Government & Politics  February 8, 2024

Longmont mulls boosting affordable-housing incentives

LONGMONT — Longmont officials this week directed city staffers to develop a set of policies designed to beef up the city’s  affordable-housing incentives program in an effort to draw more interest from developers. 

Staff and consultants recently conducted a study of the affordable-housing development landscape to determine “what kinds of various zoning variances and perks can you give to developers who are bringing the community benefit of affordable housing,” Molly Fitzpatrick, managing director Root Policy Research, told members of Longmont City Council during a study session on Tuesday. 

The recommendations brought forward this week, should they ultimately be adopted by Longmont elected leaders, would augment the city’s existing incentives program, which includes perks such density and height bonuses and lot size reductions for single-family and townhomes.

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Part of staff’s recommendation related to reducing administrative red tape and simplifying the entitlements and approvals process. 

“Complexity lowers efficiency,” City Councilwoman Diane Crist, said, and can result in less housing affordability.

Administrative improvements recommended include creating a fast-tracked review process, allowing for staff approvals of larger projects  and encouraging development of affordable-dwelling units. 

Allowing a wider variety of projects to be approved administratively rather than by elected or appointed officials in a public process “would be a wonderful step that would leave us more bandwidth for fast-tracking things,” Mayor Joan Peck said. 

However, administrative approvals would reduce the community’s ability to weigh in on projects, she said. Although more administrative approvals “might make it more efficient, I think that we want to continue to have the public involved in their neighborhoods.”

Additional recommendations for improving the affordable-housing incentives program include reducing requirements for open space and buffer zones, relaxing parking standards and increasing height and density bonuses.

Longmont officials this week directed city staffers to develop a set of policies designed to beef up the city’s  affordable-housing incentives program in an effort to draw more interest from developers. 

Lucas High
A Maryland native, Lucas has worked at news agencies from Wyoming to South Carolina before putting roots down in Colorado.
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