funding requests from Build Back Better, the reconciliation bill that died in the Senate last year. Some items require further analysis by HUD or the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to determine if they are feasible, while others are broad vows to streamline agency processes or promote existing programs, such as COVID relief funding that states and cities can use to develop affordable housing.
US House Prices Are Likely to Drop as Rates Rise, Capital Economics Says
Property prices could contract an annual 5% by the middle of next year, Matthew Pointon, senior property economist, said in a research note Monday. He’d previously projected no change in values by that time. An average household looking to buy a home for the median price will now have to put more than a quarter of their annual income toward mortgage payments, according to the report. That surpasses the average 24% seen in the mid-2000s.
Four Key Findings From 2022 State of the Nation’s Housing Report
A new nationwide report on housing out today shows that a surge in consumer prices has made the affordability challenge confronting renters even more severe, particularly for low-income households and households of color. Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, or JCHS, reports in their annual The State of the Nation’s Housing that this challenge is becoming more acute as emergency pandemic aid runs out. – JCHS highlights the Biden-Harris administration’s recently released Housing Supply Action Plan as blueprint for easing the burden of housing costs faced by millions of households nationwide by reducing the severe shortfall in affordable housing. The president’s plan highlights several of Enterprise’s key tax and appropriations policy priorities as solutions to help increase and strengthen our nation’s housing supply, including the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit and the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.
How Vienna took the stigma out of social housing
Vienna’s social housing has largely avoided the kind of stigma attached to estates elsewhere — in part because the city has stood by its original commitment to prioritize the quality and affordability of housing. The only requirements for accessing social housing are meeting a cap on income that is so high that 75 percent of the population qualifies, and having lived in the city for two years, meaning residents tend to be from diverse backgrounds and aren’t segregated from one another. There is also no big fight for access: The municipal government uses a wealth fund to acquire land and develop new projects, and legislation has been adopted to keep real estate values low. As a quality safeguard, the city requires every new project must be green-lit by a jury of experts. Rather than pick the cheapest projects, proposals are instead selected based on “clearly defined quality criteria such as economy, social sustainability, ecology and architecture,” said Gaal, the deputy mayor.
A bold case against zoning
Thanks in part to a lack of zoning, Houston builds housing at nearly three times the per capita rate of cities like New York City and San Jose. It isn’t all just sprawl either: In 2019, Houston built roughly the same number of apartments as Los Angeles, despite the latter being nearly twice as large. This ongoing supernova of housing construction has helped to keep Houston one of the most affordable big cities in the U.S., offering new arrivals modest rents and accessible home prices even amid seemingly endless demand.
East Colfax Bus Rapid Transit
In the past few months, the East Colfax Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) team has refined BRT station design, developed initial streetscape plans, and completed the traffic and parking analyses for the project. The team will share all of this and more at their next Community Open House on Tuesday, August 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm at the Carla Madison Recreation Center of via Zoom. Join Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure at the Carla Madison Recreation Center (2401 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206) or register for the Zoom here to engage with the team and provide your feedback.
Mayors are wielding free transit to draw people back downtown. It’s not that easy.
Other cities’ experiments with fare-free transit have revealed a few harsh realities about what sounds like a great boon for transit riders. First, while ridership on the free lines usually goes up, generally the boost comes from those who might typically bike or walk, rather than pulling people out of their cars. Second, riders — including those with low incomes — consistently say that what really matters to them is whether the bus comes frequently enough to be useful.
Can We Retrofit Suburban Arterials? (paywall)
Arterial roadway corridors present potential to bring transit-oriented, walkable urban places near large areas of automobile-dependent suburbs and should be a primary focus for retrofitting research and practice. We present here a set of metrics that rely on readily available data, are not complex to carry out, and produce mapping and visualization that is legible and allows comparison across corridors. We suggest that local governments should be routinely studying and evaluating the potential for retrofit and intensification of all such corridors within their jurisdiction. Planners should seek to develop approaches to managing future corridor development to permit greater adaptability in response to future economic, transportation, and climate changes and vulnerabilities.
How Fast-Growing Colorado Is Tackling Its Transportation Emissions
Colorado’s efforts stand out in a scorecard recently released by RMI, a first-of-its-kind assessment of US states’ progress on climate goals. Colorado’s work on transportation — which produces nearly one-quarter of the state’s emissions — offers a blueprint for many fast-growing, western states facing a similar mix of scale and varied challenges. In dense Denver, for instance, urban congestion is growing; yet long road trips define much of the state’s rural reaches.
The Business Case for Multimodal Transportation Planning
When motorists purchase a vehicle, they expect governments and businesses to spend thousands of dollars on roads and parking facilities for their use, plus permission to impose congestion, crash risks, and pollution emissions on their community. Multimodal planning can reduce these costs, providing large savings and benefits. In a typical community, 20 to 40 percent of residents rely on non-auto travel options if they are available, and serving these demands can provide significant savings and benefits. This suggests that it is efficient and equitable for communities to spend 20 to 40 percent of their transportation dollars and road space on walking, bicycling, and public transit, and even more to make up for a hundred years of car-centric planning.