2023 Leg Session, Exclusives, Governor Polis, Housing, Uncategorized

Menten: Senate Bill 213 land-use mandate just more big government

Ridding municipalities of zoning laws might sound seductive to advocates of limited-government, but that’s not what’s log-rolled into Senate Bill 213, the “More Housing Now” measure supported by pseudo-libertarian Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

The governor claims that the bill strengthens property rights, but the over 100-pages of new rules and bureaucracy looks more like a state government power grab. The fiscal note hasn’t yet been released, but at minimum it will be $15 million annually redirected from general funds to yet more subsidized housing.

Here’s a dozen ways that the SB 213 land use mandate is just more big government.

  1. Creates state strategic growth rules, laws, and bureaucracy.
  2. Removes local choice in exchange for state authority and rules.
  3. Dictates minimum residential density limits under state authority.
  4. Eliminates choices of a unit owners’ association (HOAs).
  5. Reduces transportation funding to non-compliant communities.
  6. Minimum $15 million annual price tag to supply more government controlled, taxpayer subsidized housing.
  7. Increases government interference in the housing market by requiring local governments to adopt and implement strategic affordable growth strategies.
  8. Creates a new housing plans assistance fund on top of the multiple taxpayer funds already present.
  9. Attempts to create government price controls by forcibly lowering property values through mandates.
  10. Establishes a state model code for “inclusionary zoning” to require developments to have subsidized units, to be paid for by non-subsidized tenants or taxpayers.
  11. The bill’s goal to dramatically increase density doesn’t account for our limited water capacity.
  12. SB 213 abuses use of the “safety clause” which would prohibit any citizen referendum allowing voters to weigh-in on this issue.

The main reason the measure is being pushed through the legislature is because it provides a tool for state government to implement the required density under Proposition 123 (tax revenue dedicated to subsidized housing), but as has been well documented, density doesn’t equate to affordable. Couple together the effects we’re just beginning to see from passage of Prop 123 with the proposed House Bill 1190, which grants first dibs to government and caps prices in multi-unit property sales, there’s no good reason to support SB 213 as written.

Supporting the measure isn’t liberty focused, it’s helping government complete the jig saw puzzle they laid out on the table.

I’ll point out Randall O’Toole, who has closely monitored government planning over five decades and provides extensive research and data at his website. O’Toole’s recent article, The Libertarian Case for Single-Family Housing sheds more light on the complex issue of land use.

Governor Polis’ “More Housing Now” bill is not about liberty or property rights, it’s about one-size-fits-all centralized planning which would occur under the gold dome.  SB 213 simply exchanges a local zoning boss for a state zoning boss.

The bill will have its first hearing this Thursday, April 6th upon adjournment at the state capitol in room 352. Over thirty amendments are expected so the sausage making may get ugly.

Natalie Menten is a long time political activist from Lakewood, TABOR Foundation Board Director, and a former elected director at the Regional Transportation District (RTD)


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